Tag: misunderstanding

Charlie’s Room: Away and Back Again

It was winter, when the daylight was pinched at both ends. Isaac left home in the dark, feeling like he was going to work in the middle of the night. He arrived home just before dinner, and there wasn’t much daylight left afterwards for the long walks he enjoyed in the summer.

He started eating his lunch while wandering up and down the sidewalks, peering into the windows of the different businesses near his work just to get a little more time in the sunlight. One day, he was looking into the windows of the antique shop, and he saw a little cloth doll. It was either a floppy eared cat or a long-tailed bunny. It could have been a kangaroo without a pouch, but the shape was all wrong.

Curious, he wrapped up his sandwich, shoved it in his pocket and stepped inside the store. The man behind the counter looked up when he entered. “Can I help you find something?”

Isaac pointed back towards the shop window. “I’d like to see the cat bunny doll.”

The man looked confused, but stepped around the counter towards the window. “Cat bunny?”

“I don’t know what it is.” Isaac followed him to the window. “That’s why I’d like to look at it more closely.”

The man looked into the window. “Oh. That. Go ahead and look at it if you’d like. I’ll be back by the register if you need anything.” He left Isaac standing by the window.

Isaac reached in and picked up the cat bunny with both hands. Its eyes glowed blue, and the next thing he knew, he was hanging in the air upside down in the dark. Something nearby hissed, and then there was a rustling sound.

Trying to listen and remain still and calm, Isaac waited. After a moment, there was a spark of light, and then the glow of a candle. He could see two small figures crouched over it. Then they abandoned the candle to come closer.

He heard the hissing sound again, and realized they were whispering to each other. Up close, it was easy to see that they were children. He tried to understand what they were whispering, but it was in a language he’d never heard before.

Hanging upside down was beginning to get uncomfortable. “Could you let me down please?” he asked hopefully.

The children whispered a little louder to each other, and then suddenly he could understand the end of a phrase. “…translation spell.”

The children both looked at him and held up their hands. Isaac slid to the floor and sat up.

“Was that a spell? Isaac asked. “Was it a spell that brought me here?” He looked around for the cat bunny, and saw it lying on the floor close by him. He pointed at it. “Did you send that?”

One of the children picked it up. “It was supposed to bring us Caasi. But you’re not Caasi.”

The other child shrugged. “I told you it wouldn’t work. Mom said that spells can’t wake the dead.”

“But I asked for her to come back from another world. It should have worked.”

The child looked over at Isaac. “Are you from another world?”

“Maybe.” Isaac frowned. “I don’t think spells work in my world, but I could be wrong.”

“Is your name Caasi?”

Isaac thought for a moment. “How do you write that?”

The children scrawled alien characters that strongly resembled “C-A-A-S-I.”

“I’m Isaac. That’s caasi backwards.”

The other child nodded. “Maybe bringing you from another world put everything backwards. Maybe that’s why you were upside down.” The child hurried to a shelf, pulled down a book and started turning pages rapidly.

Isaac turned to the child who remained. “Who’s Caasi?”

“Our best friend. She’s so smart. She could purr and jump so high, and she always knew where we hid her treats.”

That didn’t sound much like a person. “Was Caasi a cat bunny?” Isaac asked.

The child frowned. “She’s a felare. I don’t know cat bunny.”

He pointed down at the doll again. “Like that?”

“Yes,” the child said. “But alive.”

Isaac nodded. “That’s important.”

“We miss her.” The child looked away.

The other child snapped the book closed. “It says the dead are in the underworld, and normal spells can’t reach there.”

“Oh.” Both children looked sad.

Isaac held out his hand for the doll. The child handed it to him and he looked down at it with a smile. “It sounds like Caasi was a good friend. It’s okay to feel sad when a friend dies. Is there something you can do to say goodbye?”

Both children turned to look at him. “Like what?” one said.

“You could draw a picture of her, or write down what you remember about her, or put flowers on her grave.”

“I guess so.” The child took the doll back.

“You should talk to your mom about it. She might have ideas,” Isaac said.

The children looked at each other and began talking rapidly. “Talking to mom is a good idea.” “We should send him home first.” “I’m not sure how.” “Look at the book again. It must say somewhere.”

They consulted the book, and after some arguments, managed to charge up the doll for a return trip. The doll’s eyes glowed blue when they handed it to him. Moments later, he was back in the antique shop. The doll was gone.

He looked around. What was he going to tell the shop owner? He decided that the truth was always best. He walked over nervously. “The doll took me to another world, but it disappeared when I came back.”

The store owner shrugged. “That happens sometimes. Don’t worry about it.”

“Really?” The man didn’t appear to be joking. Isaac nodded. “All right. Thank you. I’d better hurry back to work.”

He rushed back through the sunlit streets, eating big bites of his sandwich as he jogged. He arrived at his desk just in time. He glanced back out the window and wondered if it was time to get a pet for Charlie. Something he could keep in his room. Maybe a fish or two?

The Argument

Mr. Moffet opened the door and stepped outside to check the weather. It was cold enough for his warmer coat. Satisfied with the results of his research, he headed back inside. Unfortunately, he was in a hurry and neglected to wipe his feet on the way inside.

Mrs. Moffet had mopped the floor the night before. It was the last item on a long list of things to do to finally clean up after all the mess and cheer of the holidays. It wasn’t a pleasant task, but the floor looked great, and it was nice to finish off the list and start the new year with a clean house.

When Mrs. Moffet looked up from her bowl of cereal and saw the muddy footprints left in Mr. Moffet’s wake, she was unhappy. “Look at that. You’re messing up all my hard work.”

Mr. Moffet had no idea what Mrs. Moffet was talking about, but he was in a hurry. “Why do you always blame me for everything? I don’t have time for this. We can talk later.” He grabbed his lunch and left. Thus began the long argument.

The muddy footprints greeted Mrs. Moffet when she returned from work. She didn’t have time in the morning to mop again. Now they were mostly dry. Too wet to sweep, too dry to mop. It was going to be a long slog of crawling on the floor wiping things up with paper towels before she could mop.

She considered leaving the mess for Mr. Moffet, but decided he’d probably pretend he didn’t see the mess. After all, he looked right past it that morning. She changed and got to work. As she cleaned, she felt angrier.

Seeing the clean floor once again helped her calm down. Making a mug of hot cocoa and putting her feet up helped even more. She was ready for a calm discussion when Mr. Moffet came home.

He was late. Mrs. Moffet worried a bit, because he hadn’t let her know why he was late or when he’d be home. Worrying made her grumpy. Mr. Moffet was grumpy because he was late, and that meant he spent extra time at work. He didn’t get paid extra for spending extra time at work, so he preferred not to.

“You’re late,” Mrs Moffet declared when he walked in the door.

“Excellent observation,” Mr. Moffet snapped back.

“Now there’s not time to make the soup,” Mrs. Moffet continued.

“What have you been doing all this time? You weren’t late.”

“I was cleaning up your mess!”

“This again?” Mr. Moffet shoved his arms back in his coat sleeves. “I’ll go get a pizza. See? Now I’m fixing your mess.” And he slammed the door on the way out.

They ate the pizza in silence, not looking at each other. They watched their favorite television show side-by-side in silence. At bedtime, Mrs. Moffet decided it was time to talk about the argument. “I spent all afternoon mopping, you know?”

“Again? Weren’t you just mopping yesterday? You must really like to mop,” Mr. Moffet said. Then he closed the bathroom door and forgot all about it.

In the morning, there was a note on the door. It said, “Wipe Your Feet Or You’ll Have to Mop the Whole House Yourself.” Mr. Moffet looked at the note. He wasn’t sure where this new obsession with mopping came from.

He stepped outside to check the weather. It was raining. The path was slippery with mud from the flowerbed. It was higher than the path. Maybe if he put in a brick border, the dirt would stay in place. He made mental plans to pick up bricks on his way home.

He remembered to wipe his feet.

Things seemed mostly back to normal when Mr. Moffet left for work. He decided the argument was probably due to Mrs. Moffet having a grumpy morning and decided to forget it. He got home early from work and spent hours putting in a brick border around the flowerbed.

He wiped his feet going inside, then left his muddy clothes on the carpet beside the clothes hamper and wiped his muddy fingers on the towels in the bathroom before touching the taps.

Mrs. Moffet didn’t notice the brick border. She did notice the muddy clothes on the carpet and the muddy towels. She had another mess to clean up, and she could only hope the mud wouldn’t stain the carpet. The towels were probably a lost cause.

When Mrs. Moffet came storming into the kitchen, Mr. Moffet smiled. “Did you notice anything different?” he asked eagerly.

“What is it with you and mud?” Mrs. Moffet asked, looking angry.

Mr. Moffet wasn’t sure how to answer the question or why Mrs. Moffet was upset. “I don’t like it on the path? Look, I bought hamburgers to celebrate!”

“Celebrate what? The ruined carpet?” Mrs. Moffet yelled.

“No, my project. The border. Didn’t you notice?” Mr. Moffet yelled back.

“Didn’t you notice the mess you made? And I was going to make soup!”

Mr. Moffet took a deep breath to yell again, and then paused. “What are we arguing about?”

Mrs. Moffet frowned. “You keep leaving mud all over for me to clean up.”

“But I remembered to wipe my feet.”

Mrs. Moffet shook her head. “You didn’t yesterday, and there was a big mess. And today you left muddy clothes on the carpet and wiped mud on the towels.”

Mr. Moffet went to the bedroom to check. He was sure it wasn’t so bad. There was a big mess. He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t noticed. Mrs. Moffet came in. “You’ll need to put the clothes and towels on the washer so I can treat them for stains. We’ll see how that goes. It’s not going to be easy getting the mud out of the carpet, either.”

“Mud can stain things?”

“Of course it can!”

Who knew mud was so messy? He played in it all the time as a child without problems. Perhaps the mud here was different. At least he finally knew what the argument was about. “I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful now that I know.”

And with that, the long argument was over. They happily chatted over their hamburgers and made fun of their favorite show. There would be other arguments in the Moffet household, but none of them lasted as long. Years later, they still sometimes talked about the long argument and laughed. They were just grateful it hadn’t lasted any longer.