Rain fell from the gray clouds down to the earth in a steady stream, saturating the world below. Leaves hung limp under the weight, rain gutters were small rivers along the sides of the roads, and waves of water crashed up onto lawns and sidewalks as cars hit dips in the road where water had collected.
A teenage girl, aged 17, jumped back onto the sidewalk, to avoid a splash by one such wave as a SUV took a corner too fast. She shook a fist at the driver – who was talking on his cell and not paying attention to where he was driving – and shouted, “Hey! Watch the road, jerk!” She continued to mutter to herself in irritation, as she crossed the street, and ran up the drive of the house that was on the corner.
It was a one-storey home, with white sidings and brown wood trim around the doors and windows. In the driveway was one vehicle, a small, blue, 4-door sedan. Under the biggest window at the front of the house was a beautifully blooming garden filled with all kinds of different coloured flowers, bringing to mind a rainbow. The flowerbed instead of just being dirt was dark green moss that brought out the colour of the flowers more.
The only other colour on or around the front of the house was the front door, which was a deep red colour set underneath a brown, wooden, awning with trellises going down either side. Boston ivy crawled up both sides of the trellises, offering shade on sunny days, and some semblance of shelter on rainy days.
Pausing under the canopy of Ivy she pulled off the dark blue wide brimmed rain hat she was wearing and shook it out, water droplets falling off in shower of wet. She repeated the process with her jacket, which was dark blue and black, before finally opening the front door and entering the modest home.
“Mom, I’m back.”
“Hello Aislinn, sweetie.” The voice of a kind woman floated out from the kitchen, closely followed by the smells of bacon and eggs.
“Did Mark leave already?” She hung up her jacket on the coat rack that was next to the door and kicked off her shoes, and placed them on the mat that was next to the rack to keep from getting mud on the floor.
Mark was Aislinn’s stepfather. He and her mother had gotten married when she was 12. He made her mom happy so he was okay in her books. He also loved basketball just as much as she did so that won him points as well.
“Yes he did. He said to say good-bye and that he’d see you at dinner. How was your route this morning?”
“Good. A few people paid me early, because they won’t be here next week. Although on my way back some guy driving a massive SUV tried to give me an early start on my shower.”
“Well, seeing as how you haven’t asked for a mop or anything to clean up the mess you made of my clean floor, I take it he missed?”
“Yeah but just barely, the idiot was on his cell” A mischievous grin took over her face as she started towards the kitchen “…so I sent an electric shock through it to teach him a lesson…his hair stood up on end, you should have seen it, it was hilarious!”
“You did what!” Melissa Douglas came storming out of the kitchen; blonde hair falling loosely around her shoulders, framing an oval face set with gray eyes. Her features were twisted with anger but she still managed to look beautiful. In her left hand she gripped a spatula, tight enough that it was shaking. Her other hand was balled into a fist at her side. “Aislinn Nicole Carter! You better not have. What were you thinking? Were you thinking? What if someone had seen you?”
The young woman took a step back towards the door, grin falling off her face. She held up her hands in front of her in a placating gesture, trying to keep her mother from beating her with the spatula.
“Whoa, whoa, easy mom. I was kidding. You know I wouldn’t do something like that. For one thing dad would have me strung up by my intestines if I did, and that would only be after you got through with me. I may want a lot of things in life, but an early death isn’t even on my lift.”
“If I ever hear of you doing something like that Aislinn, you can bet there will be hell to pay.” She shook the spatula at her repentant daughter.
“Hehehe, yes mom.” Aislinn nodded and laughed nervously at her furiously scowling mother.
“Good,” Melissa took a breath to calm herself and stepped towards her daughter, tucking a stray piece of the teenager’s shoulder-blade length, auburn hair behind her ear. The rest was pulled back into a loose ponytail at the back of her head, revealing an oval shaped face – much like her mother’s – with green eyes that had a ring of gray around the iris. The set of her jaw spoke of her willful and stubborn nature, and the slight twist of her mouth told of her humour.
“Go take a quick shower. By the time you’re out and dressed for school, breakfast should be ready.”
“Okay. Thanks mom.”
Aislinn was sitting at the family dinner table 15 minutes later, with a plate of bacon and two eggs, done sunny side up, just begging to be eaten. Her hair was in the same style she had had it in before she had her shower, and she’d changed out of the old jeans and sweatshirt she had been wearing. She now wore a dark blue pair of jeans with a slightly flared leg, and she wore a long sleeved black t-shirt underneath a green tank top. Around her neck, on a leather cord, was a light green stone in the shape of a lightning bolt, a gift she had gotten from her mother on her 13th birthday; it was her favourite and only piece of jewellery.
She eyed the plate of food in front of her appreciatively, “This looks great mom, thanks.”
“You’re welcome. But you better hurry and eat; you have to leave soon if you want to pick-up Diana and still make it to school on time.”
Aislinn glanced up at the clock that hung above the kitchen sink, which was directly across from the table and choked on the sip of orange juice she had just taken. The clock read 8:00 am. School started at 8:25. She had to finish breakfast, get all her school stuff together, walk the five blocks to Diana’s house, and then the last two blocks to school, all in 25 minutes.
She was so never going to make.
She coughed and spluttered for a few seconds as she cleared her lungs of orange juice and remembered how to breathe. She then proceeded to wolf down her breakfast at breakneck speeds and chugged the rest of her juice. Aislinn gathered up her dishes and dumped them in the sink, and rinsed them off before dashing to her room where she then started a frantic search for her backpack.
After a minute of searching and tearing apart her room she finally came to the conclusion that her bag was not there. She tore out of her room and went to the rarely used dining room, where she did her homework, hoping she had left it there. It wasn’t there either. “Mom! Have you seen my…bag…?” Her mother was leaning against the arch in the wall the led from the dining room to the kitchen. In her left hand hanging by the strap was her bag. “Uh, thanks. Where’d you find it?” Aislinn took the blue and gray bag from her mother’s hand and slung it over her shoulders.
“Sitting by the front door where you put it last night so you wouldn’t have to look for it this morning.”
“Oh…right. Well…yeah. Thanks again mom.” She had a light blush across her cheeks. She now distinctly remembered seeing her bag by the door as she left to do her morning paper route. However between nearly getting drenched by a stupid SUV and its driver and her mad rush at breakfast she had forgotten all about it.
Taking her bag from her mother, she glanced towards the clock that was in the front room. It read 8:10. “Crap! I gotta go Mom; I’ll see you after school.” She rushed her sentence, hardly pausing to breathe as she pulled on her shoes and ran out the front door, kissing her mother on the cheek as she rushed past, “Love you, bye!” The door slammed shut behind her, almost catching a loose strap that swung from her school bag.
Melissa shook her head as she locked the door behind her daughter. She straightened the chair that Aislinn had knocked askew in her rush to get out the door, then headed into the kitchen to clean up from breakfast.
Aislinn jumped off the small cement stairway that led up to their front door, and hit the wet grass running, slipping slightly before catching her balance. Once she reached the sidewalk she headed left up the street and continued running.
“Okay Track doesn’t start for like another month, I’m just getting in a bit of early practice. Yeah, that’s what I’ll tell Diana if she sees me running like a madwoman.” Aislinn sighed to herself as she ran; this was the last time she slept in. ’Why is it that my Mondays always seem to start out like this?’ she though to herself as she rounded the corner of her block and continued on to her best friends home.
Seven minutes later she arrived at a small corner house that had a large backyard with a greenhouse set in the far back corner. The house was a small, square, light blue one-story home with a darker blue trim and a large front window. The front door was an unassuming off-white and the steps that led up to it where a dark mahogany wood with intricate black wrought iron railings. The front yard, like Aislinn’s, had a beautiful front garden, but was much more elaborate. A red brick path led from the sidewalk to the front door; vivid flowers in reds, blues and purples lined the brick path. The garden underneath the window was just as striking as the one leading up the path but was done in reds, yellows, and oranges instead.
The front door of the house swung open and a middle aged woman stepped out onto the small porch.
“Hi Mom, is Diana ready to go?” Lilly Williams was the mother of Aislinn’s best friend Diana. She was a kind, loving, if slightly over-bearing woman. She was always making sure that everyone around her was taken care of.
“No, you just missed her. If you run you’ll probably just catch her.”
Aislinn sighed but still smiled and raised a hand in farewell, “Okay, thanks Mom. See you later.”
“Bye Aislinn, have a good day at school.”
Aislinn picked up the pace of her jog, speeding up until she was at a slow run. She turned left once she reached the end of the block, and there about halfway down, she saw the person she was looking for.
“Diana! Hey Diana, wait up,”
The other girl paused and looked over her shoulder, and exasperated, but amused expression on her face.
“Hey Aislinn, running a little late today aren’t you?” Diana asked as her friend caught up to her. Diana Williams was a short, slightly plump girl with dark brown hair with red undertones; her light brown eyes glinted playfully out from under her bangs. She wore a silver wind jacket unzipped over top of a gray and black vertically striped shirt, and black jeans. The hand that could be seen, the one that gripped the umbrella, was permanently stained with paints of all kinds, charcoal, and pastels. Because she was an artist Diana’s hands were never truly stain free.
“I am not, I was practicing for track.” Aislinn protested ducking under the umbrella Diana held. Aislinn ended up holding the umbrella soon after, as it was too uncomfortable to crouch down to fit. At 5’2 Diana was a fair bit shorter than Aislinn’s 5’8.
Diana didn’t say anything, just looked at her friend in disbelief. “Okay fine I was running a bit late. But it’s not my fault Di, really. I couldn’t remember where I put my back pack this morning and I was running all over the house trying to find it.”
“Oh, so where was your mysteriously moving back pack.”
“Would you believe it, it was by the front door the entire time.”
The two friends crossed the street and the drive and stepped on to the immaculate green lawn of the schools front yard.
Diana laughed at her friend as she tugged the strap of her backpack tighter about her shoulder. “You have such a bad memory, it’s amazing you remember to screw your head onto your shoulders or put clothes on in the morning.”
“Oh come on, I am not that bad.” Aislinn scowled down at her friend as they approached King James High School.
Located next to the Idywyld Freeway overpass the school was a two-story red brick building with a multitude of windows, letting light shine into the numerous classrooms. Out back you could make out the metal and glass building that was the schools Cafeteria that looked out on the South Saskatchewan River and had a path the led to the River Landing. A circular drive led up to the school but was far away enough that it left room for a large front lawn with beautiful flowerbeds.
“Don’t sell yourself short Nike, your memory is almost as bad as my Uncle’s, and he can barely remember his own name.”
Diana and Aislinn glanced over their shoulders, looking for the source of the voice. Only one person called Aislinn, Nike a play on her middle name Nicole. They looked next to the giant Oak tree they had just passed, which was surrounded by a ring of dense hedges. Lying there was Aislinn’s second best friend, Drake Jordan.
Despite the rain, he was lying back on the grass; one blue jean clad legged crossed over the other. He wore black and green sneakers on his feet and a black t-shirt that was rumpled from his time spent lying down.
He was trying to be inconspicuous, which was why the two girls hadn’t noticed him when they had first walked by. Twenty feet away from him on the schools concrete front walk was a ninth grader trying his hardest to pry a Loonie up from off one of the concrete slabs.
Aislinn sighed as she and Diana made their way over to where Drake was laying, “You glued it to the cement with crazy glue didn’t you?”
Drake nodded an evil grin on his face, “Yup! He’s been trying for the last five minutes. This is almost better than home movies or YouTube…or home movies on YouTube.”
Aislinn shook her head at him. The comment he had made before Aislinn had remarked about the Loonie finally sunk in and knowing to whom the boy was referring to, she glared at him in annoyance. “Wait a second! I am not! I know that Uncle of yours he has a much worse memory than I do. He doesn’t even remember he’s married 95% of the time.”
“Hey, don’t make fun. He might have Alzheimer Disease or something…what?” Diana broke off her comment when Drake and Aislinn started to laugh.
Drake got himself under control enough to answer their confused friend, “No Di he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s he just “conveniently” forgets things. He’s not my favourite Uncle but he’s a good guy.”
After she had calmed down enough to stand up straight Aislinn kicked the foot that was next to her shoe, “Come on lazy ass, up you get, we’re gonna be late if we don’t get a move on. Mr. Warner can be a real jerk when someone’s late for his class, and I’d rather not get detention from him this week. I have a Basketball practice on Tuesday and he always gives at least three-day detentions.”
Drake sighed in annoyance but rolled over so he could get to his feet. “Fine, but if I have to be on time this morning you are so buying my lunch today.”
“What? No way! I bought your lunch Friday! Buy your own lunch…or learn to make one. You have two hands and fridge full of food at your house, do the math.”
“Ah come on Nike. I slept in this morning and forgot to grab food, and I’m strapped for cash this week. I’m buying a new transmission for my car this weekend. Come on please, I’ll make it up to you, promise.” Since he hadn’t quite managed to get to his feet yet Drake flung himself in front of Aislinn and wrapped his arms around her feet. “Please, please, please.”
She sighed and fought down a grin at her friend’s antics. “Okay fine! Just stop begging, please, it’s pathetic. Next time I see your dad, I am totally telling him that you had to beg me for food. Now get up, you’re embarrassing yourself.”
Drake smirked as he climbed to his feet, “You are the devil and I hate you.”
“Love you too, Drake. Now come on we’re going to be late.”
“Yes, you’ve said that already.”
“And I’ll keep saying it ’til you start to walk towards those doors.” She put a hand between the young man’s shoulders and started to forcefully move him toward the schools front doors.
Drake tried to twist away from Aislinn’s hand; however she was used to much more aggressive tactics from her years playing basketball and followed his movements easily, keeping him moving forward. “Hey, I can walk on my own you know?”
“I know, but I feel like irritating you this morning.”
Walking along behind them Diana covered her mouth with her hand in an attempt to smother her laughter. Drake and Aislinn had been friends since before Diana had met either of them, and had since learned that they had a very odd relationship. She would almost go so far as to say that they were related, except that she knew that that wasn’t true. Aislinn’s mother was an only child as were both of Drake’s parents. The way that the two acted with one another sometimes made her wonder if maybe there was something else going on between them that they weren’t telling her.
Diana, with her laughter now under control, smiled and shoved both of them breaking them apart so she could get to the door herself. “Come on you two, stop clowning around or we really will be late.” Laughing the three friends made their way up onto the front walk of the school and past the poor misguided ninth grader who was still trying to free the Loonie from the cement, and into the student filled halls of King James High School.
“I’ll bet you ten bucks that the Loonie’s still there at lunch and that that kid will still be trying to get it free.” Drake muttered into Aislinn’s ear to keep said boy from overhearing.
“You’re on. If he’s not you have to make and/or buy all your own lunches all next week.”
“Deal,” they shook hands as Diana pushed the doors to the school open.