The water was boiling for so long, Skunk figured the whole pot would evaporate. He’d made to get up a few times already, but Grandma never wanted him near the stove. Something about an uncle of his getting terribly burned as a boy.
Burned so bad, he ended up dead.
No one ever talked about that, except one time at Christmas when he woke up in the middle of the night and saw Grandma sitting by the tree holding a little stocking and sobbing. Grandpa came up behind him, but his big calloused hand on his shoulder and walked him back to bed.
“Do you know why she was crying,” he asked, tucking Skunk in bed. “We had a little boy. Once.”
And then the man who seemed carved and chiseled from oak and stone’s eyes welled up and he said good night and shuffled out of the room. Skunk’s mom told him the rest of the story once when she and her friend had too much wine and got in a fight and he left instead of spending the night.
So even if the kettle screamed and spit, he sat at the kitchen table, colouring and eating sugar cookies.