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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Thump (05/30/13)

TITLE: The Invitation That Never Was
By Laura Hawbaker


When I was in the second grade I spent the night with a girl named Debbie. Debbie and I had very little in common; she was a pastor’s daughter who lived in an ivy covered parsonage in town. I was a farmer’s daughter who lived in a sprawling house in the country. Debbie was the youngest of two children, her older sister high school age. I was in the younger half of a lively brood of nine. I don’t remember what Debbie and I played when we were at her house, but I do have three distinct memories of that night—her beautiful bedroom, her musical sister and strange noises at night.

I was in total awe of her bedroom. Everything matched. The curved headboard, the dresser and the dainty dressing table were all painted white with a gold-spray trim. The bed was neatly made up with a frilly bedspread. Books and toys were stowed neatly on shelves. The hardwood floor was shiny and smooth, not a speck of dust could be seen. It was lovely and it was all hers.

I shared my bedroom with my younger sister, Eva. The only matching pieces of furniture were the bed and one dresser, both painted bright blue. Another dresser, dark and wooden, had two deep drawers and two little drawers on top—one for Eva’s treasures and one for mine. A rectangular pine blanket chest, covered with pink fabric made a perfect coffin when Eva and I and played funeral. Books and toys spilled out of a cabinet with perforated doors. (I later learned it was an antique pie safe.) Our room was seldom neat and orderly. We would meticulously clean and organize every now and then, and liking the results, would vow to keep it that way, but our orderliness never lasted very long. We not only slept in our room, it was our playroom when we weren’t outdoors, it was the theater for our pretend, the catch-all for our collections and late at night, it became the stage for our musical compositions.

Which brings me to my second memory of my night at Debbie’s—Debbie’s musically talented sister. From a mysterious room called a studio, I heard rapturous music. It was Debbie’s sister playing the piano and singing. Debbie and I watched and listened as her hands flew over the keys and I nearly shivered with delight.

Our family was not what anyone would call musically talented. No one ever asked us to sing or stood in amazement as we played an instrument. However, late at night, when we were supposed to be sleeping, Eva and I could come up with some pretty interesting musical renditions. We loved to create with our own lyrics and tunes and in the dark of the night it didn’t matter that we were off key. We just let it rip! “Down in tea kettle-leeka…” we would croon. We would be having a wonderful time when, “Thump!”

Uh-oh. That thump on the wall came from Dad trying to sleep in the next room. It meant we had gone on too long and had gotten too loud. It was time to shut up and go to sleep.

Now, it is very hard to just quit singing mid-concert, but Dad had thumped so we knew it was time to pipe down. We attempted to sing quietly so as not to disturb Dad, but our creativity usually got the better of us. Dad’s second thump, accompanied by an authoritative, “Girls!” usually did the job of squelching our musical show for the night.

My third memory of my sleepover at Debbie’s was the strange night noises. We couldn’t sleep in Debbie’s single bed, so we made a floor bed in the living room. After Debbie fell asleep, I lay there, missing Eva and listening to the ticks and groans of a strange house.

I am not sure why Debbie invited me over. We weren’t close friends and before the next school year she moved to another community. I wonder, in her pristine bedroom, with only an older sister for a sibling was Debbie lonely? I don’t remember inviting her to my house. Perhaps I was a little embarrassed about my blue bed and pink blanket chest. I bet Debbie would have liked to play funeral with Eva and me. She could have joined in on our late night musicals and we would have giggled when Dad thumped. I should have invited Debbie.

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This article has been read 344 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Judith Gayle Smith06/07/13
What a yummy, creative story! I was immediately pulled in. "Playing funeral" shocked me - in almost seventy years I have never heard of this game. May I come over and play? Your descriptions are wonderful . . .
Joanne Sher 06/09/13
Enjoyed the reminiscing here - and the rich detail. Great last line, too.
C D Swanson 06/13/13
Oh wow - I loved this one. Such a feel good story, and left me with a great feeling.

God bless~
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 06/13/13
Congratulations on ranking 20 overall.