Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)
TITLE: Scatter-brain Ala Mode
By Glenda Lagerstedt
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“Crandall, don’t be so dense!” sighed the long-suffering aunt. “I come home and find the windows wide open, the front door partly open and the furnace is rumbling away like mad. And nobody is home.”
“Yeah, nobody’s home alright,” Jason teased, bopping his twin lightly on the head as he walked past her.
“Well…,” Crandall said. “Well…at least…density is better than sparsity.” A poorly muffled snort escaped in spite of Jason’s struggle to contain laughter that refused to be stifled. Crandall swallowed hard as Aunt Willa turned on her heel and stomped away. “There’s no use to even try to talk to you kids. I tell you something and it goes in one ear and right out the other! And then you just have to make some big joke out of it.” With that, she flounced out of the house and down the dusty road.
Crandall dropped onto the shabby couch and put her head in her hands. “Oh dear,” she moaned. “Why did I have to go and say that? It just sort of slipped out.” She lifted her head and looked at Jason through her fingers. His shoulders were shaking with mirth and tears were running down his face. “It’s not funny,” Crandall muttered through clenched teeth. But with the spontaneity of youth, she responded to her brother’s mood with helpless laughter of her own.
When they had at last calmed down she said seriously, “I don’t know, Jase. Sometimes I do the dumbest things. It’s like my mind is open at both ends with nothing in the middle.” They were about to go into spasms of laughter again when they heard angry footsteps on the porch.
The door burst open and Aunt Willa came in with a bag of groceries and slammed it onto the table. She glared at Crandall. “What in the name of the good Lord were you thinking, young lady? Good heavens, I was just down at the café talking to Mrs. Hodges and what was she telling me? You gave away those silver coins that she had specifically asked you not to ever give out because of their value!” Her voice had risen to a shriek.
The color drained from Crandall’s face. Oh no. Please, she could not have done that. She remembered Mrs. Hodges telling her about those coins kept in a special place in the cash register. Yes, they were silver and that is why they were so valuable. She remembered the young man who had stopped in for some coffee and a doughnut. Hazelnut coffee and a raspberry cream doughnut.
As he’d waited for his change, he had said amicably, “Do you want to cross my palm with silver?” And yes, she had absent mindedly given him some of Mrs. Hodges' silver coins. What was she thinking?
“You know, don’t you, that you will have to reimburse Mrs. Hodges for the value of those coins out of your own earnings. Lord knows, money is scarce enough around here and now this. The man you gave those to is from out of town, and he went over to the mainland on the ferry about two hours ago. He is way away from here by now.”
She began to unpack the groceries, slamming them unceremoniously into their designated places, curtly refusing any offer of help. “No. Let me do it myself so it is done right.” She rambled on, muttering to herself. “Just like the mother. Empty headed, brainless foolishness. I work and work to keep things together and what good does it do? One thing I know, and that is that it is a good thing I have a level head about myself. I do pride myself on that much anyway. My sister…she was always the foolish one, the wasteful one….”
A few hours later Willa opened the refrigerator door and gave an involuntary gasp. The twins sprang to see what the problem was. The three of them stood together watching the ice cream melt into a dismal puddle over the oranges and apples in the bowl beneath.
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