"Did you clean your room?" mom yelled up the stairs.
Her voice arrived like a cyclone. Down the hallway and hurried into his ears, like a trail of wood smoke.
Colin stopped typing a letter to his sister, Melanie. Picking a sneaker from a pile of stuff on the floor, he heaved it under the bed.
There, that should sound like he's cleaning up.
"YESSSMOMMM," he answered. Words tumbled from his mouth and floated as a paper airplane down and downstairs.
He wanted to get this letter done before breakfast, before school. And definitely before mom came to check his room.
Colin spotted his blue jeans grass stained from last night's baseball game with Uncle Lawrence. Flying saucer pajamas and yesterday's socks also lay on the floor.
Leaning from his chair he grabbed a shirt, like plucking a dandelion from their front lawn. Then he chucked it into hidden shadows under the bed.
Good shot, Colin thought.
"Finished yet? I'm coming to check, soon." Mom's words crawled across the floor and up his back.
Colin got up from his chair. Then kneeled and pushed everything within eyesight under the bed. Now his room looked tidy.
He was quite proud of himself.
Just to make sure all looked normal, Colin lowered his blankets to hide everything.
He wished for no more distractions. He was almost finished. Busy fingers poked at the keys. Then traveled faster, faster.
His bright-eyed teddy bear watched from the dresser.
A crow peeked through the open window.
Sheeba lay at Colin's feet, licking huge doggy toes.
His cat Midnight purred happily on top of the bed.
"I suppose you just threw everything under the bed?" Mom's questioning voice fired like an arrow down the hallway.
Colin tried to ignore the truth. Typing fingers sped along. Sheeba looked up, amazed at how quickly his master could move.
"I suppose you put your fishing gear under the bed too," mom said.
All of a sudden, something strange happened. Colin saw his green tackle box and fishing rod jump from the corner and whistle by under the bed.
"I'll probably find your Lego and Chess games there too," mom called.
Colin held his head and stared. Black and white plastic pawns and other chess pieces rolled off his desk. Then hid under his clothes, and the bed.
Teddy bear blinked.
"Will I find your winter boots lying around, huh? What about your skis and sleeping bag?" Each time Colin's mom mentioned an item it added to the pile.
And Colin's bed began to lift. There wasn't enough space to keep everything underneath. Sheeba paced the floor.
A Sparrow and Blue Jay joined the Crow on the windowsill. Their beaks opened wide in amazement.
"What about your running shoes? And Sunday School shirt and pants? Or those plane models from your birthday? I suppose they're under the bed too."
At that moment, his closet door opened and everything mentioned clattered along the floor. They followed each other as if in a parade.
Every shape, size, color of toys and clothes rolled, twisted and scratched across the floor. And scampered under the bed.
As the pile grew, the bed lifted. Higher.
The cat meowed and jumped from the swaying. It was getting to be a long way to the floor. Colin tried to ignore what was happening.
His fingers flew across the computer keys. "Have to finish this letter... have to finish this letter," he kept saying.
Now he heard mom's footsteps. "Oh, no." Busy fingers danced with sentences. Finally the letter was done.
Colin jumped from his chair. And began pulling clothes from under the bed. Gathering them in his arms he ran to the closet.
The thump of his mother's feet moved upstairs. And coming in slow motion.
Then more help arrived. The crow landed on pulled at the pile. Then a sparrow and cat Midnight joined in. Even Sheeba did her share.
Quick dashes went from closet to bed and back again.
Dog toes clicked, bird feathers flew. Cat meows added to the excitement. Finally, everything was placed neatly. The way mom liked.
"Well, I must say your room is a pleasant surprise," she said suddenly from the doorway. Her smile was like maple syrup on pancakes.
The teddy bear stopped blinking.
Sheeba peeked from beneath a paw.
Midnight purred happily once again.
Crow, Sparrow and Blue Jay had nothing left to do. So they flew away.
And Colin finished reading his last sentences to his sister.
"Nothing much happens here," it said.
"High-Fives, from Colin."
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
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