“Hey, check this out!” Sofia shouted abruptly from right beside me. I carefully placed the glass vase in my hands on a shelf filled with some of this and some of that. Upon turning around, I saw a long, shiny strip of grey, with holes evenly spaced along the top and bottom.
“What is that?” I had never seen anything like it before.
“It’s an old roll of film,” she replied confidently. “We have some at home. My Dad showed me some.”
“Okay. So, we know what it is. But why is there nothing on it? Aren’t there supposed to be pictures?”
“It probably does have pictures on it,” Sofia held the roll of film up to her face and started inspecting it. “It just hasn’t been developed yet.”
“Well, then let’s go get it developed,” I stood up and started to clear a path to the stairs.
“I don’t think it’s that easy," She took her phone out of her back pocket and started doing something on it. I continued moving boxes around to clear the path. “I found it!”
“A place to get this developed!” She suddenly frowned. “Only, it’s almost an hour away. In Guelph.”
“Well, then we just need to find a way to get there.”
“How are we going to convince our parents to let us go? And where are we going to get the money to pay for it?” Sofia looked worried.
“Let me take care of that,” I was already plotting in my head. “We can’t tell anyone about this roll of film, at least not until we get it developed.”
“Okay... I guess.”
We heard footsteps coming up the stairs.
“Quick! Hide it!” I whisper-yelled. Sofia whipped her head around looking for a good hiding place. She finally stuffed it into an open box just as Angela appeared at the top of the stairs. “How are you girls doing up here? I thought I’d come and check on you to make sure you hadn’t been buried alive under all this junk. I can’t even remember the last time we cleaned this attic. But boy, does it need it!” She chuckled
“He he. Yeah,” I said nervously. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the corner of the roll of film sticking out of the box. With a slight nudge of my foot, I slid the box in behind the bookshelf. “I can’t thank you two enough for offering to clean out the attic for us.” Angela replied with a grateful smile. “I never could seem to find the time to do it, although it’s been on my list for a while.”
“Whatever we can do to help! "Sofia exclaimed. “I know how well you take care of the residents here, from when my grandmother was here last year.”
Angela glanced down at her wrist, where she wore an old-looking watch with a gold chain. “Well, look at the time. I guess you girls should be getting home soon. Let me know when you leave.”
“Okay, sounds good.”
She pointed at a taped-up cardboard box by the top of the stairs. “Is this ready to go down?”
I nodded. Angela bent down, put one hand under each side of the box and carried it down the stairs.
I turned to face Sofia. “I’ll call you tomorrow morning. I think I have a plan to get us to Guelph.”
. . .
The juice splashed dangerously close to the rim of the cup as I sat down at the kitchen table the next morning. Dad tussled my hair when he came into the kitchen wearing a suit.
“Morning Dad.” I said cheerfully. “What’s with the suit?” Dad only ever wears a suit when he has something very important.
“I have a business meeting this morning in Guelph.” He turned on the coffee machine and took down a mug from the cupboard. I perked up.
“In Guelph?” I repeated. “Me and Sofia wanted to go see a movie, but the only time it’s playing is today, in Guelph. Do you think we could come with you?” I pleaded hopefully.
He paused for a moment. “Well, I guess you could come. As long as it’s alright with Sofia’s parents.”
I jumped up and gave him a hug. “Thank you so much!”
. . .
The phone rang three times before someone answered.
“Hello?” said the voice on the other end of the line.
“Hi, it’s Bridget,” I started. “Is Sofia home?”
“Yes, just a minute,” I recognized the voice, which belonged to Sofia’s mom. I waited a moment before Sofia broke the silence.
“You found a way to get us there?” she demanded.
“That’s it?” I replied jokingly. “No, ‘Good morning, my very best friend in the world’? No, ‘How are you doin-”
“Did you find a way to get us there or not?” Sofia interrupted impatiently.
“Is my name Bridget Anna Mclain?”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
“Yup,” I announced proudly. “We’re going to take a bus to the edge of town, then hitchhike once we get to the highway.”
“Are you being serious?”
“No. You got me,” I had a grin on my face. “My dad has a work meeting today in Guelph. We’re going to get a ride with him.”
“When are you going to be picking me up?”
“Probably in about half an hour.”
“Don’t forget the roll of film,” I reminded her.
“I’m not going to forget the roll of film.”
“Okay, see you soon.”
. . .
My bedroom door squeaked on its hinges. I really needed to remind Dad to fix that. I slowly crossed the floor of my bedroom to my desk and opened the top drawer. Inside sat whatever junk and knickknacks I had collected over the years. Inside also sat my entire life savings: $11.50. I hoped Sofia had more money than I did. I don’t know how much it costs to get film developed.
The first thing I dug out of the drawer was a box filled with my school pictures from over the years. Individual, class photos, field trips, you name it. Someone was always taking your picture. There’s one of me in kindergarten, sticking my tongue out because I didn’t like to have my picture taken. Then grade three, it was just a picture of my feet because I was doing a handstand instead of sitting on the stool and smiling like the photographer had told me to. But the most memorable of all of them was my grade five picture, when I had thought it was a fashion statement to dress like I was living in the 1980’s. That was why in the yearbook, when everyone else in the graduating class looked like a normal 10-year-old, I was there in between Sadie Smith and Thomas Breaker wearing a fuzzy neon green sweater with a peace sign on it, with my hair done up in a high ponytail, crimped and with hot pink and purple hair extensions going down the sides of my face.
Underneath it, I found a container of bracelet string, from two summers ago, when I went through a ‘phase’ of making friendship bracelets, although now that I think about it, they were the ugliest bracelets I had ever seen. Finally, after dumping half of the contents of my desk on the floor, I discovered a blue leather wallet containing all of my money. I frowned when I opened it and saw that there was only $7.50 inside. I had thought I had more money than that. Now I really hoped that Sofia had more money than I did. I’m what you would call a ‘spender’, while Sofia would be classified in the ‘saver’ category.
“Bridget!” Dad's voice drifted though my open bedroom door. “We need to get going if we’re going to pick up Sofia!” I quickly shoved the $7.50 in my pocket and went downstairs.
“I’ll be out in a minute, Dad!” I shouted into the garage, where Dad sat in the driver’s seat of our grey Toyota. Sure, it may not be the most popular car, but it gets us around. I ran back inside to the living room couch. I desperately ran my hands through the cushions and peeked underneath the couch. After searching for about a minute, I came up with $2.25, and a piece of chewed gum. Oh well. It’s better than what I had before.
. . .
Dad honked the horn as we pulled up in front of Sofia’s house, a light blue three-level split. “Coming!” She dashed out of the front door carrying a backpack. I pushed open the door of the car and she jumped in, out of breath.
After a few minutes of driving, Dad spoke up. “So, what movie are you girls going to see?”
I could tell Sofia was confused. “Oh, we’re not going to see a-”
I elbowed her. “I think it’s called Jungle Quest, Dad.” I could see it register on Sofia's face. “Oh!” she exclaimed. “Right, right. What I meant, was we’re not JUST going to see a movie. We’re going to get popcorn too.”
“Alright...” Dad replied suspiciously.
I sighed. This was going to be hard to pull off.
. . .
“I’ll meet you back here in two hours, okay?”
I gave him a thumbs up. He chuckled to himself and drove off. I waited until he turned around the corner onto Grove Street.
“Okay. We need to find the place where they develop the film.”
“Yeah,” Sofia took a piece of paper from her back pocket. “It’s called ‘Film Forever’. Kind of a strange name. It’s on Washington Drive.”
“Okay, let’s ask someone where that is,” I suggested. We looked around us. There was a lady walking her dog on the other side of the road, but she had headphones in. We decided to go into the laundromat next door to the movie theater and ask someone in there.
A bell rang as we pushed open the door. The smell of laundry detergent was almost suffocating. The entire store consisted of about thirty washing machines and dryers, with a front desk. We walked over to the counter.
“Excuse me?” I said to the fifty-year-old lady who stood at the front desk.
“What do you want?” she demanded, barely looking up from her newspaper.
“We were wondering where Washington Drive is.”
She lifted her hand and pointed out the window, in the opposite direction Dad drove. Then she motioned with her hand for us to leave.
“Okay... well, thanks. I guess.”
A few minutes later, we found Washington Drive.
“That lady was actually helpful!” Sofia sounded surprised. To be honest, so was I.
“Look! There it is!” We ran to the front of ‘Film Forever’. We halted when we saw the sign on the door that read ‘Closed’.
“No. It can’t be closed. It can’t be.” Sofia muttered.
“It’s okay. I’ll just knock. Someone’s probably in there,” I knocked three times on the door, then waited. An old man who dressed like it was still the 1900’s came and unlocked the door.
“Can’t you kids read?" he demanded gruffly. "The sign clearly says closed. Which means the store is CLOSED if you couldn’t tell.”
“We’re sorry to bother you sir, but we really need to get a roll of film developed. We have it right here, but we’re only in town for a couple of hours,” He is completely uninterested. “Please?” I pleaded.
He sighed. “I guess I could make ONE exception. But don’t you go telling any of your friends that this is a free-for-all! You kids, spreading the word so quickly. I’d have a line a mile long outside my door if I let you go telling everyone I was open!”
“We won’t tell anyone,” Sofia cut in. The old man led us inside the store. He flicked on the lights, which revealed an empty room.
“Wait, I don’t understand. Where do you develop them?” I asked, confused.
He wagged his finger. “Now that, I don’t tell anyone. That’s one secret that won’t get out! I’ll take it with me to the grave!” Sofia and I now were equally confused. “Now, you give me that film, and I’ll have it back to you in an hour and a half.”
“An hour and a half! That’s so long! Is there any way you could speed it up?”
“Not unless you want a blurry picture.”
I let out one last sigh. This was going to be the longest hour and a half of my life. Sofia dug the roll of film out of her backpack and handed it to the man, whose name we learned was Mr. Sullivan. Apparently, he was well-known around Guelph.
Sofia and I didn’t do much in the time while we were waiting for the film to be done. I suppose we could ACTUALLY have gone to the movie theater, but we didn’t think of that until after.
“Alright. I have your film for you,” Mr. Sullivan walked out of the back room holding a paper bag, probably holding our film. “That’s twenty dollars.”
Uh oh. I hadn’t thought it would be that expensive. “Excuse us for a minute please,” I grabbed Sofia’s arm and dragged her outside. “We don’t have that much money!” I was freaking out. “He’ll call the police, and they’ll call out parents, and they’ll call Angela, and we were just supposed to be cleaning the attic, not taking anything, and I just thought that no one would notice that one little roll of film was gone, that she probably didn’t even know was there in the first place!”
“Okay, Bridget, slow down. He is not going to call the police. How much money do you have?”
I took a deep breath. “I have $9.75.”
“Okay. Then we have enough. I have 15 dollars. None of that is going to happen.”
“Well, why are we just standing here? I want to go see what’s in those pictures!”
. . .
“Eighteen, nineteen, twenty. There,” Sofia dropped the twenty dollars into Mr. Sullivan’s open hand. “Bye, Mr. Sullivan. Have a nice day!” We walked out the door and sat down on a bench that was right in front of the store.
“Okay. I’ll take it out and we’ll look in three, two, one!” I pulled out the film and unrolled it as fast as I could. Once it was all unraveled, I held it out in front of us.
“What is it?” Sofia asked.
Right there in front of us, the pictures that we schemed, drove an hour, and spent twenty dollars to get, showed ten perfect pictures of someone’s thumb in front of the camera lens.