The three of them sat around the camp fire. It was shaman time, and well...mom and dad were dead tired, y'know, so the kid threw on another log, gazed at the smoke rising and started to grin.
"What y'all got wigglin' there, boy?"
The boy let his grin wiggle some more, then, "Sometimes, relationships are more about how long you can stay tired, than about feeling anything akin to being energized, you know?"
"What you talkin' ‘bout, boy?" the mother said softly.
"Just, that whether you're the guy or the gal, it's kinda like talkin' to smoke...tryin' to make it work, that is." He watched the smoke disappear up in the bows of the pines.
"That ain't no story, boy," the father grunted.
"Ever think about what keeps a mule goin', pop? He don't like to plow, but he likes carrots. So you hang a carrot out there in front of him, you know, big stick roped round its neck, pokin' out there between his ears."
"That's sweet, dear," the mother said with a proud smile.
"So, anyway, the mule gets exhausted without the carrot. Mule with a carrot...now right there, y'all got yourself a relationship, ‘cause with a carrot, mule spends a long time bein' tired, right?"
Pop looked over at Ma. "Boy's turnin' into some kind of weird, eh?"
The boy continued to watch the curling gray rising from the fire. "Relationships...like talkin' to smoke."