By Kristen Crawford
The ride home was a wary one, though the conversations weren’t so much. We spent most of our time playing “I Spy” and talking about boys and listening to music on the radio, a mix of rock and Christmas songs, at times singing along. I stared ahead out my windshield, watching the light dusting of snow flurries hit the glass and listening to the squeaky swish-swish-swish of the wipers as they swayed side to side, keeping my view clear. For how long though, nobody knew for sure.
As it turns out, Lindsay only lived in the next town over from me. Surprising seeing how we’d never met until last year. Or maybe we’d crossed paths without realizing. Neither one of us really knew. But it was a day I won’t forget.
One year ago
Dear Ms. Rebecca Fox,
We are pleased to inform you that your ACT and SAT testing scores were above average and you have now been accepted into Bridgewood College. Please call us at 555-6897 for directions and to schedule a tour of the campus. We will answer any questions you have at that time.
Congratulations and welcome to Bridgewood. We hope to see you soon and for the Fall semester.
Dean of Students
That was the last thing I read before hurriedly telling my parents. My father smiled as he sat on his end of the kitchen table and Mom threw her arms around me in an excited hug with a squeal and laugh.
“Congratulations, Becky! We knew you’d make it!”
Two weeks later, we’re all standing in the auditorium for student orientation. I looked around in the crowded room and noticed I was not the only one with my parents making what I call a “guest appearance”. When we’d toured some of the school and the dorms before, I hadn’t realized that I’d only seen a handful of the students here. This place was bigger than I first thought. My attention fell back onto the dean as he continued his speech.
This was it. I would officially be a student at Bridgewood.
I looked up to a brightly-colored room, almost blinding after being in the dimness of the hallway. But my eyes quickly adjust. A mix of my stuff and what must’ve been my roommate’s. The first thing that caught my attention is a pinup board, covered in what must be pictures of her, both in casual clothes and a cheerleader outfit, on what’s clearly school grounds and…maybe her house?
I walked back over toward the bed, not quite tossing my suitcases as they land with a hard thud, then sat down, my arms now sore. Falling slowly backwards, I rubbed them before closing my eyes. One little break wouldn’t hurt before I unpacked, right? Just one…little…
“Hi, you must be Rebecca!”
I gasped and quickly sat up, the voice having jolted me awake. I’m still in a daze as I look at the girl standing just a few feet from me.
“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to wake you! Do you want some help unpacking?”
“Huh…?” I mumbled, still half-asleep before looking at the clock. It was now 3PM. I’d been out of it two whole hours. Great. “Yeah…And it’s..Becky, actually..”
“Nice to meet you, Becky! I’m Lindsay!”
“Likewise.” I stared at her, bewildered but still too out of it to really move. How could she have so much energy? Oh, right…Cheerleader. Let’s just hope the rude awakenings weren’t a part of that, too.
“Let me help you with your things, okay?” She strolled over and opened the first suitcase and I helped her once my legs found the energy to do so.
Twenty minutes or so later, we’d safely arrived at my house. It wasn’t much to look at. Medium size, white trim, black roof with a fenced yard…Your typical all-american home.
I looked at Lindsay as we unbuckle our seatbelts. “I need to stop in and check on Autumn. Want to come in for a few minutes?”
“Sure,” she replied, smiling. “I love cats.”
Autumn was our year-old tortoiseshell whom we’d adopted from my uncle as a kitten this past fall. He’d found her as a stray, cold and shivering and dirty under some old newspapers one rainy morning. He took her in and got her back to full health and when he told us about her, we just
couldn’t say no.
I’m greeted with her meow, purr and leg rub as I unlocked the door and enter the house, Lindsay right behind me.
“Hey, girl.” I bent down with a smile as I stroked her from head to tail, making her purr louder. “I missed you, too. And it looks like Aunt Bess did a great job of looking out for you. Good.”
The three of us headed into the kitchen and I grabbed two mugs and two packets of cocoa along with a bag of marshmellows, filling the teapot with water and setting it on the stove for our hot chocolate.
“Hot cocoa to go?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer. We drink a lot of hot chocolate on campus.
Moments later and mugs in hand, we’re back on the road again. And I’d make sure I was back before lunch.
Tomorrow would be very busy. For all of us.