Today was special because Tom Myers came home with me after school. He told me he just got the new dELuX video game, so I invited him over to play. I never had friends over at home before, but Tom seemed cool; he spoke little, but that was fine with me. I would do anything to play dELuX. It’s such a cool-looking game, but my mom said I couldn’t play it because it’s too violent, blah blah. She drives me crazy; I don’t think she’s seen anything else other than her work with how often she’s there.
I never want to work when I grow up, everyone’s soul turns to stone.
One time, when we went to the movies, I showed mom the poster of a new movie I wanted to see, and she said it was too violent. The poster was a floating skull dripping with blood in front of a black background, what’s violent about that? And she didn’t even look at it because she never took her eyes off her phone! That’s what I saw!
Anyway, I came home with Tom and told him right away to keep quiet. My parents were working from home, so I had to fill him in on the house rules. Every day after school I had to wash my hands, get something to eat, do my homework. Wash. Eat. Homework. And I was about to do it all in silence. I told Tom this; he said he understood.
I don’t know what the heck Tom was thinking, but after he washed his hands, he passed by my parent’s office yelling HEYOO! at the top of his lungs! And he said it just like that, HEYOO, HEYOO! it was so strange… I was expecting the worst when I investigated further. Mom was there, with her headset on, which scared me even more. I saw her hand hovered over the mute button, probably waiting for her turn to speak. She was working beside Dad, but neither said anything to Tom or me. Their screen was moving, scrolling and scrolling. Were they even reading anything? Did they hear Tom?
Tom did it again. I hit him in the shoulder, a stinging, light punch. He flinched, rubbing his shoulder like he earned a battle wound.
“Shut up! My parents are working,” I snap.
Tom lunged forward, diving headfirst into the carpet where he rolls across the floor and rises back to his feet, smooth as a ninja, quiet as a feather. I reach inward to grab him, yet my feet can’t cross into the office once I spot the Do Not Disturb sign swinging from the doorknob.
“No, no, no. Slow down. We gotta be quiet; my parents are at work in there. We can’t interrupt them.” I plead. My voice is a whisper, doing my best to remain undetected, considering Tom’s rowdiness. He almost took my outstretched hand until I followed his eyes up to mom’s computer. Rows of dreaded cells packed with words and numbers hypnotize us. I remember Mom talking about this screen. It always frustrated her. I wasn’t sure why she was always on it, considering how angry it made her.
Tom screamed at the top of his lungs so loud both Mom and Dad’s computer screens exploded! Mom and Dad flew backward, propelled from their Herman Miller, tumbling into the hallway. I barely got out of the way! Electric dust crackles from their destroyed computer screens. Thick, smoky dust groups together with a low growl, moaning, bursting into every room like a bitter storm cloud of data, searching for another computer to infect. I look at Tom who was smiling beside the unlit Wi-Fi box holding the disconnected plug. When the data cloud returned, it hovered above my parents, wondering where to go.
“Tom! What do we do?!” I’m afraid the data cloud would take my parents away again. Or turn all of our souls to stone for good.
“HEYOO!” Tom shouted, his tone stern, his shaky fist raised high. The data cloud approaches him. Tom ducks beneath the cloud, sprints to the front door and flings it open. The angry data cloud moaned and groaned its way out of the house.
“QUICK! CLOSE THE DOOR!” I yell, clutching the wall, peeking around the corner.
Tom roundhouse kicked the door shut. Work was over. I look back at my parents lying in the hallway like lifeless, unemployed slugs.
“They’re nothing without their job, Tom. They do nothing else.”
Tom said nothing. Instead, he entered the office again and looks around. He opens a few drawers and peeks in the closet. Then I understood. I remembered Dad’s easel collecting dust in the garage, his once treasured brushes in a fine box beside it. In mom’s bureau there’s a leather-bound book filled with tall tales screaming for polishing and publishing.
“Heyoo?” Tom asked. We gathered and placed their hobbies beside their bodies. In seconds, Mom and Dad woke up refreshed and revitalized. They remembered they had a purpose still. They didn’t have to be robots adrift in an Excel hell forever. And mom was so happy, she let us play dELuX when I asked.
Best day ever!