It had been three weeks since their mother brought home the drum set and Linus was still not a rock star. He couldn’t believe it, after a full twenty days of practice and everything.
In the next room over, separated by an inch of plywood, Margaret had a headache. She missed silence.
“Is this life now, Momma?” The woman continued to pour cereal into two bowls, her back turned. She could not hear her daughter. Margaret noticed her mother’s neon pink earplugs and thumped her head forward, letting it hit the granite counter with a bang.
No one in the house heard her over Linus’ drum set. With her head pressed against the cool stone, she clenched her eyes closed. It was time for a plan.
Their family computer lived in the kitchen. She was not allowed to use it while eating so she scarfed down each bite of cereal, finishing her breakfast before Linus even entered the kitchen. She ignored him when he entered the room, even though he said hi and pulled one of her pigtails.
“What’s up with her?” He asked their mother. The ear-plugged woman turned on her heel and left the kitchen without a response. He had gone unheard, as well.
Margaret cherished the silence; she even tried to type softly on the keyboard to not break its precious relief. After reading one webpage, she had a plan. While Linus tapped, tapped, tapped, on the granite counter, Margaret slid from her chair and ran down the hallway to the playroom that now acted as a music studio.
In the doorway she stood face to face with the drum set, her nemesis.
Her eyes zeroed in to the corner where her teddy sat on a wooden rocking chair. The pudgy bear was about the size of the main drum and a worthy sacrifice. She snatched him up and ran behind the instrument.
For a moment a thought hung in the air. She tightened her hand around the bear and thought how easy it would be—how simple—to lift her foot and slam it into the largest drum. She would get in trouble, sure, but she would win. Their mother would not buy a second drum set and there would be no more waking up to the blaring drum beat. But then she remembered Linus, sitting on the counter tapping his beat. She tried to recall the last time she had seen her brother so dedicated to something and pictured his heart breaking at the sight of the broken instrument. She lowered her foot.
Instead, she returned to her plan. She pushed the bear into the large space behind the drum, smushing him until he fit into the round instrument. She didn’t have long. Linus ate his cereal quickly because he liked to slurp down the milk, so Margaret raced to their art supplies box.
She grabbed tape and construction paper. After writing a message on the paper she taped it to the metal rim of the drum and stepped back to admire her handy work. The paper wall kept teddy in his place and the message read loud and clear:
“Remove this teddy and your drum set will pay. Love, Margaret.”
She ran from the room and returned to the computer, fingers twirling in her hair as she tried to pretend everything was normal. Linus still sat at the counter tap, tap, tapping. She held her breath when he finally pushed away from his bowl and walked to the playroom. She heard, and promptly ignored, when he called her name.
Her breath held still until she heard the drum, no longer a bang but a soft thumping beat, hardly able to penetrate the walls. It was only then that Margaret leaned back against the desk chair and smiled. Success.
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