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Her tiny hands cupped the little, brown box that I remember holding years ago. I watched as she made her way to me, her copper pigtails blowing in the breeze from our attic window.
“Mommy, what’s this,” Ann asked, showing me her attic find.
“This is a gift my best friend gave me, when I was young.”
“But that’s your name,” she pointed to the faded, ink smeared name on top of the box.
“It was my name before I married your Daddy,” I pulled her onto my lap and brushed the dust off the box. It must have been a long time since I had last opened the box. I took off the lid and let Ann hold it, but she quickly set it down reaching for the picture that rest on top.
“Who are they?” She pointed at the two girls in the picture.
“That’s my best friend Callie,” pointing to small, brown haired girl “and that’s me when I was young.”
She dug through the box pulling out the little trinkets, and photos.
“Why did she give you this box?” She turned around and starred at me with her big brown eyes.
“Well,” I paused not sure how to tell her.
“Please,” her brown eyes always seemed to get bigger when she wanted something.
“ Stop, Josh! Give it back!” I snapped, as I grab at my stolen pencil. I turn around and slump into my seat, trying not to make eye contact with the glare given by now annoyed Mr. Centro. After giving me a Centro dose of embarrassment, as everyone calls it, he continues with his lecture on the brain. I stare out the window watching the wind shake the newly blooming trees.
“Emma?” Mr. Centro says.
I nearly jump out of my seat “Yes?”
But before he can give me a question on the parts of the brain, the door opens and in walks the 7th grade counselor, then right before the door slams shut a girl slips inside.
She must be new I thought, not recognizing her small figure. Her thin, brown hair started blowing in the draft coming from the vent, sending a sweet, almost floral scent through the air.
As the counselor spoke with Mr. Centro, I watch the new girl shyly look around the room avoiding eye contact with the other glaring eyes examining her every move. I look out the window again, then turn around to get another glimpse of the new girl. Our eyes meet. Small blue eyes look at me, with distress probably because she failed her attempt of avoiding eye contact. Although it quickly goes away and a smile takes over her freckled face. I smile back at her, until the counselor turns back to the her and then speaks to the class.
“Everyone, meet Callie Pennant. She just moved here from Indiana.”
Callie gives a shy smile and the teacher hands her the heavy health textbook and points to the only open seat. The one next to me. As the counselor walks back out of the class room nearly knocking over Daniel Bone, our classroom skeleton, everyone bursts into giggles.
While everyone is still in a roar of giggles I introduce myself to Callie. “Hi, I’m Emma Summit.”
“Hi,” she says her tense smile relaxes, and she seems to finally clam down.
“Alright enough everyone back to reality,” Mr. Centro announced before returning back to the lecture that ended right before the bell, never once remembering that he was about to ask me a question.
“What is your 7th hour class, Callie?” I ask, while sorting out the notes I took.
“Umm,” she pauses and takes out the schedule.
“Comm. Arts with Mrs. Cheney?,” she looks at me when she reads the name.
“Your right. It’s Cheney, sounds like penny,” I confirm. “You can follow me that’s my next class, too.”
“Thanks,” she says as she follows me out the door.
“Mrs. Cheney, this is Callie Pennant. This is her first day,” I said introducing her.
“Well hello Callie. It’s nice to meet you. I am Mrs. Cheney as you may know,” She said. “Let’s see, why don’t we sit you next to Emma, by the blackboard.”
“Alright,” Callie answers and follows me to our seats.
Today was a free read day, just like every Thursday, so Callie and I sat together and whispered back and forth most of the time. Mrs. Cheney didn’t seem to mind I guess she giving a little bit of slack for Callie, since it was first day and she didn’t know many people.
“Do you play any sports,” Callie asks, breaking an awkward silence.
“Yeah, I play soccer.”
“Yep. I have a team put together in my neighborhood,”
“I play soccer, too. Although I haven’t been able to play in a long time, because of the move to Seattle.”
Just then the end of the day bell rang, and everyone darted out the door.
“Maybe you can join my team,” I said right before she walked out of the classroom.
She spun around. “That would be great!” She replied and she walked out of the classroom toward the car-pull line as I headed for the buses.
A light drizzle had started and fell lightly on my copper colored hair. I sat down on my usual seat on the bus. I stared out the small bus window watching my neighborhood go by. The scenery was green, just like most everything in Seattle, Washington. I nearly hit the seat in front of me as the bus driver slams on the breaks. Why does she always slam on the breaks at my stop. I filed off the bus and walked to my house.
“How was your day, Emma?” My mom asked as I walked in the door.
I thought of my Centro dose of embarrassment, but then I thought about Callie. “I had a pretty good day actually,”
The following week, I wake up one morning slightly more eager to go to school, maybe it was because it was P.E. day, and I was the girl's team captain for my favorite sport, soccer. I grabbed my back pack, after breakfast and headed out to catch the bus. A cold wind smacked my face, but it felt good as it whirled through my hair.
"Good morning," I say to the bus driver. She smiles back as she closes the door. I walk back to my usual seat, but something stops me. I looked up to see Callie, sitting quietly in front of me.
"Callie? Hey I didn't know you rode my bus."
"Hey, Emma. Yeah I'm going to be riding the bus now."
"Where do you live?"
She pointed to the woods right behind my house.
"On the other side of the woods," she answered.
"You live really close to me,"
"Yeah, Thats my house right there," I say pointing to my house.
We sat in silence for the rest of the ride and when we finally got to school we headed for first hour in the gym. In the lockers I got ready for being captain and defending myself from Jessica.
"Hey Emma," it was Jessica. "Are you ready to lose?" She laughs when I ignore or and heads off with her little popular people posse.
"Who's that," Callie asked nervously.
"That's Jessica," I explain.
"Why was she being so mean to you?"
"She just thinks she is better than me because her team one the volleyball championships, and she is so much more popular than me," I say starting to imitate Jessica's petite squeaky voice.
Callie laughs and we slip into the gym just as the bell rings.
"Good morning everyone," greets Mrs. Halls. "Let's get started. Emma and Jessica come to the front so we can pick teams."
I walk up to the front ignoring Jessica's glares. Mrs. Halls lets Jessica start and of course she chooses her popular people posse first.
"Callie," I call out.
"Kate," She squeaks.
Back and forth we went till no one is left sitting. The teams warm up with passing and shooting. My team is going to win, they already are looking better than her team I thought. Jessica sees me looking at her team and comes up to me.
"Jealous Summit?" I like being called by my last name, but I hate it when it comes out of her mouth.
"In your dreams, Jessie," I shoot back. She looks shocked when I use her nick name that she hates, but she quickly regains her confidence.
"Really? How about last month when my team won the volleyball championships?"
I go silent knowing the longer I go without giving her the more power she has.
"Hmmmm," She starts tapping her foot.
But before I could start thinking of an answer I feel a hand touch mine. It was Callie.
"Emma come help us fix the net," She tugs on my hand and I see the sympathy in her eyes, and I follow her to the net. I look back and see Jessica walk back to her team annoyed with me. I whisper to Callie "Thank you so much."
She just smiles.
That smile gave me just enough confidence and I guess it was just enough to win the game! The day flew by and before I knew it was 6th hour health, which was my least favorite subject, but now that I had Callie in that class it wasn't that bad. Everyone took their seats and Mr. Centro started explaining the project that would be starting.
"Alright let's make groups," He announced
Please don't put me with Jessica I thought
Not me,Please not me
A huge sigh of relief swept over me.
"You two will be making a model of the heart," Mr. Centro instructed "Max and Josh, you will be making a model of the lungs, and Callie and Emma, you will be making a model of the brain."
A wave of relief sweeps over me.
Mr. Centro went on assigning projects and discussing guidelines about them. While he went on about that stuff Callie and I passed notes back and forth, figuring out plans for when we would work on the project. The rest of the day I thought about Callie and the project, I couldn't wait.
"Bye mom," I call as I rush out the door. It was five o'clock and I had to get to Callie's house. I took the path through the woods, the path was very overgrown. Ivy covered the old trees and moss covered everything, it was like a sea of green. When I emerged from the sea of green I saw Callie standing their to greet me just like we planned. And her mom greeted us as we entered her house.
"Mom this is Emma,"
"Hi Emma. Glad to meet you."
"Hello Ms. Pennant,"
"Well we should start working on the project, Emma," Callie said
I followed Callie to her room. The room was small, but cozy and a sweet floral scent filled the air. I scanned the white colored room. Her bed took up most of the space and looked good with its purple bedspread. Then above the bed something caught my eye, it wasn't as much a picture since it was mostly words. In fancy black writing it read Live Like You Will Never See Tomorrow and behind the words was a picture of what looked to be a sunset filled brilliant shades of reds, oranges, and purples.
"What is that?" I ask, pointing to the picture.
"It's a picture of the sunset back in Indiana," she pauses. "And the writing," she looks at the floor like she is embarrassed of it. "It’s kinda my motto."
"I like it," I said breaking the awkward silence that filled the room. She smiled and we started on our project, but we didn't get much done at all. I guess it was then between the laughter and smiles and the girlish giggles, is when we became friends. That soon became best friends, practically sisters.
No, no I thought not today! I stared out my window into the green scenery. I watched the falling rain, crashing my sprits as it hit the muddy green ground. Today was the day we had to beat Jessica and her soccer team. My mind went through every possible situation that could happen today as I put on my rain coat to go to Callie’s house. Jessica will say we forfeited, then she will pester Callie and I about losing the game. The rain fell nosily as I walked through the woods on the path that I now took every time I went to Callie’s house. The path was always covered in moss and the trees hovered over the path. It always smelled of pine and spring flowers. Just the smell of the familiar path gave me some hope about today. Maybe the rain will stop and we can still win the game.
“Emma!” Callie called out from her back porch.
I ran up to meet her almost slipping on the wet moss. “Hey, Callie,”
“What are we going to do?” she asked. She must have been down about the rain, too because her freckled face didn’t have that smilie that it always had.
“I guess we just have to hope that the rain will pass and the game will still be on,”
Callie nodded and we went inside.
The computer had quite a job that day, every few minutes we checked the weather for Seattle, hoping for the best. Between weather checks and frequent snacks we practiced passing and shooting, for the game if it was to go on.
“Time for another weather check?” I asked as Callie shot a perfect goal.
“Yeah, I guess,” she said untangling the soccer ball from the net.
I pulled up the weather webpage and started reading the forecast. “ Blah, blah, degrees. Here it is, partly cloudy for the rest of the day!”
“Yes!” We screamed. We ran upstairs to lookout the nearest window, and sure enough the sun was starting to come up. The muddy puddles scattered the ground, but we didn’t care.
“Let’s go Emma,” Callie ordered. It was 20 minutes before the game was suppose to start.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” I said, trying to put my shin guard on as fast as I can.
We hurried out the door to the neighborhood soccer field, were we always played. We were ready to play, but we weren’t ready to face Jessica again.
“Look there’s Jessica,” Callie winced.
I groaned and headed to our side of the field. Callie ran to catch up with me, she got the hint about my bad mood.
“Don’t worry we’ll win. I know it,”
“Let’s hope so,” So let the games begin I thought.
“Emma, Emma we won!” Callie screamed. My team and I cheered and hollered.
As Jessica started heading off the field with her popular people posse,“Let’s go celebrate, Callie,” I stated heading off the field. We jumped around the puddles, avoiding slickly spots from the rain. Maybe it was then when I started daydreaming. I heard Jessica’s whisper next to me.
My mind went back to reality, but I was a little late. My feet slipped out from under me, and I lost control of myself. Next thing I knew I was covered in mud my body lying in the biggest mud puddle on the field.
“Oh my gosh, Emma are you okay?” Callie dashed to my aid.
Before I even speak Jessica interrupted,
“I’m sure miss muddy here will be just fine,”
Everyone started laughing at Jessica’s remark. My face turned as red as it did on the day our friendship ended, and tears started to roll down my cheeks.
“Why did you do that?” Callie demanded. “Why did you trip Emma?” Jessica didn’t speak and the laughing stopped. As Callie pulled me to my feet she repeated her question.
“Why did you do this?” She snapped
Jessica stuttered, “Oh I don’t know, don’t we all need a touch up once in awhile,” she stopped and pointed at me,”but, Emma I really don’t think mud brown is your color.”
I’ve had enough, I squeezed out of Callie’s grip and I ran. I ran and ran, not even stopping to look back at Callie when she called my name. The tears ran down my mud caked cheeks. When I got home I quickly showered and cleaned off, my spirits never lifting. I just sat in my room staring at nothing, feeling completely humiliated.
I heard a knock on my door, it must have been Callie that was our knock, so that we knew it was each other.
“Come in,” I said, not leaving my spot on my bed.
“Hey, Emma,” her words were soft and quiet,”your mom let in. Are you okay?”
I didn’t say anything I just got up and hugged her, and she just let me cry.
“We can’t let her get away with this. What has she ever done to you?”
The rest of the night and into the following morning she stayed by my side comforting me.
Callie’s not here again, I thought. She hasn’t been at school lately and every time I try to call her, no one picks up. I couldn’t focus at all day. My mind wondering off thinking about why Callie isn’t here. Is she sick? Did she go somewhere without telling me? Did a relative die? A family emergency?
Finally school let out. The tension started to build, as I walked home from my bus stop, and in the distance I see a little brown box sitting on my doorstep. I break out into a run, curious about the box. The box is small and on the top it reads,
I set my backpack down and sat down on the porch swing, clutching the box in my hands. It was Callie’s hand writing. The warm sunlight felt good on my cheeks. I carefully open the box, setting the lid down at my side, revealing a letter. Something just didn’t feel right about this. My heart started to beat faster, as I unfolded the letter. I scanned the letter, but my mind blurred the words. I took a breath, trying to relax. I read the letter slowly aloud to myself.
I’m sure you are confused about this letter and the box, but before you jump to conclusions, I thought I should start over and tell you my story, the whole story this time.
Whole story she lying to me? I felt my throat clamp up, but I read on.
My name is Callie Ann Pennant. I was born in Brookville, Indiana on May 1st. I grew up on a small farm with my Mom and my older Brother, Kevin. Sounds normal right? Well here’s the twist. Ten days after my twelfth birthday I got really sick, and I had to go to the hospital. Everyone around me was scared and I didn’t know why. That’s when the doctor came in and told me the news, the news that changed my life. He told me that I was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.
Tears of frustration swelled up in my eyes. Why didn’t she tell me she had cancer? I thought she trusted me.
I got scared and didn’t know what to think. After that day I started going for treatment, my mom did everything she could for me. I know that me getting cancer was a lot for her to handle. Treatment was the worst time of my life. At school, everyone teased me and even my friend turned her back on me, just because I looked different with no hair and that I had cancer. Of course I wanted to live so I continued, but it all ended soon. The doctors told my mom and I that I wasn’t getting any better so it was decided that I would be taken off treatment, with only six months to live.
I had to stop reading, I froze. I muttered the the words to my self over and over again. “Six months to live, six months. Callie,” the words hurt and the tears took over, “Callie is, is dead.” My tears dripped onto the letter, smearing some of the ink.
My Mom asked me if there was anything in the world that I wanted and I told her that I want to live a normal life. I want to pretend that none of this cancer stuff ever happened. She knew I wouldn’t be able to live the life I wanted here, so we moved to Seattle, Washington. Were I began chapter two of my life.
And this is where I meet you. On my first day school, I admit I was scared, but when I saw you and you smiled at me, I felt better. Every minute I spent with you made me happy, you were the friend I dreamed about, Emma. I know you don’t like to remember it, but when Jessica trip you in the mud. I think I felt worse than you did. Hearing everyone laugh at you sent me straight back to Indiana, to when I was teased and laughed at. I couldn’t stand it, and I couldn’t let Jessica get away with what she did.
The past few days, I’m sure you have wondered where I’ve been. So I’m going to tell you. As I write this letter I’m sitting on a hospital bed, surrounded by machines and various tubes. So this letter is, i guess my way of saying goodbye, and I would much rather talk to you in person, but the doctors said no visitors, only family. Dumb doctors they just don’t know that you are considered family to me. That is how much you mean to me.
I guess this is my final goodbye. Emma I’m not asking you to remember me, but I asking you to remember that you are mean everything to me. Know that I will be with when you walk through the woods, and feel the breeze blow through your hair and when there’s 30 seconds left in the game and it’s up to you to score the winning goal. You have let me live the rest of my life exactly how I wanted to. I am never going to forget you Emma. You are my best friend,
my sister at heart,
Callie Ann Pennant
I just sat there. I held the letter to my chest, my tears never slowing down. My eyes red from the tears, just starred at the box. I was speechless. In the box were pictures of the times we spent together. There was a picture of our brain project when we first met, and pictures of our soccer games. Then through the tears I started to laugh when I saw the pictures of us on our first sleepover when the blender cap flew off and we got covered in smoothie. There were also pictures of her in the hospital, I smiled when I saw her smile even when she was surrounded by machines and there wasn’t a hair on her head. Then I saw a picture that stopped me, it was a picture of Jessica. Jessica standing there and her frizzy hair was shooting out in all directions. I felt something on the back of photo it was a post-it note
I told you I couldn’t let Jessica get away with it. A little frizzy hair control switch and tada!
I laughed at her trick turning it back around to look at frizzy haired Jessica. I put down the photos to see what else was inside the box. Inside I found a invitation to a funeral and the tears returned. For awhile I just sat there crying, thinking about Callie. As I put the photos back into the box I realized that I missed something. It was the sign that always hung above Callie’s bed, that said Live Like You Will Never See Tomorrow. And behind the words was the picture of the sunset that I loved. There was a note attached to the sign:
Keep this sign and make it your motto and never forget those that made yesterday worth remembering.
I got quiet and I could almost her my heart beat inside me. I picked up the box and my backpack and rushed inside up to my room. Pulling the sign out of the box, I took down my soccer plack above my bed and replaced it with the sign. Then collapsed in a teary mess onto my bed. All I could think about was Callie.
“I won’t forget you Callie,”
“Ann?” I rubbed her back, “Baby are you awake?” Getting no answer I picked her up and carried her to her room. I lied her down in her bed and covered her up.
“Sleep tight Ann,” I whispered in her ear. Just as I walked away I turned around to face her bed.
“I never have forgotten you Callie,” I said looking up the sign that now hung above her bed.
Live Like You Will Never See Tomorrow.