Shatterproof

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C. “Mom, we’ll be fine. Please,” I begged, high pitched whining exuding from my mouth.
“I don’t know. I don’t believe you girls are responsible enough,” my mom said with her arms crossed.
“We’re in middle school now! We can handle taking care of a camera for one hour!” Polly pleaded.
“I really don’t know. You girls are still pretty young to be handling that sort of expensive equipment.”
“It’s for a school project!” I noted.
“And we’ll  be back before you know it” Polly exclaimed.
“Ok, just this once, and please be careful,” my mom said, unfolding her arms and reaching for our jackets. “Make sure you wear your gloves.”
We scrambled for our coats and jackets and skipped towards the door. I picked up the camera with great care, and Polly shut the door behind me. We were off, determined to take the best pictures of skipping rocks Meadow Middle School had ever seen.
A. The sky was turning dark, and it looked like it was about to rain. Polly, my sister,  was skipping along the dirt path. It was the middle of October in St. Paul, Minnesota, and the frigid autumn winds were blowing right through our thin sweaters. Our snow boots were thumping against the ground, crunching fallen leaves as we went. The houses lining the path we were on were dressed up with the most exquisite Halloween decorations. My hands were curled into fists and shoved in the pockets of my jacket. My long braid swept to my right shoulder was thumping against my chest as I hurried along. My teeth were chattering(1); of course, my thin frame was not holding up well to the cold temperature. My mom mentioned that I would need gloves, but of course I didn’t listen. We continued along the dirt path(1), nearing the lake where we had planned to take pictures. Polly was humming an awful sounding tune that sounded like the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”(2), but I just gritted my teeth and trudged on. My hands clung to the camera lens tightly;
nothing could break my grasp. My mom had trusted us after what seemed like hours of begging to borrow it. She told us it was a big responsibility to handle(3), but we knew what we were doing. The project we had to work on was testing our understanding of a basic digital camera and our artistic eye. Before this project, I would check out cameras from school that did the job, but they were handheld. This camera made it seem like we were professional photographers, and they did a better job of capturing photos overall. We reached the tip of the lake. The soft breeze was creating slow waves that danced across the surface, and the clear water showed hundreds of skipping rocks below it. Polly went straight to searching. She headed for the other side of the lake, saying something like,“The best rock wins.”
That got me to searching. I was determined to beat my sister at her silly game. I was going to find the prettiest rock. The clear water made it easy to see which stones were clean and smooth and which ones were crawling with bugs. I had the camera strap in my hand and held the camera under my arm as I picked up multicolored stones. I found the grossest one and threw it across the lake, landing it right in front of my sister.
“Hey! No fair!” Polly laughed, tossing more stones into the lake which splashed up against my coat.
“Catch this one! It’s the shiniest stone in the whole lake!” I yelled, extending my arm that wasn’t holding the camera and aiming it for the other side of the lake. Polly caught the stone, admired it, and dropped it by her feet. She picked up one from the water.
“Hey! Anna! Catch! This one’s going to be the best!” Polly yelled, her voice distant. She extended her arm and chucked a small stone towards me. My eyes darted up, surprised. I threw up my hands and caught the rock, just grasping on with my cold fingertips. I was startled to hear a “crack.”
B, D. I was so focused on catching the rock that I had forgotten I was holding mom’s camera. My stomach sank to my knees. I reached my hand down. Polly’s rock dropped to the ground, and I turned the camera over. The lens was shattered. My heart started beating a mile a minute. My mom would never trust me again. Polly came running over, obviously sensing my distress.
F. “Anna! What happened?” she cried, seeing the shattered lens in my hands.
“I don’t know. I messed up.”
“Mom is going to KILL us,” she whispered, obviously looking frightened.
“Come on, she’ll understand,” I said, trying to convince myself of the fact.

We completely forgot about taking pictures of the skipping stones. The walk home was brutal: you could cut the tension in the air with a knife. Polly and I sulked home, just awaiting our fate. Polly kicked at the dirt, and the absence of her annoying humming was troubling. She must be really worried. I knew we were being foolish, and we were being as childish as our mother feared. We were approaching our house; the white picket fence was swinging in the wind, and the leaves were rustling. I dragged my feet towards the front door and lifted the mat to retrieve the key. I unlocked the front door, and we walked inside. You could smell the aroma of spaghetti and meatballs simmering on the stove. Polly and I silently pulled off our boots and jackets and made our way to the kitchen.
“Hi girls! How did it go?” my mom said, her back turned, still stirring the pot.
“Not so good, we didn’t get any pictures,” Polly whispered, her eyes pointed at the ground. Our mom turned around, a frown forming across her face. She looked worried since we weren’t our usual bubbly selves.
“Why not?” she said softly, crouching down to meet our eye level.
“I’m sorry, mom! We weren’t looking! We were looking for skipping stones to t-take p-pictures of and Polly threw me a rock and I wasn’t looking and I dropped the c-camera!” I burst out crying; I felt so bad. My mom had trusted us, and me, being the older sister, should have known to obey her.
“Oh girls, come here,” my mom said with a sigh.
We rushed to her, hugging her so tightly that we almost knocked her over.
“What did I tell you two?” she frowned. 
At this point, Polly burst out crying. We knew that the situation was bad. Cameras cost a lot of money, and it was money that we didn’t have.
“I’m upset, but it’s only money. I’m much happier that you girls didn’t strike yourselves with the rocks that you were throwing. I just need you two to understand that next time, you have to be a lot more careful. I know how much I drilled it into you girl, and next time I’ll just come with you to take the pictures. It matters more to me that you girls are home safely, and that we’re together. It’s all going to be okay.”
We both looked down, shuffling our feet. Polly let out a sniffle.
“Sorry, mom. Thank you for being so understanding. I get it if you don’t want to trust us anymore,” I whispered.
“Anna, don’t worry. I still trust you. You’re human, and you make mistakes. I still love you, and nothing can change that.”
Polly and I squeezed her tighter, relieved. Mistakes were made, but it was all going to work out. The camera lens might have been shattered, but the love my mom had for us was shatterproof.
 






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