The Savages

Sasha faced each parent in turn.
‘You might as well know now. Jack is… well, not like us.’
‘In what way?’ asked Titus
‘He’s a vegetarian.’
For a second it looked as if both Titus and Angelica Savage had frozen in time.
Sasha reminded herself to breathe, and then decided it might be best for everyone if she left the table…

Meet the Savages, a breed apart from your average household – and a darkly delicious treat for anyone who’s ever been embarrassed by their own flesh and blood.


2. 2

‘Mince. Mince!


The baby on the kitchen floorboards gurgled happily when her mother turned to face her. At first, Angelica Savage looked unsure if she had heard her youngest child correctly. When the little one repeated the word for a third time, she shrieked with delight, set down the knife on the chopping board, and scooped her into her arms.


‘You clever girl’ she said, and spun around with her in sheer delight.


Katya was late to the family, and a surprise to her parents. With two older siblings, her father sometimes said that Kat needed a big personality as a matter of survival. She displayed this in the form of an easy smile and tendency to babble and coo as a means of commu­nication. As Kat had yet to show any interest in climbing onto her feet, Angelica regarded this moment as a mile­stone in her development. Just then, on hearing the front door open, she was ready to share the news with her husband.


‘Something smells good,’ said Titus, and parked his leather satchel against the dresser. ‘I had to skip lunch today, so I’m famished.’


Guess what?’ Angelica stood before him, a late sun pouring in through the French windows behind her, which cast both mother and child in silhouette. ‘Go on, guess!’


After such a long day, including an afternoon spent poring over documents and spread sheets from a memory stick that shouldn’t have been in his possession, Titus was in no mood for games.


‘I give up,’ he said, as Angelica moved out of the glaring sun to soften him with a kiss. She knew Titus could be a little grumpy on his return from work, but it didn’t last long once he was back in the family fold. ‘Is it good news or bad?’ Titus asked. ‘If it’s bad, it can wait until after supper. I can’t digest bad news on an empty stomach.’


Beaming still, Angelica gestured at the child in her arms. Katya was gnawing at her fist, a mark of her latest teething troubles. Titus watched her drooling all over her little knuckles and sensed his mood lifting. She was a sweetheart, spun from sugar and wide-eyed innocence. He was looking forward to seeing her incisors come through.


‘It isn’t bad news,’ said Angelica. ‘It’s not even good news. It’s amazing news!’


‘Go on.’ Titus touched his palm to the little girl’s cheek. Katya beamed and giggled. ‘What have I missed?’


‘Listen.’ Angelica turned her attention to the child in her arms. ‘Do it again, Kitty Kat. Do it for Daddy.’


Katya continued to suck at her fingers. It meant when she made a noise it was muffled. Gently, Angelica removed her fingers from her mouth.




Angelica switched her attention back to Titus, who stood rapt.


‘Kat’s first word!’ she declared.


‘Mince! Mince!


‘Mince?’ Slowly, a smile eased across his face. ‘Oh, Kat, that’s beautiful! What a proud moment this is!’


Sharing in his delight, Angelica handed their child across. Titus squeezed her to his chest and then raised the chuckling toddler over his head.




‘I’m not even cooking mince,’ said Angelica.


‘Maybe it’s her favourite.’ Titus returned the child to the floor, where several toys lay waiting for her.


‘So, what’s for supper?’


‘Leftovers,’ she said. ‘Nothing special, I’m afraid.’


For a moment, Titus appeared disappointed. Still, he managed a smile for his wife. He understood that nothing could go to waste, even if it lacked the taste and intensity from the first time round.


‘In your hands,’ he said anyway, ‘I’m sure it’ll be delicious. Now, what’s everyone else doing?’


‘Ivan and Grandpa are in their rooms.’ Angelica returned to the hob before she finished. ‘We’re expecting Sasha any time now.’


‘Where is she?’


‘Oh, just out,’ she said, with her back to Titus. ‘I’m not sure where.’


Titus considered this news in silence. Out without knowing where didn’t sound good in his books. Yes, Sasha was a growing girl, but somehow it was all just going a bit too fast for his liking. He didn’t want to keep her under lock and key. Far from it. But if she was out there taking risks, he wanted to make sure she kept those risks to a minimum, or even eradicated them completely. He had been raised to believe in this approach to life, and that’s what he strived to pass on to the next generation.


‘Sasha really needs to let us know where she’s going,’ he grumbled. ‘Have you texted her?’


Angelica faced her husband.


‘She promised to be home in time for supper,’ she said, with some tension in her voice. ‘We have to give her a chance.’


Titus held her gaze for a moment, and then his shoul­ders sagged. He returned his attention to his youngest daughter, who was shuffling across the floorboards. Slowly, his expression brightened.


‘You know it won’t be long before Katya eats with us. She’s shaping up to be quite the Savage.’


Angelica smiled adoringly.


‘All in good time,’ she said. ‘Let the last of her teeth come through first.’


Titus nodded to himself and then lifted his daughter into his arms.


‘Well, let’s hope that day comes soon. It’ll be such an honour to have all my family around the table!’

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