Here's a little thing I have written called "Rummaging Around".
“What on earth is that noise? Ethel is that you?”
She yells-“Yes, Dear it is me. I am up in the attic? “
I yell back- “Well it sounds like an army marching around. What in Heaven’s
name are you doing up there?”
She called out- “I’m rummaging!”
“Rummaging? For what?” I tried to throw my voice beyond the second story. It seemed like a perfectly logical question.
She called back. I could hear a hint of exasperation in her voice this time.
“I am looking for something Rodney. Why else would I be rummaging?”
“Looking for what?”
“Something…” Her voice still had a tinge of exasperation.
“Ethel”- I called once again?
“Yes?”- she called back. Suddenly, there was a loud thump and then the sound of something tumbling over. Something she knocked over perhaps.
“Where is this something you are looking for Ethel?”
The answer came back in a few seconds.
She grunted as she spoke-
“Dear, if I knew I wouldn’t be rummaging, now would I?”
I paused for a second.
“ I suppose you’re right Ethel. You wouldn’t!”
“Wouldn’t what Dear?- I didn’t hear you that time.”
“I said”- I walked closer to the staircase- “ I suppose you’re right. If you knew where the something was, you wouldn’t need to be up there rummaging, making all that noise!”
Another thunderous thump and a few choice words from Ethel.
“Sorry Rodney. A big box just fell off Father’s old desk and knocked Auntie Effie’s old bridge lamp into that old birdcage you bought last year at the flea market. Sorry, I didn’t hear a bit of what you just said to me.”
This was beginning to sound ridiculous, calling as if we were each other’s echo.
“Must we continue this conversation like this? I mean you up there and me way down here. I am about to listen to my programme on the radio. I don’t want to be missing the opening bit.”
“What’s did you say is ‘hissing’ Dear? If you have the kettle on, I’d be ever so grateful for a cuppa.”
She threw something. It hit the floor with a crash.
“ I didn’t say ‘hissing’ Ethel. I said ‘missing’. I don’t want to be missing some of the best bits on my favourite radio how. It’s about to start. Ethel?”
“Yes?” she cried.
“It’s not very easy communicating with you Ethel what with me down here and you way up there in that attic.”
She called back- “I suppose you are correct Dear. It doesn’t make much sense-does it?”
“No. Especially with you making all that blasted racket up there!”
“Sorry Dear. Don’t mean to disturb you. How’s that Tea kettle coming along?”
“Tea kettle Ethel? I didn’t put the kettle on Ethel!”
A slight pause and then- “You best get on to it then. Isn’t your programme coming on the radio about now?”
“Yes. It is. That’s what I have been trying to tell you Dear. With all that noise you’re making up there, I can barely hear myself think- or you talk!”
She yelled- “That’s nice Dear. Give me a shout when it’s ready!”
My temper was growing short!
“Ethel, if you want a cup of bloody tea, then you’ll have to come down and plug the kettle in for yourself. I am about to sit down, in the den- in my favourite chair with a finger or two of scotch and enjoy my radio programme in peace. All I am asking of you is to please be quiet so I may do just that! Can you hear me Ethel? Ethel! Ethel can you hear me?”
Suddenly, a tap on the shoulder.
“What’s all the yelling about Dear?”
“I thought you were up stairs. In attic. Rummaging.”
“Oh, I was Dear but I thought I would take a break, come down and see if you had kettle on. I am dying for a good cup of Gold Leaf. Besides Dear, it’s time you settled yourself down in your favourite chair in the den and switched on the radio. Your favourite show is on. Now scoot. I’ll bring you in a cup and a nice biscuit soon as it’s ready.”
“But…but Ethel. How did you… I mean you were just…I only called…”
“Never mind Dear, just skeedaddle and I’ll be right in and keep you company- soon as your tea is ready.”
She turned and headed in the direction of the kitchen. I shrugged and walked towards the den. My programme was about to come on.