I stood facing my mom in disbelief. “Again?” I gasped. “For the sixth year in a row?”
“I’m sorry dear. This summer is just not a good time.”
“It’s never a good time, is it?” I just couldn’t believe it. Every summer since I was six, my parents have promised to take me to California, Los Angeles specifically, but something always gets in the way. The first year my mom had a baby, then we moved into a house because our apartment was too small. Then my grandpa got sick, my parents opened a bakery, and when I was 10 we renovated our house. Now, for the sixth year in a row, our trip was being canceled.
I was too mad to talk to my parents, so I stomped to the freezer, yanked the door open, and ripped out a green apple popsicle. I slammed the door shut and marched to my room. The sourness of the popsicle matched my mood perfectly. Only when I had shut the door to my room and flopped onto my bed did I realize that I hadn’t even asked why the trip had been canceled this time.
I woke with a start at 7 a.m. when my alarm started beeping. My hair and pillow were sticky with melted popsicle. With a sigh, I groggily slipped out of bed and walked to the bathroom to take a shower and get all the stickiness out of my hair.
When I got out of the shower, I dried off and threw on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. I then went to the kitchen where my dad was stirring pancake batter for breakfast. I noisily plunked myself onto a chair.
“Good morning, Wink,” said my dad cheerily.
“Hi.” I said as I crossed my arms.
“What’s up with you?” he asked with a frown.
“What’s up with me is that I don’t know why we’ve canceled our trip for the sixth time in a row,” I responded.
“Oh, your mom didn’t tell you? Well,” he said, plopping a stack of chocolate chip pancakes drenched in warm syrup in front of me, “the bakery hasn’t been doing so well over the past year. So, I’m going back to college so that I can hopefully get a better job.’”
“Ugh,” I groaned. Another summer spent in the same old place. Boston might be a big city, but I’ve seen everything that there is to see.
“Eat your pancakes, Wink,” said my dad.
“I will,” I said. I started picking at my pancakes, spearing them on my fork, and pushing them off again.
Just then, my four year old sister, Emerald, came running into the room, yelling, “It’s my birthday!”
With a small laugh, my dad scooped her into his arms and said, “Not yet, sweetie. Your birthday is tomorrow.”
“Oh,” she said, looking distraught for a second, then shrugging it off and wiggling out of my dad’s arms. She walked up to me, put her face right next to mine, and instructed me to, “turn that frownie upside downie!” A small smile spread across my face. I loved Emmy more than anything else in the world. Even if I couldn’t go to Los Angeles, at least I would be with her.
When my alarm went off the next morning, I turned it off and went back to sleep. What seemed like 10 seconds later, my sister crawled into my bed and whispered in my ear, “Wakey, wakey, come eat some cakey!” I sat up in bed and asked, “There’s cake?”
“Of course there’s cake, silly. It’s my birthday.” She grabbed my hand and tried to yank me out of bed. I jumped out of bed and followed her to the kitchen, where my parents were, indeed, eating cake. “Good morning, sleepy heads,” said my mother.
“Guess what, Mommy!” Emmy said, crawling onto Mom’s lap.
“What?” She asked.
“It’s my birthday!”
That day was filled with festivities, five other four- or five-year-old girls, party games, lots of cake, and presents.
For the next week and a half, I sat around my house doing nothing. One day, I was watching Doctor Who on Netflix when my dad came into my room.
“Is dinner ready?” I asked.
“Yup,” he replied.
I followed him out of my room, down the stairs, and into the living room when I stopped. The whole living room was decorated like Los Angeles and Hollywood. They had set up a red carpet spanning the entirety of the room. In the corner, there was an exercise bike with a sign taped to the front of it that said “Venice Beach.” My parents had taken all of the pictures in the house and put them all in one corner of the room with a sign that said, “Los Angeles County Museum of Art.” There was a bright purple sheet pinned to the wall with a basket of accessories next to it. The basket had a sign on it that said “Hollywood Photo Booth.” There was even a “Griffin Park and Observatory” sign propped up against my sister’s nightlight, which projected stars onto the ceiling. Then my sister ran out in an adorable black dress with white polka dots and white sandals. She presented me my own dress and shoes and said, “Go put them on so that we can get this party started!” I hurried to the bathroom to change.
I unfolded my dress and gasped in amazement. It was a gorgeous white lace dress with a black bow tied around the waist. I slipped it on and then put on my shoes, which were perfect black, open-toe kitten heels. I went back to the living room, and we started to party.
We took plenty of pictures in the pho-to booth, rode the Venice Beach bike a couple of times, watched the stars from the Griffin Observatory, said acceptance speeches, and Emmy and I even walked the red carpet a few times while our parents used the camera from the photo booth and pretended to be paparazzi. When the night was over, I thanked my parents profusely.
That was the best night of my life.
Laxmi McCulloch is 11 years old and in sixth grade at the Meadowbrook School. She lives in Elkins Park with her sister, brother, mom, dad, and two cats. Reading and writing are two things that she is passionate about. Laxmi loves writing short stories and poetry, and reads mystery books to see if she can figure out the mystery before the characters in the book do. Laxmi is also a student at the Abington Art Center’s “Writing Fairy Tales, Sci-Fi, & More Workshop,” taught by Nancy Kotkin.