Ladder and Hammers

Family Story

#siblings #rooftop #1960s

Moonie, Teddy, and Kitty lay in a circle around me for story time. I tried making them sit up, but they flopped over. I grabbed my bunny book—

Boom, boom, boom!

I froze my book midair. “It’s OK. The broken roof.” I stretched out my legs and plopped the book onto my lap.

Boom, boom, boom…crack!

Pieces of ceiling fell on top of my head, my legs, and landed on my stuffed animals. I stared at the ceiling, as a tennis shoe with a foot dangled back and forth, up and down. The motion mesmerized me. People yelled outside.

My ten-year-old sis ran into my bedroom, “Uh oh, Rick’s foot went through the roof again! I’m telling Mom.” She twirled around and scuttled out my door. I dropped my book and trotted to the kitchen as fast as my two-year-old legs could get me to where Mommy was.

Mommy picked me up. Sis flung open the front door for us. We stopped by the tall ladder that leaned against our house. “Hey! Is everyone okay?” Mommy waited for an answer while she shifted me onto her hip.

Laughter came from the roof. “Yeah! We pulled Rick’s foot out of the hole. Good thing it’s summer, we don’t have to worry about rain,” Daddy called out.

Sis rolled her eyes, “You’d think Rick would’ve learned to watch where he walks up there from the last time.” Mommy shook her head, and we returned to our tasks.

The house quieted with Mommy in the kitchen and Sis on the sofa with her book. I stood by the door. I wanted to see what was so fun on the roof where the guys laughed and banged around. The front doorknob was tricky, but I’d watched when the big people opened it.

Mommy made noises with the pans…now! I stretched high up, on my tiptoes. My fingers closed around the latch, and I squeezed hard. The door swung open. Nobody heard me, so I sneaked over the stoop backwards onto the front porch. Nobody saw me. I climbed down three more stairs to the dirt path next to the creek.

My brothers’ and Daddy’s voices murmured between bangs and booms. I stood before the ladder and searched for the end of it.

Daddy called out, “I’ll work on this pitch, and you boys take the other.” Something scraped and bumped.

I want to see. I made my way upward, one rung at a time, until I could watch Daddy and my brothers working. They crawled along the rooftops on their hands and knees while they hammered nails pulled from their tool-belts. No one saw me yet. I wanted to join them. “Daddy, I up here.”

Daddy jerked around, his hammer dropped from his hand and slid down the roof toward the edge.

Ricky screamed, “She’ll fall!” I frowned. I will not.

Ray pushed Rick’s head down, as he continued to scream, “Rick, shh!” I pouted. Aren’t they happy to see me?

Raymie asked Daddy what to do. Rick screamed, “She’ll die!” Why will I die?

Daddy told Raymie to keep Ricky under control, so Raymie shoved Ricky’s head down again. Daddy held out his hand while he swiveled around, “Stay right there, Babe. I’ll get you. Hold on tight to the ladder.” I AM holding tight.

Raymie grinned at me and said, “You’ll be okay. Dad will get you.” I AM okay.

Instead of Daddy sitting me with them so I could watch, he tucked me under his strong arm, and climbed down the ladder. I squirmed. I spent all that time climbing up. I wanted to be with them. He marched into the house and into the kitchen to Mommy. “Guess where she was?” Daddy grinned. He always grinned. Or chuckled.

Mommy turned from the stove with potholders on her hands. “Where?”

“On the ladder. She made it to the roof…”

Mommy yanked off her potholders, frowned with mad eyebrows, and growled all my three names together. Uh oh. This is very bad.

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