Authors: Sheritta Bitikofer
Copyright © 2015 Sheritta Bitikofer
All rights reserved. No parts of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
The characters, locations and events portrayed in this book are fictitious and a product of the author’s imagination. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Dedicated to those weird dreams that come in the middle of the night and inspire the ordinary to be extraordinary.
And also to my senior year creative writing teacher, Mr. Manuel Mateo, for presenting our class with this crazy prompt about a typewriter that inspired this story.
I’d also like to give a big thank you to my friends and husband who edited/proofread this for me. It would have turned out a lot worse if it wasn’t for you guys.
It was only seventh period, but thus far the day was passing by far too slowly for Amelia. She tapped her feet nervously against the beige tiles under her chair, staring at the clock on the wall that ticked away oh so gradually. Amelia was anxious for this school day to be over. Everyone else sat contently in their desks, talking with their neighbors or working on the homework assignments that Amelia had finished half an hour ago.
Just two more minutes to go until the bell would ring. Amelia gathered every strand of her long, straight blonde hair and pulled it over one shoulder, allowing her to twist it between her fingers. Her bright green eyes followed the second hand, as it seemed to dawdle along the face of the clock.
It was only until she had one more long moment to endure that Amelia remembered a poem she once read where the poet remarked that those who stare longer at the clock, waiting for time to fly by, will only be waiting longer. So, in a desperate attempt to ignore the time, Amelia glanced away from the clock to her desk, scanning over all of the obscene comments and pictures that had been drawn and etched into its surface. She didn’t know who had vandalized this desk from previous periods and she couldn’t understand how they could be amused by what they had done. She never understood the jokes kids her age made nowadays. They all seemed so crude and sometimes mean-spirited.
When she’d had enough of the graffiti, she looked back to the clock, only to find that thirty seconds were still left.
Amelia sunk in her chair with a sigh, glancing around at her classmates who paid her no mind. Even the teacher was too busy staring at his computer to notice her anxious condition. It didn’t matter to her. No one noticed her that much anyway.
She nervously straightened out her baby blue button up blouse and pressed down the wrinkled fabric of her jeans. She didn’t like to dress up in complex outfits like the other girls, nor did she like wearing tight-fitted clothes. She preferred to be comfortable and such a preference didn’t make her popular at all. Still, she didn’t care.
Finally, the bell rang and Amelia bolted from her chair, grabbing her enormous backpack and heading straight for the door. She was the first one out of the classroom and the first to enter the long, seemingly endless hallway. Amelia walked as briskly as she could, despite the heavy load upon her back, and out to the parking lot before too many other students could block her path. She hated how students would meander at the end of the day or stand clustered in the halls like a clog in a crucial artery.
But, after she cut across the rich green lawn, she was stopped on the sidewalk by a few of her fellow classmates. Amelia knew them as oxygen thieves, the kind of students who could skip class and still earn perfect grades. She wished she could afford such luxury, but she’d rather have earned her excellent grades, instead of bribing or being the head of some important sports team.
It was odd, she thought, that she came from the same kind of family as them. She knew their parents were well off, as were hers, but she still made a choice to care about her education. If only the world were filled with students who cared, then maybe things would be different.
“Hey, Amelia! Where are you going in such a hurry?” one of the preppy girls asked. Amelia recognized her as one of the cheerleaders for the school. In the gang were two females and three males, all popular, all wearing designer clothes that must have cost a fortune, all owning fancy brand new cars, and all sickeningly good-looking. They looked everything that Amelia was not.
“I have to get home, excuse me,” Amelia replied politely, stepping out from the sidewalk and onto the parking lot pavement. Her blue, hand-me-down Toyota Camry sat just a few yards off.
“Well, we were going to invite you to a party tonight that I’m having at my place. Want to come?” one of the football jocks asked.
Amelia turned and looked at them all, expecting someone to start laughing at the joke they just made, but none did. They seemed sincere for a change. God knows she wanted to go to that party. She’d never been invited to a party in all her four years at Wilson High School and what an experience it would be if she did go. And this may have been her only chance to see what the other side of teenage life was like. She wouldn’t be able to attend the party after graduation that the school always held in honor of their graduates, seeing as family members from across the country would be coming to visit.
On the other hand, considering that Amelia was the least popular girl in the school, with no friends or acquaintances to speak of - despite her wonderful communication skills - this could be some cruel trick. Her mind sped through all the possible ways she could be ridiculed at such a party. They could tell her the address and there be no one there. She could have her drink spiked and get filthy drunk in front of everyone so she could be blackmailed later. Someone could spill food all over her clothes by what they would claim as an accident. Amelia would take no chances.
“No, I’m sorry. I’m expecting something in the mail today, so I’m really anxious to get home. And I have some homework to do and a project to work on. Maybe some other time. Goodbye.” With a kind smile, Amelia turned to hurry towards her car.
Before climbing into the driver’s seat, Amelia could hear one of the cheerleaders in the group telling the others, “See, I told you she wouldn’t come. She’s too much of a geek. She would have just ruined the party anyway.”
Those words cut into Amelia’s spirit sharper than any knife could, but she had no time to linger. She had enough hateful comments stored in her memory to be bitter about later. For now, she was headed home.
What she had told the others was not a lie. The reason she was eager to get home was truly because she was expecting something to come in the mail. She’d been waiting for it for what seemed like an eternity, but there had been no sign of it yet.
Saxondale was a decent-sized town with a population of perhaps twenty thousand. There was a Main Street lined with old shops and buildings that Amelia loved to drive through on the way home. It was a better route than the only other vein of traffic that the town seemed to be built around. The south end of town catered to the wealthy, filled with rich neighborhoods and private subdivisions. The less affluent of the town’s residence lived on the north end of Saxondale. Amelia’s home was settled in a comfortable area in between.
For entertainment, there was a movie theater, bowling alley, skating rink, and of course at least three major grocery stores. Amelia never needed anything more than a library to keep herself occupied, but other teenagers preferred to drive into the adjacent towns where all the clubs and outlet malls were.
It was a beautiful town for those who looked for the beauty in it, especially on Main Street. Amelia smiled at the old-fashioned storefronts and lampposts, reminiscent of an era where life must have been simpler and less hectic. She could almost see the ghosts of the past walking down the cobblestone sidewalks and turning into the soda shop for an ice cream float or into the barbershop for a little trim. That soda shop was now an antique store and that barbershop an insurance office, but she could still imagine when they were brightly painted and newly constructed. She always thought she belonged in a different time, a different place other than where she was.
Leaving Main Street, she made a few more turns and was in her neighborhood. Driving down the winding avenue, she glanced at the neatly manicured lawns and brilliant landscaping. She saw one of her neighbors walking her prizewinning show dog while talking on her cellphone. Further down the road, a man in a grey suit was climbing out of his priceless BMW. The homes were similar, but each had a slightly different quality than the next. One may have been painted blue while another was covered in stucco. This house had a wide porch, but the one next to it had an even wider one. She thought it was a fine place to live. She had never known anything different.
Pulling up to her house, she peeked into the driveway and saw it empty. It was almost always empty. The house was two stories with a basement and an attic. It looked like the typical American home, the kind one would see on the cover of
Homes and Garden
magazines. She’d lived there all her life. She knew the floor plan by heart, so much so that she could wander around the rooms in the dark and know exactly where everything was down to the last knickknack. Nothing about the house had changed since her childhood. It was this consistency and familiarity that made her feel so secure. She knew she would have to leave one day and that day would be coming soon if all went well.
Amelia drove up alongside her mailbox, opened its lid and there it was. A thick, legal sized envelope, addressed to her, from Princeton University. Too excited to think of anything else, she parked in the driveway, ran inside, threw her bag on the wooden floor of the foyer and tore open the packet. Her hands were so damp and shaky that the envelope slipped out of her fingers a few times before she had a chance to pull out the title letter.
“Dear Miss Amelia Telford,
We are proud and privileged to inform you that you have been accepted as an undergraduate to attend Princeton University in the fall of 2011.”
The rest of the letter didn’t matter. Amelia shouted and screamed for joy and dancing around her living room like a child that just found out they were going to Disney World. Except, Princeton was far better than Disney World could ever be.
Amelia’s dream was finally a reality after twelve long, hard years of studying her brains out, night and day. It was all over and the only thing that awaited her was four years of college life. She was ecstatic and she couldn’t wait to tell the news to her parents.
Both her mother and father were working that day; so Amelia quickly pulled out her cellphone to call them. Her father didn’t answer, but she left a hastily worded voicemail, explaining the letter and how happy she was.
Next, she called her mother. She actually answered, which was unusual to Amelia. On most occasions, the line would be busy or she wouldn’t answer because she was in a meeting.
“Melinda Telford, how may I help you?”
Did her mother not check the caller ID before answering?
“Mom, it’s me!” she said, rather breathlessly from all the jumping around she had done earlier.
“Oh, hello, dear. What’s going on?” Her mother’s voice sounded so sweet and cool. Could it be possible that Amelia caught her at the perfect time when she wasn’t busy?
“I got a letter from Princeton!” Amelia shook the acceptance letter that was clasped in her hand, becoming a little wrinkled from the jostling it received. It was even a little wet in places were Amelia had kissed the blessed words that brought her so much joy.
On the other end of the line, Amelia suddenly heard other strange voices and shuffling of papers. These noises were joined by her mother’s irritated voice correcting them about something regarding a deal. Amelia’s mother was a real-estate agent, while her father was a bank manager.
“I’m sorry, Amelia, what did you say?”
“I got a letter from Princeton, mom! I got in! I’m going to school in the fall!”
Unfamiliar voices and doors slamming once more interrupted Amelia’s words. Her smile faded as her mother was paying more attention to the situation on the other end of the line, rather than about her daughter’s wonderful news.
Not again, not now.
“Listen, Amelia, I’ll call you back, ok? I’m trying to settle a deal with some clients right now and it requires my full attention. We’ll talk when I get home tonight. I love you, bye.”
The phone clicked and the call was disconnected. She was used to this abrupt end by now, but this time it hurt just a little more than usual.
Amelia looked at the phone regretfully, and then slid it back into her pocket. She was left to stand in the quiet living room, Princeton papers in hand. The silence was deafening. She hated being in this house all by herself for so much of her day. When she was very young, these high vaulted ceilings and immaculate rooms echoed with laughter and joy. Now, they were silent except for Amelia’s breathing.
As she grew older, Amelia had to learn to take care of herself. Her parents were never home and didn’t have time for playing games with her anymore. She quickly learned how to cook and clean on her own as well, seeing as her mother was always too tired to do anything when she came home from the office. Sometimes her father was better at giving her attention, but most of the time he would go straight into his office to pay the bills. More often than not, her parents brought their work home with them and Amelia was left to do her homework on her own, no matter how difficult it was.
Amelia laid the envelope and papers down onto the dinning table and walked into the kitchen to prepare her own dinner. She normally made enough for all three of them in the off chance that they would be home in time to share a meal with her, but she nearly always had to store the rest for leftovers later. Tonight, she had a fairly good idea that she would need only one place setting at the long eight-person dining table.
Looking around her home, she knew anyone would be envious of it. The walls were covered with beautiful, priceless paintings and the latest in entertainment technology could be seen in every corner of the family room. Every room contained stylish and impeccable furniture pieces that complimented the decorative motif of the house. She turned her head towards the sliding glass doors that led out into the backyard. The closed-in patio was furnished for entertainment and the pool always seemed so inviting. This house was perfect in every sense of the word, but it didn’t feel like home. It was a lonely place for Amelia, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself otherwise.