by Lauren Gale
Mrs. King occupies her children.
|a prompted piece
Mrs. King pulled into the driveway and turned off the windshield wipers. She put her jacket hood up, grabbed a few bags of groceries and walked quickly to the front door, where she had to ring the bell with her nose because her hands were full. She waited several minutes before Susan opened the door for her.
“Susan, will you please get the rest of the groceries?” Mrs. King asked her teenaged daughter. She made her way through the living room, peering around the paper bags in her arms, but she very nearly didn’t make it to the kitchen safely. Someone had left a Superman cape on the floor and Mrs. King slipped when she stepped on it.
After setting down the grocery bags she looked around the kitchen. Someone had been playing with the Play-Dough. On the table there was a blue car with pink wheels and a red monster growing many yellow arms and three green eyes. The half-empty containers lay on their sides; the lids were on the floor.
Back in the living room Mrs. King could see that Someone had left not just a Superman cape, but also a sword, a Viking helmet, Peter Pan boots and Winnie the Pooh. These items were scattered across the floor. On the coffee table were an army of GI Joes and a collection of matchbox cars.
When she stuck her head into the bathroom, Mrs. King found a tub full of bubbly water where Someone had clearly been playing “Sink the Pirate Ship.” The floor was awash and wet footprints led down the hall to a bedroom, where the rug was invisible under all the Lego blocks. A Lego robot stood tall in the middle of the mess.
“Susan? SUSAN!” Mrs. King called. Susan came from the kitchen where she had deposited the last of the groceries.
“I thought I asked you to keep an eye on them while I was gone!” Mrs. King was very exasperated.
“Mo-o-o-m, I did. But Brad called. I only went into my room to talk to him for a few minutes.”
“Well, we both know how long a few minutes last when you’re on the phone. I’m going to need your help here. Where are they now?”
Susan just shrugged her shoulders and pouted. She didn’t want to help clean up any messes.
To her great relief, Mrs. King found her bedroom undisturbed. There was only one other place to look, and she nervously opened the door to her art studio.
There they were. Three small boys, only minutes apart in age, but looking nothing alike. They gazed up at her and she was reminded of a nest full of chicks, only these chicks didn’t have their mouths open hoping for a worm. They had watercolor paint all over their hands and faces.
For a moment Mrs. King wanted to have a tantrum, but she noticed that her unfinished painting was untouched and the paint the boys had used to color themselves had not been spattered about. In fact, on this gloomy day, they looked rather cheerful, dyed with Red and Orange and Yellow.
Mrs. King got an idea.
“Come on, boys. We’re going to visit Izzy and Frank.”
“But, it’s raining outside!”
“So? We’ve got umbrellas and rain boots, haven’t we?”
“Yeah!” they shouted in unison. This was too good to be true – Mommy was taking them out in the rain to visit Izzy and Frank!
The boys shoved their stained hands through coat sleeves, pulled rubber boots over their sneakers, tugged hats down around brightly painted faces, and grabbed umbrellas with multicolored fingers. Flanking Mrs. King, they hopped and jumped and skipped joyfully down the sidewalk.
“We haven’t seen Izzy and Frank for a long time. Think they’ll be mad at us?”
“I don’t know. How we gonna tell?”
“Maybe they’ll run away.”
“Stupid, they can’t run.”
The boys didn’t neglect to stomp in a single puddle on the short walk to the park. Mrs. King just watched and hummed.
When they got to the Koi pond, the boys leaned over the edge, looking for Izzy and Frank.
“There they are!” Sure enough, the two goldfish swam among the orange and white Koi, making a splash of water-color all their own.
Mrs. King reminded the boys not to put their hands in the water. “The paint might poison the fish,” she told them. They all loved Izzy and Frank and they didn’t want to poison them, so they put their free hands in their pockets to avoid the temptation of dipping them in the fish pond.
Soon, it was time to go.
“Good-bye, Izzy. Good-bye, Frank,” the boys called, then turned their attention to the puddles on the way home.
Three very wet boys and one wet Mommy came through the front door. Susan was lying on the couch, surrounded by the very same mess that had greeted Mrs. King an hour ago.
The boys were sent to the bathroom, where they played “Izzy and Frank,” while coloring the tub water Red and Orange and Yellow.