“Don’t shake your soda, Neil,” Mom said.
Neil paused and looked at his soda. “Why not?”
“Shaking it will make it explode all over, and it will be a big mess,” she said. “Just set it back down on the table.”
“But I already shaked it up.” Neil looked at the soda skeptically.
“Shook, dear,” Mom said. “I’ll go get the chips.”
“She’s right, you know,” Jim said. “If you open up that one, the whole house will explode, and all that will be left will be a crater.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Lynn said. “Don’t listen to him. If you open it, it will spray soda all over, and everything will be sticky, and Mom will make you clean it up. Soda doesn’t have the explosive force to blow up a house.”
“It might,” Jim said.
“It doesn’t,” Lynn said.
“Shhh. You’ll wake up Carrie,” Neil said.
“Oh, right,” Lynn whispered.
“We don’t want to wake up Carrie,” Jim agreed quietly. “She’s scary when she wakes up.”
“When I was younger, soda was much stronger,” Grandpa said in a normal voice. The children jumped.
“Where did you come from?” Jim asked. “You weren’t there a moment ago.”
“Are you going to tell us a Grandpa story?” Neil asked.
“What do you mean soda was stronger?” Lynn asked.
“I’m glad you asked,” Grandpa said. “Let me tell you about why they made soda less explosive. It’s a sad story.”
“Soda wasn’t ever more explosive,” Lynn said.
“I want to hear the story,” Jim said.
“Me too,” Neil said.
Grandpa sat on the couch, and the children sat beside him, cuddled in close. “When I was young,” he began, “they were still trying to figure out the recipes for things we have today. Bubblegum was full of soap. It blew amazing bubbles, but it tasted terrible.”
“That isn’t true,” Lynn said. “Adding soap wouldn’t affect the bubbles and would probably poison people.”
“It’s just a story,” Jim said.
“Keep going,” Neil said. “I want to hear about the explosive soda.”
“Where was I?” Grandpa asked.
“Bubblegum,” Jim said.
“Ah yes. Bubblegum was full of soap. Cupcakes were full of broken pieces of old teacups. Chocolate was made with chalk. People liked sweets less when I was younger.”
“That’s because they all sound terrible,” Neil said.
“Precisely,” Grandpa said. “And they tasted worse. No one ever drank the soda. It was far too explosive. Even if you never shook it, it sprayed all over when you opened it. And if you shook it, well…”
The children leaned forward. “Yes?” Jim said.
“I had a friend named Kyle. He wasn’t very good at doing what he was told. He always pushed on the doors that said pull and pulled on the doors that said push. He had a hard time getting anywhere at all.”
“Did he shake his soda?” Neil asked.
“He did,” Grandpa said. “He spent three days shaking a can of soda. He barely stopped to eat and sleep. He shook it until his left hand was tired, and then he passed it to his right hand. And when both hands were tired, he shook it with his feet.”
“What did he do when his feet were tired?” Jim asked.
“He shook it with his hair,” Grandpa said.
“That makes no sense at all,” Lynn said. “Hair is made out of keratin and can’t move on its own.”
“Then how does your hair stand on end?” Jim asked.
“It’s the muscles in your skin attached to the hair follicles, not the hair itself,” Lynn said.
“Then it’s those muscles that shook the soda,” Jim said.
“But…” Lynn began.
“What happened next?” Neil asked quickly.
“Hmmmm. Where was I?” Grandpa asked.
“Kyle shook the soda,” Jim said.
“That’s right. He did. He shook it for three days. And then, he opened it.” Grandpa paused and the children leaned forward.
“What happened to Kyle?” Neil asked.
“We never saw him again,” Grandpa said. The children gasped.
“Did he die?” Lynn asked.
“No, he didn’t,” Grandpa said. “He was smart enough to tilt the bottle away from him when he opened it. When the soda started to explode, he turned it downward, maybe to try to pour it out. He shot into the air and went straight to the moon. That’s where he is today. They started the space program to try to get him back, but the only time they got to the moon, they landed in the wrong spot entirely. Poor Kyle.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Lynn said. “He wouldn’t be able to breathe on the moon.”
“What would he eat?” Neil asked. “Isn’t the moon all rocks?”
“Can you see him with a telescope?” Jim asked.
“Oh look, your mom is back with the chips. It must be time to eat,” Grandpa said. “Maybe I can help her with little Carrie.” He got up and left and never answered their questions.