At six-thirty a.m., still groggy, I opened the hallway door and stepped into the kitchen.
What's that sound?
I walked over to the refrigerator. Yes, it was coming from the refrigerator.
I looked behind the refrigerator. Yes, the sound was definitely coming from back there. Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew -- the persistent, high pitch of water gurgling.
"What is that sound?" I asked Aaron and his dad. They were both sitting at the kitchen table.
"I think it's just the ice maker," Aaron said.
Boy, I guess I've never been up early enough to hear the ice maker making ice.
After Aaron left for school, I was busy getting the kids their breakfasts. They were lined up at the counter with plates of waffles in front of them. Olivia was in her usual morning attire: underwear, draped in her pink leopard-print fleece blanket. Gabe was fully dressed. Anna was in her pajamas. They were all huddled around the birthday present we'd purchased for their cousin Josiah: a G.I. Joe guy with a snow mobile. We are giving him the present tonight. Until then, my kids get to enjoy looking at the package.
I noticed suddenly that the sound was louder. Much louder. CHEW, CHEW, CHEW, CHEW, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG.
I checked behind the refrigerator again, but I still couldn't see anything. Boy, this thing's busy making ice!
But as I walked through the kitchen, my eye caught the reflection of water glistening along the base of the cabinets. I crouched down, my eyes tracking the water back to its source.
Of course the water came from underneath the refrigerator.
Which would be a semi-normal kitchen mishap. If it weren't leaking all over my mother-in-law's brand new cork floor.
The brand new cork floor that must be instantly cleaned if a cup of water is spilled on it, that must be hurriedly wiped if a wet shirt drips on it. The cork floor that wet children fresh from the swimming pool are not permitted to walk upon.
"WATER!" I screamed. "WATER!"
The G.I. Joe man was forgotten. The children sat at attention, then scurried from their stools like squirrels.
"Olivia! Run out and find Papa!" I cried. She was closest to the back door. I knew Grandpa usually spends his mornings before work laboring in the back garden.
Olivia started for the door, but turned with panic in her face. "I'm just in my underwear!"
"Gabe," I cried. "It's up to you! Run out and find Papa!"
Gabe ran. And I went for the rags under the sink. I grabbed an old night shirt, a holey dress and a pair of frayed underwear and plowed back into the kitchen to mop up the water.
Gabe came flying back through the screen door. "He's not there!"
"He must be upstairs!" I cried. "I'll go! You guys stay here!"
I ran up the stairs two at a time. The door of the bathroom was closed. Grandpa was probably taking a shower.
I knocked. "The refrigerator's leaking," I said through the door.
Instantly I heard Nai Nai's voice from her bedroom. "The refrigerators leaking?!" The bedroom door flew open.
Okay, I could stop panicking then. I had someone else to panic for me.
Nai Nai and I rattled down the stairs together. The children were assembled in the kitchen, staring at the water.
I pulled out the refrigerator. By that time Papa had gotten out of the shower and come downstairs, fully dressed. Physicians are always wonderful in emergencies.
I discovered that the small white hose delivered water to the ice machine was spraying, so I stopped the hole with my finger until Papa could turn the water off.
"Thank you Jesus that you saw this before it was too late," Nai Nai said to me, bringing more towels to mop up the water.
The base board paint had bubbled, but the cork floor was saved.
"What if this had happened in the middle of the night?" Nai Nai said, shuddering. "Thank you, Jesus! ... Next time I'm not getting a refrigerator with an ice machine in it, that's for sure."
"Thank you, Jesus!" Anna chirped from her seat at the counter. "He sure is a fast Jesus."