So we kept the doorbell a secret, though our joy at ringing it never felt quite the same. The dog barking, and my mom quizzically staring out the front door, only reminded us of our earlier treacheries. The magic was gone.
Twenty years have passed, and I've been typing this whole thing at the cabin in the woods where my mom spends her summers these days. I told her I was writing something about what it was like to grow up with a deaf mom, so all day she's been peeking over my shoulder, reading passages here and there. I didn't know how she'd feel when she learned about the doorbell. She'd always had such a glowing sense of wonder about those phantoms knocking at the door--to reveal the secret made me feel like an old silent-movie villain crushing a child's toy.
Here's what my mom just told me: "I knew about the doorbell. I knew it was your game. It was your game, but that's the thing, it was my game, too."
Excerpted from My Heart is an Idiot, by Davy Rothbart, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
[Originally published in January, 2013.]