In Florida, it could be raining one minute and then have skies so clear you could literally see a rock fall through them the next. You can’t change this. You can’t wish for anything different. You can either take it or leave it. That is Florida, the land of the sunshine and beaches... And rain and water and waves and fun, fun, fun, in the sun, sun, sun. Unfortunately, I experienced Florida all too well one day.
But I digress.
Walk to School Day. And walking to school wasn’t something unusual or strange either. I did it all the time. It’s a lot smarter than trashing the world with fumes and gases that a car gives off. Plus, it was four blocks away. Our Walk to School Day just happened to be on a day with one of Florida’s rainy spells, where the clouds decided to pull the drain and let all their water from the past week spill out over the land of sun. Sun. Not rain. Sun.
I, with my pigtails and backpack, my mom with the fading blue Baby Jogger my brother sat in, sucking his thumb and hanging onto an old, tearing, stuffed animal were determined though. It was rain, not acid. It wasn’t going to kill us. We were going to continue walking to school.
You see, it wasn’t raining when we first set off. It was more of a fine drizzle. Like the pipes up there in the skies were leaking, or the plug in the cloud’s almighty bathtub wasn’t actually plugged in all the way. We managed to get halfway to school before they let it loose.
Yes. Those clouds pulled that already failing plug and decided that everyone down below them was toast. Wet, soggy, toast. Or at least those of us walking to school that day. We were the only ones that seemed to be doing that though, since we couldn’t see anyone out on the sidewalks. But still, we trudged on through the rain. My shoes were soaked through. My hair was plastered to my neck and face. My tiny fingers were shivering and trying to cling to the straps of my backpack that were so wet it was like they were put in a washing machine and set to high. Meanwhile, my brother was sobbing his eyes out because he was soaking wet and my mom was trying to keep us on our feet.
Where were all the kids?
Even though it's storming and gray, you would expect to see a couple of people toughing it out. Maybe joining us in our victory walk against Mother Nature, our final stand against unpredictable weather and unfair circumstances.
Where were all the parents?
Were we really the only ones that could tough out the rain? Surely not, these people could survive anything. Hurricanes were like baby storms to them; this was nothing.
We were drowning.
I couldn’t see more than two feet in front of me, and I was so unbelievably cold and wet that you could’ve thrown me in the ocean and I would’ve looked the same. This was impossible. The wind was blowing me over, I actually fell over twice, into shallow, laughing puddles, which shook with each drop of water and seemed to be enjoying this damp, dark, day. My eyes were in slits because the wind was so harsh it sliced across them. We couldn’t get to school in this weather. We couldn’t. We couldn’t.
“Hannah, let’s go take cover in that garage.”
My mom’s voice managed to reach me through the thunder that was booming outside, and her finger was like my lighthouse, pointing to the shore, or in our case, someone’s garage.
I nodded my sodden head and we stepped into safety.
It didn’t last two minutes.
Looking around the garage, a garage that certainly didn’t belong to us, I felt a twinge of guilt. Who were we to hide in some random person’s garage? What if they came out with a machete or something?
The door connecting the garage to mystery machete owner’s house started to open with a squeak. My heart was pounding; we were about to get yelled at for sure, or maybe they would call the police and put my mom in jail and me and my brother in a foster home, or maybe they would kidnap us and cook us in their stove...
“William?” Utter disbelief. “William, this is your house?” My voice caught in my throat and I started to laugh. “Mom, this is William. He’s in my class.”
William’s grandmother entered the garage after him and peered at us through her glasses.
“Why are you so wet? Are you actually walking to school?”
“Well, it’s Walk to School Day,” my mother replied, leaning down to wipe my brother’s eyes.
“Oh, it is? Well, then we better get going, or we’ll be late,” she said, throwing her purse over her shoulder. She clapped her hands, pushed us out, and pressed in the code that closed the garage.
And then we started to walk to school again, my mom, my brother, me, and the addition of William and his grandmother. We had one more block to go. We were going to make it. We were going to make it.
Dripping wet and exhausted, we made it to school.
We were the only ones that had walked to school.
My mom and William’s grandmother dropped us off at our classroom, like a soggy present to our teacher.
“Why…?” she questioned, gesturing to our sodden clothes and soaking hair.
“It’s Walk to School Day, miss,” we replied.
“No it’s not,” she said. She paused, and looked at the calendar on the wall. “Tomorrow is.”