Despite the morning hour, it was hot outside. The suffocating kind of hot. The kind of hot that makes your eyeballs sweat. This part of the country hadn't seen rain in weeks. Those tiny drops of life-giving sustenance that fell from the heavens had become a thing of legend. Stories were told by the village elders of a precipitous phenomenon called...RAIN...ooooooooh aaaaaaah... A yellow haze had settled over the land.
Our heroine, Ruth, was sitting at her desk, going through her every-day routine of opening iChat, checking email, sorting through the design programs. Her set of girl twins, Hippo and Potamus Lee, were in the play room off to the right developing their secret language. Ruth had suspicions that they were plotting a household takeover, but she couldn't prove anything. She was collecting data...biding her time...arming herself with gummy bears, mini M&Ms, anything she could barter with if the situation called for it.
Aside from the computer's whirring, the twins' mumbling, and the occasional mocking birds' mechanical screeches, it was pretty quiet. Kinda nice. But, all good things must come to an end...the silence was interrupted by the faint "maw...maw...meow...meow...MEOW MEOW MEOW!" approach of a stray cat, growing steadily louder and more annoying. It was Rosa, the petite black and white female. Ruth sighed. Sweet cat, but gyah, shut up, she grumbled internally. Rosa wanted breakfast. Ruth and her sessy man, David, had taken it upon themselves to buy the cheapest cat food possible and feed the cul-de-sac strays. Why? Who knows. There were only two felines that came around consistently...Joaquin and Rosa–self-proclaimed mortal enemies. Rosa was half the size of Joaquin, but she owned the street...and the patio...and breakfast could not wait.
Ruth stood up, stretched, and stepped over the baby gate to the back door. She turned the lock to the horizontal unlocked position and twisted the knob. Searing heat blasted Ruth in the face as she cracked the door open. It was like one of those apocalypse movies where it looks like you're looking at everything through a film of water. Ruth stepped out into the swelter and pulled the door behind her, leaving it slightly cracked.
"Rosa," Ruth exasperated to the furry creature below, knowing she had to roll the "R", otherwise Rosa wouldn't respond, "you're a lot of trouble, I hope you know that."
Rosa responded with a purr, flick of her tail, and leg rub, Ruth's pants like a magnet for the black and white fur. The human grabbed the empty dish and reached into the cat food bag to refill it. CLICK. Giggle giggle giggle. Ruth looked up to see that the twins had come behind her and pushed the door all the way shut. They loved to open and close doors, so it was bound to happen. She set the filled dish in front of the minuscule cat and patted her on the head. Then, the door knob jiggled a few times, followed by a fainter, smaller click.
Ha, they're trying to turn the lock. Wait...WHAT?! Ruth darted to the door, grabbed the knob, and turned. Nothing.
That trouble-making duo had locked our protagonist out. Ruth peered inside the door's window only to see the two pointing and laughing at her. This was a very fun game, apparently. No cell phone, the only neighbors they knew well had disappeared, no hidden key. She tried the door again, as if it might have magically unlocked itself in the past 47 seconds. Hmm...maybe a window or the front door is unlocked. No. That would be ridiculous. Ruth never left anything unlocked. If she lived next to Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse, she wouldn't leave the door or windows unlocked. When she visited friends, she would lock the door behind her. Not a chance another opening in the house would be available for use at this time.
Whew...the temperature was rising. Ruth was starting to glisten. She pondered for a moment, I'm just going to have to break the window. She looked around...beach balls, swim shoes, a wagon, rug...nothing that screamed "I can be easily used to break a window." Maybe I can use my fist....ha, no. That barely works in movies. The mother relented, peeked inside the window again to make sure the twins weren't boiling water or ironing anything, took a deep breath, and high-tailed it out into the street. She knocked on the first door, the neighbors on the other side...no answer. Strange, because I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE, AMANDA. Whatever. Ruth spotted a young woman three houses down grabbing something out of her car. YES! You'll do.
As Ruth scurried across the asphalt, waves of red hot heat licked her bare legs. Please don't let me be super gross when I get to this house.
Ruth approached the house at a sprint, the woman was already inside, and knocked on the door. Nothing. Come on! I totally just saw you. She rang the doorbell. That got an answer. Thankfully, the woman was dressed just about as classy as Ruth...cropped sweat pants, t-shirt, facial headband left over from that morning's face washing ritual...otherwise, Ruth was afraid the woman would have thought she was homeless. The neighborly neighbor was cleaning the house. She and I would be good friends, Ruth thought. The small woman, eyebrows raised, stood in the doorway waiting for an explanation.
Humbly, Ruth asked, "I am SO sorry to bother you. I'm Ruth. I live in the house in the center of the cul-de-sac. My kids have locked me out of the house. Can I borrow your phone for two seconds?"
An understanding look washed over the neighbor's face. She smiled a knowing grin.
"Been there. Totally understand," she laughed as she handed Ruth her cell phone.
Ruth dialed David at work, "Hey, sweet pea. How's it going? Sooo...the girls locked me out of the house and I need you to come home and let me in, kthanxbye."
"Uh...what?" David asked, amused.
"Just come home!" Ruth pleaded.
Ruth profusely thanked the neighbor for her generosity and raced back to her own home. She went to the playroom window and peeked inside. Double and Trouble were playing contentedly with the pretend kitchen that sang questionable songs..."Shapes in my refrigerator–triangle, circle and square. Close the door's face, see ya later. Shapes are everywhere." I know, right?
Hippo and Potamus Lee spotted their winded mother through the window and waved. Ruth attempted to draw them to the back door to see if they would maybe try to unlock the door for her to no avail. They just proceeded to bang on the door and laugh. Beads of sweat were running rivers down Ruth's back. She went back to the playroom window and pressed her hands against the glass. The twins followed suit. They counted fingers, sang songs, did interpretive dance, and called for "Kithy Kithy"...a.k.a. Rosa. They weren't concerned about their mother melting in the furnace outside. Ruth looked down at the still purring kithy kithy, "Rosa, this is all your fault. Learn to feed yourself."
After what felt like a week ('twas really just 20 minutes), Ruth heard a click...rheeeee...Oh, that beautiful noise. And that beautiful man who opened the door. That beautiful man biting his lip trying to hold a laugh in because his almost 18-month old twins locked his wife, now drenched in sweat, outside the house.
"Shut up," Ruth said before David could utter a word. "And thank you."
David headed back to work and Ruth, with a shrug and sigh, grinned at her twins, who responded with a look of, "Hey, where you been?"