…a true story about Gabi, by Chase Webster.
As I stood in the Costco checkout line, I felt ill at ease. “What am I forgetting?” I thought as I quickly scanned my haphazard grocery list scribbled on the back of an old Target receipt. Each item on the list had been violently scratched out, as if I were trying to defeat individual items that stood between me and a hot cup of cocoa in front of the fireplace. Nothing remained. “I must have forgotten to write something down,” I admitted to myself. My mind strained and my eyes squinted slightly as I tried to remember the missing item. “It was so important!” I announced audibly. My voice carried a little further than I had intended, inviting quizzical looks from my fellow shoppers in the next line over. Rhett slept open-mouthed on my chest in his carrier, a steady stream of drool wetting the front of my shirt.
“D-size batteries!” I shrieked enthusiastically, drawing even more confused looks this time. I clumsily did a five-point turnabout with my cart and dashed toward the electronics section. Jostling in his carrier, Rhett’s eyes momentarily flickered as we sped past an employee who offered us a dixie cup full of trail mix dipped in Tabasco sauce. I ignored his frantically waving arm as I passed. I was elated. “Now I won’t have to make the thirty minute trip all the way out here again!” As we rushed into the electronics aisle, I glanced down at my list once more, a feeling of triumph welling up in my chest. The tattered receipt-list seemed to glow with a subtle luminescence.
I love Costco deals, almost more than anything else. Where else can you buy a gallon of massage oil AND a ten-pound bag of prosciutto. I shortened my cheerful gait as I approached the batteries. I contemplated all the things I could use D-size batteries in. I could put one in our big flashlight! Our rock-and-play could vibrate again! I hastily grabbed a fourteen pack and merrily started back for the check out line. I couldn’t keep a childlike grin from sneaking onto my giddy face. I crumbled the Target receipt and tossed it into the cart. Mission complete.
Arriving home I almost forgot to take Rhett out of his car seat! I quickly unbuckled his straps and pulled him from the car. He was awake now, and slightly surprised at the swiftness of his exit. I quickly opened the trunk and grabbed the batteries, forgetting the milk, ice cream, and fruit stacked in a box that once contained four-foot Toblerone candy bars. I threw open the door and quickly deposited Rhett onto the dog’s bed. Rupert (the dog) looked at me with a face that could only translate in English to, “Really, Gabi?!” No matter. I opened the cupboard above the stove and pulled out our Maglite. I unscrewed the top. There was already one D battery inside! We must have run out while trying to replace them. I placed another battery’s negative terminal on top of the existing one’s positive. As I screwed the bulb back onto the casing, the light flickered on. I pressed the on-off button several times. My lips curled upward with satisfaction.
Next I looked for the rock-and-play. Where had Chase put it?! I remembered him saying that he was going to put it away, but where did he think “away” was? I ran to the guest room, looked behind the bed, and quickly glanced in the closet. It wasn’t there. In the nursery I looked behind the changing table and beside the rocker. Nothing. It wasn’t in our closet, in the basement storage room, or the garage. Defeated, I slumped down on the living room couch, sinking into the soft leather. I loved this couch, but I didn’t care to be comforted in a nest of pillows. I wanted to power up the rock-and-play. Rupert nudged Rhett with his nose and licked his face. I was so frustrated that I didn’t even tell him “No kisses.” I felt warm tears welling up in the bottoms of my eyes. I raised my hands in surrender and let them fall at my sides. As it fell, my left arm brushed something on the other side of the armrest. My heart skipped a beat. The rock-and-play!!! It was folded and neatly leaning against the side of the couch.
I jumped from my seat and grabbed the rocker, pulling it up over the couch and into the middle of the room. On hands and knees I searched for the small plastic door that housed the battery. Finally, I found it. It was fastened with a screw. Frustrated, I marched to the basement to find Chase’s toolbox. I snatched it from the storage room and bounded back up the stairs. I removed the screwdriver and began turning the screw. I turned and turned and turned. Nothing happened. By now I was becoming exasperated. I pulled the screwdriver away from the rocker and examined the bit. This one was flathead, but the screw required a phillips head. I quickly changed the bit and began again to struggle with the battery casing. This time I was careful to insert the screwdriver properly into the screw head. I clenched my teeth and turned. It wouldn’t budge. I turned even harder. No luck. Finally, I wedged the rocker between the bases of the two couches so I could release it with my hand and it wouldn’t move. I pressed down with both hands and turned with my entire upper body. The screwdriver popped out of the screw and I fell dejected onto the rock-and-play. I started to sob.
Chase pulled up to the house, puzzled. The garage door was open, and my car trunk and rear passenger door were open. He paused to see the contents of the Toblerone box. Ice cream dripped from a carton that had fallen onto its side. He caught his breath for a moment as he noticed that the door leading into the house was also open. A tinge of panic pinched within his chest, and he entered the house with long deliberate strides, concerned about what he might find on the other side of the doorway. Entering the house, he heard sniffles from the opposite side of the couch. Chase quickly knelt by my side, putting his hand on my shoulder, which moved up and down with each sob. “What’s the matter, honey,” he asked tenderly.
“I can’t get the battery cover off of this stupid rock-and-play!” I said through my tears.
“Here, babe. Let me try.” Chase grabbed the screwdriver and easily twisted out the screw. I was dumbfounded. I was turning the screw the wrong way.
“Honey, you’re the best,” I said as I threw my arms around his neck and kissed his face.
“No problem, love,” he said, wiping my salty tears from his cheek. “I’ll go bring in the rest of the groceries.” Slowly, I lifted the plastic cover, removed the old battery, and inserted a new, shiny coppertop. I quickly screwed the cover back on and flipped the switch. I heard the hum of the vibrating motor and wiped the tears from my eyes. Quickly, I snatched up the baby and placed him in the rocker.
“That’s a lot of batteries, don’t you think, honey?” Chase said as he walked past with an armful of groceries.
“Yeah, but they were so cheap, and now we won’t have to buy D batteries for a while,” Gabi replied.
“What do we have that takes D batteries?” he asked.
“Well, I just changed out the ones in the flashlight, and all our baby toys take them,” I said thoughtfully.
“Well, the rock-and-play.”
“Gab, we don’t have any other toys that take D batteries, and the rock-and-play belongs to Paul and Kat. We told them we would give it back to them next week.”
I looked down at the twelve remaining batteries and the two unoccupied places in the cardboard container. “But, like all baby toys take D batteries.”
*A note from Gabi- To say that some creative liberty has been taken here would be a major understatement. Especially with “true story” to be considered. That said, I find Chase’s writing to be highly entertaining as I laughed the entire time. Really, I almost peed my pants.