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The Plague Is Near

By , Rienzi, MS

I sighed as I finally got to sit down on the bus for the second time today. It was probably around 3:15. I didn’t want to get my phone out and check. I began to gaze out the window, watching the sun as it was already near to setting. The large trees slightly hid the bright star, but the light of it shone right through their cracks. My right hand raised to my short, dark auburn hair and played with a lock of it. Nearly a few seconds later, I felt a slight plop on the seat. “Hey,” I heard a cheery voice say. I knew who it was by just that lively tone. I turned my head to face one of my best friends, Rylan. He was wearing his usual bright smile and very positive look.
“Hey,” I said back, trying to flash a smile as optimistic as his and lowering my hand to my lap.
“You seemed sad a second ago. Is something up?” His smile faded, and his voice became soft and concerned.
“The sky is up,” I joked while making a small snicker. “No, it’s just I had a rough day today with those two tests.”
“You did? Honestly, I thought you wouldn’t have any problems with them.” Rylan’s pleading, dull blue eyes stared at me.
“Truthfully, I haven’t really been in my usual hard studying habit because of having to help my mom so much,” I explained to Rylan whose facial expression became sad. Then he perked up, and his fun smile was soon back.
“Oh, I have an idea,” Rylan said while we both rocked back from the bus starting to move. “When we get to your house, I can help you and your mom with any work that you can’t do.” My eyes widened a bit when I heard my friend’s offer.
“No, no.” I shook my head and raised my hands defensively.  “You don’t have to do that-”
“Yes, I do,” Rylan interrupted. His eyes stared deeply at me, giving me a sort of hard look. I sighed in defeat.
“Okay, but if you get the slightest of tired, or don’t want to do the work anymore though you keep pushing yourself, I will make you quit immediately. Got it?” It was my turn to give the hard look. Rylan’s prideful smile returned once more.
“Yeah.”


After about 6 minutes, we arrived at the bus stop that was near my house. Rylan hopped up from the seat first, but he waited for me to get up and walk in front of him before he even began himself. What a gentlemen, my mind instantly thought.
I quickly jumped from step to step of the bus till my feet hit the ground with a soft thump. Then I stepped up on the sidewalk and turned my whole body around. I gazed at Rylan as he came down from the bus. I smiled at him and, of course, he did one right back.  We walked down the sidewalk side by side until we reached my house.
I stuck my hand into my purse’s small pocket and dug for my house key. Upon finding it, I took it out and placed it into the front door’s keyhole, twisting the lock open. I pushed open the creaky door while turning the knob. “I’m home,” I called out into the house to my mother. I stepped inside, pushing the door all the way open while doing so.
My mom came into the small hallway from the laundry room and gave me a smile. She was wearing her usual cleaning wear which was just an old tee shirt and some sweatpants. “Hey, Annie,” she said, calling me by my nickname and hugging me. “Did you have a good day at school?”
“Yeah,” I answered, “it was alright.”
“Good, good.” She tugged herself away from me, ending the hug. I noticed her head raise up a bit, and her eyes land on Rylan. “Oh, Rylan, hello,” she said with a gentle voice. “How are you doing?”
“I’m doing well, Ms. Corlett,” Rylan politely replied, showing his bright smile.
“That’s good to hear.” My mom’s own smile widened. She glanced back into the laundry room. I guess to see if the dryer or washer was now on then she looked back at Rylan and me.
I could hear the TV blaring from the living room. The reporter was talking about the “plague” that was “going to end the world.” I didn’t believe in any of it. It was all fake. The media just wanted to make people scared. “So, Rylan, why have you come here?” Mom asked, her face softening.
“Well, I’ve come to help you and Annalise.” There it was, I thought, my real name. I only really liked to be called by my nickname, so I corrected him.
“Annie,” I said. “Remember? Call me Annie.”
“Right, yeah,” Rylan spoke softly. My mother stared at me, giving me a bit of a disappointed look. I mouthed a quiet “sorry” to her. “But, anyways, I’ve come to help you and Annie,” he smiled widely. “Is that alright with you, Ms. Corlett?”
“Oh, of course it’s alright, sweetie,” Mom’s soothing voice spoke. “But do tell me if you get tired or something. I don’t want you to be pushing yourself too much.” Right there was where you could see the similarities between my mom and me. We’re both care for people like Rylan who try to do things they can’t.
“Yes, ma’am,” Rylan said cheerfully with a nod. I could hear the slight giggle that my mother made.
“In that case,” Mom started, “why don’t you two go to the store, take this list, and buy them for me?” She handed me the list of our usual supplies and food then gave me wad of money. “That should be enough to pay for it all.”
“Okay, Mom, we’ll go do it then,” I said, showing my mother a smile. I stuffed the list and money into my purse and gave my black rimmed glasses a small push upwards, readjusting them.
“Thank you, Annie.” She giggled slightly. “And Rylan.”
“No problem, Ms. Corlett,” Rylan spoke. I sat down by backpack and binder next to the door, and so did Rylan. Mom walked back into the laundry room and began to put our dirty clothes in the washer.
“Bye,” I called out, and she said a goodbye back. Rylan and I stepped back outside, and he closed the door behind us. We didn’t need a car to get to the store because it was only about a ten minute walk there and back, and both Rylan and I were just not old enough to drive just yet. So, we headed down the sidewalk, walking in the direction of where the store was. We stepped almost in unison, and our sides were next to each other. I thought about breaking the silence, but Rylan already beat me to that.
“Hey, do you want to listen to some music while we walk?” He asked, holding out the left earbud. The other was already in his ear.
“Sure,” I replied and took the bud from his hand. I placed it into my ear.
“Anything in particular you want to listen to?” I shook my head slightly.
“No, not really,” I replied, glancing over at the sun that was slightly blocked by a small wooded area.
“Okay then,” Rylan spoke, looking down at his phone which was in his left hand. He scrolled through his music for a bit before picking his usual kind of music, rock. I didn’t listen to it much, but I thought pop-rock was pretty cool. The song was “Boy Division” by My Chemical Romance that I could recall since Rylan had begged me to listen to it once.
After what seemed to be a short amount of time of listening to music and walking, we finally arrived at the store, or the grocery only Walmart. I handed Rylan’s earbud back then he put both his phone and the earbuds away.
We stepped into the huge grocery store. I dug into my purse and pulled out the list and a pen to mark things out as we get them. “Okay, first,” I started, staring at the list, “I guess the fruit and vegetables since they’re right here.” Rylan agreed with me then we went over to the cooled container that held the fresh items.
Mom had wrote “strawberries, nectarines, black cherries,” and “zucchini”. I showed Rylan what she had written, and he went on to get the zucchini while I got the fruit. I decided to get the nectarines first.
I walked around the corner of the tall fruit stand to see a man standing aimlessly where I needed to be. I waited a bit to see if he’d walk off, but, after a minute, he still didn’t move. He was swaying slightly, and his back was hunched. I could heard him groaning in a very low voice. “Excuse me, sir?” I asked, stepping over to his side. My face showed concern and worry. “Mister, is something wrong?” The man’s response was only a groan and a small wheeze.
I lightly grabbed his shoulder and tugged him a little. “Sir, is something wrong?” I questioned the man again. Then a surprised look was placed on my face quickly. The man’s face was rotten and decayed, and his clothes were torn.
 




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