Gideon looked very concerned as he walked quickly down the stairs and jogged across the room to where I was sitting on the couch. I put down what I was reading and prepared myself for whatever nonsense was about to come out of his mouth.
“What’s wrong, little man?”
He pointed back up the stairs, “The kitchen!” he took two quick dramatic huffs of air, “it out of Batteries!”
Uh huh. There it was. Just as I expected.
“Gideon, that’s ridiculous. The kitchen doesn’t run on batteries, okay? What makes you think it’s out of batteries?”
He shook his arms in the air, “Me was just there, and it SAID SO!”
I leaned closer and narrowed my eyes, “Okay, so you were just in the kitchen…” He nodded. “…and it said it was out of batteries?”
“Yes!” he nodded even more emphatically and chopped at the air with his hands. “Me was eating cereal in the kitchen and it say it Not. Have. Batteries!”
“Okay, the cereal is out of batteries, or the kitchen is out of batteries?”
He rolled his eyes at this absurd question, “The Kitchen, Daddy!” I could see, his frustration was now verging on tears.
I sighed and ran my hands down his arms a few times resisting the urge to shake him upside down like a salt shaker and trying to calm his flailing limbs before he took out one of my eyes.
“Okay. Alright. So, the kitchen is out of batteries.” I slowly stood up (something I had not been planning to do for another hour or so at least). “Show me.”
He grabbed my hand and quickly dragged me up the stairs and into the center of the kitchen. Then he cocked his head to one side and was quiet. We listened.
Behind us, the refrigerator buzzed quietly. Clara and Lydia laughed upstairs in their bedroom. A car passed outside the window.
“Gideon this is ridic-”
But then something happened. Something impossible. A woman’s voice suddenly appeared in the kitchen and calmly announced that it was out of batteries.
He pointed a finger at me in triumph.
“What was that?!”
“The kitchen!” he said, “It have NO batteries!”
Sure enough. The voice HAD said “…batteries low…”. And the voice HAD come from the kitchen. It had sounded so confident. Even I was starting to think that maybe it was possible that my kitchen had finally run out of batteries. Why hadn’t I paid more attention during our home inspection? Where do you even buy batteries for your kitchen?
“See?!” he said again.
I shushed him and waited. A moment or two later it said it again. The kitchen was out of batteries. This time I could trace the sound to the corner of our countertop, near the stove, by the microwave. Maybe there was something in this pile of hard to classify objects that migrate into a flock here at the entrance to our kitchen? I sorted through it, under some papers, lifting aside a notebook, moving a jar of lotion, a hammer- There, a smoke alarm.
“Hello,” I said to it.
“Low Battery,” her responded, in a flat sort of voice that seemed annoyed with having to repeat herself so many times.
“Yep,” I told her. “I bet.”
I turned around and picked Gideon up into the air. “Okay, I’m sorry for doubting you, little man. Turns out, the kitchen was out of batteries.”
“It’s okay Dad.”
There was a crash and another chorus of laughter from the girl’s bedroom upstairs.
“Let’s go see what your sisters are doing.” I said to my son and then added, “Hey, maybe all of our rooms will run out of batteries soon. Wouldn’t that be nice?”
He agreed. And the two of us floated slowly up the stairs into the chaos of life, the electric energy of children and the brilliant flashing light of youth, bright loud beautiful nonsensical youth. Behind us, a quiet voice in the kitchen, muffled under a stack of papers, reminded me one last time that it was shutting down.
“I know. I know. You’ll just have to wait your turn, lady.”