Work, Work

So this always happens in week three. I start NaNo, week one is a pain in the butt, week two goes well, week three, my muse absolutely dies from the overwork and here I am, with absolutely no muse going into week four. History, however, tells me I’ll power through this week too, and it’ll be fine.

I didn’t have much of a muse today, but gotta keep trying, right? I actually looked right past this page as I got on the internet today, thinking, ‘no, I’m not ready’.

But NaNo isn’t about being ready or not. It’s about writing, and every word I write is important. Besides, the topic today made me smile, so here goes nothing!

Maybe have a bit of a throwback, and have all of my White siblings participate! In case you’re wondering, the Kallax shelving unit gets featured.

  • “It’s taking too f—ing long.”
  • “Perhaps I should have reminded her.”
  • “I don’t need to do that just yet.”
  • “If we try, we can finish by lunchtime.”

Building IKEA furniture was the make-it-or-break-it point for most couples. In fact, Tom knew of many couples who had made it a point to build at least one semi-complex item together before they got a home, just in case. Jane and Robert White had decided that having their kids assemble to identical bookshelves, the older two on one, the younger two on the second, and with Libby supervising and giving instructions, would be a great way to pass the day. They assembled their children in the living room of their summer manor, given them the necessary boxes and tools, and then promptly swanned off to do who knows what.

Perhaps they were sadistic. Perhaps it was because the John and Jay had been having a good, ongoing row for the last week. Perhaps they thought it would be a good team building exercise. Or, maybe, perhaps it was simply because they needed new bookcases and happened to have five children they felt obligated to entertain. Whatever the reason, all five of the White siblings were gathered for this one sole purpose of assembling the two five-by-five cubed shelves.

“It’s taking too effin’ long.”

“Well, it would take less long of if you actually helped.” John looked up from where he was laying out eight of the small, square boards and putting the short pieces of wooden connectors in the appropriate spots. He hadn’t even waited for Libby to finish reading the instructions before diving in, nor did he need to wait. It seemed easy enough; after all, he had been building and taking apart things almost as long as he could remember. John loved getting his hands dirty and into projects of any sort, and this was definitely the right project for him. He didn’t even mind that his parents had locked them in.

The second oldest, Will, was hardly one to back away from anything, and, seeing that Libby had yet to tell John he was doing it wrong, started in on the bookcase on his side of the room, connecting the pegs as well. After a moment, the eldest of the White boys, Tom, knelt to assist.

Libby glanced up from the provided manual. She got the “easy” job — if giving direction to her brothers could be considered easy. At least John had intuition when it came to putting things together. “If we try, we can finish by lunchtime.” She kept looking back and forth between the manual and John’s actions but made no move to stop him. “You’re part of the reason why we’re even here in the first place.”

“Not the only reason.”

“And yet John is being productive while someone is not.” John didn’t even bother glancing at his brother this time. It hadn’t really been a row between them, just him being his usual self, glad to have been called back to the Manor, if only for the week, and Jay being his usual self, and all uppity about one thing or another. “If you helped, you might even be able to meet up with Mimi later.”

Mimi was Jay’s self-styled girlfriend, and the family reckoned she was doing wonders, getting Jay out of the house and away from his studying. Jay had decided ages ago he wanted to be a lawyer; not just any lawyer, but one well versed in international law. His family hadn’t thought it possible for Jay to become more of a hermit, but he proved them wrong and it was only with Mimi or very constant pestering from his siblings that he made it out of the house at all now. “Ah, yes, that certainly is something to look forward to.”

“Oh, Jay,” Libby smiled at her little brother. “She nice and good for you, and despite your grumbles — and you certainly do grumble a lot, don’t even try to worm out of that,” she added, noting his displeasure at her words. “You do like her.”

Jay sighed, getting on the floor with John, albeit as far away as possible and still on their side of the room, and made himself in charge of the bag with the pegs, choosing to sort them. He scooted over the small pile of pegs that John had been using, and his brother gave a grunt of thanks. “She is interesting.”

“And it’s nice to not have to figure out food plans when your girlfriend takes you out for at least one meal a day, and sometimes even drops by with food at lunch,” Will added for his brother. He was very happily married, with a five-month-old daughter at home, and definitely enjoyed the perks of being married — even when his family requested his presence for something like this. There had been more than one reason he dug into this project so quickly.

Jay was not at all domestic. In fact, if left alone, his idea of food was biscuits and tea, or whatever frozen things he found that “magically appear”. By magically appear, it meant that his sister or mother had stopped by recently with a delivery of meals that all he needed to do was to reheat. In this instance, and mostly just this instance, Jay really appreciated having a family that didn’t understand the words “bugger off”. And he did like Mimi well enough, that was true, and appreciated the company, even if it took him at a bad time some days. Well, most days, really, as Jay always found himself deep into whatever he was studying. “Perhaps I should have reminded her.”

“That you’d be away? She probably remembers that your family stole you for the day. She cares more about you than you about her, so it’ll definitely be something she keeps in mind when meal times come.” This time, it was Tom, and he looked over at Libby. “So, what’s next?”

She paused, giving Jay time to refute his brother’s statement. When no such argument came, she gave the smallest of sighs. “Attach the first four to the the thick board with,” Libby stopped to count, “twelve single holes on it, then, with the four long, thin boards, put long pegs at the end of those. Align one of those with the square boards and fit a bottom — the thick board with lots of holes — to make a one-by-five case.”

Three pairs of eyes turned to her with a very confused stare, while John nodded and searched amongst the one-sided boards with purpose. “This one!” He held up the long one triumphantly and showed the others the meaning of Libby’s statement. Jay held up the thinner board with holes that pierced all the way through, and John shook his head. “I don’t need to do that just yet.”

It took a bit of work, but once the first one-by-five came together on John and Jay’s side, everything fell into place rather quickly, especially with Libby pointing out mistakes before a peg was too stuck to be moved ever again. There was some talk, yes, but most of it went along the lines of “pass me that one, no, not that one,” or grunts of thanks. In the end, there were two fully-completed bookcases on the floor, and four rather tired, but strangely not terribly grumpy, men.

Libby smiled proudly at her brothers as she rose and unlocked the door. “Well done.”

“You mean, you could have let us out anytime?” Jay queried, his eyes narrowing.

She shrugged, ringing a bell right outside the door. “That wasn’t the point of the exercise.”

“It’s like our parents don’t trust us or something,” Will mentioned to Tom, who laughed. “You’ve already passed the time for your quarter life crisis, and I’ll probably manage to skip it altogether since I expect Charis to keep me far too busy to even consider it, and yet Libby gets to be in charge.”

“Don’t you wish you were the only girl?” Libby smirked. Their parents appeared at the door. “Well done, I’m impressed.” Robert looked at the completed bookcases, then at his watch and his children.

“At least someone is.”

“Oh, Jay, you should be thankful your brother was so nice to help you assemble your new bookcase for all those books you seem to have acquired in the last few months.” Jane White laughed at the stunned looks on her children’s faces. “And the other one is yours, Will. Naomi mentioned that she needed a way to divide the office and this is the perfect solution, giving you both the illusion of your own space while still sharing a room.”

“Man, if I’d known it was for Jay, I wouldn’t have worked quite as hard to make it so perfect.” John frowned down at the shelving unit.

“You live at home,” his mother pointed out. “And would get no use out of this.”

“Whatever, point still stands.”

“Thanks, Mum. I’m sure Naomi will love it.” Will eyed their handiwork, imagining it in the large space they had converted into an office at their new home. “I think it’ll do perfectly, actually.”

“Good. We’ll get these transported over the weekend and you’ll be good to go.” Robert waved his children out of the room with a smile. “Now back to your regularly scheduled lives.”

John didn’t need to be told twice. “Time to build things for myself… well, the place I’m sort of working for, but it’s getting me paid, so it’s fine.” He was followed by Tom and Will, who were in good spirits and arranging for the next time “Uncle Tom” will be by to see his niece.

Libby wrapped an arm around Jay’s, pulling him toward her and, by extension, their parents. “See, now you are available for lunch.”

“I should go back to studying.”

“Nonsense, she’s waiting in the parlour.”

“What? I told her-”

“Miss Kwon arrived ten minutes ago asking after you, and wouldn’t take no for an answer,” his father replied, chuckling. “I like her quite a bit.”

Jay sighed, making his way for the door. “So I’ve heard.”


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