Charlie’s Room: A Long Morning
One day, Charlie and Marianne had left for swim practice, and Isaac was home alone. Well, not quite alone. This week, there was a parakeet staying in their house. They were bird-sitting for friends who were out of town.
The friends had dropped the parakeet off that morning, and the parakeet wasn’t pleased at all. It scolded Isaac every time he walked near its cage. As its cage was on the kitchen counter, Isaac had come face to face with a very angry sky-blue bird whenever he wanted a drink of water.
Luckily, after the third time listening to the avian equivalent of nails on a chalkboard, Isaac had taken his cup with him. The water from the bathroom sink wasn’t as cold as water from the kitchen, but it was just as wet.
After a few hours curled up on the couch reading a mystery novel, Isaac realized that he had a new problem. He was starting to feel hungry. It was probably time to start cooking lunch, so that it would be ready when Marianne and Charlie came home.
That would mean spending time in the kitchen, and cooking took more time than getting a drink of water. Maybe Charlie and Marianne would like to go out for lunch? Isaac considered the idea.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t really go out to eat every meal for the next week. Not only would that break their budget and be terribly unhealthy, they really didn’t have the time. Isaac sighed. He might as well begin as he meant to continue. Maybe the bird would get used to him and stop scolding him after a while?
Isaac put a pot of water on the stove and waited for it to boil. The parakeet screeched angrily at him. Isaac looked at the cage carefully, to make sure the bird had food and water and wasn’t accidentally sitting on a pile of thumbtacks. The bird screeched louder as he checked the cage, but otherwise seemed fine.
Isaac turned away. After a moment or two, the bird’s angry chirping grew just a little quieter. Isaac sighed. Truly, this was going to be a long week. Isaac looked down at the pot on the stove. It was still not boiling.
He turned away from the pot. The bird began to screech more loudly. He sighed again and looked back at the pot. Still not boiling.
Isaac waited and waited and waited. The bird screeched angrily behind him. The pot still wouldn’t boil. It felt like it had been hours and hours and hours, and still he waited. The pot still wouldn’t boil. Nothing changed.
He continued to wait. How long did it take water to boil anyway? Was it not boiling because he was watching it? He closed his eyes and listened to the angry parakeet. He peeked. Still not boiling.
Just then, someone started knocking on the front door. Isaac left the angry screeching and not-boiling pot to answer the door. Two men in green coveralls were standing outside. They flashed ID badges that appeared to be written in a strange language that was all boxes and squiggles and phases of the moon.
“Has your day seemed especially long in the last little while?” the man with the mustache asked.
“Yes, how did you know?” Isaac asked.
“Our sensors indicated a time bubble inside your dwelling. Would you mind if we entered and made some repairs?” the man without a mustache asked.
“Okay,” Isaac said, and he stepped aside.
The men strode towards the kitchen and paused just outside the door. “Parakeet?” asked the mustached man. Isaac nodded. The man laughed. “I thought so. They certainly are creative with their insults, aren’t they?”
The men pulled invisible tools out of their pockets. It looked like they were fixing some sort of something in the middle of the empty doorway. Isaac watched in fascination and wondered if they could see what they were working on. If they could see it, why couldn’t he?
Suddenly there was a pop. The parakeet shrieked especially loudly, and Isaac could hear the pot boiling on the stove. The men smiled.
“All fixed. I don’t think you’ll have another problem,” the not-mustached man said.
“Thank you,” Isaac said.
The men left, and Isaac started cooking the ravioli for lunch. He hummed along with the screeching, and eventually the parakeet stopped screeching altogether and just watched him suspiciously as he worked.
Marianne and Charlie came home as he was setting the table. “How was swimming?” he asked.
“Nice,” Charlie said. “The water wasn’t as cold today.”
“How was your morning?” Marianne asked.
“Longer than usual,” Isaac said.
“Well, maybe you can take a nap later,” she replied. They sat down to eat lunch, and suddenly the parakeet started crooning happily.
“What a sweet bird,” Marianne said. “We should get one just like that.”