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To California

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“Mom!” I heard my sister wail. I glanced at the clock and sighed. It was two-o-clock in the morning. And a Saturday. Why did she always have to yell?

I got up and closed the door, again. No matter how many times I did this before I went to bed my parents always came and opened it when I fell asleep. It got annoying. Especially when Maria decided to do one of those three-year-old temper tantrums. Why, I thought again. I laid back down in my soft bed and tried to find more sleep. It didn’t take that long before I knew that it wouldn’t come without help. Of course, the Tylenol had to be kept in the kitchen instead of the most common bathroom. I hoped that Maria wasn’t in there with my mom.

I got up and found the door to the hall and walked on tiptoe to the kitchen. They weren’t in there, they must be in Maria’s room.

I was afraid to turn the light on, so I found the cupboard door in the dark and climbed up on the counter to see the shelves better. I squinted my eyes at each bottle I brought to my face to make out the tiny writing on the containers. Couldn’t they think to make the writing bigger? I found the right bottle with Tylenol written in manuscript writing on the laminated paper and opened the bottle. This was the hardest part.

My mom thought that since we had a ‘toddler’ in the house that we had to buy the medicine with the ‘toddler’ safe lids. No matter how many times I tried to open one I always managed to make a huge noise. Oh boy, I thought to myself. I got off the counter slowly and squished the bottle in between my hands to get the lid to go down. I twisted my hands in opposite directions and heard it click quietly. Yes, I thought, no loud noise. What I didn’t think about was what would happen after I opened it.

When I pulled my hands away all the pills came tumbling out of the bottle. Oh crap. My mom was going to get so mad. Not only did I make a mess, but I must’ve woken everyone up. At two-thirty in the morning too. I looked inside the bottle and saw three left inside, I took two of them and got a drink. I set them on the table and got down on my knees to pick up all the pills. I didn’t want to fall asleep before I got in bed. I grabbed them by handfuls and brought them to the garbage can where a set them inside as quietly as I could. Then, I put the almost empty container in the back of the cupboard so that my mom wouldn’t notice the empty bottle.

After I made sure that everything was put away I took the glass of water and the Tylenol to my room where I took them and laid down. I finally went to sleep at about three-o-clock. When I woke up again it was because of my alarm going off at six. Dang it! Of course, leave it to me to forget to turn my alarm off on ‘sleep in day’.

I slammed my hand down on the clock and heard it clatter to the floor. Dang again! Now I was going to have to reset the time. Again. I rolled over forgetting about the clock for now to sleep. When sleep didn’t come again I got up to find my MP3 player and hit the power button. When it came on I put the earphones in and listened to one of my favorite bands. I turned the music up until I couldn’t anymore without it doing some really bad damage to my ears and rolled over in my bed pulling the covers up to my chin. I yawned and fell asleep again.

I woke up, again, and turned my MP3 back on. It was almost eleven. I could smell chocolate chip pancakes coming in through my door. Which was once again open.

I sighed and got up to close it feeling a little irritated - no, a lot irritated - and lay back down. I turned my music on and tried to go to sleep, but I was interrupted with my mom coming in my room and tapping me hard on the shoulder to get my attention, When she did I could barely make out her yelling “Jessi, Jess! Jessica!?” over my loud music. I sighed and rolled over to meet her gaze.

“What?” I mumbled, too loudly. She grabbed my MP3 and turned it down until I couldn’t even hear it. I sighed again and said “What?” again, only at a reasonable volume now. She sighed too.

“Do you want some breakfast?” she asked me.

I looked at my MP3 again, it said it was a quarter after eleven.

“It’s eleven fifteen,” I mumbled.

“I know.”

“So wouldn’t it make more sense to wait for lunch?” I asked, I was never a fan of breakfast food.

“I guess, but we do have extras.”

“Well, can I wait for lunch?”

“I suppose so . . .,” she said, trailing off slowly at the end.

“What?” I asked.

“Well, don’t you remember when we decided that you were going to California for the summer, with your cousin Mandi?”

“Um, . . . yeah, why?”

“Well, you’re leaving today, remember honey?”

“Oh. Oh! I completely forgot about that! I had no idea that I was leaving so soon!” I said.

“Yes, honey, it’s today. Your flight leaves at two.”

“But when do we need to leave?”

“Well, probably at about twelve thirty. That means you have about an hour to pack.”

“Crap,” I mumbled.

“I know, so why don’t you get up and start packing while I fix you a sandwich, okay?”

I sighed. “Okay.”

“I put a couple of suitcases in front of your door, so get ready as soon as you can so that we can go pick up Mandi.”

“ ‘kay.”

“Okay,” she brought her fingers through my tangled hair and left. How could I forget something like this? I thought, then sighed. I wasn’t even going to answer that. I tended to forget a lot of important things.

I got up and grabbed the empty suitcases from outside my door and began packing up my room. I wasn’t going to see this place for three months. Wow. Of course I really did want to go, I really did miss my cousin. She was usually the one that came out here. The whole reason that I was going out there was because of her. It was her idea for us to come spend time with her out there. ‘Course my parents thought that Maria was too young to be able to sit through the plane ride from Utah to California, it had to be at least seven hours I thought. But they thought that I was able to go on my own with her, and since it was just me they figured I could stay longer. I sighed at how great all this turned out.

After I had all of the suitcases piled in my room I started going through my drawers and took out anything that I should bring. It was winter time now, so all of my summer things were in a box in the top shelf of my closet. Great.

I pulled my desk chair over to the open closet and climbed carefully onto it so that the wheels on the bottom wouldn’t jerk around. When I made it on the chair I reached up toward the box labeled “SUMMER.” I took hold of the sides and pulled it roughly. It was lighter than I thought.

I knew that it would be light, but I didn’t know how light. When I pulled on the box it came forward quickly and fell into my arms, which caught me off guard and sent me way off balance. The wheels on the chair reacted crudely to that incident and sent me flying across the room in a loud thump. The tank tops and swimsuits went flying everywhere, burying me in them. I was trying to uncover myself from them when my mom came rushing in in a helpless flurry. When when caught site of me on the floor she tried to stifle a laugh.

“What happened to you?” she asked between her fits of laughter.

“The only thing I’m saying is that I want a new chair.” I muttered, “Without wheels.”

She laughed even harder then. I knew that she wouldn’t be able to help me up with her laughing so I got up my self. She would probably just knock me back down if she tried.

“Sorry for laughing,” she said. Though she made no effort to stop.

“Gee thanks mom,” I grumbled, pulling myself to my feet, brushing a pair of shorts off my shoulder.

“Sorry,” she repeated.

“Yep. You know laughing when someone’s launched off a chair and ending up in a heap of clothes isn’t too nice.”

“I know,” she said calmer, “but at least you had a soft landing,” she was trying to cheer me up. It wasn’t working.

“Not really mom, the clothes landed on me.”

She tried to come up with an answer to that, but gave up soon after.

“Oh well,” she said then pulled me into a hug. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I mumbled, “ ‘s not your fault.”

She pulled me at arms length and looked at me for a moment. Then she left saying:

“One hour.”

“Yep,” I said to myself.

I settled into sorting all of the clothes that were strewn across the floor. I put tank tops in one pile, shorts in another and so on. . . . When that was done I pulled out anything that I wanted to take. I put my favorite pink shorts into that pile first, my light peach tank top with the sequins on top. Next was my two swimsuits, one pink, the other green. I kept that routine going until there was only a few shirts and a pair of shorts left in the other pile. I started piling all of those into the larger suit case. They easily, with a little extra room. I remembered Mandy telling me about those few cold days they sometimes had during the winter and piled my cozy sweats, two pairs of jeans, and three jackets on top. I pulled the zipper roughly, ending up having to sit on the top to get it closed. When it finally did I began going through my desk to find anything else I needed besides my clothes to pack. I ended up with my CDs, my books, my notebooks and my favorite pens. All those things fit snugly in the second biggest bag. After that I sat down onto my bed thinking about anything else I might need.

I heard the door open and my mom came in and sat down next to me.

“You have everything packed?” she asked me.

“Maybe.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I’m trying to figure out if I missed anything.” I explained.

“Well what have you got so far?”

“My clothes, my CDs, books, notebooks, journals . . .”

“How about some games . . . okay, not that,” she added as I made a face. “Then maybe . . . have you got your toothbrush and shampoo?”

“Oh! Crap, thanks mom.” I said rushing from the room.

“Yep,” I heard her say as I left.

I brought the smallest bag from the room and shoved my favorite shampoo and conditioner into the bottom. I put my toothbrush in a bag and stuffed it and my toothpaste in the outside pocket. After that I went back to my room and put my lotion in. When I finished that task I went back to laying on my bed thinking if I’d missed anything. Again my mom came and talked to me. She gently stroked my hair out of my face.

“You got everything?” she asked me. She sounded a little sad. Why would she be sad?

“T-think so,” I said between yawns.

“Still tired?”

“Yep.”

“I”m sorry,” she rubbed my head again. “It’s 12:20,” she informed me.

“Aw, crap.”

“Aren’t you done packing?”

“I think so, but I haven’t even eaten yet,” I complained.

“Well you can get something there, but if you’re hungry I can bring you in a granola bar or some toast.”

“I’ll have a granola bar. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome sweetie. Did you pack everything you need?”

“I think.”

“Did you get your toothbrush?” she asked me.

“Yep.”

“Shampoo?”

“Yep.”

“All your clothes?”

“Yep.”

“Your brush?”

“Yep.”

“Sounds like you have everything then.”

“Uh huh.”

“Okay, I’ll be back in a sec’.”

“ ‘Kay.”

She smiled at me then left the room. After she was gone I laid down on my pillows and groaned. If I had gotten up earlier I wouldn’t have been so rushed.

“Mom!” called a voice from outside my open door. I groaned again and got up to close it angrily, but I wasn’t fast enough. A small pale head poked its way inside.

“Where mom?” Maria asked.

“Ugh, how the heck am I supposed to know?”

“I dunno, but where mom?”

“I just said!”

“No ya’ did not.” her small brown eyes were confused.

“Oh my gosh! I don’t know!”

“Why not?”

I glared at her.

“What?” she asked me. Her head tilted slightly to the left.

“I don’t know where mom is,” I told her through my teeth, trying not to yell.

“All right! Fine.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

She left in a huff. Whatever, I thought.

Right then my mom came in with a handful of bars.


“What’s going on?” she asked. She looked a little suspicious.

“Nothing mom, just Maria bugging the crap out of me. Thats all,” I said sighing. “By the way, she’s looking for you.”

“Okay, I’ll go find her,” She said, also sighing. “Here’s your granola bars,” She tossed them onto my bed.

“Thanks.”

“Yep, we have to go in two minutes. I hope you’re ready,” she called, already down the hall.

“Crap,” I mumbled to myself. I looked down and saw that I was still in my pajamas. Great. I went to my largest bag that was packed and pulled out my favorite tank top with the stripes. I put that on and found some long jeans and a light pink jacket. I put those on too and grabbed the two smaller bags. They were a little heavy, but I managed to get them into the car. When I was done with that I took the big one with the clothes and pulled that in too. I went back in my room to look for anything that I might have missed. I grabbed my two pairs of sunglasses and rushed out the door into the front seat, giving my dad a hug on the way out.

“Hope you have fun,” he called after me.

“Yep, bye dad!”

“Bye honey!”

We were driving away now, out towards Mandy’s hotel, wherever that was. It ended up being in Salt Lake. We picked her up, packed all her stuff into the trunk, and headed for the airport, which was only about ten minutes from the hotel.





“I can’t believe you’re actually coming to stay with us!” Mandy called as we got out of the car in the underground parking area.

“Me either,” I said back, running to catch up with them. “So when are your parents coming?” I asked her.

“Their flight leaves at two-thirty, but the plane they’re going on is a lot faster, so they’re going to get there about ten minutes after us. They’re packing right now.”

“Okay, so we just have to wait for them there?”

“Yep! We can get cinnamon rolls while we wait!”

“Cool!”

When we got through all the security guards and all our luggage was checked my mom gave us each a kiss on the cheek..

“Remember, you have to be at the right place five minutes before you have to leave. So if you go get any snacks or anything you only have . . .” she checked her watch, “twenty-five minutes to get it. Okay?”

“Okay, mom. We will.”

“Okay, I love you both!”

“You to.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.” I called.

Mandy turned to look at me after she was out of sight, a big grin stretched over her cheeks.

“Have you ever had one of those huge cinnamon rolls here?”

“No, you?”

“Yes! They’re amazing! Come on!” she took my hand and pulled me to the food court.

I got a pizza and Mandy got a hotdog. We split a large roll and waited for our flight. When we were called we took all the luggage onto the plane and waited for it to take off. When we were finally in the air I looked down at the tiny dots. I was going to miss home, but I was glad that I got to visit.





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