50 HOME SWEET HOME
Mrs. Guard’s leg bounced up and down as she sat beside the front window of her house, chewing on her fingernail. Mr. Freedden sat on the edge of the couch hanging his head and wobbling his legs back and forth.
Mr. Guard stared out the front living room window at the road. Their worn, two-lane driveway ran along the right side of the yard. “A truck just pulled into the driveway.”
They all jumped to their feet, insisting on having a look for themselves. They watched as the driver’s door opened, and Ian emerge.
Teplan and Terah were greeted by Ian’s smiling face when he opened the back gate, “Okay guys, home at last.”
Terah leaped out first. Teplan stood at the end of his driveway and looked down the quiet, empty street. It looked a lot smaller than it did that morning.
The front door whipped open and teens’ parents rushed outside. “Thank goodness you two are safe!” one parent screamed.
“It’s so good to see you!” Mrs. Guard exclaimed as she and Mr. Guard grabbed Teplan in a big hug. Terah ran into the open arms of her mom and dad. Ian stood a few feet back.
Over Teplan’s shoulder, Jackie Guard met her brother’s eyes. “And where were you? Why didn’t you bring them home sooner?” she stormed over and punched him on the arm, hard.
“I’m sorry to have worried you, Jackie,” Ian said to his little sister.
Jackie gave him a look, then a hug, and ushered everyone in the house.
After getting changed and into fresh, clean clothes, Teplan and Terah sat drinking their third hot chocolate of the day and listened to Ian tell their parents about the day’s events. Jaws fell open and shock flashed on their faces as the story unfolded.
“So, unfortunately, this isn’t over,” Ian said emphatically.
Teplan watched as Terah played with her new key chain hidden in her hands.
Both sets of parents eyeballed Ian, waiting for him to explain more.
“These guys are a threat. First and foremost, they’re a threat to Teplan and Terah,” Ian paused, ensuring his point was received. “Please understand that I will be doing everything I can to get a hold of this situation, but you need to be on alert. Make sure there are no trucks hanging around outside. If so, you need to call the police. Then you can get the police here quickly … Okay?”
“Yes, absolutely. Why don’t we just call the police now?” Ian’s sister asked motioning towards the phone.
“Well,” Ian began reaching a hand, palm-up, towards the phone as if he were using The Force, “in all honesty, Teplan and Terah did trespass and the police might be required to at least contact the farm to inquire if they want to press charges or the police might press charges themselves.”
“Press charges?” the parents exclaimed in unison. “On the kids?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” Ian replied. “They have proof that Teplan and Terah trespassed. We have limited proof of their wrong-doing that does not yet go beyond a doubt that they are polluting the river.”
“We’re sorry we scared you,” Teplan interjected before his parents could reply. “It was my fault; Terah didn’t want to go,” he said trying to meet her eyes.
“You know how many days you’re grounded for?” Teplan’s mom shouted.
Teplan gave a meek smile and continued, “We were trying to stop this big pig farm from ruining the land and river. You guys,” he said motioning with his hands to the parents, “are always telling us ways to protect our planet; that’s all we were trying to do.”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean you can go around trespassing on other people’s property and getting into all this trouble, does it? Just leave that up to The Planet Earth Protectors,” Teplan’s mom bellowed while hugging them at the same time.
“So, I have to go now,” Ian concluded. “But remember what I said everyone — keep your eyes peeled and keep safe.”