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Prompt: At the sound of the buzzer


There were three half-naked kids on the floor, two boys and a girl, all with blond hair and tan skins. They were busy doing the things that 3-year-olds do when their parents have left them alone for a few minutes.

Sheila pushed a Tonka truck across the linoleum and rammed it squarely into Simon’s toes. Predictably, Simon let out a yell and threw what was in his hand at his brother. The little balsa wood airplane didn’t really fly as it should have done, but Simon’s throw was strong enough to make Elliot erupt in howling noise.

In the next room, Mrs. Strong sighed. “Sure enough, Sheila started it again.” They’d been watching the triplets through the one-way mirror at the study center for more than ten minutes. In that time the only one of the children to instigate any behavior at all was Sheila.

“It’s only a couple of minutes now. At the sound of the buzzer the fifteen minutes will be up and they can get dressed and have juice.” The director of the study, who was somewhat less than an objective observer, was a friend of the Strongs. He’d watched the three children grow from tiny infants into remarkably capable pre-schoolers. It was only in these study sessions that Sheila and the boys didn’t get along.

“I don’t understand it, Dan,” Dianne Strong told him. “Normally Sheila is the most docile little girl.