Sunday, November 2, 2014

Tickled Pink, A Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“When the cat’s away, the mice will play.” So goes an old saying.

In this case, the cat was Mrs. Williams, out of town for three days at a teachers’ conference. The mice were Tess and her middle-school friends May and Emma; what these “mice” were going to “play” at was painting Tess’s bedroom a definite PINK.

Pizza and sodas were also involved in the plan.

First, they had to get Dad’s permission.

“Dad, can I paint my room?” Tess asked her father.


“It’s boring!”

“A room can be boring?”

“Mine is.”

“Who will buy the paint?”

“I will, with my allowance.”

“Will you have help?”

“Yes, May and Emma will come.”

“Why will they help?”

“They’re good friends…and we’ll have pizza.”

“We should ask your mother, but she’s not here. I guess it is OK.”

Where Mr. Williams fell short was in not asking what color the room was going to become. He should have stopped reading his newspaper and asked that important question.

When Mrs. W. called home that night, her husband forgot to mention the painting party. He did ask her how the meetings were going, and he listened more than he talked. When the phone call ended, he felt he should have told her about Tess‘s plan, but he and she would be talking the next evening.

The next day there was no school. Emma and May showed up, dressed in old clothes, ready to paint. First, everything had to be moved out of Tess’s room. With help from Tess’s brothers Rick and Tim, the crew got the furniture out and spread newspapers on the floor. Then the girls took over.

Mid-way in the project, a pizza and soda break was taken. After that, Rick and Tim looked in on the partly painted room.

“Pink?” Rick asked.

“Pink!” Tess replied.

“Oh,” said Tim, who preferred red or blue or even white.

Rick thought that so far they were doing a good job. “Well begun is half done,” he said, happy to have a chance to quote an old saying.

The girls finished up, opened the windows and closed the door to air out the room. Tess slept on the living room couch that evening.

Mrs. Williams called that night, too. After she told her husband what had happened at the meeting, Mr. W. mentioned the painting project.

“What color is it?” she asked.


“What kind of pink? Dark pink, hot pink, pastel pink?”

“I don’t know. Pink pink.”

“Are there any stripes or polka dots?”


“So it could have been worse.”

The next day, Tess, Rick and Tim moved Tess’s stuff back into her room,” shortly before their mother returned.

“Close your eyes, Mom,” Tess said, having closed the door to her bedroom. After her mother closed her eyes, Tess opened the door.

“Ta da! Open your eyes.” Tess said.

Mrs. W. opened them. “Not a bad color. Better than I feared. Quite good, in fact. Goes well with the curtains. I like it. I really do. Congratulations!”

You could say Mom was “tickled pink.“

When told of his wife’s approval, Mr. Williams sighed a contented sigh and returned to reading the newspaper. Was he tickled pink, too? Hard to tell. You can be sure that Tess was.


One of our 50 short stories about the Williams family in a small town in upstate New York.

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