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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)

TITLE: " 'ears to you, kid!"
By Marlene Bonney


Widowed 60-yr.-old Matilda Robinson finished reading her favorite author’s newest novel, absently pushing her glasses back up on her nose as she closed the book, contentedly sighing. The domed anniversary clock on the shelf beside her, a gift from the children on her and Matthew’s 40th, ticked in rhythm with its wedding bell pendulum, lulling her reposing body to sleep. The familiar creaks and groans of the old house enshrouded Matilda, a comfortable, soothing blanket of memories . . .


“Thump-thump-thump, Thump-thump-thump,” the treadle sewing machine worked away under her mother’s pumping foot while baby Mattie slept in her homemade cradle, its vibrations swaying her bed.


“Thump-thump-thump, Thump-thump-thump,” awakening Matilda from her snooze.

“WHAT is THAT?” she wondered, now alert and listening intently.

The woman systematically walked over the worn carpeting from one room to the next, trying to locate the sound’s source. It was more difficult for her to trace now, her shell-shocked aging ears not as dependable as to exact location of noises. The thumping muffled when she began to descend the basement stairs, so she detoured through the living room over to the second floor staircase, where the volume slightly increased. Matilda started upwards, grasping the handrail to help pull her weight, her knee joints’ loud complaints competing with the stair creaks.

She opened each of the children’s bedroom doors, pausing over each threshold. The thumping sound was dimmer at Stan and Crystal’s rooms, leaving only Brenda’s to pursue.

“Thump-thump-thump,” turned into “Tap-tap-tap,” growing louder at this final doorway.

Matilda opened the door, suspecting a critter could be trapped within the walls while on a nocturnal journey.

The sound grew more insistent by the tall bureau in the corner.

Apprehensive, she began opening each drawer just a crack initially, and then wider until she could confirm the increasingly loud rapping was not coming from that particular drawer. There was just the bottom drawer left. Taking a deep breath, mentally wishing Matthew was in charge instead of her, Matilda slid open the remaining drawer and----the knocking instantly ceased----replaced by Matilda’s escalating laughter ringing throughout the house as she dropped to the floor, holding her sides helplessly.


“When had it all begun, anyway—this overly keen sense of hearing?” she pondered later.

As a child, alerting her mother and father to the ringing doorbell or a conversation’s sentence they did not catch? They called her their Geiger-counter sound interpreter. Or was it during her teenage years, when her overactive sense of hearing came in handy, “behind-her-back” stabbings less painful when not totally unexpected? It grew stronger when she became a mother, her children’s shenanigans not as challenging when she was forewarned. Youngest daughter Brenda dubbed her “Elephant-Ears” after a planned ‘surprise’ birthday party for her was thwarted by said parent overhearing the whispered conference taking place two rooms away.

In other cases, her super-sonic hearing was more of a curse than a blessing. Poor Matthew suffered the brunt of this as middle-of-the-night noises brought his wife popping up into a sitting position like an errant Jack-in-the-Box. And if a child so much as coughed, sneezed or whimpered, she was an automatic whole-house monitoring system at the ready.

On the plus side, Matilda never tired of hearing the sounds of nature awakening each day. Like salve to her soul were the praise choruses of the birds sung to their Maker or the rustling of cornstalks and tree leaves in a gentle breeze. Scampering squirrel claws on tree trunks, acorns dropping from branches, a lone dog barking off in the distance. Matilda even imagined she could hear the sun climbing back up into the sky.


Shaking her head, Matilda peered again into the dresser drawer before her, grinning at this latest prank of her eldest grandson’s, Brenda and Clarke’s firstborn, who was an electronic genius always up to something. The note attached to the roll of “wrapping” paper and its affixed timing device connected to a miniature tape recorder read:

“Dear Grams—just wanted to see if family lore is true. Love, Zach.”

The next day, Matilda packaged up Zach’s devices, using the wrapping paper to cover the box, adding a note of her own:

“Dear Zach--I think your rock band can use this thumping sound to improve the beat when you boys ‘rap.’ Love, Grams.”


What she didn’t count on was the postal authorities calling in the bomb squad—but, that’s a whole ‘nother story!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/16/10
I enjoyed Matilda's adventure from her childhood dream to her grandchild's prank. The title is just right, as is the ending. I'd like more stories about Matilda, as, obviously, there are more.
Charla Diehl 07/16/10
Perfect title for this fun and entertaining story.
Joan Campbell07/17/10
What a fun story, not to mention a great title. The anticipation of what she would discover kept me reading and I loved the mischievious note her grandson left.