I stand at the top of the stairs, gathering my courage. At last, I take a deep breath and walk down the stairs, not knowing what sort of help my father wanted, but having a pretty good idea that there was manual labor involved.
Sure enough, I get down there and the first thing he says is, "Hey help me lift this wall." Lift the wall?? And why didn't he ask Josh (my brother, who is way taller and stronger than I am) to do this? Well, whatever. "Eh...okay." I say. Turns out, it was just about eight or nine 2x4s all screwed together to form a "wall" of sorts. So I help him lift it, hefting my side while he lifts his. After the wall is up, he says, "Okay, hang on while I get some more screws."
Yeah, okay. No problem. Take your time. I'm only holding up a wall with my bare hands. No big deal. So then it starts to slip. "Uh...dad?" I can hear him behind me, trying to find those screws, oblivious to my peril. "Dad..." slipping...slipping..."Dad!"
"What? Whoa, Johanna, the wall is slipping!" Doy.
So he finally finds the screws and secures the "wall" so it's no longer falling on top of me. I step back to admire the fruits of my labor and catch my breath, hoping the "helping" was over. so dad starts to measure this and that and make little marks on the wood with his little flat orange pencil, muttering things about "whack that off" and "put another one there" and "give this one a little room" and using little words like "we" and "us" and "lets" and stuff like that, making me wonder if I was supposed to stay, but feeling kind of useless and kind of wanting to go back upstairs where I wasn't going to have to heft any more walls, but not sure weather or not he wanted me to stay and help, or keep him company or what. (Whoa! that's gotta break some kind of run-on-sentence record).
So I cough a little, reminding him that I was still there, and that I wasn’t doing anything. If he wanted me to help, fine. If not, I wasn’t planning to stick around. I had places to be, things to do. And those places and things didn’t, in any way, shape or form, involve even the word “strenuous”. Dad doesn’t seem to notice me. “Uh, dad? Can I go upstairs?” I ask, still unsure if he needed me for some other bizarre chore.
“Hmm. What? Oh, sure.” He says, without so much as glancing in my direction. Apparently I wasn’t needed too much after all. So I left him to his work then and retreated back into the safety of the upstairs. Maybe he did want me to stay, for all I know. Misery loves company. But who ever said company loves misery? :P