Sometime in your life you’re going to go to school. You’re going to get homework and good teachers and bad teachers, you’re going to get into fights with your parents, you’re going to make friends, you’re going to have a crush, get a boyfriend or girlfriend, go to prom, college, get married, have kids, blah blah blah. All that good stuff. But before you do that, before you get to the end of your life, you got to have experiences. Adventures. Friends. Enemies. You got to live. And I don’t mean going down to the street bakery and trying something that everyone says you don’t live until you have it, I mean live. Be happy. Be sad. Be angry. Be excited. Make new friends. Have a crush. Don’t be embarrassed about it! It’s what living is about. I didn’t know that, until I left home… horrible, right? I’m 14 and already leaving home. No, I’m not going to live across the Country. I’m moving to Connecticut to be in a Boarding School. The very thought made me shiver. Green, rolling hills and lush forests, peaking mountains. Not the blaring lights and Truck Drivers screaming and the traffic of New York. Today’s September 1st. 2015. First day of school is next week. I’m leaving today.
My mom’s sitting on my bed, her green eyes sparkling with sadness. It’s hard for her to send me to the Boarding School… my dad got deployed into the army only three months ago.
“Mom, I don’t have to go.” I say, kneading my blanket. She runs her hand through my hair and smiles sadly.
“Sweetie, you’ll like it in Connecticut. Lot’s of opportunities!”
“Opportunities…?” I mumbled. “Really?” She laughed softly, and stood up, gazing at the window.
“I just wish your sister could’ve gone with you…” I looked away.
My younger sister, Elizabeth, (Lizzie,) died around a year ago. She had a rare cancer. One day she told my mom to go home and rest. That night she convulsed and flatlined. I was 13 then. She was 11. Too young.
“I know.” I replied. “Me to.” My mom blinked softly, and grabbed my bag.
“Never mind that. Come on, let’s get to the subway.”
“Wait-they have subways in wherever I’m going?” I exclaim, jumping up.
“No.” My mom answers. “You’re riding the subway to the train into the Country and then onto a “private train” reserved for students of Lakewood.”
“Er-Lakewood? What’s that?”
“Your school.” She frowned. “Oh, Maddie, please tell me you’ll try it. Please. Just for a year.”
“A whole year?”
“Okay, Mom. Okay. I’ll do it. I’ll try.” I muttered. She smiled again.
“Thank you. Now, come on.”
“Oh, fine.” I murmured. I shouldered my backpack and my black roller, while my mom took a tote and another roller. “Let’s go.” We climbed down the grey stairs of our beautiful apartment in Manhattan, then out the door. Well, she went out the door. I hesitated.
“Maddie?” She asked, pausing as well. I looked at her, then up the stairs, then back at her.
“I don’t want to go.” I mumbled, brushing my eyes. She nodded.
“I know, Maddie.” Mom whispers.
“Then why do I have to go?”
“Because.” She answers firmly. I sigh. Because is the word adults use when the conversation is over.
“We don’t need a reason,” My mom usually says when I complain, “Because we’re right about everything.”
And that’s how our arguments ended. So I walked down the streets of Manhattan, glancing up longley at the Skyscrapers and construction workers and the smelly food they offer us on the way. I tried to walk slow, drag my feet along the stone and glance sadly at my mom, trying to convince her, but quickened my face when a homeless girl eyed my purse.
“Er- come on, mom.” I say, and grabbed her wrist, pulling her along. The girl frowned, and tossed golden curls over her shoulder. She looked like Lizzie in a sort of way, pixie nose and yellow hair and dark amber eyes that seemed to seep into your soul. She even had the brown dimple under the long eyelashes that were blackened by mascara. She seemed to copy Lizzie in every way. I blinked, and she was gone.
Must be the memories.
I realized we were in the subway station already. I pulled my mom's hand closer and practically hugged her arm like I used to do as a kid. I didn't care I was 14 years old, I just wanted to be with her as long as possible. The subway train screeched to a stop and the doors slid open. My mom would come on with me to Grand Central Station, make sure I got on the train safe, the "private train" they sent for us, and then I wouldn't see her until Thanksgiving or Christmas. If I came home for that.
My mom explained to me that she would possibly meet my dad where he was stationed for a few days around those holidays, so I may or may not spend my favorite holidays alone.