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My mom opens my light pink door and enthusiastically hollers,“Rise and shine.” She brushes my bangs from my face and kisses me on the cheek. She already laid the clothes that she picked for me across my orange comforter at the foot of my twin size bed. I put put the clothes on.While eating breakfast at the dining room table, she helped me tie my shoes. My mom put my hair up in a high and tight ponytail with a bow, she let my light thin baby hairs lay around the edges of my face.She kisses me on the forehead,hands me my lunch, and backpack. Then she takes me by the hand and walks me to the bus stop.
My alarm clock rings, my eyes shoot open, and I thrash around looking for the snooze button. I lay in my warm bed dreading to get up knowing it will be much colder than I would like outside of my sheets. I wonder if I experienced the dream because I plan to visit home this fall break, which is tomorrow. I glance over at my alarm clock, it reads 5:30,”Time to get up.” I swing my legs over the side of the bed, using that to pull my body into an upward position.I walk to my dresser on the other side of the room and grab the clothes I laid out the night before. After putting on the grey sweater and blue skinny jeans I make my bed. I make my bed every morning, it makes me feel as if I have my life in order. Then I head towards the kitchen.
In the kitchen I sit at the dining bar and drink some coffee while eating my morning yogurt. I eat one cup of yogurt everyday, it makes me feel healthy. After I do that I head to the bathroom, I brush my teeth and my hair. Then, I grab my phone from my the dresser beside my bed and head to the front door. I dig through the bowl on the table near the doorway. After I find my keys I drop them in my bookbag. I slide my feet into my black flats and pull on my black coat before leaving the house.
Outside of my apartment little kids stand holding their mom’s hands and waving their dads goodbye wishing them a good day at work, while they wait for the bus. I start walking to the building where my morning class is held. A big gust of wind comes. My eyes water and my nose turns red. The red, yellow, and orange leaves swirl in a circle making a constant noise. It reminds me of when I was little and my dad would rake all the leaves in the yard in to a pile and I would jump into them scattering the leaves all over the yard again.
The day goes by slow, because I want to get home. I am so tired when I get home I kick off my shoes,hang up my jacket, and go to bed. I wake up at 5:30.I slowly pull myself out of bed. Today, I go to my old house and visit my hometown. My clothes are already packed, all I need to do is take a shower and change my clothes. I grab breakfast on the way. My apartment is about an hour and forty five minutes away from my parents house. I arrive at my parents house at 7:30. Everything looks the same. My parents meet me at the front door. My mom gets on her tippy toes, leans forward ,and kisses me on the forehead. My dad gives me a big hug and says “Welcome home, we missed you.”
I head upstairs to unpack, my room looks exactly like it did before I left. The stuffed animals still laying on the orange comforter, my music box still sitting on my nightstand, my burnt out night light still in the wall, and all the pictures of me and Justin still hanging on my mirror. I lay my bag on the bench at the foot of my bed and take my jacket off. I walk back down the stairs, and my parents sit in the kitchen drinking their morning coffee. When my mom looks up and sees me she says,“Honey, would you like something to eat?”
“No thank you, I grabbed breakfast on the way here mom,” I explain.
”Well, I hope you will stick around for supper,” mom told me,“I have a surprise.”
“I’ll be home soon” I tell my parents as I walk out the door. On the sidewalk I stand for a second looking at a rope attached to the tree in the front yard waving in the wind, it used to be my tire swing. I wrap my arms around myself and continue walking down the sidewalk. I pass the elementary school that used to go to, and I see the big hill behind it. We used to walk here almost every snowday and sled down it. One time I even broke my arm. It starts to get dark and the air gets colder. My hands turn red and numb. I try to make it home as fast as I can to warm up.
When I got home mom already cooked most of the food. She’s working on dessert last so it will still be fresh and warm after supper. The doorbell rings, I run to the door and open it, this is the surprise mom was talking about. “Uhh, hi Justin, come on in.” He steps in and gives me the flowers he holds in his hands. He smiles,“Long time no see.” Before I close the door he steps around me and heads to the living room to watch hockey with Dad. He hollers to my mom,“Food smells good ma'am”. Mom steps into the living room wiping her hands on a dishcloth.“You know better”,she scolded Justin,“my name is Ava.” Justin smiles real big and replies with,“ Alright, the food smells good…Mrs. Ava.”
“I guess that will have to do.“ She looks over at me and asks,“Did you say hi to Grace when you walked in?” I gesture to her with the flowers and answer,”Yes, he did.” Mom took the flowers and ran to the kitchen.“ FOOD IS DONE”,she yells. We all head to the kitchen and get our plates. Justin says prayer, then we begin to eat.
Later I go to up to my bedroom to grab a hoodie because it is getting colder. When I turn around to leave my bedroom Justin pokes his head in. “ Hey” he replies.
“Hey” I say and I guess that was an invitation because he came in the rest of the way. “It looks just like it did before you left” he states.
“It does, doesn't it?” Justin walks around the bedroom studying everything. His eyes bounce round the bedroom. When he sees the mirror he sardonically mumbles,“ wow, you kept those pictures? So I actually did mean something to you.”
“Justin, please don’t start with me.You know why I left.”
“ OH, do I? Because you never even said goodbye, you just left.”
“ I didn't have the heart to tell you i was leaving.”
“ If you knew you were going to leave why did you let me fall in love with you?” During all of this I still feared I was going to get in trouble for having a boy in my bedroom with me alone, even though I am almost 22 years old. “ Do you remember? In this picture I carried your shoes and you wore mine because yours hurt your feet.”
“ I do and, this one when you were in the hospital because you got into that car wreck in the snow.” “This one, when we went to the movies and watched a movie you loved but I hated. Did I complain about it? No, because I just loved spending time with you.” “ What did I do wrong Grace?”
“Come on let's go for a walk.” I grab my coat and put it on over my jacket. When we walked along the roads justin and I roamed for years with each other, I couldn't help but to miss what I left behind.“Remember when we both got in trouble for staying out too late swimming in the lake?”,he says as we pass the boat dock.
“I do, and do you remember when I was teaching you how to do a cartwheel and your pants ripped down the center” I giggle.
“I do”,he laughs.
When we return he decided he should be heading home, before he leaves he kisses me on the cheek and then he hands me a piece of paper and tells me not to open it until I get back to my apartment. When fall break ends and I returned home to my apartment I unfolded the piece of paper. It said “ I will wait forever, and if you decided to move on, you will be my greatest memory.”
Seven years later
“Mommy Mommy, can we carve the pumpkins now?”
“yes, if your dad would ever finish raking the leaves“,I say laughing.
”If your daughter won't stop jumping in my pile, I will never finish” Justin says.
“I wonder where she gets that from” I say. We both laugh.