Brothers. I shake my head and sigh. I should have known he wouldn’t show up again. Every time I make him promise to be there on time and every time he is late. You’d think by now I would have learned not to expect him in a timely manner…or at all. But I can’t help myself. Despite his habitual tardiness, I still hold out the hope that maybe, just maybe, he’ll change. Maybe today he will actually arrive on time.
I think back to last night when we scheduled this meeting. I was about to crawl into bed when my phone rang. Glancing over, I saw his name on the screen. Groaning, I sat up and answered.
“We need to finalize a time for tomorrow and let the others know.”
“Ugh. What time is it now?” A quick glance at the clock reveals 10:00pm. “We should probably let them know by 10:30 at the latest. What’s the earliest you can be ready? I was hoping we could leave by 5:00 or 5:30am. Can you be ready at that time?”
“Yeah sure. I have some laundry to do in the morning, but I can be ready by then.”
“Ok, so I’ll let them know to meet outside at 5:30am? You’ll be there?”
“Yeah I’ll be there.”
Click. Like always, he hangs up without saying goodbye. At first, that annoyed me. Now, however, I’m used to it and merely smile. After a quick text message letting the others know of our intended departure time, I set my phone down on my desk and burrow down under the blankets on my bed. I hope he actually shows up in the morning, I think, before rolling over and drifting off to sleep.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Reaching over the side of my bed, I tap the STOP button on my alarm. Rubbing my eyes, I sit up and look at the clock: 4:45am. Resisting the urge to lay back down, I force myself out of bed, wondering why I ever agreed to depart at this outrageous hour. Hurriedly, I get dressed and finish packing my few bags. A quick glance around the room confirms that everything is in order before my departure. Grabbing my backpack, I head out the door and over to Anne’s room.
Smiling, I push open the door, unsurprised to find my best friend enthusiastic even this early in the morning. “Hey, is your stuff ready?” I ask.
“Almost; can you just grab my toothbrush next to the sink?”
I walk over to the counter, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Once again, I’m reminded of the perks of the RA’s room, including a personal sink and mirror. Walking back to her desk, I grab her suitcase and begin wheeling it out of the room with her following close behind. As we walk up the hill towards the parking lot, the sky is still dark all around us. I wonder if anyone else on campus is awake. Right now, it feels like we’re the only two alive right now. Once we reach the parking lot – our designated meeting place – I set down my backpack gratefully. Despite the short walk, my back was already beginning to ache. That’s what happens when you try to cram too many books and clothes into your already stuffed bag, I inwardly scold myself. Turning around, I find Lily has arrived. It comes as no surprise that I didn’t hear her arrive, since she’s always been the quiet one of our group.
“Good morning, Lily! Did you sleep well?” I ask.
“Yes, I did, thank you,” she replies softly, then lifts her hand to cover her yawn.
“Sorry we decided to leave so early, but once Mike arrives we can hit the road and you can sleep some more. He should be here soon. At least, he said he’d be here by 5:30am. What time is it now?” I turn to Anne, who glances down at her watch.
“It’s 5:25, so we have a few minutes to wait.”
“Well, ladies, make yourselves comfortable!” I turn and begin pacing back and forth to stay awake while waiting for Mike. Around me, the sky gradually begins to lighten, reminding me that the sun will soon begin to rise. Shivering, I grab my blanket and wrap it around me like a cloak. Ignoring the chilly mornings in March, I had neglected to wear my coat, a choice I now regretted. I hope Mike gets here soon. If I stay out here much longer, I’ll have to dig my coat out of my backpack, something I am not looking forward to doing. Impatiently, I turn to Anne, who is using her suitcase as a makeshift seat.
“Hey, Anne, what time is it now?” I ask.
“Um…it’s 5:45 now. Uh oh, Mike’s late.”
“I knew it! You know, he’s always late. I made him promise last night he’d be here at 5:30 and he said he would but he’s always late and I don’t know why—”
“Whoa, Clare, slow down!” Anne cuts me off quickly. “I’m sure he’s finishing his packing and will be here any minute.”
“Pff, I doubt that!” I exclaim angrily.
“Why don’t you call him and find out?” Lily timidly suggests.
“Great idea!” Anne agrees. “Call him. I’m sure he’s just about to leave.”
“Oh, all right,” I grudgingly reply. I pull my phone out of my pocket and quickly dial his number. Holding the phone up to my ear, I let it go to voicemail before hanging up. “No answer. He’s probably still asleep. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with that boy!”
“Calm down, Clare. Why don’t you wait a few minutes and try again?” Anne continues to pacify me. I keep pacing back and forth for a few minutes before calling him again. No answer. Again. I pace some more. I call again. No answer. Pace. Call. No answer. The sky around us continues to lighten, and I can see the sun peeking over the horizon. Normally, I would be thrilled at the chance to watch a sunrise over the mountains in the distance, but right now I am feeling anything but pleased. Groaning, I turn to Anne again.
“What time is it now?”
“Now it is 6:15am,” she replies.
“We’ve been out here for almost an hour waiting!” I exclaim. “If he doesn’t show up soon, I’m going to walk right over there and bang on his door until he comes. I’m so sorry, girls, that he’s kept you out here waiting in the cold for so long.” I’m so embarrassed! I’m the one who told my friends to be up before dawn so we could leave. I’m the one who promised that my tardy brother would actually show up on time today. And now he’s failed again. Like always. Maybe some things can never change. Turning away from Lily and Anne, I blink back tears while staring down the road.
“Why don’t you try calling him one more time?” Anne gently suggests. I take a deep breath and turn around.
“All right. I’ll try one more time.” Ring. Ring. Ring.
I gasp. Covering the phone, I whisper excitedly, “He answered!” Turning back to my phone, I respond, “Mike, where are you? We’ve been waiting an hour for you! Get over here!”
“All right, all right. I’m coming. Calm down. I accidentally overslept my alarm, and now I’m waiting for my laundry to finish. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” Click. This time, I don’t even care when he abruptly hangs up because I’m so relieved he finally answered.
“Guess what? He said he’ll be here in 15 minutes. Well, I suppose in reality it’ll probably be 30 minutes, but at least he answered!” Giggling, I spin in a circle with joy. Quickly composing myself, I turn to Lily and Anne. “Again, I’m so sorry he’s late, and you’ve been stuck outside all this time. Next time I’ll plan better and make sure my annoying brother keeps his word!”