Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Shhh. (02/18/10)
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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It was the slap slap of slippers against the tiled floor that woke me. I hadn’t been asleep long and as I fell out of sleep, my first thought was of robbers and aliens. Then I chided myself. Neither bandits nor otherworldly characters wore flip flops.
I woke Richard for exactly five minutes before he opened his eyes. By then, the sound of the flip flops had faded and had been replaced by that of scraping chairs in the kitchen.
Then I knew.
Casting a baleful glance at the once-again-sleeping Richard and careful not to make any noise, I listened intently again. The wooden dining chairs had been pulled out, someone was climbing. Then the sound of a tin been forced opened.
Grinning like a savant because I was so proud of my detective abilities, I pondered my next course of action. Should I make the bust before goods changed hands or do I gather more information, do more legwork, stack my facts on top of each other?
I decided on the latter.
I pulled off my bedroom slippers for the absolute silence effect and walked on tippy-toes.
Two hours earlier, I’d tucked Abel into bed and had endured ten minutes of questions like “Mom, who made the world?” and “Why does it get dark at night?” before I could make my escape. I opened the door to his room, cringing at the creaking noise and mentally lambasting Richard for not oiling it as he said he would.
Of course the bed was empty.
First hypothesis proved. My grin grew wider. I moved close to the bed and felt it with my hands. It was still warm and the shape of Abel’s five-year-old body was yet pressed into the mattress.
I closed the door and headed to room number two, to check out the second hypothesis. At eight, Mary was a proper little lady who looked and acted nothing like me. She spent agonizing minutes every morning deciding on what to wear, arranged pencils according to color group and length, and gave names like Pansy and Daisy to her dolls.
Even at this late night, even though she’d sneaked out of bed, she’d still had time to make her bed. The red bed sheet was tucked tightly on all four sides and teddy bear Marigold slept on the red sea blissfully unaware.
Second hypothesis proved. I was ready for the bust, the adrenaline threatening to wreak havoc within the confines of my body.
I picked my way to the kitchen, paused slightly at the door and heard muffled sounds.
“Try not to eat too much. You’ll be so sick in the morning Mom will suspect something.” Mary was admonishing Abel.
My little boy’s reply was lost somewhere between a grunt and the sound of smacking lips. Suddenly a tin clattered to the floor. The unexpected sound startled me and I’m sure it must have startled the kids even more. Abel’s mouth stopped munching, Mary stopped nagging, silence filled the entire house.
When my heart finally stopped racing, I pushed open the door. “Busted.” I screamed, holding my two middle fingers out like a gun.
The cover of my cookie jar was on the floor, the cookie jar itself in Abel’s hand, the other hand buried inside it. Prissy Mary’s mouth was stained a deep chocolatey brown. Both of them looked absolutely, hilariously guilty.
I laughed until my head hurt, cackled as the partners in crime sold each other out.
“It was Abel’s idea, Mom.”
“She made me do it.”
I took the jar off Abel’s hands, fished for a tasty morsel and sunk my teeth into it. It was after all chocolate cookie.
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