05 February 2010

Come pick me up

One of the first cell phones my mother had was black and did not fit in anyone's back pocket. It got great reception -- when you pulled the little antenna thing up all the way until it clicked into place. I would play with that antenna the way that some people play with clicky pens, up and down, click and click, just using my fingernail while staring out the window of our moving car. That was usually the only time I held the cellphone.

I couldn't remember a time, really, without a cellphone; but I also wasn't quite sure that we needed it. I didn't have one, so I still just talked to my friends on our home phone (I even had all of their numbers memorized...wow). At times it even seemed silly to have a cell. I mean, Dad went to work, Mom stayed at home, and there were landlines in both places. So the "Just in case Dad needs to get a hold of me" explanation didn't make very much sense. It wasn't until 7th grade that I really figured out why my mother needed to have this little device in her possession.

The sun was brilliantly blaring that day, although at first we only knew this because we could see it through the windows of the school. It was spring, almost time for summer vacation, and sunny days, of course, made the entire school very restless. No one really wants to go to school in the fall or winter, but when you can see blue sky out of every glass pane, it gets worse. When the bell rang, some people would skip getting their books from their lockers and just go stand outside for a little bit. I always gathered all of my stuff before even thinking about going outside; I knew I would never go back otherwise.

On this particular day, I had my soccer duffel with me from the practice we'd had during PE. I also had my backpack with a load of homework, and I was carrying an art project. All the things I had to carry kept on getting away from me, so I decided to leave my duffel inside while I went outside to wait for my mom to pick me up. Someone held the door open for me and I smiled and found my friends where they were standing on the sidewalk by the grass. I dropped my things on the ground and closed my eyes against the sun, breathing deeply.

It had been a pretty good day.

My mom got there relatively on time, and I waved to my friends and dropped my backpack into the backseat and carefully placed my art next to it. Suddenly I remembered: my soccer bag. It was still inside. I took my foot out of the car and stuck just my head inside the vehicle.

"Hey, I forgot my soccer bag. I'll be back." My mom said something I couldn't really hear because of the distance between us. I shut the door and ran inside, waving at my friends again. "Forgot my soccer stuff," I said. They laughed at me kindly. So I guess they laughed with me.

I got the bag, turned around, and was outside again in about four seconds. I walked down the sidewalk and was reaching out for my car door when I realized that it was no longer there. The entire car, in fact, was gone. I looked around the parking lot, thinking that maybe she had pulled into a space while waiting for me. Nope. I looked up the road, towards the route home. There she was. Maybe she was turning the car around? Complicatedly? Nope. She kept driving up the road, even using her blinker to turn right into the Safeway parking lot.

I wasn't sure what to do, at first. I mean, your mom leaves you at school after trying to pick you up, and it doesn't exactly hit you that you could be laughing. Or mad. I just kind of stood there, slack jawed, watching my mom's car drive away. And then I remembered the cell phone. I put the strap of my bag across my chest, since it was too heavy for just one shoulder, and I went back inside, to the office.

"Hi, Mrs. Scarlett. Um...I know it costs a quarter to make a phone call, but, my mom just left me."

"You mean she forgot you?"

"No, I mean, I forgot my bag and went to get it and she left me here. Punishment, probably." I grinned. Mrs. Scarlett and the other office lady smiled sympathetically at me. The other lady pointed at the phone on the corner of the desk.

"It's alright about the quarter," she said. "Just call her."

"Thanks," I said and punched in the numbers, being careful to dial 9 to get out. My mom answered on the second ring.


"Hi, mom."


"Mom, it's me. Hey, were you gonna come back, maybe?"

"Michelle?!? Oh my -- I thought you were in the car! I -- where are you?!"

"I'm at the school. You left me here, remember?" I was smiling now, because my mom sounded like she felt incredibly guilty, and I could here my little sister laughing in the background.

"I...oh, honey. I'm sorry! I'll be right back!"

"Thanks," I said, and we both hung up. I smiled at the office ladies. "Thanks again. She's coming back." They waved at me and told me to have a nice day, and I went back outside.

My mom pulled up about five minutes later and covered her eyes with her hand when she saw me. "I am so sorry! I heard the door and I thought you were inside. I thought you'd just had a bad day, 'cause you weren't answering any of my questions!"

I laughed. "It's ok. I'll just be sure not to shut the door next time."

"I thought, 'Wow, she's being so quiet, I wonder what's wrong,'" she said. It was getting funnier. I settled in and clicked on my seat belt. And then I started giggling.

"I can't believe you came to pick me up and then left me there," I said. And I can still say that to my mom, and she just rolls her eyes and smiles. Probably still feels guilty.

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