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Bridges in Time

Bored and unfocused, I looked out the window overlooking the social courtyard three stories below. Then I looked around the nearly empty classroom. Across the room I spotted my almost as bored best friend, Lana, scowling at the clock: 4:15. School ended at 3:30, that’s 45 minutes, 55 minutes since my last crazy scheme. Guiltily, I looked back at Lana, who I’m sure is asking herself how I dragged her into this mess. I don’t even know how the teachers caught me… wait, now I remember.

It was Lon that set me over the edge. Heartless and cowardly. Lon has been bullying Lana for several months now but today was the first day in a long time that he said anything in front of me. He shoved her and swore at her and I just snapped. Like a rubber band, I thought. That was my last sane thought before anger overcame me. I punched him. Not hard and only in the stomach but boy, did he cry. That’s how I got caught. It’s my fault Lana is in detention with me; she was just there. She didn’t do anything wrong, except for not telling a teacher.

That’s just how Lana and I are. I’m Avery, a skinny, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, girl. I’m crazy, loud, talkative, impulsive, and opinionated. Lana is the opposite; brown eyes, and hair I like to call “bleeding ink hair” because it’s darker on top and lighter on the bottom. Her personality: we are practically different species, on different planets, of different universes. Lana’s personality is shy, quiet, thoughtful, calm, and she never stands up for herself. Together we make the perfect team. I come up with crazy ideas and Lana whittles them down to more realistic plans. Together we do them all. We go on adventures and tell each other EVERYTHING. Lana is quiet and shy and I am weird and loud. We are nothing alike. And we could never be a better team. We had just finished our latest adventure two days ago. I had thought our next door neighbor Mrs. Wickede (Wick-ed-ee), an elderly woman who always offered me and Lana treats was the wicked witch from Snow White. Everyday on our way home from school we’d have to pass her house and she always offered us apple pies. I’m not normally one to jump to conclusions but come on; Wickede, apple pies, old lady, I put it together. Now, normally I'm rooting for the bad guys, I mean can you really blame them for being angry? Snow White was prettier than the queen, Maleficent wasn't invited to a party, and Cinderella kinda disobeyed her step mother's orders. But when a Disney movie villain targets me, I tend to freak out. In the end, it turned out that Mrs Wickede has an apple tree in her backyard and she’s trying not to waste any but she can’t eat all of them. So, now I kinda wish me and Lana had taken one of those pies, only for evidence of course. This was what I was thinking about while Lana and I were walking home from detention.

“What’cha thinking about, Avery?” asked Lana. “Our last adventure, I wonder when our next one will be.” “Maybe today!” Lana couldn’t have been more right, for at that moment while Lana was day-dreaming about what our next venture would be, I spotted it. A round, grey dislike object cowering against the also grey sidewalk. I let out a sqeal, picking it up. Big mistake the object seemed to tell me. That was the last thought I had before dying. At least I thought that’s what was happening.

Thump. “AHHHHHHHHHH!” blink, blink. My fluttering eyes opened and closed like dancing butterflies. Or maybe, frightened butterflies. Intrigued and unafraid, I sat up and looked around. I recognized nothing here. I woke Lana and we ran to the nearest newspaper stand- wait we still have newspaper stands? Those are ancient. We asked the man if we could just see the paper really quickly. The man agreed out of pity and handed us a newspaper.
The headlines were boring and we didn’t look at those. But, there! The date! November 13, 1960! The title told us where we were; New Orleans.

Bewildered and curious, we walked around the town, smelling the tempting scents of jambalaya and hearing the smooth tunes of jazz bands with saxophones soloing, banjos bringing, and sopranos singing. Without looking where she was going, Lana bumped into a black girl no older than six.

“Sorry.” Lana apologized meekly. “ It’s all right, miss.” “Oh no, we’re only twelve!” I put in. “Yes, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed, both of you are white, miss.” “You still don’t need to call us ‘miss’ or anything. I’m Avery and this is Lana. We’re not from here, or now.” “I’m Ruby. Ruby Nell Bridges.” “Ruby Bridges?” “Yes.” “We read about you!” “Shhhhh!” Lana gave me a look like jeez, do you want to ruin time, you’d think this was your first time traveling through time to the past and meeting a famous historical figure. look. But, the look Ruby was giving us was somewhere between If you two are space aliens here to destroy earth, then could you explain what’s wrong with your brains? and I probably should walk away now, my mommy said not talk to strangers…” Priceless.

The rest of the day the three of us played in Ruby’s backyard, and in Ruby’s house. We even got to meet her parents! The next day Ruby announced that she would be going to an all white school for the first time. We all ate jello to celebrate! Ruby explained to us that jello was a special treat. Then we were on our way to school with Ruby. Her mother said that it might help Ruby if we were there with her. So we all squeezed into a highly guarded car to go to school. In a way, we were all nervous together. We got out of the car when we reached the school and, as the federal marshals had explained earlier, they would escort Ruby and Mrs. Bridges into the school. Lana and I didn’t need protection which was fine by me because that day I was feeling as if I could take on the world, probably the adrenaline of being a (small) part of history. So when isolated, little Ruby and her group walked into the crowds of rioters, I couldn't help but lag behind, too amazed to move because this inspirational, tiny black girl looked straight ahead with the confidence of Avery’s mother shopping on Black Friday.

The day was a blur of paperwork, adult talk, and sitting still. Then the day was over and the girls were playing outside when, there came a blinding, brilliant light, a scream from Ruby, and a world spinning into oblivion. Tumbling, turning, rolling, spinning, somersaulting, falling. It seemed like forever; like they would never stop falling. But both girls knew that the light wouldn’t last forever and soon it would be replaced by a dark so cold, so definite, so heartbreaking it could almost crush you. Then there was light again, not the same kind but, a harsh, intimidating light almost like from one of the old detective movies her dad watched with her. They had been caught in the glow of a glaring streetlight. As slow as two turtles, the girls got up. Lana first and then she pulled Avery up. The two girls ran home and prepared for a long lecture. When they were ready, they opened the door. But they weren’t ambushed by angry scolding. They were swept up in hugs with red eyes and salty tears. The next day Lana stood up to Lon, she had definitely learned from Ruby. Their parents never did ask where Lana and Avery had been that night. But, I suppose a better question would have been when they were.

So that’s my story, I hope to tell it to my nieces’ and nephews’ someday, if Lana hasn’t already. My story was one that needed to be told so when my sister and I die, at least someone will know. All these years, Lana and I have kept our story a secret and we have stayed friends because of that. Although I think it would be pretty difficult not to be friends with your sister. Yes, my best friend is my sister.



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