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I slam the heavy, chipped red paint door and leap from the fifth step of our cement porch onto the sidewalk, feeling the hard landing on my feet. Wrenching open the rusty white gate, I feel a wave of cold air whip my hair back. I burrow deep into my downy, insulated black coat, and head down Reynolds Street. The block is empty except for the Frick Park Market guy with the bushy mane of grey hair who sits on the bench, smoking a long white cigarette; the choking stench of it wafts across the street as the crossing guard, sporting rosy face and neon green as always, escorts me across the street. I mumble my thanks from numb lips.
As I make my way down the next block, my boots squeak through the quickly melting slush. The grass is already beginning to peek through the snow, and
I swear I hear a bird chirp. The groundhog must have been right. It is unseasonably warm for February. I take my iPod out of one of my bulging jean pockets and shove the buds in my ears. I never carry a purse to Squirrel Hill, lest I lose it. Instead, I keep the essentials in the deep pockets of my jeans, or sometimes in my huge black coat: cell phone, iPod, keys, whatever money I may have. With spring coming so soon, I will no longer have use for my coat, and come summer my jeans will be too hot. I’ll have to think of an alternative; perhaps a drawstring backpack?
A Rent song blares through my headphones as I pass my old piano teacher’s house, and I immediately begin to belt out the lyrics.
“What’s the time? Well it’s gotta be close to midnight. My body’s talking to me, it says ‘time for danger!’” I take a running jump over a large puddle as I reach Dallas, and continue to sing as I wait for the light to turn green. “It says ‘I wanna commit a crime! Wanna be the cause of a fight! I wanna put on a tight skirt, and flirt, with a stranger!’”
I assume a flirtatious pose before the light turns, and quickly dash across the intersection, narrowly missing a car that decided not to use a turn signal. His gears grind past me too loudly and too quickly for me to think of a creative insult, so I continue on my way. As I trudge up the Linden hill, I hear my stomach rumble from around the music. I haven’t eaten yet today, and I’m surprised to see that it’s already 3:00. I always lose track when there isn’t school, and today being a Sunday I was able to sleep in instead of rolling out of bed at 7:00, or 8:00, as my mom makes me run errands with her Saturday mornings.
I dig deep into my many pockets and manage to fish out a lollipop, leftover from Christmas. They are pepper minty and delicious, with a soft chocolate center; they are my absolute favorite. I twist open the festive wrapping and begin to eat the sweet candy with relish. I pocket the wrapper; it’s really pretty, red and green and white with snowflake decorations, and Kenzie has gotten me into the practice of taping random but cool stuff like that on my wall. One side of my wall is quickly being covered with little business cards from stores, stickers, ribbons, broken jewelry, and hand me down posters, including a huge one of Angelina Jolie from Salt. I am just polishing off the last of my lollipop when I hear my loud, overly cheery ringtone.
“Hey, Melissa. Yeah I’m heading upstreet now. Cool. I’ll be there in about fifteen minutes, see you there.” I hang up the phone and sigh, thinking what a slow weekend this has been. I choose a random song, and continue determinedly up the next hill. My good mood has turned sulky, to match the now darkened sky. I really hope it doesn’t rain, I hate rain more than any other weather. It makes me feel sticky and dirty. I tuck my hair into my hoodie as the first drops begin to fall. I’ve already passed that playground for the rehabilitated kids, and am about to head up Shady. I decide to run the rest of the way there, because the raindrops are beginning to fall, cold and wet and hair ruining, on my head. The dirty water tastes sweet and heavy as in runs into my mouth. My iPod is playing an upbeat song; “Clockwatching,” by Jason Mraz. Usually I find him really annoying and self absorbed, but this song is a new favorite. It almost makes the rain seem peaceful. I’m humming the tune as I pull open the door to Dunkin’ Donuts; I don’t know the lyrics yet.
I don’t see Melissa anywhere, so I get in line.
“How can I help you,” the moody looking woman behind the counter with the greasy hair drones.
“Yeah, can I get a egg white sandwich with cheese?” I ask politely, tucking my drenched hair behind my ear. She nods, and I sit down on the overstuffed couch by the fireplace. Just as I am about to sink my teeth into the creamy egg, I hear a familiar voice call my name. I turn around to see Melissa, hands cupped around a mug of hot chocolate.
“Hey, chica!” I say, breaking into a smile and revealing my black braces. I make room for Melissa on the couch. As she sits down, I pull something out of my pocket.
“Guess what?” I say, brandishing my object. “I brought Sharpie!” She laughs and obediently lays her converse covered foot on my lap for me to decorate. This looks like quite the promising afternoon.