Of all the things I’m thankful for this year, I have to say that one of the most surprising and welcome is my kids’ creativity. In different ways, they all seem to enjoy making, building, writing, painting, etc. My son, at this very moment, in fact, has his face painted like a dog. He looks ridiculous, but he wanted to do it, and my girls made it so.
In that spirit, I’d like to turn the reins over to my oldest, who kicked out a ten-page story in the last two days. I had nothing to do with it except indenting the paragraphs. I think it’s pretty darn good, actually, and though I think she rushed the end (common in new writers) she told me where I could cram such criticism, and sounded eerily like her mother when she did so.
Here it is:
Catch the Predator
“Hey Sophie!” calls my best friend, Lily. She’s walking up to me in an excited way. “Guess what?’’ she doesn’t let me say anything before she says, “I got into the high school play! And guess who got the lead role? Me!”
“Good for you.” I say.
Even though I’m proud of her, I’m not really into that kind of stuff. I rather be playing a sport or something instead of singing in front of hundreds of people, while wearing an overdone costume.
“Well, even though we didn’t get to talk that much, I have to get to that rehearsal, don’t want to be late!”
She has a smug smile on her face. Sometimes I wonder why she is still my best friend, meaning, she is a somebody at school, and I am a nobody. She is usually at a fancy or cool place, while I am working at this food counter, at some crappy mall. But I shouldn’t comparing us like that.
I’m organizing the M&M’s when a man with wide footsteps comes walking up to the counter and coughs silently, waking me from my day- dreams.
“Do you have any Twinkies? “ he asks.
“We just got some today.” I answer.
“I’ll take two.” he says.
The man is eyeing the cash register like it is made of gold as I bend down to get the Twinkies.
“Here you are.” I say as I hand him the two.
“Thanks.” the man says.
By the time he is gone, I am packing up my things to go home. As I am putting my backpack on, the store lights start shutting down. I hurry out and run home.
Laying in my bed, I keep thinking about that man. Something was bad about him, I knew it, but I just couldn’t place my finger on it. After thinking about some more, I finally let my eyelids take power, and fall asleep.
The next morning, I slip out of my bed and tromp to my dresser. There, I pick out a T-shirt and jeans, then throw them on. As I drag my feet down the steps to the kitchen, my mom says, “Sophie! It is six thirty five, and you just woke up! You are going to miss the bus! Now, I have your cereal ready, and eat it quickly.”
I eat my cereal, rush up stairs, brush my teeth, and grab my stuff. When I am out the door, I shiver from the breeze.
Finally, the beat up bus pulls up. I really do hate the bus. It is hot, sweaty, and gross in there. But, the good thing is, I get picked up last before we go to school. So I don’t have to wait forever in the stupid bus. I press my head against the icy window when Brian, the “know it all” comes up to me and says,
“Did you know, there is only, like, one, one million dollar bill in the world?”
I really don’t care about this kind of stuff, because it really doesn’t affect my life.
I cut him off short.
“Brian, why don’t you go hang out with your weirdo friends over there?”
“Nah, I’m good” he says.
Then he starts to talk my ear off. Why does this stuff always happen to me? I have to deal with this every morning.
Finally, the bus stops with a click. I step off the bus, walk into my school, and breath in the air. I t smells like hand-sanitizer and pencil shavings. I start to walk to my class when Lily stops me.
“OMG! My rehearsal went great last night! Mr. Micen even said someday I might even be a Broadway star!”
“Great.” I say as she walks off to her first class.
So I get to my class and take my seat.
“Good morning class!” says usually cheerful, Mrs. Bacher.
And blah, blah, blah. This is how she talks for the rest of the period, or I just don’t bother listening. Probably the second choice. You can tell I don’t get really good grades.
So, the rest of the school day flew by. At the end of the day I walk to my job at the mall.
When I get there, I set my things down and wait for customers. My job is really boring, all it is, is giving food to a person, then taking their money.
As I hand a soda to a middle-aged woman, I see a man coming up to me. It’s not the man from before, but he was also eyeing the cash register like it was made of gold.
“I would like some M&M’s” he says
“Wait just a sec. and I’ll get them.”
“So what time does this place shut down?”
“Does the shops lock up?” he asks.
“Why do you need this information anyway?”
“Just askin’, no big deal. Is there cameras or guards watching at night?”
I hand him the M&M’s.
“Yes and no.” I say, “There is cameras, but not guards. We’re not in the Queen of England’s palace.”
“So where are the cameras set up?” he asks.
“ Why don’t you find them for yourself? The mall is still open for about a hour.”
The man snatches the M&M’s and walks away.
“Wait! You haven’t paid yet!” I yell.
The man walks back up to me and pushes a dollar at me.
“Oh, thanks.” I say.
After that the man stomps away, breathing heavily. I think he might have anger issues. I sit at the counter, thinking about why that man kept asking those questions. Then my boss comes up to me.
“Sophie, you’re doing great, but, please don’t be that rude to customers.”
“He was being rude to me!”
“I understand. But, you try to understand the customers.” she says.
“Now, put a smile on your face.”
I put on a small smile, and my boss walks away. I really never did like my boss. She tries to act like she likes me, but she really doesn’t.
The next morning, I slip out of bed, and do the same, usual, routine. Then, I get on the bus, same routine there, and same routine at school.
At the end of seventh period, as I am walking to school, Lily runs up behind me, grabs my shoulder and says,
“Sophie! I just walked past your boss, and she said I have to tell you that, if you work late and clean the floors, you will get a raise in your salary!”
“Well, then I better get there now.” I say.
“Oh, sorry for the hold up.”
“It’s fine. If I start running there now, I might get there on time.”
“OH, yeah! Bye!”
I start sprinting to the mall. Sometimes Lily can be annoying and sweet at the same time. I think she just has so much enthusiasm in her, she just has to spill it all out on me. But I’m okay with that.
After I do my real job I start cleaning the floors. It is more disgusting then I thought it would be. It had ancient dirt in between the cracks of the tile and even some gum, just laying on the ground! Didn’t I mention this mall is crappy?
I’m under a table scrubbing stale pop stains, when I hear two voices talking to each other. A shiver goes down my spine. That’s weird, the mall shut down an hour and a half ago. The voices sounded really familiar. They had deep voices, so I knew they were men.
I creep back to the food counter to get my phone and call my dad who works at the hospital, which is just around the corner. I couldn’t call my mom, because she is out with her friends a hour away. I reach into the front pocket of my backpack, where I usually keep my phone. It wasn’t there. I knew why. At school, my science teacher took everyone’s cell phones away. I start to panic.
Then I hear footsteps, coming my way.
“I bet this cash register has a lot of money in it.” says one of the voices.
“I’m sure it would.” says the other.
By now, I’m crouching behind the counter, breathing hard. Then I see a shoe come around the corner. I look up, and there he is, the man who asked all of those questions. Now I know why.
“Derek! She’s seen us! Put the sack over her!”
All of a sudden, I’m balled up in a potato sack, being carried around.
“She’s a bit heavy.” says “Derek”.
“Aw, shut up.” says the other man, “We have enough, let’s get out here.”
I hear the door open and a cold breeze washes over me. After that, I’m dropped into what I think is the back of a truck. Then I hear an engine start up. Yes, I’m in the back of a truck.
After an hour or two, the engine stops. I never tried to peek out of the sack, because one of the men could’ve seen me and shot me with his gun, if he had one. I hear two car doors slam shut, and they start talking, but one of the voices sound unfamiliar.
“What do you two want again?” says the unknown voice.
“Can we rent a plane from you?” says Derek.
“Sure, where to?”
“Why do you need to know?”
“No big reason, just curious.”
“So are you gonna give us a plane or not?”
“Oh, yeah, sure. If you have a hundred bucks.”
“We do actually. We just robbed a mall, and kidnapped a stupid, teenage girl.”
“Ah, so that’s why you’re goin’ to Italy, to hide from the cops.”
“Yeah, now, don’t tell anyone. So, didn’t we order a plane? We kinda have to get out of here.”
“Oh, yes wait just a sec.”
I hear a loud engine start up, then dye down after a minute.
“Hear you go.” says the unknown voice.
I’m lifted up, carried for a short minute, then dropped onto a much more comfortable seat. I hear the two men get in, then the loud engine of a plane.
“We are so gonna get away with this.” says Derek.
“I agree.” says the other man.
Throughout the night I listen to their chatter. My parents are probably really worried about me right now, I’m sure they are. I’m too scared to fall asleep, so I stay awake. But finally at about three in the morning, my eyes shut, and I fall into a deep sleep.
My eyes flash open. I find myself in a small, dark room. Almost too small. I start to touch every thing around me, I feel a hat, coat, and a pair of gloves. I’m in a closet! I feel around for the door handle. I find it and turn it, frightened. I slowly open the door, walk out, and find myself to be alone. But the men’s coats and suitcases are still here. First I search the coat in the closet. I find a bubble gum rapper, a dust bunny, and his wallet. I search through his wallet to find a picture of him, so I can give it to the police, if I find any. The picture is small and crumpled, but it will have to do. I go to the next jacket and find that man’s wallet. What luck! I take the biggest picture I can find and stuff it in my pocket, along with the other picture. Then I head for the door.
Once I’m out the door I start walking down the steps from the porch. I stop look out, and see the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. I walk down the rest of the steps, turn around the corner of the house and a man grabs my wrist, hard. It is Derek, along with his companion.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he says, “Do you think you can escape from us?”
“YES!” I scream.
I stomp on Derek’s foot as hard as I can. He lets go to grip is foot in agony. I start running away.
“Get her you moron!” Derek screams.
The other man starts sprinting after me through the streets of Italy. I bump into people and knock things over, but I keep on running. I turn into a dark alley and jump into a open dumpster. Yes, it’s gross, but it was the only hiding spot I could find. I quickly close the dumpster door, but leave a small crack so I can peek out. The man starts walking my way. My heart is beating hard and fast. The man walks right past the dumpster and groans.
“Derek is really not going to like this. I can’t believe I lost her.” he murmurs.
The man walks away. I wait a couple minutes, just to make sure he is far away enough. I climb out of the dumpster slowly. I start walking out of the alley. As I walk I think, how am I going to get home?
Once I am out onto the streets, I look for a restaurant. I haven’t eaten since yesterday’s lunch, which is about twenty-four hours ago. I go into a restaurant called, Ristorante il Defino. I order pasta and garlic bread.
When I was done eating lunch, I go into a small shop and went up to the checkout counter. It had a small display of passports. I look at each of them, then I saw one that said, “Crociera in America:2 agosto 2011”. And under it, it said in English, “Cruise to America: August 2nd, 2011”. That’s today! I take the passport and lave.
Outside the store, I look through the passport for a map to the dock. I find it, and start running there. I think, will they let me on the boat?
I get to the dock and see people boarding the cruise ship. I run up the plank, and start to step on, when an English guard stops me.
“Where’s your ticket?” he asks.
“If you don’t have a ticket, then you are not aloud to go on this ship.”
“Please! Let me! I’m lost and have to get back home!”
“Well, to bad! You don’t have a ticket!”
“I’ll pay you fifty dollars right on the spot if you let me on!”
The guard hesitates.
“Fine. But don’t tell anyone I’m the one who let you on. Okay?”
I walk into the cruise ship. I think, okay Sophie, you only have one hundred dollars left to spend. I spend ten dollars on the most crappiest room ever.
Day after day, for a full week, I live on the cruise ship. But at the end of the cruise, the ship docks at Boston.
I walk off the ship, look around, and wonder, how am I going to get home? I live in Ohio! I start walking towards the city.
When I get to the city, I start looking for a taxi. I find one and run up to it. I know this sounds crazy, but I have to get home! The taxi pulls up, and the driver looks at me.
“What do you want?” he asks.
“I need you to drive me to Cincinnati.”
“Cincinnati! I only drive people around Boston!”
“Please? I’ll pay you extra! I’ll pay you seventy-five dollars!”
“Seventy-five? Well, okay, get in.”
We drive through at least three states before we reach Ohio. Then we go through Dayton and Oxford, then some of Cincinnati. We stop at a gas station and he drops me off.
“Now, where is my money?” he asks.
I hand him the money.
“Here” I say. “Do you know the way to Bine Street?”
“I live hours away. So if you need information about this city, don’t ask me.”
He slams the door and leaves in a rush. I can tell he is grumpy and mad.
I walk into the gas station and go up to the store worker.
“Do you know how to get to Bine Street from here?” I ask.
“Go down the road, turn right, then turn left, after that, turn left, and you’re on Bine Road.” she answers.
I walk out of the gas station, and start walking down the road. Then right, then left, then left again. I see my apartment building. I start running towards it, relieved. I run up the stairs to my apartment and push open the doors.
“Sophie! You’re alive!” my mom says.
My mom and dad run up to hug me. We stand there for a long time.
“Where did you go?” my dad asks.
“Well, it’s a long story.” I say.
“We have time for a long story” my mom says.
I tell them the full story, every little detail.
“That actually happened?” my mom asks.
“Yes” I reply.
“Do you want to go to school tomorrow, or stay home and relax?” my dad asks.
“I wanna go to school, so I can see Lily.” I know I have a smug smile on face when I say this, “You know, I still have the pictures of the two men.”
“Well, what are we waiting for? We have to take those pictures to the police department!” my dad says.
All together, we drive to the police department.
Once we get there, we give the pictures to them and leave. We get back into the car and drive home.
So after a few months, the two criminals are caught and Lily is still my best friend. And hopefully, the same experience never happens to me again.