The Quiet Game, by Galen Perkins

It’s early on a summer morning, but my sister Morgan and I are already up and wide awake. We are just starting to whisper and giggle when my grandmother comes quietly into the room.

“Good morning, girls,” whispers Grammie. “Should we play the Quiet Game?”

We nod enthusiastically as we exchange a glance. The competition is immediately on! We’ve done this many times before, so we know the rules, but still Grammie says, “Go get dressed, and remember – no talking, no noise!”

We tiptoe over to our suitcases. If we are lucky, we left our bags unzipped the night before. Zippers make noise! Unfortunately my suitcase is partially zipped. Slowly, slowly, I pull the tab, watching as the teeth of the zipper slide apart. Finally I can open the bag enough to grab my clothes. A quick glance at Morgan shows that she is already mostly dressed, and I hurry to catch up.

This is summer time in Maine. My grandparent’s cabin in the woods is always filled with warmth and laughter and magic. We come every year, and even though the drive is long it is always worth it. Though we are old enough now to know that this “game” is really just a way to keep us from waking up our parents, we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into the silent competition. First one to talk loses!

Both dressed now, we tiptoe back to the door. The door is a challenge. Made of old, graying wood, there is a window that rattles and a deadbolt that scrapes and groans as it slides open. Turning it a tiny bit at a time we manage to get the door unlocked with minimal noise. Whew! But we aren’t out yet – we still have to get the door open, and it always sticks. After some careful jiggling we are able to pull the door open with only a gentle rattling of the window. Now onto the screen door, but this one is a little easier. If you open it just wide enough to squeeze through, then the old springs don’t squeak too much. However, you have to remember not to let it slam behind you! Soon we have both slipped through the door and we are running down the path to the old Volkswagon camper.

We quietly slip into the camper. Grammie is right behind us with breakfast and we all settle in around the fold down table. As we are eating our breakfast, I start to feel it – the urge to TALK! I concentrate on holding back the words, but it’s getting harder. I want to point out the chipmunk outside or tell them that I just hear the loons calling on the pond! I look at Morgan and notice that she seems perfectly content to say nothing. I wonder if she wants to go swimming… or pick blueberries…maybe we’ll go for a ride in the rowboat, or go to the sand beach, or…

“Do you want to have a picnic at Schoodic?”

Oh. I just lost the Quiet Game.

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