Nine-year-old Michelle Tanner happily rode her bicycle. She was returning home. She’d been in the park with friends all morning.
It was the Friday after Christmas. She loved bike riding even in chilly weather. This was extra special, though. She usually behaved very well. However, she’d gone to the park alone a couple weeks ago. She’d been unable to ride until today.
She couldn’t believe it when her dad said it was hard to punish someone. She thought adults had it easy. However, she accepted the blame for what she’d done. She couldn’t believe she’d done it. Her heart had said “no.” She just hadn’t listened.
She parked her bike in a small, backyard shed. She thought about the New Years’ Eve party that weekend. Her twin cousins’ excitement thrilled her. She would have fun there. But, they talked about the party more than any present.
The back door was locked. Michelle pulled out a new Barbie keychain. She used her key.
“At least I have responsibility with this,” she considered. She’d been sad because everyone else got to do things over Christmas. Almost everyone in her family had plans.
Michelle quickly hung up her coat. She saw the answering machine light flashing. She closed the door, and ran to listen to the messages.
“Hey, whoever gets this,” came her dad's voice. “I know you expect me home. But, the airport was snowed in. I should be home early this evening. Hope you guys had fun. Joey's leaving for L.A. Of course, if you're Joey, it's you who's leaving for L.A. If you're Jesse, don't bother with supper. I'll bring home a pizza unless I'm really late. If you're Joey, you won't get any. You'll be in L.A. If you're Michelle, Stephanie, Nicky, or Alex, get this message to Joey, Becky, or Jesse. If you're D.J., why are you hearing this? I thought you were skiing... beep!”
Michelle laughed. Her charming giggle reminded everyone of her mom. “That's Dad, all right. He planned that message perfectly. It lasted exactly the amount of time available.”
Michelle’s mother died when she was a baby. Her dad, Danny Tanner, needed help raising Michelle and her sisters, Stephanie and D.J.. So, Michelle’s Uncle Jesse moved in. So did her dad’s best friend, Joey Gladstone. Later, Jesse married Becky Donaldson. They had four-year-old twin boys named Nicky and Alex.
Danny and Becky hosted a local television show. They were asked to fly to Ohio for something. However, Jesse and Becky were already leaving on vacation. So, Danny flew alone.
She listened to the next message. It was Joey. She chuckled as she heard him impersonate a puppet of his. This one always used wood puns.
“Hey, Danny. It's Mr. Woodchuck. The twins are with the Griffiths logging in play time. They might be sawing logs before they get back. I made it to the airport safely. I’m going to tape my New Years’ Eve show early. After I branch out to L.A., I'll see you all tomorrow.” Joey said “beep” at the end. He was imitating the machine.
Michelle laughed. Joey was a very funny comedian. Now, he was gone, too. And, Stephanie was shopping with her friends. But, Jesse and Becky had to be back. Didn’t they?
The third message was from Jesse. It made Michelle laugh harder. “Hey, it's Jesse. I know you’re leaving tomorrow for L.A., Joey.” Michelle’s mouth flung opened. “They got their days mixed up!” “Just wanted to wish you luck. We're so glad you bought us this vacation with your work bonus, Danny. We’re taking it nice and easy. We’ll be back tomorrow. I’m sure you’re hearing this too, Danny. You had an early AM flight home. Oh, Danny, sorry about your new vacuum cleaner. If you don’t know what I mean yet, Joey will tell you. The boys get no dessert for a week.....Beep”
Michelle whistled. She considered the situation. “Four adults and D.J. are gone. Stephanie must be out shopping by now.”
“Whoa, baby,” she uttered to herself. A large grin slowly formed. “All these people living in this house...and I'm the only one here.” She was amazed it hadn't happened before this. Their schedules were so crowded sometimes!
She warmed hot chocolate in the microwave. She felt no desire to disobey. She hated being left out of everything again. However, she wanted to show she was responsible. She wanted to follow the rules. Maybe then, she would get to do more.
Comet, the family’s dog, walked up to her. Michelle turned to face the Golden Retriever. “Terry the Talking Washcloth. Remind me.” That was her dad’s imaginary friend when he was little. It was also the family’s code. If anyone became lost or wound up there alone, anyone coming for them had to utter that phrase.
Michelle brushed back her strawberry blonde bangs. She slowly forgot about the twins. She sipped her hot chocolate and munched on a sandwich. The cocoa steamed as it touched her lips. It warmed her inside as much as her heavy sweatshirt had her outside. “How can folks from Ohio call the fifties warm in winter?”
She placed her cup and dish in the sink. She rinsed them and considered how to pass the time. She could write a story. Or talk on the phone. “No, I just spent the whole morning with my friends.” She hadn’t quite read all her new books. She could also read an old one. Or...
She snapped her fingers. She turned to the dog. He provided great companionship in the strangely empty house. “Comet, you know what a video marathon is?” The dog seemed unaware. “Come on, boy.” The dog followed her to the study.
She opened one of a dozen filing cabinets. All were stuffed with videos. “Dad’s so wild about taping us, I could spend days here. Vacations...school plays...recitals...ah.” She put her left hand on a tape. “Let’s start with this, Comet. We’re invited to a birthday party. Then I’ll pull out the ‘Michelle Birthday file.’ Every year from when I was born to my party last summer.” She grinned, thinking about her plan. This would be lots of fun. And, the house wouldn’t seem nearly as empty. She had plenty to do.
“This being alone stuff is a breeze. Just wait for a code and relive great memories.” And her Uncle Jesse had said what? “Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it?” Why wouldn’t she ask for this?
Suddenly, the doorbell rang. She closed the cabinet and ran to the door. “Who is it?”
She expected the code words. Instead, she heard Mrs. Griffith, Nicky, and Alex all speaking at once.
“That’s right, they were coming, too!” She opened the door.
“Hi, Michelle,” spoke Mrs. Griffith quickly. “I’m just here to drop off the boys. They were good. They had no treats, just like Joey said. I've got to hurry Jeremy to his doctor's appointment. Tell everyone hi.”
She rushed off as Michelle hollered “wait.” Mrs. Griffith watched as she drove away. She waved back at Michelle.
“She thinks I'm just waving goodbye.” Michelle turned around. Nicky and Alex had disappeared. “Well, so much for being alone,” she told Comet. “Oh, well, this should still be easy.” “I have to entertain them. But, I’ve helped Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky with them. Stephanie and D.J. have even let me assist when they’ve babysat. I’m alone now. But, now I can show Dad just how much I can do.”
She jogged into the kitchen to see where the twins had gone. She re-entered the living room. They were coming down the front stairs. “What are you looking for?”
“Where is everybody?” Nicky wondered.
She could understand why being alone seemed strange, living in such a full house. Michelle pointed at herself. “I'm it. I'm everybody right now. I'm the only one here.”
“Nuh-uh. We’re here too,” Alex answered.
She gave a satisfied smile. “That means I'm the boss.” The words failed to register immediately.
“Cookie time,” the twins shouted at the same time. They rushed into the kitchen.
“Two minutes and they’re already trying to break the rules,” Michelle told Comet. She followed them into the kitchen. I sure hope they don’t stay like this.
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