Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Strawberries

I peaked through the glass door way for the fifth time; he still wasn’t there. My thoughts started twisting around each other and I wasn’t able to untangle them. A pair of bright headlights flashed across the room through a nearby window. I looked towards them; when they were shut off by the driver I was able to see the ocean blue color of the car. I knew that color any where. A rusty squeal came from the employee door.
“Hey I thought we were going to fix that?” Calvin tried to yell over the blender’s roar.
“Yeah and I thought you weren’t going to be late anymore?” John threw a balled of apron to him.
“My cousin had a concert and asked me to drive him there.” He said catching the apron. Calvin ran his fingers through his wavy gelled hair; he went to tie on his apron when I started counting to five. He went behind the counter to work the blenders and I pushed the door open.
“Hey looks who back!” John called out.
“Hi guys.” I greeted.

“What can we get you?” John winked
I sighed, “The usual please.”
“You got it sweet heart.”I looked towards him annoyed. I should have been used to it, John started calling me sweetheart since I started buying smoothies here. He knew by now what I wanted and who I wanted to make it, but he still enjoyed teasing me.
“One sweetheart usual!” he called back to Calvin.
After some ice digging and blending Calvin walked up with my order, “How many times a week do you come here?” he asked pouring the sweet liquid into a cup.
“Whenever I have a break.” It was one reason I loved working at the mall, the smoothie shop walk only a short walk from the retail store I worked, the perfect distance for a quick smoothie break.
“Well guess we’ll see you soon.” Calvin teased. He snapped a cap onto the cup stuck a blue silly straw in and handed me a fresh strawberry.
“Bye sweetheart.” John said after I paid.
When going out the door I slipped the strawberry past my lips bit into the ripe fruit, freeing the sugary nectar onto my tongue. I sighed with a smile while sipping at the smoothie. It was sweet with the right balance of strawberries and pomegranates to not over power each other. I tried to save it for the rest of my shift but it was gone after half an hour.
I started to close up the store when John walked through the doors. “Enjoying your drink or did you throw it out like you did with mine?”
“What are you talking about?” I asked opening the cash register.
“When you threw the drink in the trash, you remember the strawberry banana one I made you last month?”
“I could have died if I drank that, you know I’m allergic to bananas!” I said counting and shoving the money into a bag for my employer.
“You lie!”
“No, you should know this since the time I declined your offer of banana bread and you forced me to explain.” I sighed, “Calvin remembers.”
“Calvin’s dog remembers.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” John closed his mouth and was silent for a bit. I rolled my eyes and started picking up some clothes that were strewn about the floor.
“What do you want?” I said becoming annoyed by him following me about the changing rooms.
“Want to go to an art competition?” John finally spoke.
“What?” I asked becoming interested.
“Calvin has a painting that was hung up at the Art Museum.” he rolled his eyes, “It made it into the top ten high school paintings, and was elected into the annual art competition. He wants you to be there with him when they show it off.” He crossed his arms and waited for my answer.
I wanted to squeal a yes but tried to remain composed, “Why did he send you to ask me?” I said feeling the sugar from the smoothie move its way into my bloodstream.
“How am I supposed to know?” I turned on his heal becoming impatient, “I have to go pick up my sister. Calvin will call you tonight for an answer.” He spun his keys on his finger while trekking out the doorway.
I finished picking up and locked the doors. I went to my car with a new bounce to my stride and finally landed into the driver’s seat. After starting up the car I left the employee parking lot for my house. When I parked in the drive way then walked through the front door a pair of small arms tried to wrap their way around my legs.
“Sis’ Sis’! Come and see what I built!” Emma said; the four year old reach for my hand and pulled on it, making her puffy green tutu jump and her messy ponytail bounce.
“Hold on Emma, let me take off my shoes.” She couldn’t hold still but waited for both of my empty shoes to hit the ground before she started pulling me to her room again. What she was so excited to show me was a large pillow and blanket fort, it seemed she used almost every pillow in the house. It was a colorful array with her pink and green polka dotted room. What caught my eye was our mother asleep in the middle of the pile.
“Hey Halli, how was work?” my dad said coming into the room.
“How’s Calvin?” Emma asked curiously.
“Work was alright; Calvin is okay, he just got one of his drawing picked for an art competition.” I answered; Emma squealed with joy and jumped into the pillow fort, curling up next to mom.
“Well good for him.” Dad said pulling out his camera; he snapped a picture of Emma and Mom, “Do you want to get in on the shot?” he asked.
“Not really, besides I didn’t build it with her.” Mom started to snore and Emma giggled. I headed to the kitchen and put some leftover pizza into the microwave.
“Are you alright?” Emma asked skipping into the room.
“Of course I’m alright, why would you ask such a thing?”
“I don’t know.” I lifted her up to the counter and she laughed some more.
“What’s got you in such a giggling mood today?” I asked tickling her. She started laughing so hard her face turned to a pink.
“Halli stop, please.” She begged. I let her go and she started breathing normal, “When’s Calvin going to come over again? I like Calvin, he has a dog.” I smiled at her effortless phrase of saying she liked him.
“You might see him this weekend; we want to go to the Art Museum. Hey you should see if he wants you to go too?” I said handing her my phone. This way I didn’t have to call him or be the one he has to center his attention on. Emma went into my contact list and found his name. The sounds of a dialing phone came and Calvin’s voice sounded out of the speaker.
“Hey Halli, I was just about to call you.” He answered and Emma started to giggle again.
“Calvin it’s me!” she said almost falling off the counter.
“Oh, Emma? Hm? Starting to sound like your sister; well what’s up princess?” Calvin was the protective older brother figure to Emma; he didn’t have any siblings so she was like a little sister to him. She also loved the fact that he called her princess.
“Halli said your painting went to the museum, can I come see it with you two?” she asked excitedly; Calvin paused for a second.
“Oh, um, well you see, I was just going to have your sister come since I got only one free ticket, but I guess; well how old are you now? Three?”
“I’m four!” she protested and I worried her yelp might have hurt his ear.
“Oh I see well then you can get in for free; ask Halli if she’ll let you come.”
“Halli, can I go? Please, please, please?” she begged almost falling off the counter again.
“I don’t mind.” I answered letting my plan take action.
“I can go, I can go!” she squealed into the phone.
“Alight princess, I’ll pick you and Halli up on Saturday at noon; now don’t you forget that.”
“Saturday at noon; got it!”
“Cool, now hand the phone to Halli please.”
“Yup!” she looked up at me with her light blue eyes, “Calvin wants to talk to you.” She handed the phone to my sweating hands and jumped off the counter, sounding a loud landing; she then when to her fort.
“Hey.” I said nervously
“You sure you’re okay with Emma coming, you don’t always have to say yes.”
“Really I don’t mind.” Was he intending that he didn’t want her there with us?
“Alright,” a quiet moment passed.
“So is John coming?” I asked even though I knew his answer.
“Um, well he couldn’t make it because of a family thing,” he paused, “So you’re going to come and you’re not going to back out like you did with the Ferris Wheel.” He teased.
“That was different; I didn’t like the idea of being up that high and swinging back and forth. Besides this is art, I love art.” What? Why did I say that?
“Okay just making sure,” he paused again, “Well I’ll see you tomorrow, twelve o’clock. I’m driving.”
“Then I better bring Emma some bubble wrap.” I said trying to joke around. Man, what is wrong with me?
“I’m not that bad of a driver.” He laughed.
“That’s what they all say.” Really that’s the best I could come up with?
“Okay,” he chuckled some more, “good night Halli, sweet dreams.”
“Yeah good night Calvin, see you tomorrow.” I hung up the phone. Wait did he just said sweet dreams to me? I felt my cheeks burst into flame. I went to my room and took a yearbook off my shelf and found the best friends page. A picture of John, Calvin, and I was posted there with a caption saying that we’d been best friends since fourth grade.
Falling asleep was easier than usual. When the sun started to glare through my window and little body jumped on to my bed.
“Halli, wake up; it’s Saturday, Calvin’s going to show us his painting!” Emma said bouncing around.
“What time is it?” I muffled into my pillow.
“Ten.”
“Let me sleep for another half an hour, then I’ll get up.” I said shooing her away.
“But, he’s here now?”
“What!” I sat up with a jolt, making my head spin from the rush of blood.
“He’s eating breakfast with me, Mommy, and Daddy.” She smiled.
“He’s really early!” Too early in fact I jumped out of bed, ran to my dresser, and looked in the mirror. My hair was a mess, sticking up at all angles. A bit of unwashed make-up was smeared under my eyes. I hope he doesn’t mind if I take a shower. I sprinted to my closet and grabbed some essentials with a pair of dark skinny jeans, a green shirt, and a light white scarf. After tucking everything under my arm and making sure nothing embarrassing would fall out, I stared to count down.
“What are you doing?” Emma said curiously.
“I’m getting ready to run for the bathroom.” I answered, then opened the door and bolted across the hallway.
Looking in the mirror again I saw my hair was still sticking up and my cheeks were now flushed. I stripped down of my night clothes and turned the shower on. After combing out my chaotic hair, I climbed into the warm downpour of water. I squirted some shampoo onto my head and scrubbed my hair with the sudsy fragrance; I rushed too fast and felt some slip down my face and start to sting my eye. I decided to slow down, and calmly let the heat soak into my body.
I finally finished and reached for my towel. After drying myself to a pink color, I rubbed the towel through my dark hair. After changing into my clothes, I put a hairdryer to the job of blowing the droplets of water out of my hair.
A loud knock came from the door. I have even put on cover up I screamed through my head. Another knock sounded, “Halli, are you going to come and say hi?” Mom asked.
“In a bit.” I answered raising my voice for her to hear. I smothered some thick cream over my face and noticed a now pinkish eye from the soap, “Oh no, not good.” I whispered at my reflection. Opening the mirror, a cabinet was revealed, and I went searching for the eye drops. After spilling some medication bottles into the sink, I found them and dripped a couple into my eye. I brushed some sparkly green eye-shadow and combed through my eyelashes with some kind of thick black liquid. The pick color was starting to go down and I wrapped the scarf around my neck.
I finally headed out of the bathroom after I cleaned up and walked down the hallway when I heard Emma’s giggling. Turning into her room, a dressed up Emma was putting a flower behind Calvin’s ear while he was sitting on her green shag carpet; a pink necklace was around his neck and a feathery hat upon his head.
“Halli, Come join us. We’re having a tea party.” Emma said jumping up. Calvin wrapped his arms around her and cradled her as he got up and walked towards me.
“Ready to go?” he asked.
“Yes, but are you?” I said eyeing his costume.
“Oh um, yeah I should,” He said putting Emma on the ground. He reached up for the hat and pulled the necklace from his neck, “Okay?” He asked.
“Hold on.” I blushed and let my fingers go for the flower that hung behind his ear. I grabbed hold of it and gently lifted it.
“Thanks.” He smiled. Emma came bounding over to take the accessories. She was wearing a pink tutu over her white jeans and blue shirt, “Let her wear it, I don’t mind.” Calvin said noticing my stares. Emma had piggy-tails in that were uneven; I leaned down to fix them.
“No! Calvin did them!” she screeched.
“Can I fix them?” I asked.
“NO!”
“Calvin?” I said looking at him.
He leaned down and looked Emma in the eye, “Let her do your piggy-tails, I’m not good at them any way.”
He then reached for her and I had him sit her onto the bed. I sat next to her and took out the messy bunches of hair. When I redid them, Calvin grabbed Emma, lifted her to his shoulder, and carried her to his car. I grabbed her booster seat from the van and after many complications we finally got it settled in and her into it. I slid into the passenger seat and buckled up. Calvin started the car and drove into the city.
“How did you do?” I said breaking the silence, “On your painting I mean.”
“Well it did make it into the art competition,” he paused to think, “I probably got seventh place.” He said humbly.
Emma spoke up, “No, you’re the best painter in the world, you got first place!” she yelled. Calvin smiled and his face turned a pink color.
“I hope it does win something.” He glanced at me and back to the road, I looked towards him curious to what he was thinking. We pulled into the museum’s parking lot. It was busy, people who passed by were either overdressed or underdressed, “You look great.” He said catching me glancing at my outfit.
“Thanks.” I said relieved. He got out started unbuckling Emma. As we walked in a man took out tickets.
“How old is she?” The man peered at Emma.
“I’m four!” she said excitedly; the man smiled at her enthusiasm and let us in.
“Excuse me,” Calvin asked the man, he went to him and started whispering something.
“To your left, go straight down and take another left on the first doorway, it should come up on your right.”
“Thank you.” Calvin said and ushered for me to follow him. We passed many people of all different statuses; we turned left and walked a bit down before he stopped in front of a painting.
“Oh wow!” Emma said squirming out of his arms. Hanging on the wall was a painting of a girl with a strawberry next to her lips, “Halli, that’s you!” Emma jumped up and down. I looked again; the girl had dark brown hair. Her eyes had hints of speckled brown in the green irises with a dark blue outlining. The strawberry was perfectly shaped and red, it had a shiny exterior that made is look as perfectly ripe as possible.
The portrait had my eyes, nose, and hair shape; her chin resembled mine perfectly, “It is me.” It was like I was staring at a reflection.
“Yes.” Calvin spoke up; I turned and saw his face shade to a darker pink, “I wanted to paint something I loved.”
“And so you painted me?” my hearted started to beat like the rhythm of a horse’s gallop. I heard the blood push through my body.
“One of my favorite things in my day is when you come in for a smoothie and I am able to see the joy on your face as you bite into the ripe strawberry.” He looked towards his painting, “Though I didn’t give you any justice.” He smiled and looked for my reaction but I just stood there shocked.
He’s liked me for a while. So why am I being so quiet about this? I like him too! Do something, say something, anything! My brain screamed for my voice to come out and my lips to move, but every muscle in my body felt frozen and heavy.
“Halli?” he asked. I persuaded my eyes to look into his and for a smile to come. Say something! My mind yelled again, “I’m sorry if this shocked you.” He said slowly. I finally started moving. My hand reached up towards his hair, my fingers found their way into its softness. My feet slid me towards him more, and then went up onto their toes. My arms stretched around his neck and shoulders. He wrapped his behind my back and leaned towards my face in response, “I love you.” He said and I answered by putting my head on his shoulder.
I could hear Emma near us making joyful noises; Calvin’s arms tightened around me. “You smell like strawberries.” He said pushing his lips against my hair.



Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback