The view out to the lake at our cabin is great. I love going there. It makes me feel relaxed. When I go there I forget all my worries. I feel free. I love how the wind blows in my hair and how my toes sink into the lake’s soft sand. Sounds like paradise, right? If I could go to our cabin every weekend, I would. But I can’t.
Mom and Dad don’t exactly have ten thousand bucks. Actually we have much less. It makes me mad. I remember getting out of bed last night and eavesdropping on Mom and Dad. “We don’t have enough money, Monica. We’re gonna have to sell the cabin,” Dad had said sadly to Mom.
“But the cabin holds so many memories! Why don’t we wait until I get another job. I might get the job for – “
“But what if you don’t get the job?” Dad interrupted. “Monica, you already work at the coffee shop.”
Mom’s eyes glistened with tears.
“Bill, I only work Mondays and Fridays. You work at the Food Pyramid grocery store as a cashier. We barely get paid anything. Thankfully we get enough, so we can buy food and have a home. And what about Jules? She’ll be heartbroken if we sell the cabin. You know how much she loves it.”
That was when I walked right into their bedroom.
I yelled at them, “What do you mean you’re going to sell the cabin!”
Mom had looked up in surprise, tears dripping down her cheeks, “Jules…we just can’t afford the cabin’s bills. It’s too much…”
“Jules,” Dad said firmly, “You do not get to decide if we sell the cabin or not. The decision is your mother and I’s.”
“We need the money,” Mom said. “Jules, our apartment is so small and cramped, and I don’t have a job. We were thinking that if we sold the cabin we could possibly move into a better house.”
I could feel anger rising up in me like steam rises up in a teakettle.
“So now we’re moving?!” I screamed. “What’s next?! Oh, I know! You’re gonna ruin my life. But, wait! That already happened!”
I looked over at Mom. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. I looked over at Dad. Dad’s eyes told me one thing, You’re in trouble.
“I hate you guys!” I can’t believe I said that. That was not supposed to come out. I didn’t even wait to look at the surprise in Mom and Dad’s faces. I huffed and stormed out of their room into my room. I layed down on my bed. I got under the covers and closed my eyes. I thought, I gotta save the cabin, I gotta save the cabin, I gotta save the cabin...until I fell asleep.
I don’t think I’ll ever be able to erase that memory. I really blew up at Mom and Dad. But I’m never saying sorry.
I wake up. I look over at my calendar. Today is Friday. I look over at my alarm clock. The clock says, 7:46. No, no, no, no. Not good. Mom always wakes me up at 6:30. School starts at 8:00. Mom has to be at work by 8:10. Dad has to be at work by 8:15. We only have one car. No, no, no, no! I think again. In the morning I usually take a shower first, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, do my hair, put a little bit of makeup on, put my homework in my backpack, get my shoes on, then get in the car with my Dad driving, my Mom in the passenger’s seat and me in the back middle seat.
I quickly get out of bed, put my slippers on, and get dressed. No shower today. I slip on some gray sweatpants that used to be Mom’s, and a pink t-shirt that I usually sleep in, which had a couple toothpaste stains on it. I know it’s not the best clothing choice, but it was easy to get on. I quickly ran out of my room into the bathroom. I put my hair into a messy bun. No makeup today. I speedily brushed my teeth with my electric toothbrush. Not even waiting for the thirty-second buzz on each row.
I remember about Mom and Dad. Shoot. I run as fast as I can into their room. When I get in there, I see that Mom is laying on her stomach and slightly drooling on her pillow with her arm hanging off of the bed. Dad is snoring and breathing deeply. His head is right behind Mom’s and he is sleeping on his side. My heart hurts a little when I remember our fight last night.
I look over at their alarm clock. Now the time is 7:54. Why aren’t they awake? Mom always gets up at 5:35 to read her Bible, do her devotions, and all her other Mom stuff. I slowly walk over to where Mom’s sleeping.
“Mom?” I say, “Mom, wake up!”
Mom grumbles then opens her eyes. I instantly realize the look of sadness in Mom’s eyes and look away. Mom looks over at the alarm clock. Before she speaks her eyes grow big.
“Bill, wake up! We slept in late!” Mom’s voice is urgent. “Oh, why today?” she asks herself. Sometimes parents can be weird. Mom and Dad completely ignore me as they wildly run around their room getting ready.
“Hello?” I say sarcastically. Mom hears me and freezes.
“Go eat breakfast please,” Mom says, then goes back to being in a frenzie.
I roll my eyes. “Wasn’t the ‘thank you’ I was hoping for,” I say as I walk out of Mom and Dad’s room. I walk into our kitchen ‘slash’ living room. I hate to admit it, but Mom is right. Our apartment is tiny. Our living room is basically a small square smooshed into a corner. It has white carpet, a gray couch, and a red coffee table. No TV. Very boring. Our kitchen is very little too. Our kitchen has a hardwood floor, a small circular table for three, a fridge, an oven, and three cupboards. Sounds like a pretty decent kitchen but like I said, it is very tiny.
A bigger house sounds great, but this place has always been my home as long as I can remember. Also leaving would mean saying goodbye to my friend, Annika.
Same with the cabin. The cabin holds so many memories. I can’t imagine never going there again. I don’t have any people-friends there, but the fish in the lake that swim by my feet, the birds that sing up in the trees, the sun that shines on my back, and the cool breeze that blows through my body are all my friends. I might sound crazy, but it’s true.
I walk over to the cupboards. I open the third one to the right. I grab my favorite cereal of all time: Frosted Mini-Wheats. I hear their glorious little voices calling me to eat them. “Come eat us, Jules! We are delicious!”
I open a cupboard and grab a bowl. As I open the fridge to get milk, the landline rings, brrriinnggg, brrriinnggg, brrriinnggg, brrriinnggg, brrri-
“Hello,” I say. “Who is this?”
“This is Mark Cook. Are you Monica Miller?”
“Ummm…yeah…yeah this is Monica speaking.”
“Good. My wife, Jennifer, and I are interested in buying your cabin. Is it still available for purchasing?”
No way. Mom and Dad already told people they’re selling the cabin? I can’t believe it.
“No way! I mean… I’m sorry, Sir, but the cabin isn’t for sale. You see…my husband, Bill, made the mistake to put our house for sale. So could you please tell anyone else who thinks we’re selling, that it was a mistake and we’re not selling the cabin? I truly am sorry.” Yeah right.
“Oh…I see. I guess I’ll tell Jennifer the unfortunate news. But just in case you and your husband change your mind, will you please consider calling me? My phone number is 613-241-7585 and if I’m not available my wife’s number is 613-242-9085. I drove by your cabin. Sure is a beauty.”
“Umm..yeah it is.”
“Jennifer and I just retired. We thought your cabin would be a good place to live and a good place to relax and get away from all the hubbub in the city.”
Old people want to live at my cabin? Eww.
“… I have three boys named Charles, William — we call him Will –, and Samuel — we call him Sam. I also have a daughter named Ida. They’re all grown up now. Do you have any children?”
Great. This guy is trying to have a long conversation with me. And I sorta gotta get to school.
“Excuse me, Sir –, “ I said.
“Just call me Mark,” he interrupted. “That’s what my friends call me and I consider you my friend.”
“Mark, I don’t want to be rude or anything but I gotta get to school. I mean work — “
“That’s alright. You can call me later. How about 2:00?”
“Umm — “
“Actually, how ‘bout 5:30?”
“Well, that’s when my family and I eat dinner. Listen, I really gotta go — “
“Fine. Goodbye now.”
“Bye, Monica. Can’t wait ‘til 6:00!”
Whew! Glad that’s over. I can’t believe Mom and Dad already put the cabin on the market! I’m so glad that Mom and Dad weren’t down here when Mark called. That guy talked forever! Sure was a chatterbox. Alright, back to Mini-Wheats. As I walk over to the fridge the phone rings again, brrriinnggg, brrriinnggg, brrriinnggg! Come on! Can’t I eat? As I walk over to the landline I hope Mark isn’t calling again. I grab the phone and put it to my ear.
“Who’s calling?” I say while crossing my fingers that it’s not Mark.
“Jules? This is me, Annika.”
Good! It’s Annika. But why is she calling?
“Hey Annika. What’s up?” I asked.
“Well I was just wondering if you wanted to come over today. I want to show you my new phone.”
I’m jealous of Annika. My parents can’t afford to buy me a phone. All we have is this landline and Mom’s phone. Everyone at school has a phone except me. It’s not fair.
But why does Annika want me to come over today? Did she forget there’s school?
“Today? But what about school?”
“Come on, Jules. You can’t mess with me.”
“What do you mean ‘mess with you’?”
“You haven’t actually forgotten, have you?”
What have I could’ve forgotten? Annika’s birthday? No, her birthday was last week. My homework assignment? No, I turned that in yesterday.
“Forgotten what? Annika, you’re sort of freaking me out,” I said.
“Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t believe you didn’t know,” Annika replied.
“What?! What do I not know?!” I scream into the phone.
“It’s Teachers Inservice Day! TISD? There’s NO SCHOOL!” There’s silence.
“Why didn’t anyone tell me?!” How could I have not known?
“Jules, yesterday at 2:00 there was an announcement about TISD. Everybody heard it.”
“Shoot. Yesterday I left early at 1:00 for my Orthodontist Appointment for my dumb retainer. Don’t you remember?”
“Why didn’t you call me earlier?”
“Well Jules, I forgot. Plus, you don’t have a cell phone,” she continued.
“My mom does. You could’ve called her.”
“Like I said, Jules, I forgot.”
“Whatever. I’ll tell Mom about TISD. I’ll also ask her about going to your place,” I told her.
“I’m sorry, Jules.”
“It’s alright. I forget things too.”
“Thanks. I hope you can come over.”
“So do I. Bye now.”
Alright. I can’t believe Mom wasn’t emailed or called or texted.
“Mom!” I holler.
“Today is Teachers’ Inservice Day!”
“Today is what?” she hollered back.
“Teachers’ Inservice Day!”
“Creature’s nervous pay?” she said.
“Are you deaf?”
“What was that?”
“Nothing! That was nothing. Just come into the kitchen so you can hear me.”
I grab the milk and pour it into my bowl as Mom speed-walks into the kitchen.
“What was that you wanted to tell me, Jules?”
“I..umm…It’s Teachers In Service Day,” I said.
“Why didn’t you tell me?!” Mom’s face looks contorted. Her eyebrows are raised up and her mouth is twisted into an ugly frown.
“Mom, I didn’t know myself. Annika just called and told me about the announcement yesterday when I was gone. She also asked if I could go to her house today.”
“Jules, you know how I feel about you answering the phone by yourself. And why on earth did the school not call me or text me or email me?” she said.
“Check your phone. They probably did.”
“You’d think I would know when someone contacts me. But I’ll still check just in case,” Mom said unevenly. “Oh! They did email me! But why didn’t I know?”
“Because you never check your dumb phone! That’s why!” I said loudly.
“Jules! That was not respectful at all,” Dad said.
I look over at the hallway. Sure enough, Dad’s standing in the middle of the hallway, wearing his Food Pyramid shirt.
“Well she never does! Why doesn’t anyone understand me?”
“Bill, Jules doesn’t have any school today. Today is Teachers’ Inservice Day,” Mom says like nothing happened.
“What?” Dad’s looks surprised.
“Can I go to Annika’s, Dad?”
“I don’t see why not,” said Dad. “Be good, though.”
“Thanks. I will.” Mom hurries over to the toaster and puts a piece of toast in the toaster.
“Bill, would you like a piece?” says Mom as she turns around towards Dad.
“Nah, I’ll be fine. Want me to go start the car?” Dad motions towards the door.
“That would be great. Are you sure you don’t want anything to eat? How about some yogurt or fruit?”
“Monica, I’m fine,” Dad’s eyes speak the truth. Mom’s brows furrow in worry and she looks at me while I’m eating my Frosted Mini-Wheats.
“Jules, hurry and eat your cereal. If you want to get to Annika’s house, we’ll have to take you right now,” Mom spoke as she buttered her toast and stuffed it into her mouth.
“Ok,” I say. “I’m done.”
As I start walking with my bowl to the sink Mom says, “Jules don’t worry about putting your bowl in the sink. Just leave it on the table and we can put it away when we get home.”
“Sweet,” I say and grab my jacket off of the coat hanger. “Coming, Mom?”
“Yeah, one second,” Mom says as she throws her napkin in the garbage. “You head out. I need to grab my phone.”
“Ok,” I say and head out the door.
Dad’s waiting for us in the driver’s seat. I walk over to the car door on the left side and open it. I climb in our old van. I sit in the middle seat and put my backpack on the left seat because the right seat has an old applesauce stain from when I was three.
“Hey, Dad?. I ask
“Did you already put the cabin on the market?”
“Yes. Why? Did someone say they’re interested in buying it?” I can see the excitement on Dad’s face. I haven’t seen it in along time.
“No! I mean…no. Not at all. I was just wondering.”
Dad’s smile turns into a frown. I feel guilty about lying to him, but it’s for the cabin’s sake.
“Look, Jules. I know you don’t want us to sell the cabin, but we really need the money. To be honest, we’re lucky to have enough. Please forgive us. I promise things are going to turn out. It will be O.K. in the end.”
No way. Dad wants me to forgive him and Mom? I’m revolted. It’s like they expect me to forget that we’re poor. Like they expect me to forget that they’re selling the cabin. Like they expect me to forget that they want to move. Like they expect me to be a perfect little girl who forgets all the problems in the world and stays positive no matter what. If I said this to Mom she’d probably bawl like a baby. No joke. If I said this to Dad he’d probably ground me until I die and many years after that. I ignore what Dad said and look out the window.
I see Mom walking out our bright yellow door. I know Dad dislikes it, because sometimes when he gets home from work, he stands in front of it and frowns. He doesn’t say anything though, because he knows Mom loves it. Mom quickly hurries over to us. She glances at her watch and opens the van door making a loud “slamming” noise.
“We still got time! It’s 8:06! We can make it!” Mom says.
Dad looks over at me.
“What about Jules? Isn’t she going to Annika’s house?”
“We’re dropping Jules off at Gas n’ Go, which is close-by. Annika’s parents will pick her up there. Now let’s go!”
Dad starts the engine and the van starts moving. Fast. He speeds past our house and others. I look out my window at the speed limit sign. It says 45. Dad’s going 70.
“Dad?” I ask. “Aren’t you going too fast?” Dad turns around and looks at me.
“Jules, it’s fine.”
“Isn’t it illegal?”
“Jules, it’s the only way we can get to work on time. Plus, I don’t see any cops around. Just trust me –”
“Bill watch out!!” shrieked Mom.
And that’s when everything went black.
Where am I? was the first thing I thought. I tried to move but my leg screamed in pain. I opened my eyes then closed them, because all the bright lights gave me a headache. Where could I be? I tried remembering what happened, but it hurt my head even more so I stopped. All of a sudden I was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep. So I did.
“Jules? Can you please wake up?” said a sweet but unfamiliar voice. The same thought came to me again, where am I? I opened my eyes again but this time I saw a pretty black lady at the foot of my bed. Wait…why am I in bed? I looked at the covers and realized that they’re not the purple ones I have. Am I dreaming?
“Jules?” the black lady said again. “Are you awake?”
“Huh?” I said. “Where am I?” I looked at the black lady. She had a name tag that said, Janet. Janet’s mouth turned up at the edges as if trying to smile but couldn’t.
“Hon, you and your family were in a car accident,” Janet said. Really? I can’t remember anything. Where’s Mom and Dad?
“Where is my Mom and Dad?” I said frustrated. “Where am I?” I asked again.
“Your parents are in separate rooms. Sweetheart, you’re at the hospital right now and I’m your nurse.” I tried getting out bed again but my leg hurt a lot. What happened?
“My leg…” I trailed off and looked at Janet. Janet’s eyes looked all sad and watery. Why was she sad? I’m was the one in the hospital right now.
“I know, Hon. You broke your leg in the accident. All you can do right now is stay in bed and sleep while we figure this out.”
“We?” I said confused. I didn’t see anyone else in the room. It’s was really small. There was a window to my right and a TV on the wall in front of me. There was also a little table and chair on my left.
“As in ‘we’ I mean some other doctors. Are you hungry at all? I can’t feed you too much before the operation, but I can get you some fruit or something,” Janet said. What does she mean operation? Why don’t I know anything going on right now?
“Operation?” I asked. Janet looked at me, avoiding eye contact.
“Well, we need to do surgery on your leg and then put it in a cast,” Janet said looking up. Janet slowly walked over to me and sat down in the small chair. She grabed a clipboard off of the table and looked into my eyes.
“Everything is going to be okay in the end. Trust me,” she said. Something about those words seemed familiar, and that’s when I remembered Dad saying that in the car today. Or was it yesterday? I couldn’t remember. Anyways, when Dad said that, things did not turn out ok. We ended up being in a car accident and it was all his fault.
“Jules, would you like me to get you anything to eat?” Janet said looking at me.
“No, not right now,” I said pausing for a moment. I wonder if anything bad happened to Mom and Dad?
“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you know what happened to my Mom and Dad? Are they hurt?” Right now I forgot about the fight we were in and wished Mom would come in and hug me and Dad would carry me out to the car and drive us to the cabin and live happily ever after. But I knew that would never happen. Ever.
“Your parent are getting looked at by other nurses.You won’t be seeing them until your operation is done.” There’s that word again. Operation. All of a sudden I was really nervous about the doctors poking and prodding at my leg. What if they didn’t fix me? What if they messed up? Will I feel anything? Will it hurt? How long will it take? Is Mom ok? Is Dad ok? What if Mom and Dad are hurt worse than I am? Will the doctors be able to fix them too? All these questions we’re shaking me up.
“I want to go home!” someone screamed. But then I realised it was me. I started crying. I emptied all my feelings out. I cried about the cabin on sale. I cried about maybe moving. I cried about my family’s fight. I cried about being poor. I cried about my leg. I cried about the car crashing. Right then all my emotions fell out of me. All my little disappointments like failing a test or being sick. I realised that I haven’t cried in a long time. It felt so good and yet so bad. I wanted to leave and go far, far, far away.
“Oh, Honey…” Janet said trying to wrap her arms around me. I didn’t want someone feeling sorry for me, though. I sat up, ignoring how much my leg hurt and tried getting out of bed. My leg seared with pain. I couldn’t walk on it. So I hopped on one foot towards the door as fast as I could. Janet quickly got up, but I got out the door before her. I quickly hopped down the unfamiliar hall. I looked down at myself and realised how stupid I looked, hopping down the hall in a white nightgown. I didn’t stop, though. I kept hopping until I saw an exit sign. I could hear Janet’s voice yelling at me from down the hall. I picked up my pace. I quickly passed two men in doctor’s coats. They didn’t seem to notice me. Some doctors. I grabbed the doorknob and twisted it. The door opened easily. As I walked outside I felt how chilly it was. I shivered. Goosebumps when down my neck. I didn’t know where to go. I started crying again. I felt like a baby. But I couldn’t stop. My leg ached. I was in agony. I sat down to rest for a second but leaped back up when I saw Janet turning the door knob. I had to hurry if I wanted to get away from her. I ran towards the parking lot. Maybe I could follow the road home. That would probably be impossible. I didn’t know where I was was. I hopped another few feet, but then Janet’s arms caught me.
“Jules, what were you thinking?!” Janet shouted. I tried to wriggle free but Janet kept her iron grip.
“Don’t ever do that again! You scared me!” I started crying. Again. Why did I keep doing it? I couldn’t stop. Janet turned me around and looked at me, her face softening.
“Hon…” she said. “You’re safe here. Everythings gonna be ok. Please trust me. I promise.” Janet hugged me close. Except this time I let her. If felt good.
“Jules, let’s get back inside. It’s freezing out here,” she said still hugging me. I didn’t feel like walking, though. My leg felt like it was on fire. But then Janet picked me up. I didn’t even ask her to. She carried me back into the hospital. And this time, I was the one holding on tight. I didn’t care if I looked ridiculous or if I was too old to be carried like a baby. I just didn’t care at this point. I wanted to go home but that wasn’t an option. So like it or not, I had to stay here for now. Once Janet and I got back into the room. Janet asked how I was feeling.
“My leg hurts,” I sniffled. Janet looked at me with warm and soft eyes.
“How ‘bout you get some rest,” she said. “And I’ll give you some medicine for it. And guess what?” she asked.
“What?” I said.
“When you wake up, your operation will be all over and we will put your cast on. You’ll get to pick whatever color you want. And if they don’t have it, I’ll find some myself, ok?”
“Ok,” I said smiling for the first time today. I liked Janet. She was really nice and pretty. She was like my second Mom. Janet laid me in bed and handed me some pink medicine in a plastic measuring cup.
“Here is some water to wash it down,” Janet said while setting a red cup with water in it down on my little table.
“Thanks,” I said and swallowed my medicine and took a sip of water. Janet tucked me in and sat down. And then as soon as I knew it, I was fast asleep.
“Jules? Can you please wake up?” At first I forgot where I was but then I recognized Janet’s voice and remembered where I was at. The hospital.
“Hon, wake up.” I opened my eyes. I wasn’t in the tiny room I was in yesterday. This room was bigger and there was another doctor besides Janet.
“Good. You’re awake.” Janet was at the foot of my bed. This bed was the same as the other one.
“Jules, remember how I said we’re going to put a cast on you?”
“Yeah,” I said remembering my broken leg.
“Meet Dr.Goodwin. He’ll be putting the cast on you.” Dr.Goodwin was honestly, fat. And short. With a big nose that looked like a squash.
“What color do you want your cast to be?” asked Dr.Goodwin in a squeaky voice. What color did I want? Hmmm…purple.
“How ‘bout purple?” I asked.