Tomorrow is a scary thing. It’s uncertain, unwritten. You can plan as much as you want, but it won’t matter. Anything can happen. These are not my thoughts as I go to bed one night, the furry black blob of a cat curled up at my feet and white sheets nestled securely around me. Rocky is a good cat. He cuddles with me every night. His sister, Pandora, never cuddles but she is always sweet as can be. I’ve had both of them for seven years and I treat them as my children, which I guess a lot of people would consider weird. I don’t care though; I’ve always loved cats. I drift away to dreamland, at peace with my thoughts.
It’s tomorrow. Another school day. My alarm wakes me from my coma with its fervent screaming. I hit snooze and roll back over. A few minutes later I’m reawakened by the slow creak of my door.
“Elisabeth.” My mom says. My brain isn’t functioning right yet and I mistake the anxious tone in her voice for that of excitement. What could possibly be so exciting at six in the morning?
“Doodle bug, doodle bug, come out of your hole,” my mom whispered, her face inches from the dime-sized cylindrical burrow on the dusty barn floor. I whispered too, and the dust stirred and tickled my nose. No doodle bug awoke and came to the surface to answer, but I knew the twitching grains held a stirring bug beneath them.
The sky was as blue as an August day could offer, like cotton candy or a blue raspberry lollipop. The heat of a late Tennessee summer was stifling and sticky, but the cheerful breeze refused to let my spirits melt. At seven years old, it was no matter to me where my shoes were planted as long as my imagination followed where they went (that is, if I was even wearing the hateful, restrictive things).
The sun glared down and baked the road, sending silvery heat waves up from the broken asphalt. Vehicles were scarce, and the rare one I saw sputtered and clanked like it was in need of a few vital parts. Often, a mule-drawn cart would drive past, loaded with metal scraps and old machines. The people standing on the side of the road stared at me with empty eyes that perused my blonde hair and fair skin. I smiled when they stared, but not a muscle moved in their stoic faces.