(This might make sense, it might not. I hope you enjoy it.)
If I was to tell you a story, why, I'd have it right marked out in my mind how I wanted to tell it. I'd start at the beginning, advance to the middle, and end with the resolution if it was a happy story, or just a conclusion if it was a sad tale. But writing a story, well, that's a whole different story. I'd write the juicy part first, and then I would reach the end, and finally turn around to backtrack to the beginning. But I'll be telling you the story here, not writing it. The only problem was that I had no idea how the story was going to start, at first. Can a person write a good story about nothing? I know people have told good stories about nothing, and they have produced good television series about nothing. People do a lot of things about nothing, and for nothing. It doesn't matter. But I never would have thought a walk after school one day would have been the beginning of my story...
It was the last day of school. The sun was shining, the bluebirds were boasting their beautiful feathers, and hundreds of kids across town were outside for what felt like the first time in months. It was that sense of freedom, that sense of having somewhere to go and an actual life to lead, that reverberated through the halls in the young souls' loud laughs and cries. I walked alone, not because I had no friends, but because all of my friends had already graduated high school a day earlier. I was officially a junior (seeing that I had passed all of my courses), and the observation was odd. It was like having a birthday, but not feeling older. I walked out of school, as a junior, alone.
The main entrance (or exit, at the time) was packed with other individuals traveling in groups, trying to get away from the place they so easily dismissed as being "hell." The doors were flung open as each group proceeded through the door, letting the sticky summer air hang over in the lobby like a fog. The door was slammed in my face- so much for the etiquette classes we were forced to take. As I exited, the air conditioning extinguished immediately, leading to the exhausting heat outside. Henry, my best friend, had told me that he and all of our other mutual friends were going to be at the usual teen hangout, a bakery/smoothie place amiably called The Crisp Mango. It would be the last time I would see Henry for awhile, as he was going to Florida with all of the other seniors immediately the next day. The quickest way to get to The Crisp Mango was going down Baker Street, walking north on Sycamore, and then I would reach it immediately- it was only a five-minute walk away. That seemed too easy, however- I wanted my own adventure. I aimlessly walked south on Sycamore.
There were so many different things about Alexandria that made it unique from any other city around. The smells that came from the rows of bistros were delicious enough to guide my walking. Sycamore Street weaved and twisted itself all the way around town, as did I. I wandered and found myself in a gourmet ice cream shop. Spiked with hunger, I reached into my pocket for a couple of dollars and bought a small ice cream cone, on a flavor called "Birthday Surprise." I normally would never buy anything with the word "surprise" in the title, but the first word was associated with too much delight to pass up. The old man's smile as I bought the cone also relieved my anxieties. I licked the ice cream cone once I walked out the store- yum.
Whilst licking my ice cream cone, I immediately felt like I was fifteen, instead of sixteen- almost like an anti-birthday, where a year was lost to time. I kept walking- I was now in the business sector of town. Adults dressed up in suits and nice dresses ran, coffee cups and suitcases in hand. The womens' heels clicked ominously on the concrete sidewalk. They didn't even bother to notice my existence, too wrapped up in getting somewhere and talking into their own ears on those stupid-looking talking devices. Amidst the banks and office buildings, there was a familiar salon, where Henry's mother worked. I saw her in the window, sweeping around her chair. I waved goodbye as I walked away, and she twinkled her fingers.
I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket as I meandered down the suburban sprawling streets. The houses looked similar to one another, and the only variations in them were the types of similar houses. There were tall houses that all looked similar, and small houses that looked similar, and even fat and skinny houses that looked similar to other fat and skinny houses. Some were brown, some were white, and some were red. Nothing about the houses physically could change that they were homes, though. I looked at my phone: "One Message from Henry." "Where are you?" it read. But this was something I had to do, all by myself. He wasn't going to be here to be with me when I was bored out of my mind over the summer, writing words aimlessly on paper that probably would never be seen by anyone else. I clicked the phone shut, and wandered on. I noticed, walking by, that a family was moving into a huge million-dollar estate. A for-sale sign was being pulled up in the front yard. A lady in glittery high heels and a provocative black dress was shouting on her cell phone over the lawn mower, and as a design specialist tried to talk with her about some kitchen tiles. The movers drove through the open black-iron gate and started unloading a huge statue of someone, probably the woman with obviously fake-looking breasts. I walked on.
I was almost to The Crisp Mango. The only place I could think to go to next was the park. The park was very large, and sat in the middle of Alexandria. It was basically a pond surrounded by several playgrounds, a picnic area, and encircled by a walking trail. The rubbery walking trail felt warm under my thin flip-flops. The little kids ran back and forth from the playground to the parents to the playground again, comforted again and again by the sight of their protectors, and then forgetful of everything that mattered and played carelessly. The delight shone in their faces and large, bright eyes, brighter than the Sun. What I would give to be a kid again, all of the teenagers and adults always said when they reminisced on old times, when really they were "young times." The kids continued on, as did I.
I reached the picnic area, and no one was there except for an old woman with an equally-old dog. Her hair was peeking out of his flowered cap, and the soles of her boots were thin with the walking she must have done with the dog over the years. She wasn't seeking money, but a passer-by could see that she needed it. She saw me looking at the dog, and called over to me.
"Hello there," she said.
"Hi." I shyly replied, only making a small dent in my straight path to look at her. The dog ran up to me, and I petted it. The dog had no ticks, and his fur seemed clean. The only things that looked old were his eyes- a dull grey color that seemed to tell hundreds of stories. The energy the dog had about it was still youthful. The old woman slowly rose from her seat on the bench and walked over, facing only the dog. I could tell that that dog, no matter how old it was, was her biggest concern in life.
"You know, a dog can tell if a person is nice or not," she started. I smiled. "Yessiree, this dog right here has been with me for the long haul."
"What's his name?" I wondered aloud (I could tell now that it was a male).
"Roger." She said, reaching down to pet him. "My husband named him. Roger was a wedding gift, and we took him everywhere. We even took him on our honeymoon..."
"That's very sweet."
"Yep. Of the three of us, we are the only two left now. But that's okay. It'll be the three of us reunited, soon enough. It's very important to have adventures, but it's equally as important who you have them with." She smiled. The dog urged to walk home, so we parted ways. I walked out of the park, and just a block away was The Crisp Mango. I walked across the street oh-so-carefully, and walked into The Crisp Mango. The air inside was warm but tolerable, especially compared to the tormenting heat outside. My friends were seated around the table in the back corner, next to a small bookcase.
"Where were you?" Henry asked from the counter where he was buying cookies, beckoning me to come over. He hugged me, and whispered in my ear. "I have a surprise for you."
I followed his lead back to the table. As I was sitting down, they laid a cake down, set with sixteen candles. I giggled as everyone came out and started singing. I looked at Henry and replied.
"Oh, I had just one day to be fifteen."
That's what I said- fifteen. But I also felt five and fifty, all at the same time. Age is just a number, and life is just a short amount of time. You have one day to live your life until you hit another number, and then more come and then you're suddenly in the ground you'd always walked on over. Nothing will matter then, but some things are nothing now.