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Sad Coming of Age Drama

Angela opens her eyes to bright light.  She looks over at the single bed next to her, Johnny and Pricilla, her young siblings, are nearly on top of one another, blanket up to their chins.  Angela breathes out and watches her breath turn to fog in front of her.  The fire must have gone out in the middle of the night. 

Angela’s pink puffy coat, her only coat, lays across her as an extra layer while she sleeps and she puts it on, sits up, and stretches out her arms.  Her mother bought it for her two years ago, for her eleventh birthday.  Her mother was sober then and Angela was happy to get a gift, even if it was a practical gift.  Now, the sleeves go halfway up her forearms, but at least it kept her body warm.   

Angela jumps out of bed, wincing as the cold permeates through the holes in her socked feet.  She walks into the living room and throws a log on the fire in the fireplace.  There are only two logs left.  Angela is hopeful, that she could find more logs.  There were countless neighbors who stored piles of logs outside their houses where they were easy to grab.

“Get up,” she shakes the two small bodies an arm's length away.

“No,” Johnny calls out and puts an arm over his little sister.  

“It’s time to get up.  We have things to do,” Angela is pulling the covers off the young children. 

The two little ones lift their heads.  Priscilla yawns and Johnny blinks his eyes as he stretches up.  Angela hands them their respective jackets.  Priscilla's is a little too big for her, a hand-me-down from Angela. Priscilla, at only six years old, was smaller than Angela was at her age.  Angela guessed that it had something to do with nutrition or the lack thereof. 

Johnny’s jacket was a little small as well but still had a month or two left if he didn’t grow too fast.  Hopefully, it will fit till spring comes.  They could wait to worry about next winter when Johnny turned ten, how he would keep warm.  

Angela heads to the kitchen as the little ones use the bathroom and brush their teeth.  She looks down at the counter.  For some reason, she can’t bring herself to throw out the note their mother left.

“Darlings, I’m going with Bob for the weekend.  Here is $20 for pizza.  Love Mom.” That note was left over two weeks ago.  Although her siblings may not have remembered past times when their mom left similar notes, Angela knew that $20 needed to stretch further than a pizza.  She went to the grocery store and stretched that $20 as best she could.  

Angela opens a cupboard as the little ones enter the room.  The groceries the $20 bought were wearing thin.  “Cheerios?” Angela pulls out a box from a high shelf. Priscilla wipes the sleep from her eyes.  

“With milk?” Johnny looks hopeful. 

“With water,” Angela corrects and Johnny makes a face.

“When will we have milk again?” Priscilla climbs up on the chair.  

“When mom gets back,” Angela pours the cereal into the bowls and turns the faucet on.

“When will that be,” Johnny asks.

“Tomorrow.”

“You always say ‘tomorrow’.  When will it actually be tomorrow.”

Angela sighed.  “I don’t know.” She sat in a chair and put her head in her hands and her hands on the table. 

After Angela washes the bowl and sends the little ones to get dressed, she rechecks the cabinets.  The rest of the box of tasteeos she passed off as cheerios to the children, a can of ravioli, and the heel of a loaf of knock-off wonder bread.  That was all they had left.  

She enters the bedroom they all sleep in.  “Today we are going to do something a little different.”

Priscilla grins at her big sister while Johnny rolls his eyes.

“Today we are going on an adventure.” 

“What kind of adventure?” Priscilla, sitting on the bed kicks her feet back and forth with excitement. 

Angela thinks for a moment, “a treasure hunt.  We are going on a treasure hunt.” 

“A treasure hunt?” Priscilla's eyes get big.

“Treasure hunts are dumb,” Johnny crosses his arms in front of his tiny body. 

“Oh yeah?” Angela crosses her arms to mimic Johnny.  “Then why were pirates always on treasure hunts and finding all kinds of cool stuff?”

“Are we pirates?” Priscilla asked eyes getting more prominent.

“Ay matey,” Angela closed one eye and spoke out of the side of her mouth. “We need a ship!”  The old wagon stood in the corner of the room filled with old stuffed animals.  Angela collected all the stuffed animals and threw them on the bed.  She grabbed the wagon by the handle and whispered to Priscilla so that Johnny could hear, “I think we found our ship.” Priscilla clapped while Johnny rolls his eyes.

She grabs two scarves and wraps one around Priscilla’s head and one around her own.

“Hey!  Where is my pirate outfit?” Johnny stomps his feet.  Angela grabs a third scarf and wraps it around Johnny’s head and leads the group back to the kitchen.

She glances at their mother’s letter, shaking her head, and turns it over.  Angela grabs the pen her mother left on the counter.  She thinks for a minute and begins to draw.

“...and here is our treasure map,” She holds up her drawing.  On one side of the image, there is a box with a triangle on top labeled, “Our Home.”  Various lines and markers lead the way to a series of boxes with triangles on top labeled, “The Treasure.”

“Like most pirate maps,” Angla begins, “We are only given a general area of where the treasure is, but once we get there, we need to do some searching. And that is where I need your help. Okay?”

Priscilla nods her head, Johnny raises his eyebrows, and Angela smiles. 

“Be very careful on the slippery porch,” Angela leads them out the front door.  Johnny slips but quickly catches his fall by grabbing onto the railing.  Angela feels her heart skip a beat.  If he was to slip and break something, going to the hospital was hardly an option.  There were a few inches of snow on the walkway leading to the street, and the three children power through it.   

Once on the street, Angela knew it was easy to get to the “treasure”. Turn right onto Mockingbird lane, left onto Gilbert, and cross the four lanes of Mission street.  On the other side of Mission street, the street name changed to a new neighborhood.    A neighborhood with larger houses, greener lawns in the spring, and nicer cars.

The threesome walked with care, wagon in tow, so as to not fall. 

“Now what?” Johnny took the map from Angela and examined it.  But the drawing made little sense.

“Now we hunt,” Angela looked determined.

“What are we looking for?” Asked Pricilla. 

Angela didn’t quite know but she knew would know once she saw it.

They walked a bit more and then Angela stopped.  Like the other houses in the neighborhood, the one they stood in front of was much larger than their own.  There was no chain link fence guarding the front yard and a Mercedez Benz piled with snow sat in the driveway.  To Pricilla and Johnny, it looked just like all the others.  But Angela saw something they didn’t see, the multiple newspapers on the front porch. 

“This is it,” Angela said. The other two looked up in amazement.  “This is where the treasure is.  Come on,” she motioned to the little ones.  But she didn’t approach the front door, instead, she approached the side gate.  She reached up on her tippy toes, grabbed the leaver on the other side, and pulled.

Once on the other side she turned to the little ones and put a finger to her mouth. She tip-toed to the backyard and the little ones followed.  Gravel crunched under their feet and Angela turned around to face the little ones, a finger against her mouth.  Johnny gave Pricilla a questionable look and Pricilla shrugged. 

Once in the back, Angela tried the sliding door.  Locked.  She tried a window.  That was locked too.  She motioned for the little ones to stay where they were and went to the other side of the house.  She spotted a sole door.  She tried the nob.  And it opened.

Angela closed her eyes in a word of thank you.  As she stepped in, the air was not much warmer, the floor was hard, and there was not a single window letting in light.  It took her a moment to realize she was in the garage.  Their house didn’t have a garage, not like this anyways.  

She found her way to the back slider, to the other side of the little ones, and let them in.  As he watched his older sister, Johnny adjusted his scarf so it was sitting to one side.  They lifted up the wagon and placed it on the carpeted floor.  Angela led the little ones into the kitchen pantry she had discovered on her walk through the house.  

“Whatever you can find, put in the wagon,” Angela said heading down the hall back towards the garage.

“The ship!  It’s a ship,” Pricilla said.  Johnny hushed her. 

Angela turned on the light in the garage and found a pile of logs.  A house this nice must have central air.  Using the fireplace is for ambiance only.  She grabbed three logs.  She would return later that day alone to fill the wagon.  She found camping gear on a shelf and gathered what she could stuff in her pockets or carry.  

By the time she got back to the pantry, the little ones had nearly filled the wagon. Angela placed her items where she could find the room, holding onto two logs that wouldn’t fit.  

“Okay, we have our treasure.  Let’s go,” Angela ushered the children out of the house, along the side, and onto the street.  Make sure to secure the house behind them.

As they walked down the street Johnny pulled the wagon, Angela held the logs, and Pricilla was eating from a bag of Fritos.  All with a smile on their face.

“When can we go on another treasure hunt?” Priscilla asked.  But before Angela could answer, sirens filled the air.  Police cars came rushing down the street, paying no attention to the three children, and stopped in front of the house where they had found their treasure.

September 02, 2022 20:45

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2 comments

Ananya Ojha
17:58 Sep 07, 2022

woah!...it was amazing..

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00:28 Sep 23, 2022

I loved that.

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