Saturday, June 11, 2011

Chapter 2: Alarms & Lunch

"You're ridiculous," McKenna stated sharply.

“I’m conserving energy. Sometimes that’s how things go. Now go get ready for school and I’ll drive you.” When McKenna didn’t move, her mother, Lisa, stopped putting dishes away and crossed her arms. “McKenna. Go get ready for school.”

“But if you won’t even have the electricity on for the first twelve hours of the day, you might as well refuse to run the car the entire day. I could have taken the bus if my alarm would’ve been able to wake me up this morning.”

Lisa pursed her lips and replied, “I’ll have to take the car thing into consideration.” She turned and continued with the dishes.

After a quick shake of her head, McKenna dashed up the stairs, skipping every other step. Great, she thought, Chris continues in the process of making Mom go insane

Ever since her parents separated a year ago, at the end of her sophomore year of high school, Lisa spontaneously made changes in their home. Changes that were dramatic, sudden and inconvenient. All because of Chris, Lisa’s current love interest. Chris was vegetarian, so naturally, Lisa followed suit. Both of them looked down on McKenna’s love of steak and fried chicken, and soon made a house rule that forbade any dead animal entering the house. And now, apparently, the electricity would be turned off from midnight until noon. Give or take. It was to reduce the monthly bill and to cut down global energy use. And because of this conservation of energy, McKenna’s alarm failed to go off that morning, causing her to miss the bus.

After brushing her teeth, throwing her hair into a ponytail and changing into jeans and a t-shirt, McKenna headed down the stairs with sneakers and backpack in hand. “Let’s go,” she directed. Lisa, barefoot, followed McKenna out to the old brown pickup truck parked in the carport.

The truck started after a few tries, and just before backing up, Lisa gasped. “I forgot your lunch! Let me run in and get it.”

“You packed me a lunch?” McKenna asked, not amused. “I’m late. I’m getting lunch at school. Like I always do.”

“No, I packed your lunch; school lunch costs too much. I don’t have money for that, anymore.” And with that, she dashed into the house.

A few moments later, Lisa ran out of the house, clutching the paper bag in her hand. She got back into the truck, handed the sack lunch to McKenna, and pulled out of the carport.

The drive to the high school typically took twenty minutes, so McKenna slouched in her seat to get comfortable, leaned her elbow on the door, and stared out the window with her chin in her palm. She watched as the thick trees whipped past the car. Her thoughts drifted to the upcoming summer vacation, when she would visit her dad for a few months. Her dad, who had always been a successful college professor, normally planned for summer vacations in various locations. Once, years ago, they even went to Paris

McKenna looked down at the brown paper bag in her lap, and realized that she was tightly clasping the sack in her hand. She let go and eyed the permanent creases. Finally, her thoughts sauntered back to that day in the train station. That day she always tried to block from her thoughts. That day with the brown paper bag. That day with the dark-eyed boy. She could never completely remember what he looked like, except for his dark, harsh, and almost pleading eyes. His clothes were plain; just a t-shirt and a denim jacket and some jeans. And was it a grey patch in his dark hair? He was too young to have any grey hair, she thought, but she had seen boys at school with white patches in their hair. But she couldn’t ever remember completely. She could, however, remember the man leaning against the soda machines, the man with the wary eyes and the newspaper in his hand.

She could remember the taxi. She hated that taxi, and it scared her to think about it. Ever since it sped away from that curb, it scared her. Where did the taxi even go? What happened to that boy? She knew she should have told someone, but she never did. And the fact that she didn’t ever say anything to anyone made a lump of guilt fall into her stomach.

“Alright,” her mother’s voice brought her back to the present. The truck stopped in front of the high school. “Have a nice day.”

McKenna stepped down out of the old vehicle. “See you,” she replied, as she put her backpack on. And then she joined the crowd of students that headed into the building; the crowd of students who never had to think about a perplexing boy, a shady man, a hurried taxi, and a troubling, simple brown paper bag.