Age Rating: 10 +
There was a large buzz downstairs that morning. Mother was cooking at the stove as I gracefully glided down the stairs. She smiled and waved then returned to cooking as she hummed a song I had never heard before and danced to the rhythm of the crackling fire. Father was sitting at the table reading our local newspaper, smoking a cigar that he had bought during one of his most recent trips, while Heather closely hovered over him, reading almost as intently as he was. Both Father and Heather looked up at me and smiled warmly, then returned to reading, eagerly awaiting what was on the next page. Then I turned around and saw Lucy walking sleepily downstairs, and, once seeing Father was home and I was standing beside him, ran to us and greeted us both with hugs.
“Honey, breakfast is ready, come eat,” Mother said with a bright smile as she piled my plate high with different assortments of foods. I danced over to the table, where I sat at the head, with Lucy at my right and Father at my left. Heather was sitting at the far end of the table, smiling at me, and telling me how happy she was that I was her sister. Mother placed my plate in front of me then joined our family at the table.
“Now, eat up,” Mother said, “Before it gets cold.”
I smiled and closed my eyes, letting the smell of warm food and happiness fill my heart with joy. Everything was perfect.
I opened my eyes, prepared to see the same sight; a happy, normal, loving family. But, sadly, when I opened my eyes, I found a less pleasing sight. An empty room was all I saw; the bedroom I shared with my sisters. The room was dark and filled with shadows. I closed my eyes again, hoping I could return to my loving family, but was strongly displeased to find that I was still in the bedroom I was in the night before. My happiness was a mere dream. I wished I could fall back asleep, I even tried to, but then I crashed down to reality. There was no way to go back to the way things were before.
Reluctantly, I sat up and looked around the room. Nobody was there. I sat there confused and weary. I rubbed my eyes and yawned. As I tiredly stretched, I thought of all of the things that could have possibly caused me to wake up in an empty room, but then it hit me. Today was the first day of school.
Immediately, I felt a rush of energy. My face brightened as I jumped from bed. School! School! I can get away from this place! And I can see Faith, and everyone! I danced to the windows and drew the heavy curtains, though it was still dark, I did not seem to mind. I sang happily as I slid into my school uniform, a dark, navy and green kilt and a navy collared shirt. My friends and I have strongly disliked the uniform from the beginning. We have attempted everything that came to mind to destroy them. We boycotted, protested, even attempted to literally destroy them. But scissors would not cut through the rough material no matter what. We even attempted to burn them, but right before Faith and I threw them into the fireplace, her Mother caught us, and was about to send me home, but Faith saved me, as always.
But now we do not even attempt to destroy them because older kids claim it is impossible to do so. Either way, we heard even the fire place will not even burn them! They simply melt. As I pulled on my socks and laced up my shoes, I tried to come up with other possible ways to destroy the kilts, but nothing came to mind.
I sprinted down the hall and slid down the railing of the stairwell with ease. I thought absolutely nothing could cause my mood to fall. The house seemed to brighten as I walked through the halls. As I turned the corner into the kitchen I closed my eyes and did a spin. I then bowed my head and smiled with delight. As I lifted my head, my smile drifted away. I stopped dead in my tracks, and my jaw dropped. In the kitchen, where I usually saw a happy spaced out setting was crammed with large boxes. Father was sitting at the table, reading the newspaper, however, not the same as I pictured him in my dream. His face was dark and tired. He had not shaved that morning, and he was still in his pajamas. He looked up from his newspaper and glared at me. Once he realized how much his glare shocked me, he shrugged and started reading his paper again.
“So, you decided to come back after all,” he said coldly. I looked down at the ground. So much for a good morning, I thought.
As I looked down at my shoes in regret of ever waking up this morning, a happy face rounded the corner, and suddenly a small figure hurled itself at me. I was caught by surprise and was nearly thrown off balance. I looked down and noticed that a small face was looking up at me happily.
“You came back! You came back!” Lucy squealed with delight, she was wearing her school uniform and her hair was up in two ponytails; She as cute as usual. I could not help but admire her as she hugged me tighter.
I smiled, “Nice to see you, too!” I freed my wrist from her grasp to show her that I was wearing her gift.
Lucy smiled happily, “Do you like it? Do you? I thought you would! I left it because I knew! I knew you would come back! I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! You’re home! Heather told me that you were not coming back, but I knew you would because you are you!” Lucy giddily raved on and on. All I could do is smile. At least somebody was going to greet me warmly.
Suddenly Lucy’s talking paused as we both watched Heather walk down the stairs. She looked gorgeous. She was one of the few people who looked good in the uniform. Her blonde curls swayed from side to side as she bounced down the stairs. Her eyes were bright, and looked the least bit tired, though she came back home well past midnight. Her slightly tanned skin was clear and seemed to glow. If it were not for her coming to school everyday dressed like that, Faith and I were sure more boys would have signed our petition against that retched excuse for clothing that we had to wear every day.
Heather practically floated down the stairs, and gracefully landed in the kitchen. She looked beautiful, perfect even. I was quite impressed that she was up so early. And as she walked past Lucy and I, I thought she actually looked like someone nice.
“Mo-ommm!” She whined. Suddenly I crashed back to reality. She was the complete opposite of nice.
I frowned as she continued, “I need to go, like, NOW!”
Mother smiled, as if not to mind, or notice, frankly, Heather’s extreme lack of manners.
“Of course, honey,” Mother said, not looking up from the pot of food she was fixing.
Suddenly I stopped frowning and looked at Heather seriously, “Can you give me five minutes? I just need to get my stuff together…”
I was about to take off down the hall to gather my things when Heather glared at me with disapproval.
“Eww…Like I’d be caught dead driving you to school!” Heather said with disgust.
I turned my attention to Mother, “Mother, please don’t make me take the Subway!” The subway was our one way of public transportation, and, to be honest, nobody at our school rides it. They always manage to get a ride somehow, either from an older sibling or a parent, but alas, neither my parents nor my sister will ever give me a ride, so I’m always stuck on the subway
Mother looked at me softly, “Honey, look-“
“Since when did I say I’d drive you to school?” Heather whined.
I glared at Heather, then folded my arms and smiled, “The last day of school, after we got off the subway, the day you were given a drivers license.” Ha, I actually came prepared for this argument.
Heather groaned as she rolled her eyes, “Whatever.” Heather, giving me one last glare, slung on her backpack and stormed out of the kitchen. The last thing we heard from her was a slamming door.
Father threw down his newspaper. He immediately marched over to the window and threw it open.
“What did I say about slamming those doors?” Father shouted out the window.
“Ughh! Why won’t you just…” I heard Heather’s voice shout out from the driveway. Her voice was loud and annoyed, but once I heard her pink BMW’s engine start, her voice faded as she slowly made her way down the driveway.
Mother stood there, frozen. Several moments later she blinked several times and stared down at me, “The subway is leaving at any minute.”
I sighed and ran to the front door to get my messenger bag. Lucy followed me happily, as if not to mind that we had to take the worst form of transportation possibly invented. I slid my bag over my shoulder and grabbed my lunch, and Lucy did the same. Everything of Lucy’s was brand-new. Her knapsack Mother had bought just a few days ago, after going to the market to pick up supplies to make it. I was not jealous, of course, after all, my supplies were new at one point too, but my things compared to hers proved that I had used mine a lot longer. My supplies were worn and dirty, and my bag had random buttons pinned to it and had things written across it that I had written in the past few years. My shoulder strap had a few tears here and there, but still, it was useable, and, frankly, everyone else my age had bags in the same condition, so it did not make much of a difference. After sliding my bag over my shoulder, I made sure Lucy had her knapsack on correctly. Once seeing everything was fine I reached for the doorknob.
“Ready?” I asked Lucy. Lucy nodded and jumped up and down with eager.
“Yup, yup, yup!” she said happily. I smiled and slowly turned the golden knob.
It was still dark, and gloomy. Of course the subway comes at five thirty in the morning, hence the cold grogginess. I closed my eyes and sighed. I could not stand this time of day.
Lucy grabbed my hand and tugged me along.
“C’mon! I don’t wanna miss the train! We need to go,” Lucy said urgently. It made me happy to know that I was not the only person that wanted to go to school.
“Ok! Ok!” I said as I followed her down the hill. We both ran down as fast as we could, laughing the entire way. Once we reached the bottom of the hill we both slowed down to a walk, and laughed.
“We need to do that every day!” Lucy laughed. I smiled and happily agreed. We both then laughed our entire way to the corner, where many other people were waiting to ride the train. Not one person I saw was in a school uniform. All I saw were adults in suits, preparing for another day of work. Everyone else must have had the common sense to hitch a ride with an older sibling.
“Why isn’t anyone here?” Lucy asked curiously. Her head was cocked to one side, causing both of her ponytails to fall to the left side of her head.
“Oh, nobody’s here because…” I was not sure quite what to say, after all, I could not just rain on Lucy’s parade and tell her nobody ever rides the subway because of how early you have to get up to catch it. Immediately, I said the first thing that popped into my mind.
“Well, it’s a Secret Subway, of course,” I said in a grand voice. I got on my knees to get to Lucy’s eyelevel. I then put my finger to my lips and winked.
“But it’s a secret, so don’t tell anyone,” I whispered with as much excitement that I could conjure up.
Lucy cocked her head to the other side, causing her ponytails to fly in the opposite direction.
“A secret?” she whispered. I nodded and smiled. Then I swiftly got up from my knees and pulled my finger to my lips once more. Lucy’s face brightened and she began to jump up and down with excitement.
“A secret! A secret!” she cried out happily. She clapped her hands and spun in circles. Several people turned around and stared at her, but most ignored her overjoyed expression. Suddenly Lucy looked from left to right, and immediately stopped bouncing, but her giddy expression remained. She pulled her finger to her lips as I had done, and, using every ounce of will power she had, managed a wink.
“A secret,” she whispered, “Shhh...”
Lucy held out her hand and I did the same, and we both did our secret handshake that Lucy and I made up on a rainy evening last year. Lucy then started to gaze at random things, and find most of them quite fascinating, though, personally, I could not understand what she found so amusing. It was just a platform that had many people gathered around, standing in line, waiting for the subway to eventually show up. I wondered if Father would take the subway today, after all, I did not see his car keys in hand. Maybe him not having his keys had to do with all of the boxes sitting around in the kitchen. I figured that Lucy might know why the boxes were sitting there.
“Lucy?” I said softly. Lucy did not seem to notice my attempt to get her attention, for she was still smiling at the small bird tweeting in the tree. I decided to try again.
I tapped on her shoulder, “Lucy?”
“Huh?” Lucy asked confused as she whipped her head around.
I cleared my throat. I took off my knapsack and slowly began to speak. Here goes nothing, “Hey, do you know why-?”
I was cut off by a loud ear-splitting screech. I simply rolled my eyes and picked up my knapsack and slung it over my shoulder. Lucy probably would not have known why the boxes were in the kitchen anyway.
Lucy had her hands grasped tightly over her ears.
“Can’t you hear that awful noise?” she shouted.
I grabbed Lucy’s hand and walked toward the edge of the paved sidewalk, “Yup, I hear it.”
“Doesn’t it bother you?” she shouted as she watched dozens of other people gather where we were, “What does it mean?”
I tugged Lucy to the very front of the crowd and smiled down at Lucy, “The subway’s coming, and you’ll get used to it screeching on the tracks after a while.” Lucy looked at me in a confused manner.
“Here, look,” I pointed to the empty tracks in front of us.
“It’s just tracks,” she shrugged.
“Keep looking,” I urged, “Be patient, you’ll see why later.” Lucy continued to stare at the empty street with a dull expression.
Lucy continued to watch the deserted tracks, “I still don’t see why-” Suddenly Lucy saw the big subway hurling toward us. Lucy’s eyes widened with excitement. The screeching sound grew louder and louder as the subway raced closer and closer. The subway slowly began to pull to a stop in front of us, and with one last, loud screech it hauled to a stop
Lucy stood there impressed by the sight she just saw, as many people bustled by, trying to get on the subway. Lucy’s mouth was gaped open as she stared at the train in amazement.
“You like it?” I asked happily.
Lucy nodded, “It’s amazing.” She began to study the subway, looking at every detail.
“I knew you would,” I said proudly, “Now stick with me and-”
“It’s so cool!” she shouted, then she launched off at full speed toward the subway.
“Lucy, wait!” I cried after. I watched Lucy push past people standing in line, attempting to get closer to the train.
“Lucy! Lucy!” I called after her, but she was too far from me to hear. Immediately I rushed after her. I ran past several people, none whom I knew, but some were yelling at me, though most just ignored me.
“Hey, stop cutting!” I heard a quite handsome boy shout, who must have only been a few years older than I.
“Get out of the way!” An older woman in a bright red dress, that was quite appalling, shouted as she attempted to hit me with her purse.
“You, girl, get to the back of the line!” A middle-aged man shouted at me that was wearing a pin-striped suit.
“What do you think you’re doing, missy?” said a woman that was older than the last. One old man wearing a top hat just cursed at me until it practically made me sick.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” was all I could say back as I pushed further and further into the sea of people in front of the ticket machines leading toward the subway.
As I finally made my way toward the front of the line I saw a little girl standing in front of the ticket machine with large, wide eyes. Immediately I recognized the girl as Lucy. A man that obviously worked there was standing in front of her, wearing what seemed like a uniform.
“If you don’t have a ticket, missy, I’m afraid I can’t let you on,” the worker said in a crestfallen tone.
“No, but I don’t understand. My sister took me here,” Lucy said with a puzzled expression, “I think she has the tickets. Why can’t I get on and when my sister comes, she can hand you my ticket too.”
“If you don’t have a ticket with you now, I’ll have to ask you to leave,” the man said. He pointed to the stairs to get down from the platform.
“No, but my sister has the tickets!” Lucy cried, “I’m sure she does!” Lucy looked frustrated. She looked down at the man’s shoes and started to cry.
“Please,” she wailed, “Let me get on the train! I’ve never been on one before!”
“Look, you need to leave, unless you have a ticket. You’re holding up the line,” The worker said. Suddenly a random man came out of the subway and looked down at Lucy with a hard expression that would have scared me half to death. The man was tall and muscular in that I-don’t-care-about-the-world-and- I-really-don’t-want-to-be-here-right-now-so-leave-me-alone
strength-that-my-beautiful-muscels-have-to-offer, sort of way.
“Is there a problem, here?” the muscular man asked, not removing his eyes from Lucy. Lucy started to cry harder.
“Um, not really sir,” the worker said, “I was just going to ask this girl to-”
“I’ve got it,” the man said gruffly. He then grabbed Lucy by the arm and started to drag her across the platform.
“Ben, please, let her go. She just…” once the worker realized that the man was not paying any mind to his pleading, he sighed and returned to his job of monitoring people as they fed their tickets into machines, and walk into the subway.
Lucy kicked and tried to remove the man’s hands from her arm, but she could not. He was too strong.
“Wait! Wait!” she hollered, “She’s here! I know she is! She’s…” Lucy scanned the crowd with her tear filled eyes. Immediately she locked eyes with me.
“There!” Lucy practically shouted. I immediately thought the entire crowd was going to notice Lucy’s shout, but nobody seemed to notice. Nobody seems to notice anything at this train station.
“Well, go get her, then,” the man said in an agitated tone. I could tell Lucy was making him angry. Right after he released his grip, Lucy darted off the platform and headed straight for me. The man rolled his eyes and stalked back into the subway.
“Come on,” Lucy said cheerily, “We can’t miss the subway.” Lucy then grabbed my hand and dragged me the same way that man did to her, in a less forceful way, of course, and lead me right to where he was standing.
I immediately began to apologize, “I’m so sorry, sir. She just ran off. She’s never been on a train before, so…” I drifted off. Something told me sucking up to the worker would not work, “Anyways, here.” I handed the worker our two tickets. They were season subway tickets, so I could use it for the rest of the year, until winter break, that is. The worker took the tickets from my hand and studied them carefully. He looked at them with a puzzled expression. He lowered the tickets from his face and looked up at me. His expression remained.
“Kela?” he asked, “Kela Dremaunt?”
I cocked my head to one side. How did he know my name? Lucy held my hand and looked up at the man with and equally confused expression.
“Kenny?” I asked. The man smiled and removed his worker hat. He nodded proudly. He had the same sandy blonde hair and bright, twinkling eyes. I could not believe I did not realize it was him sooner.
My face brightened, “Oh My God! Kenny it is you!” I nearly exploded with excitement. I flung my arms around his neck, nearly causing him to fall over.
“I haven’t seen you in forever! I hardly recognized you!” I shouted, “You’ve changed so much over the summer!” Everyone in the crowd did notice that. The entire crowd turned and stared at me. I turned bright red and slowly backed away from Kenny. It is funny how the one time I make a scene everyone seems to notice.
Kenny laughed, “Well, yeah. Got a little taller I guess. But you’ve changed, too!”
I knit my eyebrows, “I have?”
“Yeah!” Kenny exclaimed.
“You know this man?” Lucy asked curiously. Kenny and I burst out laughing.
“What?” Lucy asked innocently.
“Well,” Kenny tried to calm his laughter, “If you consider a fourteen-year-old a man, then, yes, she does know this man.”
“Hey!” I heard a man shout from the crowd, “What’s going on up there?”
“I’m going to be late!” A woman cried.
“Hurry it up!” Another woman called. There were murmurs of agreement throughout the crowd.
The cursing man cursed in agreement.
Kenny jumped, “Well, I better get back to work.” He carefully handed us back our tickets and I fed mine into the ticket machine. I then put my hand on the sensor pad and the machine said my name aloud.
“Kela Dremaunt,” it said in its fake, computer-y voice.
Lucy watched the machine in awe. I handed Lucy her ticket, and she carefully did the same as me. She smiled proudly as she followed me through the gate.
“Next time, make sure you keep track of your sister,” Kenny smiled.
“I will!” I laughed. I shoved both tickets, which had come out the other end of the machine, into the front pocket of my bag and grabbed Lucy by the hand.
“See you in school,” I called over my shoulder as we entered the subway.
“Same!” he shouted after me.
I tugged Lucy along as we slowly pushed our way to the back of the subway. I desperately searched for an empty row. Though there were many empty seats together next to other people, I ignored them and continued to make my way down the narrow isle. After a little bit of searching I found a nice row, and had Lucy take the window seat, and I slid in next to her. Then I piled our bags in the third seat. I could not risk sitting next to a random person I did not know. Not since last year, anyhow.