Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: In and Out (04/30/09)
TITLE: The Screen Door
By Ed VanDeMark
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It was a simpler time, a day before the world became complicated. Ike was president and baseball was the most important thing in his young life.
Sure the teachers had them line up along the concrete walls of the school, but that was just a drill. Everyone knew Ike wouldn’t let the Russians drop an A-bomb on America.
Every September Harmon made all the kids jump out the back door of the bus number 3, but that was fun for everyone except Mary. Nothing was fun for Mary but nobody but Mary let that bother them. If she wanted to be unhappy that was okay with them. Some kids even ran back on the bus so they could jump out a second time.
Yes life was uncomplicated and life was good, and nothing symbolized that to him more than hearing that old wooden screen door slam shut behind him. It must have happened a million times a day all summer long. Once he’d weeded two rows in the garden and cleared his stuff off the dining room table he was free to come and go as he wished.
“Mom; Donnie, Benny, Pete, Andy and I are going swimming.”
“Supper’s at 6.”
And that old screen door would slam shut.
Two minutes later that door slammed shut again.
“That was certainly a quick swim.”
“Forgot my glove.”
Once again the magical sound of that screen door resonated in his ears.
Moments later it could be heard again.
“Hey mom, do you know where I left my hat?”
“The Yankee hat?”
“Ah mom you know I hate the Yanks, my Cincinnati Reds hat.”
“What color is it?”
“It’s red. Do you know where it is?”
“I suspect it’s right where you left it.”
“Found it, bye.”
Once again that dilapidated old screen door slammed shut, and all the angels of heaven were put on alert, the boys were headed for the farm pond. They would race their bikes, Benny would crash a few times along the way and Andy would win. It always happened that way. Donnie rarely remembered his bathing trunks, but that was fine because the farm pond was up on the hill and unless it offended the woodchucks nobody cared.
Dad had learned to hit the echo point when he yelled “Supper,” and everyone for half a mile knew mom’s pot roast was nearly ready. Ten minutes later that screen door slammed shut. Without ever looking up mom would say. “Wash your hands.”
As they sat down to eat, Mom would ask him. “Where’s your brother?”
Mark was always the last one to the table.
Mom would look at him across the table and he’d get up, open that screen door and let it slam shut behind him because he loved that sound. He’d cup his hands and shout “Mark supper,” and his voice echoed throughout the valley. Then he’d return, making sure to open that door really wide so it slammed shut louder than usual. Mom and dad would discuss their day. Once again they’d hear that screen door slam shut and Mark would report to the table, filthy as usual.
They never got to the apple pie before that screen door could be heard again. Mark’s best friend Jack had it timed perfectly. Without a word being spoken, Jack would drag a chair to the table and mom would serve him.
Yes it was a simpler time, and nothing symbolized it quite like that old screen door slamming shut. With fondness he recalls all those summers before he turned 16, before the giggle of teenage girls and the sound of dad’s Oldsmobile turning over forever erased the sound of that screen door slamming shut and dad’s voice echoing across the valley, “Supper.”
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