The plan was simple: make the girls a frozen pizza, pull out the couch-bed, pop in a movie and turn out the lights for a fun babysitting night.
The reality was very different. Smoke began pouring out of the oven before it had even finished preheating, the frozen pizza lay forgotten on the counter, turning the cardboard box soggy. The younger sister, Anna, stood on a kitchen chair wielding two potholders, waving them wildly about to clear the smoke away from the smoke-detector. The older sister, Alicia, was also standing on a chair. She was riffling through cabinets looking for something, anything that they could have for dinner that didn’t require using the oven. There was no milk in the fridge so cereal was out. And the can opener was missing from the drawer so most of the things in the pantry’s contents were out. She climbed down from the chair with a box of Pop-Tarts in one hand and a sleeve of crackers in the other. It would have to do. Popcorn during the movie would help to fill them up more.
Some cheese with the crackers and a minute in the toaster for the frosted pastries and dinner was ready. Time to set up the sofa bed for the movie. Anna pulled all the cushions off while Alicia helped to pull the bed piece out but the whole couch wobbled with each tug. By the time Jessica came in with the bowl of popcorn, the couch had wobbled right off one of its back legs. No amount of balancing or propping could get the couch in a position that would make putting the leg back on possible; at least, not without a lot more help than two children under the age of ten.
The couch had to be abandoned but the cushions with a few blankets were an adequate substitute. As the kids were munching on the improvised dinner, Jessica went to put the movie in the player and prayed that the disc wasn’t scratched, that the machine was hooked up correctly, and the batteries in the remote were fresh.
Finally, something was working. They went through the previews and reached the main menu.
“Can we turn the lights out to make it more like a movie theater?” Alicia asked.
“I don’t see why not,” Jessica said and got up to flip the switch.
“I wanna do it,” Anna hollered as she jumped up and strained her hand up the wall.
“Be careful,” Jessica warned her as she sat back down.
Anna’s tiny fingers finally reached the switch. The lights in the living room went out. But so did the lights in the dining room and study and the television went off too.
From the darkness Jessica muttered, “You have got to be kidding me.”