by Deanna Ivanov '20
She woke up with the alarm clock screaming repeatedly into her ear. She used her soft, snug pillow to try to shield her ears from the vexatious ringing.
“Get up, Tamera!” her father hollered from the top of the stairs. She recognized her younger brothers hustling and bustling downstairs. Always up, bright and early, as per usual. It’s just going to be another boring and repetitive day, she thought.
“Get up! You’re going to be late!” her father screamed once more. She glanced over at the clock which read 7:47 am. Her eyes shot wide open and she leaped off the bed, gathering her things rapidly, as if a storm was about to approach. She raced downstairs, grabbed a granola bar, and scampered out the door.
“Bye!” she screamed, as she was darting for the school bus. The bus stopped completely just in time and Tamera sprinted up the stairs, and into a seat. She opened her window and gazed out into the cool October sky. The crisp air was blowing beneath her golden brown locks. The delicate leaves were drifting off into the air. The trees were bursting with bold colors of radiant red, golden yellow, and glossy orange. She was especially fond of this month, simply because it was her birthday month. 15 felt like a big year for her. She couldn’t wait to be older and be one step closer to becoming a functioning adult; yet she wanted nothing else more in the world but than to discover her past and the reason for her mother’s mysterious death. The memory of her death was so vivid, that it haunted her, even until to this day.
“Mommy, come here!” Tamera wailed in her room.
“Tamera, honey, she’s gone,” her father mumbled under his breath, standing beside the doorway. Streaming tears cleansed her red, puffy cheeks. A few droplets remained, consequently, blurring her vision. Her salty tears flowed into her mouth, that she could taste her own sorrow. It was as if her mother disintegrated into thin air. She couldn’t comprehend her mother’s death, yet she remembers standing in the depths of sorrow at her mother’s funeral, at only 5 years old.
The bus stops harshly in front of the school and all the kids get off one by one.
“Happy birthday!” a tall, blonde girl squealed.
“Hi, Nelly,” Tamera said, looking at her best friend, mortified by her birthday announcement.
“My birthday isn’t until tomorrow, you know that, right?”
“I know! I just wanted the whole world to know that my best friend is almost 15,” Nelly replied with a huge smile on her face. Her happiness was radiant like the sun, and everywhere she went, she always had so much enthusiasm, that other people couldn’t help but pay attention to her.
Each class they went through was like a blur. It was too boring to listen and the only thing they observed was the hand on the clock. 7 hours flew by, which felt like 7 minutes and soon enough they began walking towards the motionless pond near Nelly’s house, something that they always did right after school.
“I have a surprise for you,” Nelly said with a smirk planted on her face.
“What is it?” Tamera asked, eager to find out.
“I can’t tell you yet,” Nelly said, sparking Tamera’s interest.
A breeze winnowed along the water’s edge through the autumn leaves and the
silky grass. The exotic language filled the air of croaking frogs, the buzz of insects, and the singing of birds. They arrived at their 8 foot tall treehouse built on top of an old oak tree. The treehouse contained their childhood memories and held a special foothold in their heart. Secrets were shared, feelings were exposed, and celebrations came alive in that treehouse.
“Here we are,” Nelly whispered under her breath, as they began to climb the wooden rungs of the ladder. The anticipation rose in Tamera and she was curious to discover what was at the top of the treehouse. They reached the doorway of the treehouse, Tamera’s heart still booming from all the suspense.
“Close your eyes,” Nelly instructed, while opening the door that revealed the mystery that laid inside. Tamera closed her eyes and began walking toward the doorway. The room fell silent.
“Okay, open,” Nelly commanded. Tamera slowly opened her eyes and heard a loud roar,
“Surprise!” the small space lit up and a small group of people jumped and shouted. Tamera was startled, not with fright, but with what was happening right in front of her. Somehow, she managed to pull an awkward smile, while clasping her hands in front of her, beaming with delight. She glanced over at Nelly who was lighting the cupcakes one by one. The placed looked magical. For such a small room, there was so much to see. Multi-colored balloons were hitting the top of the ceiling, 4 streamers were covering the walls like art, and different size of presents were tucked away in a corner.
“You didn’t have to do this,” Tamera said.
“But we did,” they all pleaded. Nelly and the other friends began to sing happy
birthday. Tamera listened to the soft, soothing words of their beautiful voices. This was a memory she wouldn’t forget.
“Make a wish!” they all howled.
Tamera looked down at the perfectly whipped, red velvet cupcakes. She closed her eyes and blew the dim lit candle. I wish I had more time with my mom. Flick! The brilliantly golden lights went out and all she could see was pitch black. Silence took over the room, as if there was not a soul in sight.
“Nelly?” Tamera muttered in confusion. Thung! Something as hard as rock, hit the back of Tamera’s neck, that left her falling to her knees. Her vision blurred and everything became fuzzy. Her heartbeat pounded loudly, echoing in her ears. Her body was draining away until all was black.
Tamera awoke, with her head feeling quite dizzy, taking a minute to regain
consciousness. She found herself under a thick maple tree surrounded by pristine flowers. They were so captivating and extravagant, she felt like she was stuck in a painting. She got up and began walking toward the narrow streets, noticing the fields beaming with sunshine. What is this place? she wondered. Every breath of fresh air felt like life had just sputtered back all the goodness it had to offer. There was no one in sight, she felt all alone in this giant world. But it was a good kind of alone. It was the calming kind of alone. Millions and millions of butterflies fluttered their golden wings among the field of flowers, some stopping to rest on her shoulder. She could hardly comprehend all the beauty.
Tamera followed the path for a short while until she came across a tiny, little cabin on top of a green hill. Her curiosity overtook her and she knocked on the door of the cabin, anxious to see who was inside. An old woman with sea green eyes opened the door, slightly confused of this middle-aged teen standing in front of her.
“Hello?” the mysterious woman finally spoke.
Tamera began to blurt out bits of information, “Hi, I’m not sure where I am. My name is Tamera Briggs and I come from Allentown, Pennsylvania.”
“Hi, Tamera from Pennsylvania. I think you’ve come to the wrong place,” the old lady snarked. She began to shut the door when Tamera stopped the door abruptly.
“Wait!” she barked. “Can you at least tell me where I am?” The old woman held open her door, showing some hospitality. Tamera sat down on the creaky, wooden chair and waited patiently for the old woman to join her at the small, round table.
“So what brings you here?” the woman asks.
“I don’t know. I was having a mini birthday party, I blew out a candle and next thing I know, I’m stuck in fantastical world where there’s nothing but butterflies and—“
“Wait—” the old woman gasps. She leaned in closer, concentrating on Tamera’s face. “Are you Tamera, Elena’s daughter?” she finally asks.
“Elena? Yes, that’s my mom,” Tamera responded.
“This is great news!” she squealed. “She’s not here but she is on the other side of town. I know her. We’re great friends. She always talked about you and wondered if you’d ever stumble by, unexpectedly.”
“But she died,” Tamera stated with confusion.
“What are you talking about? No she didn’t,” the old woman replied with a blank stare. “Anyways, kiddo, why don’t you get some sleep? We’ll visit your mom in the morning. If you want you can sleep the hammock outside.”
The old woman walked away, yawning, yet relieved that Tamera had staggered upon her cabin. Tamera headed out the door, toward the hammock. She laid back, feeling herself swing for a while before coming to a complete stop. Her eyes travel the stars. She’s nearer now than ever. She thought. The conquest continues.
Tamera woke, listening to the birds chirp a beautiful song. She heard the galloping of horses and looked over to see two staggering white stallions and a carriage.
“C’mon! Let’s get crack-a-lackin. You can catch up on sleep later,” the old woman called out.
“Isn’t it faster if we go by car?” Tamera suggested.
“Psh, honey, we don’t own cars here. It’s an environmental friendly world,” the old woman chuckled. Tamera climbed into the carriage and rested her head against the window. Her eyes grew heavy once more, her thoughts became inconsistent and she slowly began drifting off to sleep.
They hit a bump against the road and Tamera jolted awake.
“We’re here!” the old woman hollered. Tamera looked out to see a giant house surrounded by a white picket fence and ravishing roses that bloomed alongside the mansion. The yard was filled with the laughter of playful children and on the doorsteps sat a beautiful, young woman. Her hair lies black and stick straight, yet soft, moving like the fields of grass in the wind. She started to sing. Her voice was smooth and clear, yet held a lot of power, when the children fell silent and gave their full attention to her.
Her voice was the promise of another day.
“Well, aren’t you going to say hi?” the old woman snapped Tamera back into reality. Tamera opened the door and rushed out into the fields of grass and stopped before the young woman.
“Mom?” Tamera stepped forward and tears began rolling down the mother’s cheeks. Her hands folded behind Tamera’s back, drawing her near. They both began crying for the missed time that they would never get back.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Elena sobbed. Tamera was lost for words. She felt all different types of emotions—anger, sadness, happiness. The children sat there, witnessing an emotional reunion.
“Let’s go walk around the rose garden. We have a lot of catching up to do,” Elena suggested. They began to walk in silence, still waiting to comprehend that they were in each other’s presence.
“You didn’t have to leave me,” Tamera declared.
“Tamera, I will never leave you,” Elena replied, “I will always be in your heart.” Tamera’s eyes began watering once more. Those words sunk down and rested into her soul.
“Why do you have all these other kids?” Tamera questioned with a slight bit of jealousy.
“It’s a whole different world, Tamera. I received the caretaker title. These kids had to be nurtured and they believed I would be fit for the job. And they were right. I love these kids. I love all kids. I love you, Tamera.”
As the conversation continued, they learned more about each other, than they
ever had in those 5 years that they were together. That final piece in Tamera’s life felt like it was filled with her mother’s love. They walked and talked, which seemed like for hours. But deep down, they knew they needed it.
“So are you going to ever come back?” Tamera asked.
“I c-can’t,” Elena stuttered. “My place is here.” They both sat there and watched the sunset of the horizon, spreading its largeness into a grateful sky. The colors blended within each other and their spirits soared. The light from the sun began growing brighter and brighter until Tamera was forced to cover her eyes.
She opened her eyes and looked down at the similar lit candle before her.
“C’mon, blow the candle out already,” they all complained.
“Excuse me,” Tamera said, practically rushing out of the tree house. She got down and took off running into the direction of her house, tears streaming down her face. She ran and ran until she got close to her house. She walked toward the stubborn streetlights of her road, her head hanging low, still sobbing. She’s gone. But a part of her wasn’t upset. She had let her mind run wild and she was okay with that. She had finally grasped the clarity that she had always longed for. She looked up at the heavens, once more.
“I will meet you in the stars again,” she said.