Aspirin, Anybody?

Groans. Heartrending moans.

My younger sister Jean, tossing and turning next to me in our double bed, was suffering yet another earache.

In the spirit of teen sibling compassion, I covered my head with my pillow.

“Go get an aspirin,” I mumbled. “Mom and Dad’s top dresser drawer.”

She stumbled toward the hall and my parents’ bedroom; I turned over with a sigh of relief. No longer my problem.

A bloodcurdling scream resurrected me.

Before I opened my eyes, I found myself pounding after her. I crashed into an unknown human form and lay flat on my back, panting in the dim hallway. Would I, too, now die at the hands of a hatchet murderer?

“Are you all right, honey? Where’s Jean?”

My unknown assailant didn’t sound like a bloodthirsty assassin.

“Mom?” I rubbed my eyes and tried to sit up. “Mom, is that you?”

I realized she, too, had hit the deck.

Meanwhile, Jean still screamed at the top of her lungs.

“I think she’s in your room,” I said. “Looking for an aspirin. Earache.”

“I must have run right past her.” Mom dragged herself to her feet and headed for her little girl.

Later, we learned that Dad, half-asleep, had detected Jean’s fumbling through their dresser drawers. Drowsy and confused, he bravely attacked the burglar who dared invade his home: he fired his pillow at her.

More screams.

Another tall shadow lurked in the hallway. This one brandished a large club. My heart nearly shot through the top of my head, until I recognized his silhouette.

“Ned,” I said to my elder brother, who crouched in the bathroom doorway, clutching his baseball bat, “it’s okay. Jean’s just got an earache.”

“Why did she scream bloody murder? You’d think she was dying.” He sounded as if Jean had personally invaded his dreams of Marilyn Monroe.

I shrugged tiredly and headed for bed. Eventually Jean returned, sniffling, and my mother soothed her back to sleep. Even though the house now slumbered to the quiet hum of insomniac crickets through the screened windows, I couldn’t close my eyes. My head pounded where Mom and I had collided like a couple of dump trucks.

Maybe I needed an aspirin.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When you were a kid, was aspirin your family’s go-to remedy?

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