Another 'Communications' story written in April of 2000. This is one of my favorite stories.There are only eight more AOL Short Story contest stories left to post I think. After that anything posted here will be new. I may do it from time to time just for kicks.
"Would you kids go out and play, dammit?! Your mom and I are trying to talk here!" Daddy yelled as my sister Ashley and I cowered in the corner. Mom and Dad seemed to be shouting at each other all the time lately, and it was scary.
"Talking?" Mom said, as we slunk out of the room. "When do we actually ever 'talk' anymore, Daniel? Maybe if you didn't yell all the time, then things would be better."
"Don't blame it all on me,", Daddy shouted, "I'm not the one that starts it!"
We left the house, and headed toward the vacant lot, and the tree house in the big old oak tree. In the house right next to the lot, old Mr. Patterson was tinkering in his garage, and we went up to see what he was doing. It was usually something interesting, and Mr. Patterson was always nice to us.
"Well, Danny and Ashley, what brings you to my abode this morning?" He was always saying little things like that, calling his house an "abode." He was a funny guy, and sometimes we didn't understand his words, but we could usually figure it out.
Ashley kind of sniffed as she'd been crying a little; but I'd told her to hush that everything would be ok. I just hoped I was right.
"Ah, Ashley what's wrong? I heard your mom and dad arguing again... is that it?" Ashley nodded. "Tell you what; how would you kids like your very own telephone for your tree house? One of you can be in there and the other on the ground and you can talk on it!" With that, Ashley brightened up and I got curious, too!
He dug around on his workbench a bit and grabbed a couple of cans and some string. He had me punch holes in the can myself, since he said I was practically a grown-up at 10 years old! I scowled at Ashley when she laughed at that; but heck, she's just a kid at 8. Anyway, in no time he had those cans connected with a string; and sure enough, when we pulled the string tight and held the cans to our ears, we could hear each other talking through it!
"Thanks, Mr. Patterson!" we said, as we took off running to the clubhouse. But before we did, I heard him say under his breath, "Now, if only you could get your parents to communicate that easy." I knew that word "communicate," we'd just learned it in school. And it sure did sound like something Mom and Dad needed; with all that yelling at each other. I thought about that as Ash and I tried out our new phone in the tree house; but I was surprised to discover that we did have to yell a bit to be heard through it. Maybe *some* yelling wasn't so bad?
Ashley and I played with the tin can phone until she got bored, and had to go to the bathroom. I took the phone with me, as it was too cool to risk somebody stealing it.
When we got home, it seemed like Mom and Dad were calmer. I showed it to them and told them how it really worked but you had to yell a little to be heard. Dad kind of flinched at that, and that gave me an idea. I asked them to come to our clubhouse and try it out. When they asked why we couldn't do it at home, I just said it would be no fun because you'd be looking at each other. They finally gave in; and I actually got Dad to climb up into the tree house. He said it was nice and asked if I'd built it. I told him Mr. Patterson had helped a lot and told me what to do; and he got this sad look on his face for some reason.
We ran the phone through the hole in the floor, and Ash and I made sure it was working. Then I gave my end to Dad, and she gave hers to Mom. They weren't talking loud enough at first and I told Dad that now was the time to shout. He smiled a little and shook his head. He said hi to Mom and they started to talk. And we made them keep going, because they were ready to quit after a minute---geeze, what's with grownups? When it seemed like they were doing okay I climbed down.
Mr. Patterson was standing outside of his garage watching, and I dragged Ashley over to give Mom and Dad some time alone. He smiled and asked if that had been my idea to get my parents talking on our phone. I said yep, and he ruffled my hair and told me I'd done well.
Then Mom started climbing up into the tree house. Ashley and I started to go, too, but Mr. Patterson took both of us by the shoulder and turned us toward the house telling us there were fresh cookies. I know he was trying to get us to leave Mom and Dad alone; but Mrs. Patterson makes great cookies, so I didn't mind.
Mr. Patterson was telling us a story when Mom and Dad climbed down what seemed like a long time later. Mom's hair was kind of messed up, which was unusual for her. I got worried and ran over asking if everything was okay. They smiled at me and said that everything was just fine. On the way home, Dad said thank you to Mr. Patterson---for what I wasn't sure!
It seemed like after that day, Mom and Dad didn't yell as much; but they did sometimes ask to borrow our clubhouse for a bit. I would never have figured they'd want to do that, but it seemed to make them happy, and that made Ashley and me a lot happier.
I may never understand grownups!