Ladder and Hammers

#siblings #rooftop #1960s

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

Boom, boom, boom!

My book froze midair. “It’s okay. The roof is broken.” I stretched out my legs and plopped the book on them.

Boom, boom, boom…crack!

Pieces of ceiling fell on my head, my legs, and landed on my stuffed animals. I looked up and watched a tennis shoe with a foot that 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 moved.

Sis flung open the front door, and Mommy picked me up. 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. A lot of 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.” Sis rolled her eyes, “You’d think he would’ve learned 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 out at an angle, on my tiptoes. My little fingers closed around the latch, and I slowly squeezed. The door swung open. Nobody heard me, so I sneaked down the stairs backwards onto the front porch. Nobody saw me. I climbed down three more stairs to the dirt path next to the creek.

Male voices murmured between bangs and booms. I stood before the ladder and looked way up. My Daddy said, “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 saw 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. “Daddy, I up here.”

Daddy jerked around, his hammer dropped and slid down the roof.

Rick screamed, “She’ll fall!” I frowned. I will not. Ray pushed Rick’s head down, when he continued to scream, “Rick, shh!” I pouted. Aren’t they happy to see me? Ray asked Daddy what to do. Rick screamed, “She’ll die!” Why will I die?

Daddy told Ray to keep Rick under control, so Ray shoved Rick’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. Ray 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 her potholders on her hands. “Where?”

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

Mommy yanked off her potholders, frowned with mad eyebrows, and said all my three names together. This is bad. Very bad.


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