My shoes splashed through the rainy brick road as I looked down on my way to catch the bus. The rain fell all around me but I was dry inside my canopy dome. I had my schoolbag in one hand and the umbrella in the other.
Tonight my sister Jenny would be driving from Kansas up to Minnesota where I was to see me for my birthday.
I got to the stop where a big sign with a bus on it stood. There was a bench covered in chipping green paint. I sat down on it and immediately realized my mistake. My thin leggings were soaked all over my thighs.
“Well I’m already wet,” I whispered to myself. I remained seated on the wet bench grimly looking at the sad day. The sky was an ugly grey covered in a small blanket of clouds, the sun hidden away. There were only two other people scattered around the street.
The rain washed over windows. The bench sat on a wet sidewalk with grass sprouting up in between the blocks of concrete. A little green sign said maple and another connected said fifth. The bench I sat on was in front of the road and across was another sidewalk. On my side of the road was a big building. One of the university's buildings.
Across the road were houses. Little ones with washed away paint and rotting stairs on the porch. These were the little houses that nobody wanted, and if anyone did buy them they didn’t have the money to fix them up so there they sat getting worse and worse.
There was one in particular that I liked. It was a very faded blue color with a white porch. There were two visible stories and maybe a basement. I always thought with some TLC that house would be really nice, and I’d always dreamed of buying it.
The bus rolled around the corner through a puddle sending an arc of water droplets flying through the air. I closed my umbrella and stood up.
The bus stopped in front of me and the doors squeaked open letting a gush of warm air flood out. The bus driver inside was a grumpy looking woman with orange frizzy hair and too much lipstick. She was snapping gum loudly.
“How are you today?” she said in a nasally voice.
“I’m great what about you?” my voice was perky and high pitched which was what happened when I was nervous.
“Fine,” she replied. Her eyes were drooping and I could tell she’d had a long day. I scanned my pass and stepped up the stairs into the bus.
There were lots people crowding the vehicle. I saw a woman with a round face holding a baby, a man with a briefcase, and then a face I recognized.
My best friend Emily sat in a seat at the back of the bus staring out the window.
“Em,” I called out. She turned and looked at me. She was wearing a big grey sweatshirt and her long straight brown hair that usually fell to the bottom of her ribs was weaved into two French braids that hung on either side of her head. I walked to the seat and settled down on the worn leather. Emily smiled at me.
We both sat in silence and stared out the window. I watched our drenched city roll by. I could hear the sound of the rain on the roof of the bus. The noise became louder and louder until it blocked out all the conversation of the others on the bus. Just a steady beat.
Outside the trees swayed and in the rain the pavement shined. Other buses passed by, as well as cars.
“Happy birthday” Emily said. I smiled.
The bus jolted to a stop. I looked up and the bus driver called,
“Corner of Gardner and Seventh.” I looked at Emily.
“This is my stop,” I said and stood.
I walked to the door of the bus and looked at the bus driver again.
“Thanks,” I said and stepped off onto the wet sidewalk. I took my umbrella and opened it back up. I walked down the street my sneakers soaked. From where I stood, I could see my house. It was a tall brick building with a big window in the front. I walked down the street until I stood in front of it. I stepped up on the welcome mat. The door opened before I could reach for the key that was in my pocket. My mom stood in the house. She was smiling.
“Happy birthday Magdalena!” she said. She led me into the living room, which was covered in banners and balloons. I sat down on the couch and sighed.
“Thanks, Mom, I really appreciate the effort but next time you really don’t have to do all this,” I said trying my hardest not to be ungrateful. My mom sighed as well and sank into the couch.
“It’s really no hassle at all Mags,” she said using my childhood nickname. I smiled at her.
“Whatever makes you happy. I have some homework I have to finish by Friday.” I walked past the kitchen and through the hallway to the last room on the left. I turned the brass doorknob and revealed my room. I threw myself onto my white comforter that concealed my unmade bed. My dog, Pickles, ran into the room and jumped up to settle down next to me.
“Hey, Pickles,” I picked him up and held in my arms like a baby, which he loved. He was a 6-week-old brown Pomeranian. His name came from the fact that he loved pickles. I hopped off my bed and set Pickles on the ground. He yapped at me and chewed on my pants trying his hardest to tug me towards his toy basket, which sat in the corner of my room.
“I’m sorry Pickles I can’t play right now,” I told him kneeling down so he could look me in the eye. He tilted his head to the side.
“Why don’t you go play with Mom,” I suggested. He tilted his head even further. I scooped him up in my arms and walked to the living room. My mom sat on the couch with her laptop. She noticed me and smiled.
“I’ve got some bad news,” she said bitterly. I frowned. “Jenny won’t be able to make it for your birthday. She hit some bad traffic and is gonna have to stop for the night. Jenny said she’d most likely be here by noon tomorrow though. Also Dad’s flight was canceled,” my mom told me in a rush of words.
I walked to my room, slumping. I had been alone with my mom for weeks, my sister away in Kansas as usual, and my father in Chicago on a business trip, and now I wouldn’t even be able to see them on my birthday. I frowned with disappointment. I heard my mom run to her room and come back. She knocked on my door, and after hearing a grunt for a response entered almost silently. I looked up to see her holding a box covered in silver wrapping paper.
“I’m sorry, I thought you might want to open your present from me now?” She guessed. I reached my hand out. She smiled at me handing me the gift. It was a small box. On top scrawled in smudgy black pen was a note: Happy Thirteenth To Magdalena. My mother was the only one who still called me my name to its full entirety. Everyone had called me Lena since about the second grade, besides my mother who still preferred to call me my full name.
I carefully peeled back the paper letting a brown box reveal itself. I took the lid of the box and opened it. Inside was a notebook. It was covered in a blue and green design. Fractals spiraled around the cover making a pattern that took your breath away.
“Oh Mom it’s beautiful. I love it!” I told her.
“It took me a long time to make it and I was so scared you weren’t going to like the green but I am so happy you like it,” she said smiling. My jaw dropped. I looked back down at the notebook and in the corner I could see my Mom's signature in a miniature form.
“Mom you made this! I cannot believe you made this. It’s so beautiful! Mom...” I said, captivated still by the intricate pattern of the colors.
“Be careful with it. I got the actual book at an old store. They said there was a chance it could be up to 100 years old. I thought you’d like that,” she told me.
“Wow how cool is this. I’m gonna go start writing,” I told her. I ran to my room and grabbed a pen. I looked at the clock on the wall 4:30 P.M. After seating myself at the small oak desk in the corner of the room, I started writing.
‘June was a young girl. Only just thirteen. She ran through the daisy field her long auburn hair falling around her as she dropped to the flowery ground laughing hysterically. She wore a long dress that was made of blue and green material. She was pale decorated with an abundance of freckles’ I started. I looked up from the book to find myself surrounded by flower, daisies. A ray of sunlight fell directly on my eye making me squint. My desk chair was gone and I sat on a stump. I stood up, running through the field screaming.
“Hello?!Whwhere am I?!?!” I fell to the ground tears rushing down my face. All of a sudden from behind I heard a voice.
“Who are you?” someone said. I turned around. There she stood. She had long auburn hair falling just to her waist. She wore a blue and green dress. She had pale skin and on her face was about a billion freckles. A young girl. Only just thirteen. June. I felt myself fall to the ground and the world went black.
I opened my eyes. The memories swarmed back to me in a wave. I jolted up from my desk where I had been resting, but around me was only my regular room. I stared in fear at the notebook on my desk. I read the messy writing in the small book.
‘June was a young girl. Only just thirteen. She ran through the daisy field her long auburn hair falling around her as she dropped to the flowery ground laughing hysterically. She wore a long dress that was made of blue and green material. She was pale decorated with an abundance of freckles’ I looked up in disbelief.
“I was there, I was in the story, I saw her,” I whispered to myself. The book dropped onto the ground as I ran out into the living room.
“Oh hi Mags, you wrote for a while,” my mom told me. I looked up at the analog clock on the wall 6:37 P.M.
“Um…. yeah I’m actually tired I’m gonna go to bed,” I told her. She stared at me.
“At 6 in the afternoon?” she asked.
“Yeah I’m really tired,” I said.
“Alright,” she said hesitantly. I came to the conclusion in my mind that all of what I saw, the girl, the sun, the daisies, they were all a dream. I walked back to my room and lay down on my bed. As my head spun with a million questions, my eyes drifted shut and I fell into a deep sleep.