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A Dismal Day
"Remember to take your snacks and your umbrella!"
"I know, Mom!" I called from behind my locked bedroom door, scrambling to get a T-shirt over my head. What a great start to the day... I thought to myself sarcastically. And to think I had to audacity to plan on taking a shower this morning. When I had woken up, the clock read "8:00" but it should have read "LATE". Ba, ba, bam. I heard the door to the garage slam and knew my mom had left for work. Oh, thanks. Not even gonna offer me a ride? It was summer, but it felt far from it. I had swim practice every morning, meets every Wednesday and Saturday, articles to submit to the newspaper and the town website each Tuesday about the swim meets, cross country workouts at night, a lift I needed to keep up with for Spring Track, vacation homework for my AP classes, and college visits every few hours I could spare. All that was put aside, though, for two weeks of the summer while I took an SAT prep class that started at 9 AM and ended at 4 PM. And that morning, as I shuffled through papers on my desk, it was 8:20. Because everyone in my family worked, I was stuck walking to and from the church where the class was held; a little over a mile each way. Grabbing my purple loose-leaf notebook, I stomped on a pair of sneakers as I flew out the door and down the stairs. I looked up at the pale-gray sky as I emerged from the closing garage door. Another beautiful one. The trail I took was the one I used during the school year to get through the woods in my backyard. Sqwersh, sqwersh, sqwersh. It was slightly flooded, but it was better than braving the roads during the hours of early morning practice.
The walk was long, but I knew many detours; around the front of the high school, cut through the police station, cross at the corner; and I soon found myself on the church's street. I looked at my phone. 8:40. I'd have about ten minutes to spare. Good. I can start the article, then... But something was wrong. I looked at the notebook in my hand. It seemed out of place for some reason... OH MY GOD I FORGOT MY BAG! My bag. A bag filled with everything I needed for that day; my calculator, number two pencils, and, most importantly, my test booklet. And since this was test day, I REALLY needed that book. "It is your responsibility to bring this to class everyday," the proctor had said in an English hindered by an Indian accent. How could I forget? They'll have extras, won't they? Something about the word "responsibility" told me they wouldn't. I checked my phone again. Though I had stopped moving, stuck in my shocked state, time had not. 8:45. Ok, breathe. You can do this. I looked around me, searching for a bush or a bench; something where I could store my notebook. I wouldn't be able to run very fast with it cluthed in my hands and its scattering papers distracting me. Spotting a large tree, I rushed over to it and laid my belongings, including my phone, behind it. I doubted anyone would steal them. I doubted anyone would be around to steal them. The day had become so dismal. I started sprinting, my legs reaching forward from beneath me, pulling the rest of my unwilling body with it. Cross at the corner, cut through the police station, around the front of the school. I scrambled underneath the garage as soon as the gap wide enough to let through a small child and thrust open the door. Thump, thump, thump up the steps. Test booklet. Thump, thump, thump down the steps. Where's that bag? Living room. No. Computer room. Calculator. Round and round and round I ran, becoming frantic and very aware of how my heart beat resembled the ticking of a clock. I had no idea what time it was because I didn't dare waste a moment to glance at one. Stealing a grocery bag from below the kitchen sink, I abandoned all hope of finding my bag. I should take my bike. Yeah...yeah, that's a good idea. It'll be much faster. When I got into the garage, I plucked my bike up off the hinges that held it on the wall.
I had to follow the sidewalk on my bike, so I sped down my driveway and to the street. Huff, huff, huff. My knees clicked and my thighs pumped despite being on a flat, smooth surface. I got across the road no problem, and continued to race along the side of the street. Huff, huff, huff. Passed the high school. Huff, huff, huff. Why am I not moving? Hissssss. I looked down, and noticed for the first time that my front tire was empty. Not only that, but the valve cap was missing, so with every rotation, it became even more empty. Wonderful. Sweat dripped down my face and I felt it seeping through the back of my shirt. It had started drizzling. I had to ditch the bike. Even running would be better. At least I'd feel like I was moving. There was a clump of trees, and I wheeled my bike inside it. Although it was on someone's property, I doubted anyone would see it. I doubted anyway would be out to see it. It was a dismal day.
I started jogging again, plastic bag swinging noisily and legs moaning their complaints. Swish, throb, swish, throb. I reached the large tree where I'd hidden my notebook. It was still there. I scooped it up as I ran past and deposited it into my bag. Just over that hill... My pace had slowed tremendously, but I couldn't stop. It was the competitive jock in me that urged me on to finish this race, that had its starting and finish lines overlapping. Puddles were starting to gather on the concrete and through the cloth I wore as the sky opened up on dumped the contents of its bladder on me in a torrential down pour. Splat, splat, splat. Reaching the top of the hill, I gained momentum as it sloped back down. I could see the church. Almost there, old girl. Come on. Come on. I pushed myself until I reached the grand wooden front door of St. Mark's Episcopalian. Panting, slightly doubled over, I pulled on the brass handle. It didn't budge. Noooo.... I ran to the plain white side door. No-go. I spun on the spot, twisting my head this way and that, checking for another door, and splatering my face with the ends of my hair, which was either drenched in rain or sweat. I didn't know. I didn't care. I doubted anyone would notice. I doubted anyone would be out to notice. It was a dismal day.
I leaped over a wall of stone and into the brush behind it. Back door! Rather than remembering its existence, I plead for it. I came across stairs at the rear off the building, and took two at a time. Tap, tap, tap. There was a metal framed glass door, and itr swung free when I wrenched at it. There was a clock on the wall opposite of that entrance. 8:59. I dared not believe in it, or myself, and I jumped down the flight of steps that led to the basement hallways. Squeak, squeak, squeak. My feet were only touching the tile momentarily, saving me from slipping, but not from the stares that greeted me as I burst through the door of my classroom. Heaving, I stumbled forward. The proctor was staring at me with some concern. But I mainly saw disgust. I was dripping, I probably smelled like a wet dog, and my white T-shirt had now become transparent.
"Did you run here?" she asked in that exotic voice.
"Yeah...," Breathlessly, I explained, "I forgot my the book..." I broke off to inhale deeply, which only resulted in coughing and spluttering on the salty water I accidently sucked in with the air. The proctor stepped back.
"Why would you run home for that?" She was eyeing my purple notebook.
"Not this... the test book..."
Now I read pity on her face as she shook her head and gazed apologetically at me. "You know... we do have spares."
So, there I was. Sitting in my metal folding chair, soaking everything I touched, including the test, for four and a half hours. "Remember to take your snacks..." Of course... My stomach churned hungrily. I was shot. Bang, bang, bang. Once in the heart, once in the head, and once in my pride. I slumped back up the steps to ground level and pushed open the front door, unlocked from the inside. It had stopped raining. Sagging along the sidewalk, I made my way home, only remembering my bike after I had passed the spot where I'd left it. For fifteen minutes, I wandered up and down and up and down the sidewalk, trying to locate my ride that I was going to have to drag home. By the time I found it, the storm had returned, and buckets fell on me, wetting my already sopping outfit. "...and your umbrella!" Branches and twigs snagged in my hair and at my skin as I fought to retrieve my bike from their grasp. Crack, crack, crack. I was making so much noise snapping the plants I tred on and yanked at, that I was surprised no one came to see what the commotion was all about. Not even the home owners had demanded to know why I was on their front lawn, wrestling with a couple of their trees. But, no one noticed. No one was out to notice. It was a dismal day.
The back tire had sprung a leak, too, thanks to one badly placed jagged rock, and the rubber scapped against the pavement as I trudged on, unable to turn themselves. My shoes were filled with water. My plastic bag was filled with water. My eyes were filled with water. I was just so frustrated. Too busy bruding, I didn't even notice when I'd reached my house; didn't remember hauling my bike back onto its hinges; didn't realize I had gone to the floor below ground and had plopped myself on a chair, waiting to dry off enough to go into the house. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I was too annoyed to accept all the blame for that dismal day. No one had spared a thought for little, old me. My family had left me alone to walk two miles back and forth from class. The people in the cars that sped by as I ventured the sidewalk's perils did not stop to offer me a ride. Those home owners didn't bother to see if I needed help with my bike. No one cared. No one cared to care. What a dismal day.
Ring, ring, ring. I swiped up my phone, so ready to vent, to boil over, and then cool off. "Hello?" I said, dully.
Sob, sob, sob. "She's...d-dead." Sob, sob, sob. "My grandma just died." Sob, sob, sob. The sobs echoed over and over until I found myself joining in. Had I been thorugh such a dismal day?