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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Concentration (07/24/08)

TITLE: Disturbed
By Lynda Lee Schab
07/27/08


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I am thankful for the opportunity to work from home. Really, I am. But sometimes I wish I could get in the car and drive to work like normal people. I wish that I was twenty miles away – away from the dust calling to me from the furniture, the demands of my laundry pile, the ringing of the telephone (which is never for me anyway unless it’s an annoying telemarketer with promises of lower interest rates), away from the pull of the television, the temptation of ice cream in the freezer, and the constant background bickering of my children, not to mention the dozens of “MOM!” interruptions. Sometimes I wish I was not a work-at-home mom.

Like today, for instance.

But, I am determined to get some work done. Which is why I shut the office door behind me – after hanging the “Disturb and you’re dead meat” sign on the doorknob. I’ve warned my children that unless blood or vomit is involved, they are to keep away from that door.

I am ten minutes into bookwork when the phone rings. It stops after two rings.

“Mom! Phone’s for you!” My-nine-year-old son, Caleb, shouts.

“I’m working!” I yell back. “Take a message!”

“Okay!”

I shake my head, justifying my son’s interruption by the fact that he’s nine and just doesn’t get it.

I return to my work. Ugh, numbers are not my thing but I’ve got to get these ledgers straightened out before I do anything else. I massage my temples.

The phone rings again. I close my eyes and wait for one of my kids to call me.

Nothing.

Hmmm. Maybe they finally understand what “do not interrupt” really means. Or, more likely, the phone was for one of them.

I actually get fifteen minutes of silence before a light rap sounds on the door.

I sigh. “What is it?”

“Can I come in?” My thirteen-year-old daughter, Sabrina, asks in a muffled voice.

“Are you bleeding?”

“No…”

“Puking?”

“Uh-uh.”

“What does the sign say?”

No answer. She must have looked down at the knob.

Five minutes later, I am focusing on a new marketing strategy.

“Mom?” Trevor’s newly acquire man-voice startles me. At sixteen, when he talks, I often find myself looking around to see where the voice is coming from. Surely there has to be a grown man in the house.

I squeeze my eyelids shut. “Not...now.” My tone is sharp, but controlled.

“But--”

“Did...you...hear...me?” Still controlled, but losing it fast.

“I just wanted--”

“NOT NOW,” I repeat - loudly - through clenched teeth.

Footsteps retreat. Finally…

I read somewhere that for every interruption, it takes a person ten minutes to regroup and fully concentrate again on their previous task. I believe this because it takes me several minutes to get back into my work. I begin to jot down my thoughts on the marketing strategy. A couple paragraphs in, a knock sounds again on the door.

I whip my pen over my shoulder and it hits my filing cabinet with a “pling!” I throw my hands into the air. “Please! I am trying to work in here! I’ll be out in an hour. I’m sure whatever it is can wait!”

“But, Mom--” Trevor again.

Argh!

I push myself up from my chair and stomp to the door. I pull it open and get ready to lay into my son about respect – not to mention his obvious illiteracy. The sign is hanging RIGHT THERE!

My son stands there, looking grim. But it’s not him my eyes are drawn to; it’s my daughter. She stands behind him, the little make-up I allow her to wear mingling with tears, leaving black trails down her cheeks.

I immediately pull her into my arms. “What happened?”

“Jen called. Her parent’s are getting divorced and she’s moving to Montana!” She wails.

Trevor scoffs, shaking his head. “Please! You interrupted Mom for that? I thought Jen died or something.”

I glare at my son before turning back to Sabrina. “I’m so sorry, sweetie.”

“I tried to come and talk to you as soon as she called...”

She did try, didn’t she? But I was too busy to listen. Her body might not be bleeding but her heart is. And I acted as though my work was more important.

Some mom I am.

I turn and shut my office door, then wrap an arm around Sabrina’s shoulder.

Work can wait. Now it’s time to concentrate on my daughter.


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This article has been read 825 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Yvonne Blake 07/31/08
Ahhh...sometimes we forget our priorities, don't we? I liked all the dialogue. They sounded like real brothers and sisters.
Thank you for writing this.
Yvonne Blake 07/31/08
Ahhh...sometimes we forget our priorities, don't we? I liked all the dialogue. They sounded like real brothers and sisters.
Thank you for writing this.
Debra Martinez08/01/08
Thanks for a well-put-together piece of real life. Good job.
Carole Robishaw 08/04/08
I could see myself there, reacting the same ways, both refusing to hear them, and then realizing what was more important.

Good job!
Chely Roach08/04/08
Ok, I LOVE the door sign, lol. Very realistic dialogue, and a wonderfully enjoyable (and convicting)piece.
Karen Wilber 08/04/08
I could relate to the mom's frustration--all the details like the pen going over the shoulder "pling", the rising tone of voice. Pretty realistic stuff. :-D Excellent.
Lynda Schultz 08/04/08
Well done, so realistic I could feel my frustration rising with hers.
Helen Dowd 08/04/08
Oh wow! This gave me chills! What a lesson! I am sure this will be a wake-up call to all and any who put ANYTHING, but God before their family...I felt sorry for this young mother. I almost thought you might have been talking about someone I know, right in our family. She tries to work from home, but now I think she is realizing that her family must come first. (The children were all the right ages, too, for it to have been about my relative.)..Helen
Mariane Holbrook08/04/08
This is so good and I am so green with envy! You write with such realism that you scare me, something every good writer wants to do. I think this is one of your better entries so don't be surprised if you place high.
Very good job! Kudos!
Sharlyn Guthrie08/04/08
First of all, what a great title -simple as it is. The entire story is very believable and flows seamlessly. I think every mom has been there!
Edmond Ng 08/05/08
Understand the sentiments described in your story. Working from home tend to offer too many distractions, and not doing what one is supposed to do sometimes get to the person, leaving him or her guilty at times. On certain occasions, however, I think the wasted time to regroup and concentrate may be better spent on answering the requests of people in need, which in fact helps one to perform better and faster after the matter has been settled. Thank you for sharing this story. You have captured the feelings of the characters and the readers very well.
Sara O Rodriguez08/05/08
I enjoyed reading your piece!
Joy Faire Stewart08/05/08
Very enjoyable writing style and a subject a lot of mothers can relate. Great ending, too.
Betty Castleberry08/05/08
This is the kind of stuff I really enjoy reading. You've taken a slice of life and made it entertaining. Good message, too. Well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 08/06/08
Your writing style drew me in and held me. I was ready for the mc to get up and go to the door and was glad she realized her priorities in time.
Loren T. Lowery08/07/08
You have such a great talent for taking the common place and giving it a punch that delivers a meaningful message. Congratulations, Linda, on your placement.
Loren
Patricia Turner08/07/08
Too realistic...I can tell you've been there, as I have. But I have no door to close and... You just captured this too well. :-) What a great job and a well deserved EC win!
Jason Swiney08/08/08
Congrats on the EC. I realy enjoy good writing about simple subject matter that we can all relate to, and this did it perfectly. You'll probably make a lot of parents take a break from their computer/work/busy schedule after reading this, and that's a good thing. Nice job.
Charla Diehl 08/08/08
Congrats on your EC award. This story hit home to me and many readers, I'm sure. Thanks for a message we all need to hear again, and again.