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"..and don't forget, son, 911, 911.."
"Yeah, Mom, 911," I replied, humoring her.
"Oh, I hope I didn't forget anything."
"It's only for a few hours, Mom."
"Bye, honey," my mother planted a kiss on my forehead and hurried out to join my father in the car. I stood there in the doorway doing my best to look angelic so Mom wouldn't suddenly decide to stay home from the concert. I was trying so hard I could actually picture a halo hovering a few inches over my head.
The car slid out of the driveway and glided up the street, with my mom blowing a kiss out the window as the car rolled out of views. Immediately the halo shattered.
I took care to slam the door loudly behind me and dove onto the living room couch. I flipped on the TV. Ah, freedom! My parents were gone for the night. No more "Turn the sound down" or "Eat your greens." I propped my feet up on the glass coffee table, not even bothering to take off my shoes.
During the commercial, I flew into the kitchen to see what Mom had set out for supper. After a brief examination, I found some edible portions and deposited the remainder, the majority of which was green, into the garbage under several layers of paper, so as not to be discovered the next day. I filled the large gap on the plate with ice cream and grabbed a soda from the fridge. Now, there was a meal!
I consumed my food on the couch, not caring about manners, burping and spilling crumbs. During the commercials I planned the rest of my evening. My first evening alone! Ah, sweet bliss. My parents would be home around midnight. That gave me until around eleven thirty, eleven forty-five if I pushed it. My parents expected me to be in bed by ten, but they'd never know. Five whole hours and without a baby-sitter to spoil it!
The time passed, and I lived it up, calling my friends, watching TV, blasting the stereo and raiding the kitchen. All thoughts of homework and cleaning up conveniently slipped my mind. Soon I began to nod off. I awoke with a start. Groggily, I pushed aside the popcorn bowl and the TV Guide and removed my feet from the glass coffee table. I stumbled out of the room.
I turned at the doorway to gaze back at the room. It was a mess. The floor and couch were covered with crumbs, pillows were in disarray and cups, bowls, records, and cases, and soda cans littered the room. What a dump! Whoever made that mess was going to be in big trouble when Mom and Dad got home! Then it dawned on me. It was my mess. I felt a great big pit in my stomach.
Oh, that was easy to fix. I'd just say John did it. No, he was away at camp. Mike, then, he should be used to it by now. No, he wasn't home either. I stopped to listen, hearing only silence. All of a sudden I felt very small and alone. The still house seemed dark and foreboding. I felt a sudden urge to run around and turn all the lights on in the house. No one else was home. Only me.
Now I knew why Mom had been so concerned. I wasn't that mature to begin with, but alone..I would show them! I could be just as mature as Mike or John or even Dad. I was only 13, but a big 13. Now that my parents were gone, I was in charge. I started with the living room.
I went into the closet and returned with the vacuum. I had never actually used one, but I had watched Mom enough. You just plug it in, flip the little rocker switch and push the head over the dirt. I began. It wasn't quite that easy, but I managed. In order to clean the cushions, I had to take them off the couch and vacuum them on the floor. The glass coffee table was a bit more of a challenge. I returned to the closet, rummaged around and emerged with a bottle of Windex. I hoped that I chose the right bottle. I put about twenty squirts of the blue stuff on the glass, wanting to be sure that no dirt remained, and scrubbed it up with some paper towels until I could see my reflection.
As I went into the kitchen to wash the dishes, I caught a glimpse of the sparkling clean room out of the corner of my eye. I did that! I felt a pang in my stomach again, but this time it was accompanied by a swelling in my heart.
After the dishes were done, I climbed the stairs to my bedroom where I lay trying to thinking of what my dad would do next. A shower, he'd take a shower! I adjourned to the bathroom where I proceeded to pull the valve so that the water would come out the showerhead instead of the bathtub spigot. Then I turned on the water and stripped. While I waited for the water to warm, I put out a towel by the edge of the shower for when I stepped out. As the water blasted onto my body and coursed relaxingly down my legs, I thought of my strange actions this evening. Cleaning up! What would my friends think! Maybe I should stop this foolish stuff right now. No, not as long as my parents were away and I was in charge.
I resisted the urge to jump into bed wet and toweled myself dry. Then, to my amazement, I hung up the towels instead of lumping them on the floor as I usually did. I brushed my teeth, put on pajamas and climbed into bed.
Now I didn't feel so alone in the darkness. It was comforting in its own way. If only my brothers could see me now! No, it might be bad for them. My parents always treated me like a baby because I was the youngest, but my brothers knew better. Funny, it actually felt good being an adult. Whoa, did I just say that? Well, tomorrow my parents and Mike would be home. Maybe then I would be normal again. As I closed my eyes to go to sleep, a smile cracked my lips. n