Ready or Not …

Photograph by Eberhard Grossgasteiger on Unsplash

The afternoon sun blazed down on our snowy mountain oasis. Our winter family retreat was coming to a close.

It had been a great time.

The days were filled with sledding and skiing and snowball-fights. In the evenings we assisted Mom with home-baked cookies and we gophered for Dad as he manned the outdoor grill. Each night we gathered in front of the fireplace as a family or games of trivia or charades.

Being the family prankster, I had enjoyed pulling tricks on each of my seven brothers and sisters. I even got a good one on Mom last night.

This year, however, I had been caught a little off-guard my family’s friendliness upon receiving my Christmas ‘treats’.

Thursday night, I was successful with placing plastic roaches in my oldest sister’s salad. On Friday night, I taped balloons to the back of the bedroom doors of my two youngest brothers so that when they opened the door completely the balloons meet with pins and burst.

Saturday night, my luck ran out. I placed my oldest brother’s hand in warm water while he was asleep. He woke up before he wet the bed.

After each and every trick, there were shouts and giggles.

But the strangest thing was that after each prank, that person just stopped dead still, looked me right in the eye, and said very calmly, “Pranks sure are a lot of fun. Aren’t they, Freddy?”

After hearing that same statement, said exactly the same way, for nine times during our winter weekend get-away… Well, let me tell you … It was a little nerve racking.

So I was just a little relieved as I took the youngest out for our final hide-and-go-seek as the rest of the family packed the station wagon and the van.

“98… 99… 100. Ready or Not. Here I come!”

I stepped away from the tree.

My forehead banged back against it.

I tried to step again… but my arms wouldn’t come loose from the tree trunk.

I was stuck.

Suddenly, I was surrounded by laughing and giggling. Two snowballs hit me on my left shoulder.

“Mom!!!!” I screamed.

“I’m right here,” she said as I got another snowball to my backsides.

There was another countdown. All at once the yelled together, “Pranks sure are a lot of fun. Aren’t they, Freddy?”

Written for Flash Fiction for the Practical Practitioner: Week 1: 2022

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