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I'll Be Different
The school bell echoed throughout the hallways of Parker Elementary School as hundreds of students poured out their classrooms and into the crisp autumn air. I slowly shuffled to my locker and took my sweet time because I knew mom would be late picking me up as she always is. But today I didn’t care if she was a few minutes late-it had been such a great day so far, and I couldn’t wait for tonight. I wandered around the school, and finally resided outside. I shivered as the cold wind seeped into my flimsy sweatshirt and worn-out blue jeans. I plopped onto the bench and sat cross-legged while I waited for my sister, Caitlin, to walk over from the middle school a few blocks down. I saw her sashay her way over to me and hum some song that I didn’t know.
“Hey Sarah!” she cried. “How was your day?”
“Amazing,” I smiled, “and tonight will be even better!”
“Yes, it will be great! I’m surprised mom isn’t here yet. Her shift is done at 3:30, and its already 4:15,” she frowned. “She promised she would be here right away today.”
Caitlin and I sat for hours as we waited for mom to pick us up. Darkness consumed us and at last we saw headlights shine and stop in front of the school. I sprinted over to the car, with Caitlin beside me, and jumped in. Mom looked at me with tired eyes. On the passenger seat sat a Jewel bag. She must’ve picked up something at work. I squinted my eyes and tried to see what was inside. My heart stopped as I realized it contained a bottle of vodka.
No mom, not tonight, I begged silently. Please, any night but tonight. My eyes stung with tears but I blinked them back.
“Girls, tonight I’m going out. Make yourself at some dinner; I’ll be home later.” Without another word, she dropped us off at our dingy apartment and screeched away.
Caitlin tried her best to make dinner special, but all we had was leftover soup and some moldy bread in our cabinets. We both got ready for bed early that night because we both knew what mom was like after a “night out.” Caitlin learned that the hard way and still had bruises to show for it. We lay in bed in our small bedroom, silent.
“Sarah?” Caitlin whispered. “I’m sorry that mom forgot.”
“It’s okay,” I mumbled. But it wasn’t. I soon heard the steady breathing of Caitlin, but I forced myself to stay awake. I hoped mom would come home and say she did remember, that she was just out shopping. I hoped with everything inside of me, but I somehow knew this would happen. I don’t want to be like her when I’m older. I’ll be different. I promise I’ll be different.
A while later, my eyes flickered open as I heard the front door slam shut, followed by a big thump. The sound of shattered glass and angry profanity came from the kitchen. Tears filled my eyes as the truth sank in.
Tonight was supposed to be perfect; we had it planned for days. The plan was to go out for dinner, laugh, have fun, and maybe even get a new jacket for winter. But mom spent the money on her alcohol instead. She forgot about me, forgot about today.
She forgot my birthday.