The Water Slide

Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story about another day in a heatwave. ... view prompt

6 comments

General

It was still dark, but a breeze had just sprung up. The sheets lifted off the sleeping couple. She woke with a start. “Ben, there’s a wind coming, do you think it will cool the place a bit?”

He rolled over. “It’s the middle of the night, what are you going on about now?”

She settled down, reveling in the cooling zephyr. When it was time to rise, that moment of coolth was forgotten The sun shone brightly, and already, the heat was palpable. Before long, the children were complaining about the heat and it was only 7 am. Margaret dreaded their complaints when the sun had fully risen and the temperature would soar. Although she was glad their house was slightly higher on the slopes of the hill and built a Moorish style, with deep verandahs on three sides of the house enclosed with arches. The rooms were high ceilinged with windows opening onto the verandah. It made them light, but the sun could not penetrate. In summer, this house was cooler than the neighbouring ones and conversely, in winter, they were warmer.

Their youngest child, little Betsy, whined. “Can we visit Lucy? They have air-con.”

Her older brother Jed pointed out that as there was no electricity, the air-con would not be working. He went on. “I bet you anything they are even hotter in that house than we are here. At least we have some shade.”

“Yes, but they have a pool and we don’t.” countered Betsy. “At least they can cool off by playing in the water. I wish we could splash in some water.”

Their mum, Margaret, said, “I tell you what, I’ll fill the bath with water while you children put your swimming things on then you can splash in there.

That idea appealed and they dashed off to change. Margaret thought about the mess she would have to mop up later, but if it made the children more comfortable, it would be worthwhile.

Soon shrieks were coming out of the bathroom as the two children jumped and flopped about in the water.

Ben walked in. “What is going on in the bathroom? Are they trying to murder each other?”

“No dear, they are playing in the water. It will keep them amused for a while. Then they’ll be back complaining about the heat. We just had to have an electricity cut now in the worst heatwave ever. It would be great to have a fan going. Betsy wanted to visit Lucy as they have air-con. Now I imagine their house is like an oven and there is no pool pump either.”    

Ben sat at the breakfast bar staring out into the garden. Then he jumped up. “Got it, I’ll see if I can fix up something we had as kids. While they are still in the bathroom, do you think you could cut up that watermelon and stick the slices into the freezer for a bit? I’m going into my shed. Do you have and thick plastic sheeting?”

“Do you mean a black bin bag? They are not very thick, though.” 

He pursed his lips. “No, something thicker.”

She smiled. “How about the plastic which covered the new fridge freezer?”

Nodding, he said, “Can you grab that for me, please?”

She rummaged in the utility room and emerged with an armful of plastic.

“Great, now I’ll see what I can do. I know its too hot to sit on chairs, but have we still got those plastic ones?”

“Yes, but they’ll be very uncomfortable to sit in now, we’ll sweat and stick to them.”

“Never mind that, just put them out under the tree on the lawn at the front of the house.”

He disappeared down to his shed at the bottom of the garden. Sometime later, he emerged with the plastic neatly rolled up, a handful of metal pegs for holding the guy ropes of the old tent and a long forked stick and the old wooden mallet.

She looked puzzled. “What are you doing with all that?”

He smiled. “Wait and see.”

She watched as he carefully positioned the plastic, which now was a strip. The metal pegs held down the edges. Ben had hammered them in at an angle and deep into the grass. He set the forked stick firmly into the ground at one end. She was sure the heat had gone to his head. This made no sense at all. The only good thing was he was doing all this labour in the deep shade of the old Mahogany tree.

“Darling, can you bring the chairs over, please?”

She had expected this request and had piled them by the front door. Once the chairs were outside, he positioned them well away from the forked stick but facing the plastic strip.

As he disappeared around the side of the house, there was yelling from the bathroom. Margaret hurried to see what disaster had occurred. Nothing, except the plug had come out and they had not noticed until there was only a puddle at the bottom of the bath.

“Never mind, you’ve been there long enough. Time to get dried. Then come to the kitchen for a drink of juice.”

Soon the children trailed into the kitchen. “Where’s Daddy?”

Margaret sat them at the breakfast bar. “Daddy’s busy, but he’ll be with us soon.”  

Biscuit crumbs all over their faces and a green moustache, they sat back as their father walked into the room.

“Ah, good, you’ve had your snack, so would you like to come with me? Margaret, come and see.”

All of them went into the front garden. The children gaped. There was a perfect water slide. Ben had connected the water hose and balanced it in the stick's fork, so a stream of water played over the plastic.

“Wow, Dad, that’s awesome can we play in it?”

There was the sound of hot, grumpy children outside the gate. “Jed, Betsy, let your guests in, then you can all cool off on the slide.”

Margaret smiled as a little trail of hot adults and very red-faced grumpy children gaped at the setup in the garden. Soon the children were happily playing and sliding along the plastic while the adults sat with bare feet wriggling their toes in the cooling water.

One mother smiled. “Ben, this is such a brilliant idea. The water and the shade is a perfect combination.”

At that moment, Margaret called. “Who would like a slice of ice-cold watermelon?”

In an instant, the children surrounded her, jumping up for some. 

As the sun went down once again, there was a slight breeze. It chilled the children enough for them to emerge from the spray and run off to find towels and get dried. Meanwhile, Margaret invited the parents into the lounge. Ben decided it was the perfect opportunity to invite them all for a BBQ. Some parents went home to grab food to contribute to the spontaneous feast.

Lindy commented. “Margaret, how come your house is so much cooler than ours? Well, correction, when our air-con is not working?”

Margaret smiled and looked at her husband, then said, “As you know, Ben is an architect. He designed this house to be environmentally friendly. It does not need air-con in summer or heating in winter. This heatwave has shown it works well, but I have to confess I’m still hot at night, so Ben has made screens with mosquito netting to fill in some arches and dividers so we can all sleep on the verandah but in our own spaces for privacy.” 

Another guest muttered, “Lucky you, we’re sweltering. Now I know why they call this suicide month. Ben, could you come and look at our house to see if we can make any modifications? The electricity seems to be off more than on at the moment, so it's ridiculous relying on fans or air-con. Is that slide thing your idea too?”

Ben shook his head. “No, I don’t know where it originated. I grew up on a farm and my Dad fixed a permanent slide thing for us kids to play on when it was hot like this.”

One father said, “I think it's great, would you mind if I copy you and build one in our garden?”  

So it was alternative ways of coping with the heatwave came into being and more of a community spirit was born.

August 07, 2020 11:50

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6 comments

Parul Srivastava
02:19 Aug 13, 2020

Loved how easily you've woven the facts with the story, Felicity. It totally blends. Very concise and no straying. Please do read mine and let me know what you think 🌼

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Felicity Edwards
17:12 Aug 27, 2020

Thanks for your comments. I'll read yours now.

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Aditya Pillai
07:17 Aug 09, 2020

A wonderful read. Your style is great, easy to read and concise. I like how you turned a simple day in the hot weather into an engaging story. Props to you! A small thing, something seems off about the last line. Just check it once :) A really nice story, would love to hear your thoughts on my latest!

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Felicity Edwards
12:38 Aug 10, 2020

Not sure if I have responded but here it is maybe again. Thanks for your comments. You are right the last line should have read so it was that alternative ways....

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Thom Brodkin
11:36 Aug 08, 2020

What a great story. Simple and compelling. I enjoyed it from start to finish. You did a great job of capturing the heat while also giving a little relief. You are a talented writer. Great job. I submitted a story called “Consequences” if you have a moment I’d love your feedback. Be honest.

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Felicity Edwards
20:35 Aug 08, 2020

Thanks for your comments. I’ll go and read yours too.

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