January 26, 2010
Carl was zipped into the expedition down parka he had gotten for Christmas. He looked at his watch: 4:10pm. “Three, two—”
“I haven’t stretched.” Evan didn’t move, except for the shivering. He huddled inside the gray folds of his hoodie and sweats.
“—yo’ mama says, ‘Run!’” Carl grinned and went back into the house.
Evan did not hate running; Evan hated thinking about running. Today was just so cold. He wore gloves and thermals, which he was beginning to regret as his skin became damp.
He had learned to reward himself at the end for every waypoint he passed without stopping. The stop sign—hot chocolate. Big white house—an episode of Dr. Who. The park, which was the halfway point—a trip to 7-Eleven for Hot Tamales. The whole five miles without stopping would be worth an adventure.
He passed the stop sign—hot chocolate—and rounded the bend. What was that in the middle of the street? A squirrel? No, too flat, even for a squirrel pancake. He stopped. No adventure today.
He waited for a car, then rescued the book and kept moving to stay warm. The edge binding had ripped off, but it was a dark blue book with a silver bird on it. On the title page: Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. The next page read, “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all.”
When Evan looked up he was at the park. This time he didn’t run to the drinking fountain (which never worked anyway) and turn around. This time he took the wide concrete path that looped inside the park, and sat down on a bench.
It was dusk when Evan looked up again. “Dang it!” he said aloud, and jumped-turned off the bench, smack into a wheelchair.
“Hey!” A dark-eyed girl about Evan’s age grabbed the rims of her wheels.
Evan had bounced onto the grass. “S-sorry, I didn’t see you.”
“That’s original,” she said, and pushed off again. Evan watched her from the ground, her chariot backlit by the setting sun, her long hair flying out from under a black woolen hat.
Evan felt a vibration in his pocket—a text message, to which he quickly replied—and flew home without stopping.
©2010 Pam Wells