At the Insistence of Her Parents

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

A story about choosing a child's first school.

Submitted: May 16, 2018

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Submitted: May 16, 2018



At the insistence of her parents, Sarah was going for a ride. Sarah was still very young, and, as such, she did a lot of things at the insistence of her parents. She lived with her mother and father in a comfortable 2-bedroom apartment in the Mouse House Towers. (The “Towers” were largely underground, but the name “Mouse House Tunnels” had not tested well with prospective residents.)

Today’s ride had been arranged one day prior with the family’s hired passenger pigeon, Reginald. Sarah disliked being strapped into the complicated baby-mouse seat on Reginald’s back, but she always forgot her annoyance once they were soaring majestically over the city. Since the whole family was going on this outing, Reginald had brought along two of his apprentices for Sarah’s parents to ride. Ronnie (short for Sophronia) and Lawrence were almost fully certified, but they still needed a few hours of supervised flying before they could hire themselves out as Primaries. Reginald had trained them both from early apprenticeship, perfecting their flying maneuvers before allowing them to carry letters, then larger items for delivery, and eventually adult mice like Sarah’s parents. Ronnie and Lawrence were both quite comfortable flying with a full basket, which had straps for passengers to hang on to, and a little pouch for a few small belongings. This pouch was particularly useful now, since Sarah’s father had spent the morning baking peanut butter oat cookies to bring with them.

Sarah found most rides to be lovely and exhilarating, but the destinations were generally less interesting to her. Today, for instance, they were having tea with a mouse named Ms. Tiller, who had gone to school with Sarah’s mother’s older sister. Ms. Tiller had recently opened a school of her own, and Sarah’s parents thought they might be able to get her in early since she was so clever for her age (and since Sarah’s mother’s older sister had told them Ms. Tiller never said no to a good peanut butter oat cookie). Sarah had spent a very dull morning being washed and brushed and dressed in a smart-looking outfit. She had one small victory over boredom when she managed to sneak a bite of cookie dough while her father was fiddling with the radio. With the family dressed (and the cookies packed neatly in a tin to be placed in the carrier pouch), the three mice left their apartment and took the lift up to ground level.

Departure was scheduled for 12:30pm, so Sarah’s family met Reginald and his crew at 12:25 sharp on the Mouse House Towers rooftop garage. Sarah sulked in her seat, fidgeting against the childproof safety belts while everyone else exchanged greetings and settled in for the flight. Then, with a lurch – they were flying! Upon takeoff, Ronnie and Lawrence fell crisply into formation behind Reginald, slightly higher up so Sarah’s parents could keep an eye on her. The day was cool and the pale blue sky was full of white, fluffy clouds. Sarah listened to the whooshing of the wind and thought it sounded like the roaring thunder of a powerful waterfall. She looked down at the city below and imagined it was under a magical bubble, safe from the swirling rapids she saw in the clouds around her.  She watched a family of five zoom past them on a falcon, all wearing the same stylish wind goggles. The falcon had a vest printed with the words “Helena Transportation” in sleek lettering, but Sarah only had time to read “H-e-” before they were too far away.

After about 20 minutes of steadily paced flying, Reginald began to gradually descend. As they neared the ground, he shifted his weight backwards and flapped his wings in large, sweeping motions, using the air to slow himself down. He landed lightly on his feet, and Sarah heard Ronnie and Lawrence touch down gracefully on either side of them. Soon her mother had climbed up and was unfastening various straps and nudging Sarah out of her seat. Sarah took a few tentative steps, then scrambled down the harness and darted over to her father, where she suspected the cookies might be about to make an appearance. “Say thank you to Reginald, Sarah,” her father instructed. She darted back to Reginald and shouted “Thank you!”

Reginald gave her a friendly nod, and arranged with her mother to pick them up on this same hilltop in two hours. With a flick of his wings and a commanding bark of “Focus! Form! Flight!,” Reginald launched back into the air with Ronnie and Lawrence on his tail.

When they arrived at Ms. Tiller’s house (a tidy split-level with a fenced-in back yard), Sarah was allowed to ring the doorbell. “Just once, please,” Sarah’s mother said. Sarah loved listening to different doorbells, and had been very disappointed when Mouse House Towers installed a top-of-the-line buzzer system to replace the chiming “ding-dong” sound she was used to. She would never admit it now, but she had cried bitterly when her parents told her the angry buzzing sound was instead of their old homey, cheerful doorbell. When she rang Ms. Tiller’s bell, she heard a symphony of cascading chimes from the other side of the door. Sarah was wary of this “Ms. Tiller” character, and wary of this “school” idea her parents kept mentioning. Still, she couldn’t help thinking “now that’s a proper doorbell,” and looking approvingly at the little brass button that had set off such an impressive concert.

Sarah heard the light patter of steps from the hallway inside, and the door was opened to reveal a grownup wearing a navy-blue pantsuit and a tool belt around her waist. “Ah, you must be Sarah’s family!” she exclaimed. “Please, come in. I was just tinkering with the electric tea kettle; one of our students recently programed it to play a song whenever the water boils. It only seems to know one song, and I drink quite a lot of tea…” Ms. Tiller continued chatting with Sarah's parents as they walked down the hall, but Sarah couldn’t get past the word “tinkering.” After she had tried to dismantle their apartment’s buzzer to make it sound like a doorbell again, Sarah’s father starting calling her “Tinker-bell.” Sarah didn’t know grownups could also be tinkerers, especially important-looking grownups who ran their own schools.

By the time they were all seated on a rich, purple couch in Ms. Tiller’s sitting room, the song “Tea for Two” could be heard wafting in from the kitchen. Sarah’s parents presented Ms. Tiller with the tin of peanut butter oat cookies (“Oh, my favorite!” she declared), and they were soon enjoying a very pleasant afternoon. Even Sarah, who was usually bored at outings for which she had to dress up, found herself interested in Ms. Tiller’s conversation. She appeared to be one of those people who are naturally able to convey in one sentence what is most important to each person in the room. Sarah's parents seemed determined to ask the dullest questions, but just when Sarah started to tune out the discussion, Ms. Tiller's answers would recapture her attention.

"What sort of outdoor amenities do you have?" Sarah's father inquired.

"We have a large yard surrounded by fortress-like walls, an obstacle course to help the children develop their agility and teamwork skills, and a tree house full of costumes and games just waiting for worthy adventurers,” she replied. Sarah looked excitedly towards the window, where she could see part of a sturdy tree house with a rope ladder leading up to it.

"What about the classroom side?" asked Sarah's mother. "Sarah is very hands-on, and she seems to learn best when she can see how things work."

"In that case, I think she'll fit in very well with our other students," Ms. Tiller began.

Sarah had often been told it was rude to interrupt, but she was afraid the conversation would move on without her if she didn't say anything. "Can I learn about your doorbell?" she blurted out. "I can take it apart and put it back together, and you won't miss it because I'll be at the door the whole time I'm learning about it in case someone tries to ring it. And I won't need to take a nap because I'm never tired during the day, so I can keep learning about the doorbell while the other kids are sleeping, and-"

"Sarah, please wait your turn," her mother said sternly.

Ms. Tiller smiled at Sarah's mother, and looked at Sarah thoughtfully. “No one has ever asked to take apart our doorbell, but that sounds like a wonderful way to find out how it works,” she said. "And if you’re not tired during nap time, you can practice a quiet activity, like reading or coloring.”

Sarah's parents beamed at this suggestion, agreeing on the walk back to the hilltop that it had shown how well the program was tailored to the individual needs of its students.

All in all, the meeting was a great success. When they arrived at the hilltop to meet Reginald’s crew, Sarah spent the whole time her parents were strapping her in telling Reginald that soon she would start going to school four times a week, and in about a week she would probably be smart enough to read all of the falcon signs, no matter how fast they were flying. Reginald smiled and said maybe one day she could work with Lawrence, who was planning on flying infrastructure repair missions, and would need to team up with a quick-thinking rider/mechanic.

As she chattered away at Reginald (who could no longer hear her over the rushing wind), Sarah decided maybe it wasn’t so bad that her parents had insisted she go to school.


The end.

© Copyright 2019 K.F. Zilberman. All rights reserved.

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