There’s a moment of silence as her tires skid on the uneven ground, throwing a cloud of dust into our faces. We’re all completely in shock- I see my summer flash in front of my eyes. Images of poolside parties, day trips to the beach, and sundaes with Julia are replaced by Devon and work, Devon and work.
Goodbye, summer vacation!
I slam the side door of our house, dumping my bag on the gleaming wood floor of the mudroom and slumping into the kitchen. Mom is already there, chopping some fruit and chatting on the phone.
“Uh-huh. Oh, yes, I completely agree. Absolutely. That sounds amazing.” She smiles and gives me a tiny wave, pushing a plate of blondies my way and mouthing hi. “Thank you so much for all your help, Kelly. Yes, of course. She’ll be there!”
The hangs up and turns my way, a giant smile on her face. “Sweetie! That was Mrs. Windsor on the phone, explaining your new project! That’s so exciting- aren’t you just thrilled?”
I feel my eyes bug out of my head. “Thrilled? Are you joking? Mom! I don’t really care about a park thingy in our town, for one, and plus, it’s with Devon Elliot! She hates us, and I know she won’t do a single thing for this.”
Mom sighs. “Madison, don’t make snap judgments. You have no idea about this project or about how Devon will act! Why don’t you just read the material and see what you think? You girls are meeting at the library tomorrow at ten, so you should really be prepared.”
I sigh, giving up, and open up the fat cardstock folder to the first page.
Congratulations on receiving this opportunity to give back to your town and have some fun along the way! Enclosed are the details of your budget and laws pertaining to this issue. Please make sure you read them carefully.
For your project, I challenge you to decide what the town could best use and appreciate in the space, for all ages, personalities, and interests. Do your homework as to what will be best for the community.
The next step will be planning everything. Map out the area and make lists of tasks you will need to complete. Then, create a cost estimate – be generous!
The town budget will not be able to accommodate for the scale of this project, so you are expected to host fundraisers to get the money you need to follow through. After that, coordinate the details and get things rolling!
You are not expected to do this alone. In fact, search for as many volunteers as you can.
Good luck, and have fun! I hope you will enjoy this project.
This is even worse than I expected! I flip through the rest of the folder – pages of laws, budgets, articles, photos, and website links – on my way upstairs.
I fling open the door of my room and flop onto my bed, dumping the folder into the bin next to my desk as I fumble for my cell phone in my bag. I punch in Julia’s number from memory and turn onto my back, sinking into my white down-comforter.
“Madison?” she picks up on the second ring.
“Yeah. Did you read it?”
“Scanned it. This is even worse than I expected!”
Great minds think alike – that’s why Julia and I are best friends. “I know. Can you sleep over tonight?”
“Sure. Let me ask,” Julia says, cutting off for a second.
I peek my head into the hallway and holler, “Mom! Can Julia sleep over?”
“Sure hon, as long as you promise to get some sleep.”
Julia comes back to the phone. “She said yes. I’ll be over in five – need anything?”
I think for a second. “Movie food, if you don’t mind. We could use it.”
“Of course. I’ll stop by Maria’s Market on my bike. See you soon.”
“Bye.” I hang up and toss my cell phone onto my nightstand.
My room is already perfectly clean and ready for a sleepover. I know it’s a common stereotype, the messy teen room, but I love my room, and I keep it perfect. The walls are painted a crisp white, and the sun shining in from the wide windows make everything look even cleaner. My bed is white, too, except for a chunky knit sky blue throw blanket, and a pile of pretty yellow and blue throw pillows. The huge, creamy, white down-blanket is like a cloud, along with the cool white sheets and the huge pillows.
My desk faces the window with a view of our backyard. I keep it organized but full with my sacks of notebooks, jars of pens and pencils, watercolor paints, and my light blue swivel chair.
The hardwood floors are covered by a fluffy white rug, which I’m sitting on right now, spreading out my extra comforter and some pillows for Julia. She sleeps over so often, we have the drill down by now.
I change into leggings, Smartwool socks, and a sweatshirt, and skid down the smooth wood floors of the hallway into the playroom. I log into Netflix to prepare for tonight, and make sure we have some popcorn and my favorite brown fleece blanket.
My big sister, Sarah, is away for her first year of college at Middlebury in Vermont now, so I have the place to myself, which is fun, but still kind of weird.
It’s been strange not having Sarah here, to be honest. I thought I would like it, but now I’m not sure. We got along okay, not great, but fine, but because she’s so much older than I am – I think like five years – we didn’t hang out too much. Now, though, the house seems super empty with just me, my parents, and our golden retriever, Chloe.
I spot a flash of bright orange in the driveway as Julia bikes towards the front door, the basket on her sunset-colored bike carrying a tote bag full of groceries from the market. She’s the only 13-year-old I know with glittery ribbon streamers on the handles on her bike, but being Julia, she can pull it off and make it look really cool.
“Hi, Mrs. Roberts!” she calls to my mom as she walks inside and pounds up the stairs, skidding to a halt in front of me.
“Hey, Ju.” I pat the seat on the couch, and she flops down, belly-first, onto the stack of cushions.
“Thanks for having me over. I was going stir crazy at home – my mom is totally thrilled with this new project.”
I sigh. “Mine, too, and my dad. I mean, community service is great and everything, but garden stuff is not my thing.”
“Or Devon Elliott,” Julia cuts in, “She is definitely not my thing.”
I prop myself up on one elbow. “Yeah, but there’s nothing really that we can do now, besides get this over with as fast as possible, right?”
“Right.” Julia picks up the remote. “Look on the bright side, though – we still have seventeen hours until we have to get started, and I brought Oreos!”
I can’t help laughing. “Can’t argue with that, my friend!”