Jerry dropped flat onto his bed like a dead fish—shirt, tie, shoes and all. He pulled a fluffy pillow over his head to drown the background noise of four kids and hide from the evening summer rays filtered through the shutters. Right now he needed to forget the UCP center where he taught handicapped adults. And sleep.
Katie ran in her parents’ bedroom and leaped on her dad’s back. “Hi, Dad! Can I have a piggy back ride?”
Jerry rolled over. “Sorry, Princess, this piggy can’t move. All piggy back rides cancelled today.”
Anna scooped up her daughter. “Go play, Katie. Your dad looks like he needs to rest.”
“Okay,” Katie grumbled.
“Another hard day at work, hon?”
“Mmm hmm. Carnival day. Guess who led karaoke songs and had to barbeque burgers for every student and their family guest.
“Oh, that’s why you smell like a Big Mac. Here, you go to sleep and I’ll try to keep the kids quiet.”
“Thanks. Don’t wake me for dinner. I ate while I grilled.”
Anna tiptoed out of the room. Squeak. “Sorry, I stepped on a doggy—“
“I know. Tell Spot I appreciate the love offering, but he can stop leaving his squeaky bone by my door . . . and stop barking.”
Jerry was snoring in minutes. He didn’t hear his sons wrestling or the screams of laughter that went along with each move . . . but he did hear:
“Dillon and Max, what are you doing in there? Your dad is trying to sleep. Outside now, you two!”
And he heard:
Pitter patter, steps down the hall. “Shhh! Don’t slam the door!”
Jerry resumed his snoring song. He didn’t hear his teenage son flip his guitar amp on high volume. But he did hear:
“Lower that!” Anna pounded on a “Delirious” poster and burst into Jack’s room. “I told you your dad is trying to sleep!” Slam!
Jerry grunted, “Nngh, hhhgh . . . what was . . .” Snore.
He slept right through steak and roasted potatoes cooking. But thirty minutes later, he heard:
“Dinner’s ready. Jack, Dillon, Max, and Katie . . . hurry up! It’s getting cold.”
“Should I get up? I can’t. Too . . . slee . . . eepy.” Jerry snored again.
Katie sneaked back into her parents’ bedroom. She liked to lay her Barbie dolls on their satin throw pillows. Her princess sisters needed a fancy bed.
Jerry didn’t wake when Katie whispered about tomorrow’s ball and the sparkly dresses the princesses would wear. He admired his new tuxedo and practiced a waltz in a peaceful dream. But he heard:
“Katie, there you are!” Anna opened the door slowly letting its old hinges screech a long whine. “Didn’t I ask you to play in another room? You’re going to wake your father.”
Jerry sat up. “Anna, I need to tell you something.”
She snuggled under the rumpled covers. “Sure. I thought you were sleeping.”
Jerry leaned over, kissed Anna’s cheek and whispered in her ear. “I love you and know you tried, but SHHH!”
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