Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Communication Breakdown (12/16/10)
TITLE: Glad to Help
By Veronica Winley
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Make me, stupid head!” Just as determined, his sister clutched it with both hands and glared at him.
Acting on her suggestion, he swung his fist and whacked her on the shoulder. Although they were twins, he was the taller and stronger of the two and could beat her in anything requiring physical strength. His whack really hurt and tears sprang into her eyes. But she didn’t let go.
Their mother entered the kitchen, immediately sized up the situation and sighed. They were as close as white on rice and stood together staunchly against all outside opposition. However, at eight years old, they were fiercely competitive over everything, big and small, and bickered constantly.
Glancing at her daughter’s weepy face, she asked, “What’s going on?”
“He hit me!” With that admission, she allowed her tears to fall and although her brother lowered his eyes for a second, he tightened his grip at the same time.
Crossing her arms, their mother leaned her shoulder against the refrigerator. “First and foremost, in this house we do not hit. Ever! We talk with our mouths and not with our hands. Is that clear?” Both children nodded their heads slowly. Looking at her son, she asked, “Why did you hit her?”
For a moment there was silence and then finally he muttered, “She wouldn’t let go.”
Seeing their hands almost joined over something, she asked “What is it?”
“It’s mine!” her daughter shouted. “I saw it first!”
“But you couldn’t reach it.” Turning to his mother, her brother stated reasonably. “She asked me to get it and I did.” Evidence of his efforts lay sideways on the floor, kicked over during their struggle. Even with the help of the small step stool, the little girl would not have been able to reach the top shelf of the cabinet, although standing at a distance, she would have been able to see what was on it. Her brother probably needed to stand on his tiptoes, even using the stool.
Their mother pushed away from the refrigerator and placed her hands on her hips. “Open your hands.” When they did not comply immediately, she said it again, this time with an edge to her voice that brooked no argument.
Slowly, with their fingertips almost touching, the children opened their hands until the object lay exposed across their palms. For a moment all three looked down in silence at the large candy bar.
Although junk food was strictly limited, their dad craved sweets but usually tried to put his guilty pleasures out of sight and reach of the children. Once in a while, as a special treat, they were allowed a piece of candy. Poking the slightly squashed and melting chocolate, their mom asked “Why don’t you share it?” The response was immediate and vociferous. “NO!” they shouted at the same time and instinctively started tugging again.
Placing a hand on each child’s shoulder, she began to say “It’s the only fair…” but before she could finish, they were both violently shaking their heads, rejecting her suggestion. When she stopped talking, their objections faded into silence.
“Alright,” she said, reaching down and deftly plucking it out of their hands. “Since you can’t talk it over or decide, I’ll make the decision for you. You’re right, you shouldn’t have to share it…” Both children looked up at her eagerly but their expressions turned to horror as she unwrapped the bar and took a big bite. “…with each other.” She then left the kitchen calmly, ignoring their cries of outrage.
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