Thursday, November 18, 2021

Noah Strikes Again - Part 2

    Katie came in and set her bag by the front door. Michael was the only one in the room, and he barely glanced up.
    “I’m home,” she said.
    “You’re always home,” he said, still paying very little attention.
    It was true that she came home from school nearly every weekend. But it would be nice if her siblings acted as though they missed her just a little during the week.
    “Hi, Katie.” Liz came around a corner.
    “Hi, Katie.” Cecelia was right behind her. “We named the ghost Muffy.”
    Katie wrinkled her eyes at her sisters. “What ghost?”
    “Noah’s ghost,” Cecelia said.
    “The one that doesn’t exist?”
    “Yeah. We named her Muffy.”
    Liz nodded but looked as though she was mostly humoring her younger sister.
    Katie was sure they still weren’t making any sense. She shrugged it off as unimportant. She was just glad the two girls were getting along again. Noah had pulled off a months long prank where he was moving stuff in their room. Liz blamed Cecelia until they started to convince themselves it was a ghost.
    “Forget Muffy,” Michael said. “Let’s play a game.” He went to grab something from the shelf. He had to grab and return several before he got enough players to agree to one.
    Katie did feel missed when they argued over who would be on her team. She enjoyed several games with various subsets of her family during the weekend. She was happy to be home and stuck around until Monday morning since her first class didn’t start until 11 am.
    She and her dad were the first ones up and sat at the table sipping orange juice when they heard the shower turn on upstairs.
    “That’ll be Liz,” he said.
    Katie nodded. “I’ll check the pancakes.” They had two big puffy pancakes in the oven. Her dad had gotten them in there before she was dressed, but she felt justified in saying they were making breakfast since she was in charge of getting them out. The sides were curling, and the scent was heavenly.
    “What smells so good?” Noah asked as he came into the kitchen.
    “Puffy pancakes,” Katie said.
    “Yummy.” Noah went to the cupboard and grabbed a stack of plates.
    Cecelia joined them as Katie was cutting slices for those plates. “I want some,” she said.
    “Dad!” Liz appeared clutching clothes and a towel to her chest. She was in pajamas. “Can I use your shower? Michael’s in my way.”
    “What’s he doing up so early?” Dad asked.
    He asked way too calmly for Liz. She added some urgency to her tone. “I’ll never get my hair dry if I have to wait for him!”
    “Go ahead,” he said. “But try not to disturb your mom.”
    Liz rushed off.
    Noah seemed entertained by the encounter. “Did you do something?” Katie asked him.
    He only smiled. The water had shut off upstairs. Michael came charging down a few moments later. His hair was dripping and his shirt darker in spots that were wet. It looked as though he’d skipped the towel. “Oh, man, I’m missing pancakes.” He grabbed a granola bar and started stuffing things into his backpack.
    “Why are you in such a hurry?” Cecelia asked.
    Michael answered somewhat angrily. “It’s called a school bus.”
    "But it won’t be here for like a half hour.”
    Noah burst out laughing.
    Michael froze. Then he looked at the clock on the wall. His confusion passed as he glared at Noah. “Someone must have changed my alarm clock to make me think I slept in.”
    “Noah strikes again,” Cecelia mumbled. He’d stopped saying it but sometimes other family members filled in the blank. The baby of the family had enough sense to run out of the room as soon as Michael figured out what had happened.
    Michael looked for a moment as though he was thinking of following before he simply rolled his eyes and returned to the kitchen to grab his share of pancake.
    Katie had finished hers already. She looked up as she heard a door opening.
    Mom came out of her bedroom squinting at the light. “Why is Liz in our shower? And why is she singing?”
    “Blame Noah.” Michael spoke around a mouthful of food so it wasn’t just the early hour that kept their mom from understanding him.
    “Liz always sings in the shower,” Cecelia said with annoyance. “And she’s already singing Christmas songs.”
    The squint deepened and Mom shook her head as though she didn’t care enough to have anyone else try to explain anything to her at the moment. She moved farther into the room and pulled down a coffee mug.
    Katie was thinking that it was almost November so it was almost not too early for Christmas songs. Cecelia wouldn’t appreciate that observation. Someone should tell Michael not to talk with his mouth full. He wouldn’t appreciate advice from his sister. And Mom certainly wouldn’t appreciate a reminder that she was the one who encouraged Noah to become a prankster. Katie quietly took another sip of her orange juice.

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