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I was on my way out the front door when I fell. I bashed my knee on the floor and hit my head against the railing, almost rolling off the porch in the process. Mom had left for work and from what I could see through the torrential downpour; there was no one else on Victoria Street, to see my embarrassing fall.
On the ground laid a black box with a red ribbon tied on top. This is what had caused me to trip, a box. I bent down and picked it up, there was a note taped to it that read only my name.
My friend, Michelle pulled into the driveway, and honked her horn. “Let’s go.” She shouted out her window.

I clutched the box to me, pulled my hood over my head and ran to her car. “Hey.” I said climbing into the passenger seat.

“What’s that?” She asked, looking at my box.

“I don’t know, but it just almost killed me.” I answered.
“Are you going to open it?” Michelle asked before pulling out of the driveway, with out looking behind her first. I lurched forward as she stopped fast, missing the other car that flew by us by just a few inches.

“You almost hit that car!” I gasped, my heart racing a mile a minute.

“You’re too much of a worrier, Jen.” Michelle said.

Something hit the back of my foot when Michelle lurched forward, down the street. I bent down and pulled up a bottle of whiskey. “I think I have a right to worry.” I said waving the bottle at her.

Michelle grabbed the empty bottle from me and threw it in the back seat, with the rest of her junk like dirty clothes from soccer practice, a blow up spiky mettle ball thing she won at a fair and few other items there are, so disgusting you can’t even tell what they are, because they’ve been back there, so long. Michelle said it was her stuff, and that it was all-important to her. I just called it garbage.

“You want to go to the movies with me and Jason?” She asked.

“I can’t.” I told her rummaging through my bag to make sure I had all of my school stuff.

“Why not?” She whined.

“Because I’ve got to go take some photos for the year book.” I said. And because I rather not go on a date with you and your boyfriend to the movies again, I thought to myself, remembering how last time I went with them. I was the only one even watching the movie.

“I don’t understand why you like photography, so much.” She sighed.

“It’s in my blood.” I said simply, but it wasn’t the complete truth. I mean photography is in my blood, my mom takes some of the most beautiful pictures, but she only takes pictures for fun, but my dad he was a photographer.
His pictures always captured the good and bad, light and dark. He could make anything look beautiful through his lens. He took pictures of some of the weirdest things like a man on stilts, an old broken down Amish carriage, a dirty, randomly-placed brick wall with graffiti written all over it, even a dog with a defective ear. He turned things in life that people wouldn’t have had the time of day to look at, into something, so interesting that people were buying his pictures, publishing them in magazines and even hanging them in a few art galleries.

But four years ago he had a heart attack, making today the anniversary of his death. That’s what my mom calls it, an anniversary.

My mom and I don’t talk about him. Ever. It was almost like he never existed. After he died she got rid of almost everything that reminded her of him. She gave away all his clothes and personal items to the Salvation Army. She sold all of his pictures he and threw out the noes no one wanted.
She was going to turn his dark room into a small guest room, but I argued with her and told her that I needed the room to develop my own pictures. Mom gave in after a few screaming battles, and let me keep his room. She threw her herself into her work after our fight and hasn’t taken a step into the darkroom or picked up a camera since his death.

But the real reason I love taking photos is because it reminds me of my dad, so much. It’s one of the only connections I have left with him.

“I don’t even understand why you’re in the school yearbook.” Michelle sighed again, bringing me back to the present.

“You know me and Drew have been planning this forever.” I said.

Drew Elmer and I were both the co-editors of the yearbook. This was the first year ever where there were two juniors who were Co-editors. Usually there’s only one editor and that person is normally a senior, but this year Drew and I changed that.
Drew and I have been best friends ever since sixth grade, and we’ve been planning to become editors of the yearbook since the first day of freshman year.

Drew loved photography almost as much as I did. He was a big fan of my dad’s work and had looked up to him. His own father had left him and his mom when Drew was only eleven, and never looked back. So in some way my dad was almost like a father to Drew.

“I know you’ve been planning this for a while, I just don’t get why.” Michelle said as she pulled into the school parking lot. I sat silently and watched her grab her bag before jumping out of the car to go meet Jason.

I looked down at the unopened box I was still holding. I was about to pull the red ribbon off when the warning bell rung. I jumped out of the car, carrying the box with me and ran up four flights of stairs to my locker. I put the box in my locker, grabbed my books and ran to my first period class.

The day dragged by slowly. I watched a video in Chemistry, on pollution and underground sewage, because our teacher was out and the substitute didn’t know what she was doing. My English teacher tortured us with grammar, and my math teacher gave us equations for homework that not even the seniors could help me with, and lunch was the worst. I listened to Jason and a group of his friend’s, who sit with Michelle and me, argue about the soup special, and how it looked more like rice pudding than oatmeal for forty-five minutes.

Finally the final bell rang and I headed towards my locker to get my stuff before going to yearbook. I grabbed my bag, put the books I needed inside of it, and then grabbed the black box.

Everyone was already there, chattering, and typing. I was bombarded with questions from almost everyone as I made my way to my desk. But I guess that was partially my fault since I requested the spot in the corner next to the window on the opposite side of the room. I was a little isolated from the group over there, but they always found me when they needed me.

I placed the box on my desk and looked out the window. It was a ravaging storm outside. Thunder crackled overhead and the lights flickered. Everybody went silent and there was an announcement over the P.A. system. “All after school programs have been canceled due to the weather. The busses are still outside for those of you who need to be bussed home. Sorry for any inconvenience.” It cut off and everyone went back to work. The principal came back on a minute later and said, “This includes you hardworking yearbook students.”

Everybody moaned, and collected their things.

A quiet freshman named Arnold came up to me as everyone else headed for the door. “Jen I was supposed to take pictures of the volleyball girls, and a few other clubs today. I already canceled once because I was sick last week, and the pictures are already late.”

“It’s alright Arnold. Give me the list of clubs on Monday and I’ll talk to them and the volleyball coach. We’ll find another day t to take their pictures.” I said.

Arnold thanked me with a big smile and packed up his things. He was about to walk out the door when I stopped him. “Hey Arnold?”

“Yeah?” He asked turning around.

“Do you know where Drew is?” I asked looking at Drew’s empty desk.

“He said he’d be running late.” Arnold answered before leaving.

I pulled my cell phone out of my bag. My phone had been on all day and was about to die. I sent Drew a quick text telling him that yearbook was canceled, but that he still needed to come to the school because I didn’t have the key to lock the room. I paced the halls as I waited for him to show up. It was starting to get dark, and there was one place I needed to stop before I went home. After about another ten minutes of waiting around, I sent him another text saying I was leaving and that my phone was about to die.

I put on my Columbia jacket, and pulled up the hood on my sweatshirt. I kept my head down to shield my eyes from the pelting rain and kept walking.

After almost falling over several times, and stepping in huge puddles of water that soaked through my shoes. I had made it, I was soaked through and freezing, but I had made it.

I walked through the park to our bench that sat in front of the lake. The tree that sat behind our bench, which usually shaded us from the sun shook and moved with the brutal wind. I didn’t care. I sat down on the bench in the rain and closed my eyes. I could almost hear my dad saying, “Cheer up Buttercup!”
Buttercup was his nickname for me and telling his buttercup to cheer up was one of his favorite lines to say to me when I was upset. I know it’s corny, but it always worked. He made me laugh when I didn’t even want to smile.

In the distant I heard a train ride by and I smiled. My dad always took me down here in the summer, especially when I was younger. We’d sit here and watch the trains in the distance. Sometimes we’d take pictures and other times we’d just lie in the grass looking up at the sky, trying to see what shapes we could find in the clouds while listening as the trains whizzed by. I didn’t care about the trains, but it was something my dad liked, he said they reminded him of his old hometown down in Virginia.

He used to tell me stories about him and his ex-best friend, Tom, and how they used to get into trouble. The two of them would ditch school and go sit in the stationed trains. They went on adventures and sometimes didn’t come home until the next day. My grandmother would get furious with my dad, but he was an explorer who took his camera everywhere with him. He wanted to see everything he could, and take pictures of everything saw. He didn’t want to go to school.

Then one day my grandmother took him to an art museum and told him if he really wanted to he could take pictures for a living, become an artist, but she told him school was important and that without it there was no way he could become a professional photographer. My dad was thirteen then and took it very seriously. He went back to school, and never missed a day after his trip to the art museum. Tom couldn’t understand why my dad chose to go back to school. Him and my dad got into a lot of fights about school and eventually they just stopped speaking to each other all together.

After my dad told me one of these stories he’d give me a little lecture about school, telling me that even though photography was important my education was even more important.

I felt a hand on my shoulder and I jumped.
“What are you doing here?” I asked shocked to see my brown eyed friend in front of me.

“I was looking for you.” Drew answered. His clothes were soaking wet and he was yelling over the wind, and the pelting rain, so I could hear him. His curly brown hair was plastered to his face and his face was pale from the cold. Come on let’s got out of here.” He said reaching for my hand.

I pulled my hand out of his reach and looked out at the lake watching the wave’s crash into the rocks.

“Jen you’re going to sick out here.” Drew said blocking my view of the lake. “Plus I have something to give you.” He reached his hand out again, his eyes pleading with me to take it. “I’m not leaving with out you.”

I sighed and stood up, ignoring Drew’s out stretched hand. We ran through the park to his car. Drew opened the backseat door and slid in leaving it opened for me. I stopped for moment, confused on why he was in the backseat, but just then thunder crackled overhead and I jumped in after him.

I sat in the seat shivering. Drew reached up to the front seat and put his keys in the ignition and turned the heat up as high as it could go. He took his jacket off and handed it to me without saying a word. The jacket was wet but it was water proof and the inside was warm and inviting. I closed my eyes, relishing in the warmth of Drew. When I opened my eyes back up Drew placed the black box with the red ribbon on my lap.
“I was hoping you would have gotten this, this morning. That’s why I left on your porch. I wasn’t going to be at school today and I knew I was going to be running late for yearbook and I thought you could use it, but it looks like you haven’t had a chance to open it.” Drew pushed his hand threw his wet hair, a nervous habit of his.

I looked up at him and back at the box. “It’s from you?”

He shook his head yes and waited for me to open it. I hesitated for a moment and then untied the red ribbon. I opened the top of the box and pulled out a framed picture. I read the title of the picture “The Best Is Yet To Come.”

It was a picture of a yellow buttercup with a black and white picture of me taken on my third birthday. The picture of me sat in the middle of the buttercup and faded into the flower, so that the buttercup looked like a border. My hair was let down and I wore a pretty little white dress. My eyes shined as I smiled looking past the camera to the man who took the picture. My Dad.

I looked up at Drew, my vision blurring from the tears that were swelling in my eyes. “How did you get this?” I whispered looking back down at the first photo my mom had sold when my Dad died. I had gone in my room and cried for days. When she sold that photo I felt as if I had lost my dad all over again.

Drew took my cold, shaking hands into his, trying to warm them. “Ever since you told me about your mom selling it, I’ve been looking for it. Finally about two weeks ago I was searching on eBay and I found it.” He shrugged like it was no big deal.

“I can’t believe you found it.” I sniffed, wiping my tears away with the back of my hand.

“Well it did take me four years, before I could give it back to the proper owner, but I knew it’d be worth it when I finally did.” He said smiling down at me.
“I never thought I’d see it again.” I shook my head in disbelief. My teeth were chattering, my skin felt like it was burning and I was exhausted from the day. I laid my head against Drew’s shoulder. “I miss him, so much.” My voice cracked.
Drew squeezed my hand. “I know you do”
We sat silently. “Did your dad ever tell you why he named the picture ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’?” Drew asked.
“No.” I said shaking my head.
“He told me one day when I was over, that it was because even though he loved you and wanted you to be his little baby girl forever he new that it wasn’t possible. He knew even though he loved everyday with you that the next day would bring something even better.” Drew said quietly.
“Sometimes I feel like he never even existed. Like I just imagined him, especially with the way my mom acts.” I sighed and leaned into him, taking in as much warmth from him as I could. “You’ll never know how much this means to me.”
My eyes drooped and I was on the verge of falling asleep. When I heard Drew’s voice. He sounded far away, but I heard his voice clearly. “You’ll never know what you mean to me.” He said.
I fought against my exhaustion and forced my eyes open. “I know what you did and you yourself means more to me then I ever could to you.”
I pressed my lips against his, lightly and then nestled my head back against his shoulder, drifting off into a world filled of clouds, trains, cameras, and buttercups.
The last thing I heard was Drew’s voicing whispering, “Jen, he may be gone, but he could never be forgotten. Especially not with his beautiful, young, talented daughter still walking around with him in his heart and a camera in her hand.”





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LindsayT. said...
Apr. 1, 2011 at 6:09 pm
ahh kaylee this is greatt <3 the ending is so sweet! 
 
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 31, 2011 at 5:47 pm
great story keep up the good work  could you please check out and comment on my story Manso's Shame  i would really appreciate the feedback
 
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