Of dirty dishes and failed reprisals

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

Rays of sunlight streaked through his bedroom window. He could tell it was going to be a beautiful day. That is, until he heard the command, “Get in here and wash these dishes!”

It was the voice of his sister. It was still early and already she had given her fourth directive.

He wondered why his parents always left his sister in charge. She was a dictator. It has been said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely,” and he knew she was drunk with it. He decided that today would be the day he put his foot down and tell her a thing or two.

He entered the kitchen and was going about his business when she started in on him again.

“No,” he answered.

“Yes,” she ordered.  

“I will not,” he replied.

“You will, too,” she demanded.

Things rocked along like that for a while. He was content to stand his ground, until out of the blue, his older sister slapped him.

The blow had been quick and hard. By the time his face returned to its normal position, his ears were ringing. That was it – enough was enough! He threw down the dishtowel and ran out the house.

At first he didn’t know where he was going, just away from her. He ran fast and far, through fields and over hills. As he ran, the idea occurred to him that this would be the perfect time to go and tell his dad. If dad saw the hand print across his face, his sister would be in a world of trouble. She might even have to go to the woodshed! He smiled to himself at the thought of it.

The adrenaline anger and running gradually drained him of his energy, and he soon found himself walking through the fields and valleys. He knew his father was helping cut wood at a neighboring farm. He heard the rhythmic sound of the saw long before he saw the men.

As he approached, he noticed for the first time how hot it was. There was no shade to be found anywhere. He came closer to the men and finally caught a glimpse of his dad. His dad’s shirt was off and his skin was shining under the noonday sun. The two men were hard at work. He didn’t know it, but the saws were not sharp, which made their work even harder.

He approached his father, and without so much as a greeting, told on his sister. His words came out fast and furious. He was certain that this report would set matters straight once and for all, and his dictator sister would get what was coming to her.

As he told his story, he heard what sound like thunder. He had not recalled a cloud in the sky. But instantly the sky turned dark and the clouds rolled in. He found himself in total darkness. It wasn’t until he came to and saw his father standing over him that he understood what had happened. There had been no eclipse or storm; instead his father had picked up a loose branch and hit him.

“Son, don’t ever interrupt me while I am working, especially over some dishes.”

“Yes, sir,” the boy replied.

He knew this was likely how his father would have responded to such information, but somehow his agenda for revenge made him forget. Dad didn’t care about foolishness; he only cared about results.

His dad helped him to his feet and sent him on his way. As he parted the trees and headed home, he could hear the men returning to the task at hand. His plan had backfired. Dejected, the boy’s return trip home took twice as long; He no longer had vengeance along as company.

When he entered the house, he found his sister standing in the living room. He walked across the room with an outstretched pointed finger, and said, “Nanny nanny boo boo.” He started to tell the biggest “Daddy is gonna get you” lie he could think of, but halfway through said lie the dam behind his eyes broke and he started to cry. He couldn’t fake it any longer. What started out as a good day had ended with him being hit, not once but twice.

He wiped the tears away with his shirt, walked into the kitchen and started washing the dishes.

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