Brittany trudged home, dragging her feet through the muddy puddles. She didn’t bother putting her hood up or grabbing her umbrella from the side pocket of her backpack even though the sky was flooding like an upstairs apartment into the world below. Dirty water was seeping into her Nike’s and her feet were going numb. A car raced by, hitting a puddle just right so that filthy water sprayed up and drenched Brittany in a wave of misery. She hardly flinched.
She looked at the bananas on the counter and sighed. Once again, she had bought too many for just the three of them and they had gotten old. She still wasn’t used to only shopping for three. She looked at the phone, wishing for it to ring. She’d answer and smile when she heard one of the twins’ voices on the other line. She turned back to the bananas and held them in her hands. The twins would’ve gobbled these down in a few days. She set the fruit back on the counter and pulled her worn cook book from the shelf. “Banana bread….” She mumbled to herself as she flipped through the pages. It was Brittany’s favorite.
Brittany shifted the weight of her backpack while she waited for the light to change so she could cross the busy street. The disturbance made her water bottle fall out of a side pocket. It seemed to fall in slow motion but Brittany didn’t have the motivation to try to catch it. It smacked into the pavement and shattered into tiny pieces. Brittany just sighed and bent to pick up as many shards as possible. She missed the light and had to wait another three minutes.
She carefully measured out the appropriate amount of salt and added just a pinch of cinnamon. She scooped the creamy batter into two loaf pans and stuck them in the oven. She checked her cook book to make sure she got the timing right. The bread would come out just in time. Smiling, she looked at the last few bananas. She didn’t know what to make. She opened the freezer and discovered some frozen berries she had forgotten about. It was time for some smoothies. She pulled out the blender and started rinsing the berries. The phone rang shrilly as she dumped the berries into the blender. Wiping her hands on a towel, she hurried to answer.
“Hey Mom! What’s up?”
“No Mom. It’s Trent.” She could hear the chuckle in his voice.
“Oh well, you boys just sound the same.” She threw the towel back onto the counter. “How are you?”
“I’m doing alright. Just thought I’d call as I walk back to the dorm. How’s everything at home?”
“Things are fine. Brittany should be home soon.” She glanced at the time left on the oven. Yes, it’d be done just in time.
“How is that little squirt?” She could hear the smile in Trent’s voice.
“She’s okay. She’s been having a few crazy weeks lately. Lots of tests, a concert, you know, typical high school.”
“Yeah. Well, hey, tell her hi for me, okay?”
“Sure Trent. Have a great afternoon!”
“Thanks Mom. I’ll talk to you later.”
“Bye, Trent. I love you.” She hung up the phone, a few tears in her eyes and a smile on her face. Turning back to the blender, she started chopping those berries up and mixing in the bananas.
The hill her house stood on had never seemed so daunting. Brittany glared at it as she stood at the bottom. She really did not want to hike up that thing today. Lurching forward, she made her feet start moving. One house, two houses. Mailbox, tree, bike. She tried to distract herself from the steepness of the sidewalk. She looked up towards her house. Today it seemed like it wasn’t getting any closer. Brittany grumbled under her breath and continued to fight back the tears that had been attempting to wash her cheeks all day.
She was pouring the thick, delicious looking smoothie into some tall glasses when the oven timer went off. She set the blender on the counter and snatched her hot pad off the table. There was a wave of heat as she opened the oven door and peered in at the golden brown loaves. They looked perfect. Smiling, she pulled them out of the oven and carefully set them on some hot pads with a happy daisy print. The bread smelled divine. She glanced at the clock. Brittany should be home any minute. She finished pouring the smoothie into the glasses, then turned to the sink to let the blender soak in soapy water. The water was running when she thought she heard Brittany’s key in the lock. She turned off the water and rushed to the front door. It was still locked. She looked out the window and saw Brittany trudging up the sidewalk. She looked absolutely miserable. She was drenched, her shoes and pants were muddy, and her hair hung in stringy chunks.
Brittany looked up when she heard a noise. It was her mom, opening the front door to their two-story, light blue house. She gave her mom a feeble smile as she stomped up the steps.
“Brittany! What happened? Why aren’t you using your umbrella? You’re soaked!” Her mom reached to take her backpack from her. Brittany stepped into the foyer and slipped her muddy shoes off onto the mat. She let her coat drop from her shoulders and splat onto the mat as well.
“Why don’t you go change? Then come back down; I have something for you.” Brittany could hear the excitement in her mom’s voice.
She stumbled up the stairs and changed from her dripping jeans in to sweatpants. She pulled a sweatshirt over her head, and slipped her feet into her fuzzy slippers. She deposited her soggy socks and clothes into the hamper, then headed back downstairs.
She sliced up the warm bread and set it on Brittany’s favorite plate, the random lime green one that no one could remember buying.
She heard Brittany on the stairs, so she hurried to set the glasses on the table. Then she sat down in one of the chairs.
Brittany realized on the stairs that she could smell banana bread. Her head snapped up, smelling the air to make sure that’s what it was. She rounded the corner into the kitchen and saw her mom sitting at the table with warm banana bread on a plate and smoothies to top it off. Brittany sat down in her designated spot.
“You made banana bread and smoothies?”
Her mom was smiling. “Just for us. Banana bread is your favorite.”
Brittany smiled and felt one of the suppressed tears slowly sneak out of the corner of her eye. She reached for the warm banana bread and bit into the heavenly goodness of it. Another tear snuck down her cheek, but at least she knew it wasn’t because of the failed math test.