I knew I wasn’t supposed to be out. It was Monday afternoon, sunny, warm, laundry day. Mom would be mad, but I just couldn’t resist it. It was 3:30 and the high-schoolers were due at any time. With my books in hand (a worn out writing tablet, Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” and the latest DSM) I waited expectantly at their bus stop. As I waited I inspected my overall look- a white, puffy-sleeved blouse, my best plaid skirt, and an old pair of mom’s heels. I had also borrowed one of dad’s old belts to strap my books together just like the high-schoolers. I was one of them. I stood my tallest and puffed my chest outward. I said things like “That Ms. Biggins is a dumb, fat pig ready to be spitted.” I didn’t really know what it meant, but it did make me hungry.
3:45. They must be late again. Mom’s really going to be mad this time. By then my feet were starting to hurt really bad, so I took off mom’s heels and held them, one under each arm. My toes were sweaty in between. I wiggled them a little to dry them out. Little remnants of pink nail polish glinted in the sunlight. A police siren in the distance made me jump and as I looked back up, there was the school bus. As the girls and boys got off the bus I quietly joined their ranks, stepping neatly behind a group of 3 girls. I loved how they giggled at the boys behind them, how their ponytails bobbed back and forth, how they swung their hips and pointed their toes. I mimicked their every move.
4:00. Now I’ve really done it! Mom would be waiting on the front porch by now, her hair pinned tightly back, sleeves rolled up, laundry apron starched and ready to go. My moment had passed. The girls had turned up Magnolia and I was to go down Havenwood. Like always, I thought “If I cut through the Harrison Market’s parking lot, maybe I can get home before mom notices.” With mom’s heels still tucked under my arms and a firm grip on my books, I started running across the market’s parking lot. As a child, I failed to notice how the lot was a little blacker that day. I failed to notice that the faded old lines were mysteriously gone. I failed to notice that there were no cars parked in that part of the lot. About halfway across I did notice, however, that my feet were hot. Not only were they hot, they were burnt, sticky, and blackened! Halfway across I had no choice but to continue running as fast as I could the rest of the way home.
By the time I got home (4:10), my feet were completely encased in fresh, hot asphalt. My first stop was at the hosepipe around back where I ran cold water over my feet to try and cool the burning sensation. Mom eventually found me, sitting in the wet grass, holding my poor, blackened feet, and sobbing like there was no hope left in the world for me. Instead of being angry though, she sat down beside me in her second best skirt and held me. “Shh, it’ll be alright.” she comforted. She then worked her motherly miracles by cleaning and bandaging my damaged feet. When she finally finished she looked down at me and sternly said,”Now, about that laundry.”