Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DULL (05/12/17)
- TITLE: Just A Moment or Two
By Terry Bovinet
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She thought about her husband’s last words as he left for work.
“I am not sure how you do it all.”
Bob’s loving look and a gentle peck on her cheek provided an intimate moment before the chaos that had come back to life with the appearance of their six children.
With ages from 3 to 11, a constant stream of activity accompanied by incessant noise make it difficult to sort out who wanted what. The requests for mom’s attention continued in a competition that would last the day and end only after all six children had fallen asleep in two of the three bedrooms in the house.
Three girls shared a bedroom as did the three boys.
“Did you make your beds?” Marni’s voice rose above the din and all three boys and one of the girls hustled upstairs to complete the task. They didn’t need to hear the order, although posed as a question, a second time. The consequences for a repeat request inspired the quick response.
The day would bring a battery of noise - from the washer and dryer in its never-ending quest to stay ahead of the laundry, to the dishwasher, to the television, and to every room at seemingly every moment. Arguments among the children would spill over from one place to another until Referee Mom settled the scores. Even the dog would vie for attention with barking that responded to the bustle that surrounded him and filled the house.
In the evening as Marni checked the soup for flavor and added a touch more salt, Lindsey, the oldest, asked the same question she had asked the year before. And the year before.
“Mom, your birthday’s coming up. What do you want this year? And please, don’t say ‘peace and quiet!’”
“But that’s exactly what I want.”
“No really, Mom. What do you want for your birthday?”
Ladling out the soup that had simmered all day, Marni resorted to her standard comeback to her failed request about peace and quiet.
“You don’t need to get me anything at all. I have everything I need.”
“You are no fun, Mom. We’ll ask Dad what to get you.”
As if he had planned it, Bob made a boisterous entry.
“Home again, home again!”
A chorus of “Dad” arose from the younger children while the older ones merely looked his way.
“Hey, you older kids. You can do better than that for your Dad!” Marni teased.
Lindsey ignored that comment and asked, “Dad, will you tell us what Mom wants for her birthday? And don’t tell us peace and quiet.”
“But that’s what she wants. That’s all she wants!”
“Really, Dad, tell us.”
“Would she like to go somewhere or do something? What can we get her?” Lindsey refused to give up her quest.
“I told you I have everything I need.”
Without a dining room, the kitchen served the dual purpose of a place to cook and eat. The sound of chairs scooting around the wooden rectangular table along with the setting of dishes and utensils added to the din of eight people in the kitchen getting ready to eat from melmac soup bowls. Two packs of saltine crackers, still in their wrappers, awaited consumption at each end of the table that wobbled from the family’s motions.
Marni snuck a peak at Bob as he said grace over the meal. She admired his love for and leadership of their family That brought her a contentment that no one could purchase even with riches that had passed them by.
“Okay, one more time. Mom’s birthday.” Lindsey’s tenacity both enlivened and frustrated Marni.
“One last time!” Marni’s hoped her emphasis on “last” would quiet the issue, if only for the rest of the evening.
“I know. I know. You have everything you need!”
Marni chuckled at Lindsey’s exasperated tone.
“Except peace and quiet,” came Marni’s rejoinder.
“But that is so dull, Mom!”
Marni slowly circled the table with her gaze that reflected warmth. “I would love just a moment or two of dull in my life.”
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