The daughter coughed and moaned. “Tell Mom I’m not going to school. I’m sick,” said the daughter to her older sister.
“Sure,” said the sister as she fixed her hair and put on her makeup.
The daughter rolled over in the king size waterbed she shared with her sisters and was soon fast asleep.
The daughter sloshed out of the king-size waterbed and trudged down the squeaky stairs of the farmhouse in her bathrobe and fuzzy pink slippers looking for breakfast. She was hankering for a bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar. She was about to get a bit of excitement instead.
The mother sat on the edge of the bed with her back to the bedroom door and the chorded phone to her ear. She was talking with a local printing shop about an upcoming church project. Her morning had been full of getting children off to school, feeding the cattle, gathering the eggs, and several other never-ending chores on the small family farm, and it was only ten o’clock in the morning. Her heart stopped when she heard someone come down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“I think there’s an intruder my house,” she whispered to the lady on the phone.
“Oh my gosh! Do you want to me to hang up and call the police?” said the lady on the phone.
The mother had another plan. “Do you have another line? That way I can keep pretending to talk,” she asked.
“We sure do. Hang on!”
The daughter grabbed a bowl from the cabinet letting the cabinet door snap shut as she rummaged through the large silverware drawer for a spoon. She pulled out the bin of quick oats and spooned a few scoops into her bowl. As she covered the oats with water, her mother laughed from the master bedroom adjacent to the kitchen. It was a strange laugh, the kind of laugh you make when you’re watching a scary movie and you don’t want your friends to know you’re scared but you’re really about to wet your pants. Who is Mom talking to? She shrugged it off. (Since when do teenagers understand their parents anyway?)
She slipped the bowl of quick oats into the microwave and turned the dial. While the microwave hummed along cooking her breakfast, she hunted for the brown sugar.
“The Sheriff should be there shortly,” said the lady on the phone.
“Oh yes, that will be wonderful,” said the mother. Her voice felt strained as she tried to keep up a cheerful appearance. When I hear the Sheriff coming down our gravel lane, I’ll slam the bedroom door shut so the intruder can’t get to me. She kept up the verbal chitchat and continued the charade.
The Sheriff pulled the cruiser through the snakelike turns of the country road, entered the straightaway, and poured on the gas. He was almost five miles out of town hurrying to answer a frantic call about an intruder in a farmhouse. He turned down the gravel lane and topped the small hill at breakneck speed. He sent gravel flying as he slid around the corner in between the big maple trees and skidded to a stop a few yards from the kitchen door. He threw open his car door and jumped from the cruiser with his gun drawn.
The daughter in fuzzy pink slippers stood in front of the microwave with spoon in hand waiting for the timer to ding when she heard the roar of tires against gravel. She looked out the kitchen window and saw the Sheriff’s cruiser skid to a halt. Her mouth dropped open when she saw the Sheriff jump from the car with gun in hand and run towards the house.
When she saw the Sherriff’s car, the mother dropped the phone and sprang for the bedroom door. She slammed it shut in a millisecond and turned to make an escape out the front door away from the impending clash between the Sheriff and the intruder.
The daughter stood in the middle of the kitchen floor, fuzzy pink slippers, dirty robe, spoon in hand, eyes wide as saucers. What is going on? Why is the Sheriff here? Her teenage mind began to race. The Sheriff is about to burst through the door with his gun drawn. I know I’m innocent, so he can’t be here for me. My mother has been acting strange on the telephone this morning. What is she up to?
Just as the Sheriff burst through the kitchen door with his weapon at the ready, the bedroom door slammed shut. The daughter jumped at the sound of the slamming door. And then it came to her. Oh my gosh! The Sheriff’s after my mother. My mother must be a drug dealer!
“Mom?!” she shouted.
The mother hurried for the kitchen when she heard her daughter’s voice. She called her daughter’s name and yanked open the kitchen door. When the mother saw her daughter standing in the middle of the kitchen – fuzzy slippers, dirty robe, spoon in hand, perplexed face – she went weak in the knees and sat on the kitchen floor.
As soon as the Sheriff saw the mother rush into to the kitchen he understood, and put the gun away with a sigh of relief. It was just a false alarm.
Nothing made sense to the daughter and she stood like a statue in the middle of the kitchen. The timer dinged. Her oatmeal was ready.
“It’s okay. It’s okay,” said the mother to the understanding Sheriff. “I guess my daughter stayed home from school without telling me.”
The wide-eyed daughter came to life and insisted, “I told them to tell you!”
“Nobody told me!” cried the mother.
The relieved Sheriff grinned and pulled out his handcuffs.
“Do you still want me to haul her in?”
Based on a true family story.