April 4, 2008
By Sarah Bradtke, Schoolcraft, MI

6:20 AM…wake up, hit snooze, fall back asleep. 6:30…wake up, hit snooze, fall back asleep. I repeat this two more times to complete my morning ritual before rolling over and managing to drag myself out of my cozy bed. The cold air hit my skin and made me shiver as I tried to refrain from screaming that someone in an igloo was possibly warmer than anyone in our house.

I thumbed through my closet and tried to find something even remotely flattering. Let’s see, today was…Thursday? That was exciting. Thursday happened to be my least favorite day of the week! You were stuck thinking that you still had one more day before the weekend. But Thursday’s weren’t all bad. I could look forward to listening to the girl behind me cough up her lungs in economics or count the number of times I yawned during chemistry (my record was sixteen). The possibilities were endless.

“Good morning!” my mother chirped as I came downstairs. Her happiness bothered me: didn’t she know it was Tedious Thursday? I ignored her and started to pour my twenty-eight grams of Cheerios. Behind me, I could feel my mother hovering, raising her eyebrows. I turned to face her.

“Do you have something against my twenty-eight grams of Cheerios?” I asked her.

She backed up and began to wring her hands. “I love your Cheerios, Amy. I just wish you’d eat more.”

I wish I could eat more, too. “I would, but if I did,” I answered, pouring on the milk and getting a spoon, “Then I would look like Aunt Ethel.”

“I wanted to talk to you about that. You really should go visit her today at the hospital.”

Secretly, I rolled my eyes but agreed to go. Ethel was my mother’s significantly older sister who had recently gotten gastric bypass surgery. Since she was my middle-name namesake, I got to visit her. Frequently.

Goody gumdrops! Just something else to look forward too, I thought.

It was my lucky day. I did get to listen to sick-girl cough up her lungs, praying that none of her germs got into my breathing air. I also beat my yawning record by two. All before lunch!

Actually, my lunch wasn’t that bad. It was Missy’s birthday and she had ordered pizza, even getting me a few slices with extra sauce and onions, the way I liked it. Her only mistake was inviting Geoff.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Geoff’s a friend of Missy’s, therefore a friend of mine. But this kid is a beast. He plays on the line during football season and spends his free time putting on weight in order to “do more damage.”

“You gonna eat that?” he asked me with a full mouth, pointing to the three slices left of my portion. I shake my head and he piles that into his box and I watch in horror as he continues to chow down slice after slice.

It only took him twelve minutes to finish a whole pizza, plus two and a half more to eat my leftovers. When the show was over, I started to talk to Missy.

She said she got a new pair of socks for her birthday, but didn’t seem too thrilled by that fact. “They’re knee high and itchy, but you know grandma’s, always buying practical things.”

I for one, like knee socks, and have approximately nineteen pairs. But instead I said, “Oh yeah. My grandparents like to get me fruit for Christmas, you know, oranges…”

Missy’s jaw dropped and her eyes refocused on something behind me. I turned and Geoff was sitting there, casually shredding the pizza box and delicately lying the strips of cardboard on his tongue before swallowing. Nasty!

“Oh my gosh!” Missy squealed, “What are you doing?”

He shrugged and said innocently, “I was still hungry.”

It only took him ten minutes to devour the box.

My next class was French. Mademoiselle Baubu was the quirkiest women I’ve ever met. All of the chairs in her room had little baby shoes on them, which apparently she collected solely (no pun intended) for that purpose. So our chairs could “walk us through” the wonderful world of learning French. I tripped on them more then they helped me study.

“Futé, artistique, amiable, sportif, assidu, paresseux,” My freshman partner repeated to me for the third time, “Smart, artistic, kind, athletic, hardworking, lazy. It’s really not that hard,” he said, turning up his nose like a little snob. I resisted the urge to slap him.

It was hard. That’s why I was in French “uno” and not French “dos.” That was the extent of my skill in this class.

“Oh, that’s a witty one,” Freshman boy said sarcastically, and I realized that I had spoken aloud.

“I don’t like your attitude,” I retorted.

His eyes flashed and we stared each other down. “You blinked,” I said.

“Mademoiselle Baubu,” he whined, sending me a dirty look, “Amy is cheating off of my work.”

“You little devil!” I hissed.

She sent me to Australia. Not literally of course. Australia was a pillow in the coldest corner of the room where she sent her prisoners, like England had sent their convicts to the land down under. Apparently it hadn’t occurred to her yet that we were in high school, not kindergarten. So I ended up pulling my knees up to my chest and waiting for class to be over so I could leave the ugly island.

The hospital had an eerie silence to it, at least in the corridors. No babies cried, no one moaned, and then I started to wonder if this was the hall that all the dying people were in, and that maybe in that room up ahead, some one was breathing their last breath. A shiver traced my spine and I picked up my pace, counting the steps until I reached room 401.

It must not have been the terminal hallway, because my aunt was alive and still screeching demands to the poor nurse as I came in.

“Turn down that television, what, do you think I’m deaf? And change the channel while you’re at it. Dr. Phil gives me a rash.”

“Hey, Aunt Ethel!” I exclaimed, putting on the most cheerful face I could muster. “What’s up?”

“Besides gas prices?” she muttered.

I tried to smile and looked awkwardly around the drab little room. “You look good,” I told her, thinking that since she might appreciate a self-confidence boosting compliment.

“Hmph. Don’t lie to me, I cannot stand liars. Everyone around here knows that I would look far better if they allowed the blinds to let in a little light. Could use a little color in my cheeks…” She looked at me and scowled, “Open those shades, make yourself useful!”

The shades were dusty and I pulled them open to let in the small amount of light produced by the grey afternoon.

“Is she usually this crabby, or do you think it’s the medicines?” the petite nurse whispered to me as she picked up shards of broken glass on the floor.

“Oh no,” I muttered, “She’s always like this.” It took a moment to realize that the mess was from a cracked vase, and upon second thought I said, “Did she break that?”

The nurse nodded. “She threw it at me.”

I wandered back over and took a chair stained with I-don’t-want-to-know-what-this-is. “Aunt Ethel, didn’t you like the flowers we sent you?”

“They made me nauseous.”

“Oh.” I apologized. “I’m sorry to hear that.” Even though I wasn’t. The nurse left the room and I dropped off the cards my -brothers had made and poured my aunt some water so she could take her sleeping pill. We watched M*A*S*H for some time in silence.

“Amy, you listen to me,” she croaked hoarsely, the effects of the pill starting to fog her mind, “Appreciate your youth. Soon enough you’ll be old and persnickety like me. Tell …”

“Tell what?”

I glanced over to the bed, where my tremendously big-boned aunt had fallen asleep, and then rose to leave the room. No way was I going to watch her nap, this ugly, mean old lady who had no joy in her life and took her pain out on others.

Oops. Kind of like—me, a youngster full of life, who had things to look forward to. I had reasons to be happy, while she did not.

As I exited the hospital, I figured that, maybe Thursday wasn’t so bad after all.

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