All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I was walking down the long semi-circle hall lined with shops and restaurants that lead out to the falls with my mom. In the middle of a conversation about what I should get my friend, she gasped, her eyes widened and called out a name right as the rain hit us.
She saw the Putzers out of nowhere. They are close family friends that we haven’t seen in years. It’s crazy that they would be here, in Canada, the same time we were. We haven’t seen them in years, and then we see them only a few steps away from us right in front of Niagara Falls. My brother got along with their two, extremely tall, sons- but not nearly as tall as their dad. They started to talk about how often they go to the gym. My brother, being the scrawniest one there even though they are the same age, talked about how he needs to start going more, and plans to go everyday when we get back home.
My mom started to talk about what our plans for the day were with Janice. They stood eye to eye and their voice was rising with their happiness. My mom is about 5 feet tall, I’ve been taller than for a few years making me tilt my head down slightly to look her in the eye.
“Stephie wants to go to the butterfly sanctuary, were gonna go under the falls and then head over there on the bus,” my mom told Janice.
“We just did that, we were going to go to the butterflies too! We should go together, did you get the all inclusive pass? We could do the rest of the attractions together too if you want?” Janice exclaimed using all the excitement her short body could muster.
I moved on and overhear my dad and Chris- Janice's husband- talking about football or whatever sport that was going on in April and decided to not even try, so I walked over to my sister, Stephie, who was admiring a seagull up close. I picked up my camera that was around my neck, and told her to smile; that would make it her fifth picture with an animal on this trip and we have only been here three days. Trying to get the picture with my deep brown hair flopping everywhere with the wind was difficult but I finally got it.
We part ways with the Putzers and take an elevator, cramped with eight people, down under the falls. It took about 20 minutes to go through all the tunnels that have the look of what a horror movie would make the sewers look like. Concrete walls with a rounded top that dirty water was dripping from. There are out looks where you can either see the water or see the falls at level point. I snapped a few pictures of my family in front of the windows, trying in vain to keep the water from the ceiling and falls spray off of it at the same time.
We emerged back up from the elevator and find the Putzers. We all got out of the rain and into the nearby building that we recently emerged from. My mom and Janice asked the lady at the information desk when the next bus to the butterflies would be coming. She said that it would be 45 minutes.
“Mom I’m going to go into the gift shop, let me know when the bus gets here,” I told my mom
“Okay,” she retorted and returned to her conversation with Janice.
On my way to the shop that was down the hall I counted my money to see what I would be able to get. There were rows on rows of trinkets, stairs that lead up to the section that held the clothes, a section of the store was dedicated to camping and plaid, and next to it, the jewelry. All of it was spread out in various ways. I start my journey into the store with looking at the stuffed animals, scarfs, and the other trinkets and then followed the walls until I came back to the front. Now that I had seen everything I went back to buy things. I picked out a friendship ring and a hoodie, both grey and saying “Niagara Falls, Canada” on them. The ring entranced me when I saw it, it seperated to make two separate rings in an odd shape. I threw the hoodie on and walk out. I went back to where I saw my mom last and looked for her, she wasn’t there. I figured that she was probably at the bus stop and so I went there. I walked out of the back door of the hall and across the street to the stop. When I also didn’t find them there, I started to panic a little.
I took out my phone and tried to called her. Because we were at the Falls on a rainy day, the call didn’t go through. I tried to go outside towards the falls, taking deep breaths. That didn’t work so I went back into the building and tried again. When even that didn’t work I speed walked passed the gift shop and out the back door. I stood under the metal canopy and faced the bus stop. It finally went through.
“Mom, where are you?” I asked her nervously.
I didn’t get a response at first. On the other line I heard my moms muffled voice and then the beep of when someone hangs up. Tears start to formulate glossing over my brown eyes, knowing but not accepting what has happened. I called her back and asked her another time where she was
“Katie we are on the bus about to get to the butterflies”
“What? I literally told you I was in the gift shop and to get me when we have to go! It’s only been like 20 minutes, how are you on the bus? And how did you forget your 14 year old daughter in a different country?” I asked trying to calm my voice.
“The lady at the window meant that the ride was 45 minutes long. We saw the bus come up and we all started to dart to the bus. I didn’t forget about you though. I asked Stephie where you were and she said that you were at the back of the bus with the guys”
“You should have known not to trust her! She always talks even though she doesn’t know what going on.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“Whatever it’s fine. So what should I do?” my voice cracked a little.
“You have two options, you can either go back to the hotel or ask when the next bus is and then come by yourself”
“I’m just gonna go back to the hotel.”
“I think you should come. It’ll be fun, I’ll wait for you outside”
We talked about me going for a few more minutes and she convinced me come. So I asked the lady when the bus would come, the answer was 5 minutes, and I waited.
When the bus came I still had watery eyes, red face and my eyes were slightly puffed. I sat alone at the front but of course a mom and her daughter, in blinding blue jackets, sat next to me instead of the open seats in the middle.
At first I listen to their conversation wondering how my mom forgot me in a foreign place. I’m sitting on the bus flicking my phone case on and off the corner of my phone, I’m trying to compose myself so my brother wouldn’t laugh at me for crying. The bus passed a few stops and got to one that looked like it was straight out of China. I’m facing the falls so I had to turn around to see it. It had a giant red entrance and black designs outlining it, that was made for the gods. I thought of getting off there, it seemed more interesting then the butterflies and if my family can leave me then I couldn’t I leave them? I decided against it of course, I didn’t want to cause my mom any more stress, or have her worry. The doors closed and drove away. I looked at the map above the seats across from me, it didn’t occur to me that I may be on the wrong bus. So I follow the blue line indicating our bus route. As I follow each stop to the end I get nervous that on top of this all happening, I got on the wrong bus and would have to ask the driver to stop so I could walk back. Each little picture indicating a stop that isn’t mine. The line is halfway gone and I still haven't seen any picture that would come close to resembling butterflies. Before I even finish following the path my eyes dart back to the beginning to double check that I haven’t missed it. I follow the line to the very end and see the symbol that had two butterflies on it and let out a breath that I didn’t even know I was holding. I slumped down in my seat and try to do anything to get my mind off of this. I tried calling my best friend but she didn’t answer. She would laugh at the situation but at least she would try and make me feel better.
The mom that was sitting next to me kept looking at me and opening her mouth as if to say something to me but stopping last minute, to my relief.
When they finally got off at their stop I slumped down in my seat and let out a sigh. I opened my phone and went to Instagram. I kept trying to reload the page even though I knew that I have already looked at everything already. I wanted to text my mom to keep my mind busy. I tapped on her name slowly because my knee was bouncing and I was resting my phone on my knee and the last thing I needed was one more, no matter how little, thing to go wrong. I put my head against the window behind me and thought about what I could say and not have it seem like I’m scared. There wasn’t a way to do that, so I shut my phone off and put it on the seat next to me. I watched the rain trickle down the windows and the listened to the bus splash into puddles and to the murmurs between the two people in the back, and felt the humm of the bus. I thought about what my family did when they were on the bus, where they sat. What were they passing when I called them the first time? My eyes started to fill again, and my face was burning.
“Hey mom,” my voice cracked “I’m close, there are only a few stops left”
“Ok I’m waiting outside.”
“Ok by I love you, see you in a few,” and I hung up
As my stop was finally next and the symptoms of crying were starting to go away, the bus driver pulled into a parking lot and turned around. I started to panic, I got my phone out and typed “mom the bus driver is taking us to the wrong spot. I’m scared. I love you” I wasn’t going to send it until I was certain. Thank god for that, after a few minutes- of me darting my eyes from the other passengers, to the driver, to the road- later the sign for the butterflies went past us on our left.
My face had no chance at recovery at this point. I only had a minute or so to try and look like I was fine. I start to rub my eyes with my hoodie sleeve to stop my eyes from watering, which only made them more red and puffy. I put my hands on my face to get the red out of my cheeks, but it wouldn’t go away. I cleared my throat few times and opened my eyes wide enough to seem like I was perky.
The bus came to a stop and the rest of us got off. The path to the building was longer than I would have thought but nonetheless my mom was standing a few steps away. Right when I saw her my eyes started to pool up. Her smile became a frown.
“I’m so sorry!”
“It’s ok, really. I’m just being over emotional as usual.”
I walked over and hugged her. It lasted a few moments, I rested my chin on her head and felt what might have been a tear but could have been rain, roll down my face. I pulled away and we locked arms and started to walk to the building. I looked for a dry spot on my hoodie sleeve, but with the mix of rain and tears it was kind of hard. I used the sleeve to wipe away the new tears. The building had a bunch of spiral figures outside of it, way too important to be for a butterfly sanctuary. We walked past the information video booth, that my mom has already watched, and into the dome. We caught up with the rest of our group and they said they were sorry. Except my brother who laughed. They didn’t linger on it, but instead moved on. I watched the butterflies flapping around like slow blurs of color. The sign next to me said that when butterflies are born their mothers leave them to live on their own. I huffed and moved on. We went through the rest of it, the only thing that I could focus on was how safe I felt in reach of my family. The day went on with a few jokes sprinkled in about me and not to forget about getting on the bus. Then we said our goodbyes to the Putzers. I was of course sad to see them go, but maybe part of me blamed them for being forgotten, maybe if we didn’t see them my mom would have come in the gift shop with me. We all went back to the hotel and I told my family what happened every step along the way.