“Please don’t do it! Mom, please don’t make me go!”
“Katie Lynn, I’m sure you can survive spending a week at your grandmother’s house. She is so excited to have you!”
“Mom, please.” Katie used her most pathetic tone. “You know I have nothing to do there! There is no WIFI, no cable t.v., no nothing! I just can’t live a week there in that old house.”
“You can and you will.”
Katie Lynn sat at the kitchen table, her head in her hands. Grandmother Violet’s house would be so boring! How would she survive spending a week with the old woman in that ancient town that had nothing but old houses, maybe a store or two and a gas station? Her grandmother knew nothing about the latest anything. She couldn’t do it. She just couldn’t. Now, mom insisted – no demanded - she spend a whole week – seven whole days in Nowheresville.
“You won’t be needing your phone either.”
“What?” Now that was the last straw. Somewhere she’d have found WIFI in that town. So, what was this all about? Why was her mom making her go? Katie pleaded, willing tears to come to her eyes, “Please don’ t do it! Mom, please don’t make me go!”
“Katie, I want you to experience life in my old hometown,” her mother explained as she finished unloading the dishwasher. Hadn’t she had asked Katie to do this hours ago? “You need to understand that your phone and technology are not the only things going on in life. Your grandmother has tons of books to read, bakes gloriously, gardens and loves to play cards. Why, I remember playing Old Maid or Crazy Eights as a kid all the time with her and my friends. A week will be gone in a flash and you will wish you could return there next summer. Besides, I know how your grandmother is wanting to have your company - if only for a week. You favor her you know, with that red hair.”
“Take after her? I don’t think so! Old Maid? Ah, am I eight years old again?” Sighing heavily, Katie withdrew to her bedroom, phone as always, in her pocket. At fourteen she had just come from middle school and now high school was on the horizon. High school! There was so much she’d miss being away from home for a week! She’d find a way to take her phone. She could at least call friends from Nowheresville. Looking at her image in the mirror above her dresser, Katie counted her freckles. Geez, there had to be at least 20 on her face. Who in the world had she inherited these from? Her red curly hair wisped around her face as she leaned into the mirror. I suppose Grandmother Violet’s genes had given her these traits. She seemed to remember that before her hair was white and pulled back into that awful bun there had been some red streaks there. Or had her mom just told her that so she would want to go? Katie threw herself onto her bed and looked at the ceiling. Next week she was going. Sunday afternoon mom was driving her. It was happening whether she liked it or not. Nowheresville, here I come! Turning to smother her face into her pillow, Katie screamed into it with all her might, “Please don’t do it! Mom, please don’t make me go!”
It had arrived, Katie’s day of doom. As the Honda civic slowly rounded the corner of the town square, her mother scanned the sidewalks and declared, “Nothing has changed here since I have left home. There is something so sweet about a small town!”
Katie stared out the window. Sweet? Nothing but old, red brick buildings and colorful planters lined the streets. There sure wasn’t anything to attract her attention. “Now take me to the mall please”, she moaned quietly.
“Oh, and there’s the library, and the drug store, Katie. I’m sure you will want to visit both of those. The drug store still has a soda fountain I’ll bet. Oh, and the library, why I spent many a Saturday afternoon there in my younger years.”
Katie watched her mother’s smile grow larger as she happily described all that she remembered from her past in this small town. It was called Granville, but to Katie it was still Nowheresville. The library? Who needed that? A soda fountain? What was that? Katie grimaced. They were about to pull into Grandma’s driveway. A week in prison had begun.
“Hand me your phone, Katie.”
Her mother held out her hand. Katie pretended she hadn’t heard and looked out the side window at Grandma Violets flower filled yard.
“Hand me your phone, Katie Lynn, or you will not use it when you return home.”
Her mother was serious! Katie knew this for sure by the narrowing of her eyes and her tightly pinched lips. Reluctantly, Katie handed over her lifeline to civilization. She felt like crying. Why would her mother be doing this to her? The summer had just begun and this week would be the worst ever. It should have been the best and would be when she got home to her friends and the real world. Taking a deep breath, Katie handed over the phone.
Her mother tucked the phone into her purse and together they walked to Grandmother Violet’s backdoor. As they knocked and awaited the door to open, Katie felt her mother’s arms surround her with a hug. “You’ll thank me for this fun week eventually, hon. I just know you will!” Katie doubted she would make it through the week, much less thank her mother for it someday.
That evening Katie helped her grandmother clean up the kitchen. There was no dishwasher here and Katie realized, as she wiped the dishes her grandmother washed and handed to her, this would be a daily occurrence. Wiping thoroughly the plates they had just eaten supper on, her grandmother looked over at Katie and gave her a sly grin. “I know your mom made you come, Katie Lynn. I hope your week with me won’t be too boring for you. I’ve got a few things in mind we might do and I hope you might meet Lacy from next door. She’s about your age. I hope you won’t be too bored.”
Katie gave her grandmother the best smile she could muster. She had tried to make some conversation earlier during dinner, but it was awkward. All she wanted to do was go home. Couldn’t she please go home!! She must have a million texts by now and . . .
“Come on Katie,” her grandmother insisted as she finished up the last plate. “Let’s take a walk and get an ice cream.”
Katie nodded and perked up. Oh, well, ice cream was good. At least they weren’t sitting around crocheting or something. She was sure her grandmother would be teaching her how to do that soon. . . how boring!
As the two left the house and walked toward the town square, Katie was surprised that everyone she met on the street was someone her grandmother knew. Introducing Katie as her granddaughter apparently gave her a moment of pride Katie noticed, a bit amazed. Grandmother stopped and had a conversation with at least six people before they reached the Dairy Queen. They all made a comment about Katie Lynn’s red hair and how she favored her grandmother. Well, Katie thought to herself, she might look like her, but she sure didn’t act like an old lady. Ordering two chocolate dipped cones, the two sat on the bench outside the store and slurped their ice cream. Katie decided this wasn’t such a bad first night here. It was great ice cream at least, even though hers was dribbling down her blouse.
Smirking at Katie’s appearance, her grandmother laughed outright. “Sloppy just like me! Tomorrow we’ll take a trip to the library and then maybe to my friend Clara’s house. You’ll like Clara,” her grandmother insisted. “She has the most cats of anyone I know!”
Katie grinned and laughed, “Cats?”
Her grandmother returned Katie’s smile, her blue eyes dancing. “Yes, cats. I hope you like kittens. It seems Clara can’t control the population at her house. I’ve tried to explain to her that you need these animals fixed but she insists it isn’t necessary. Cats are her obsession.”
That night Katie snuggled down beneath the soft quilt in the room her grandmother had designated as hers while she was visiting. The tall ceilings in this house made all the rooms look bigger and hers had a striped green and pink wallpaper that she thought quite hideous at first, but it seemed to grow on her. It was different at least. Different having walls with paper on. Tomorrow they would visit the cat lady. This ought to be interesting, to say the least. Katie reminded herself, one night down, six to go. How she wished she could look at her phone. She closed her eyes and fell asleep.
The week went on with no cable t.v. and no cell phone. After a while, Katie found herself looking forward to the next days events her Grandmother Violet had planned out. Interesting stuff at times, like going to the local plant shop and finding perennials for Grandma’s garden. Katie never knew what a perennial was before, but she did now. In planting the flowers, Katie learned a bit about what grew in sun, what grew in shade. She thought she might like to have a garden too someday. Then there was the day they visited the local cemetery where her grandpa was buried. Katie was creeped out at first, but as they strolled though and read the headstones, she found out Grandma Violet had a story to tell about a lot of these dead folks, most especially her grandpa whom Katie had never met. They were more than their graves, but lives that often had funny and interesting tales to tell. Stories Katie found herself listening to intently.
So far, they had visited a woman with more cats in her house and yard than one could imagine, toured the ancient library where she brought back a book her grandmother insisted she would like to read, “Anne of Green Gables”, walked to the soda fountain where she had her first cherry coke float, met a neighbor girl named Lacy with two cute brothers, played Gin Rummy with her grandmother and Lacy, gone bike riding on a bike her grandmother had said once was her mothers and even learned how to do a few crochet stitches. Surprised at herself, Katie found she wasn’t bad at making a colorful potholder. She was even reading that Anne book and liking it! Today was the day they were to try their hand at making cinnamon rolls from scratch with Lacy.
“OOH, I’m so sticky!” Lacy declared as she lunged at Katie, her fingers gooey with dough, her face contorted to look freakish.
Katie backed up laughing as she tried to escape from Lacy. This Lacy girl was actually a good bit of fun. They had gotten to be pretty good friends, she had to admit to herself, in the last few days. Lacy lived with her mother and brothers and Katie was sure that one of her brothers had a crush on her already. These neighbors of grandmother Violets were quite “out of touch” with the modern world as was Grandmother Violet. They didn’t even know what “blue tooth” was. They only had one small television set that still had rabbit ears on the top. Katie was surprised to learn many of Lacy’s friends were as strapped for money as Lacy’s mom seemed to be and nothing much in the way of technology graced their living quarters. At first it shocked Katie. She was so sure these people without the latest this and that just couldn’t be happy. But to her astonishment, they were. She found herself to be having the best of times too – without her phone at her side.
Tomorrow she was supposed be going home. The week had passed in a blur of activity she hadn’t imagined could be possible in this technology poor household. She had even picked up that ancient phone hanging on Grandmother Violet’s kitchen wall and punched in her mom’s number last night to ask to stay another week. Her mother had been taken aback. Katie smiled to herself as she remembered their conversation.
“You want to stay another week?”
“Yeah, mom, I’m kinda having a good time.”
“Kinda?” her mother questioned with a laugh.
“Well, see I met Lacy and well, we are going to go have a picnic tomorrow at the lake. Take our bikes and ride about a mile or so and well . . . “
“Bikes? Can I talk to your grandmother, Katie? I want to make sure this is all right with her.”
Katie tried to hand the phone to her grandmother who shook her head, for her hands were immersed in soapy dishwater. “Just tell her I’m fine with it, dear. You and I have many more things planned to do while you are here.”
“Sorry mom, Grandma’s tied up doing the dishes.”
“What are you doing, Katie?”
“Oh, I’m gonna wipe the dishes after I hang up with you.”
“I see, you are wiping dishes? Really? And you are sure you want to stay another week?”
“I’m sure mom.”
“Katie, really. I think a week away is long enough. Your grandmother probably needs some peace and quiet by now. Pack up and I’ll be by tomorrow afternoon to come get you.”
Katie grimaced and whined into the phone, “Please don’t do it! Mom, please don’t make me go!”
“Ah, seems to me I’ve heard this before somewhere,” her mom chuckled. “Okay then, another week, but what will I tell your friends who are driving me crazy asking when you are coming back?”
Katie laughed and replied, “Just tell them I’m having a ball in Nowheresville.”