(scene opens, one line in montage flashback)
Alpha: I wish I was an only child!
(scene cuts to sunny driveway)
Me: (waves goodbye to Grandma P and an excited Beta in shotgun)
Alpha: (gloomy alongside)
Me: You okay, Alpha?
Alpha: Beta will be gone all week?
Alpha: (kicks rocks) I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight without Beta to talk to. (turns, goes back into house)
Husband: (watches him go) Huh.
(scene opens in sewing room sweatshop, violin practice off screen)
Alpha: How was that? Am I all done?
Me: (puts down bodice) I think you could play a little bit longer, but it sounds good. I have to talk to you about something.
Alpha: (approaches hesitantly)
Me: Have you talked to Girlfriend recently?
Alpha: (wary brave face) Yeah. A couple of times.
Me: (tactfully lets it pass) We need to discuss the “Care and Feeding of the Girlfriend”. They’re not like houseplants where you talk to them once a month and everything is fine. Put your violin away then go upstairs and call her. You don’t have to plan anything, we’re probably busy this weekend, maybe you can meet at the park on Monday, but just tell her “Hey, thinking of you, wanted to see how things were going over your summer.”
Alpha: (tension ratchets down) You think so? Okay! (volin snaps into place, pounding upstairs offscreen)
Me: (licks finger, hash marks the air for a win)
(scene opens in a sound dampening cubical, the atmosphere weirdly and institutionally oppressive)
Gamma: (delightedly sits in her own soundproof booth, grinning through the viewing window)
Doc: (puts on her own headphones) Okay, Gamma, when you hear a beep, you raise your hand, okay?
Gamma: (nod behind the thick glass, gives a thumbs up)
Doc: (fiddles with buttons, dials, and levers, frown deepening) Gamma? Can you repeat my words? Airplane.
Gamma: (tinny voice over the speaker) No.
Doc: Birthday. Book. Dog.
Gamma: No. No. No. I have a hearing problem, don’t you get it? It’s why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!
Doc: (turns off microphone, holds clipboard before face, starts to laugh) “Its why I didn’t raise my hand when it beeped!” What a card!
Me: (hides face in shame) I have two more at home just like her.
Doc: (looks at a confused Delta in the stroller, starts laughing harder) Her hearing is fine, just in case you were worried.
I can’t drop the 5 yr old off at the door to preschool, she might get kidnapped before she gets to classroom. I can’t leave the 7 month old in the car, he might get carjacked in the ten minutes it takes to escort the 5 yr old to her classroom. I can, however, take both children across an icy treacherous windswept parking lot in sub-zero temperatures risking frostbite, cracked skulls, and getting run over. People have no reasonable levels of threat assessment.