Through my eyelids the day was colored orange. I squinted tightly, to try to shut it all out. The heat of the day was trying to escape from the sidewalks, through wavering lines. The gravel made a crunching sound as it gave way briefly under the rubber soles of my shoes.
The four wheels, uneasy on their axles, groaned and clanged over the grooves in the sidewalk. The precariously placed pitcher jostled a bit, sloshing the lemonade from side to side, a bit spilling over the edge to my red wagon.
With my eyes closed briefly, I suddenly jolted forward, my palms and knees reached out towards the ground. My purple shoelaces betrayed me, sneaking beneath my tennis shoes and dragging me to the ground, to their level. I bent down to tie them again, putting them in their place and noticed the tiny pools of blood forming beneath my blue jeans. They grew and seeped through the fabric I’d felt so secure in before.
I took a detour, letting my body collapse into the green grass with defeat. The blades bent beneath me, comforting my petty pains, drawing faint lines where they have pressed coolly against my warm skin.
Just then, my heart sank. The smell of diesel diffused through the air, entering my nose and snapping my mind back to my original mission. The dark cloud mingled with the pale blue sky that opened up above me. The rumbling that could only be a hungry giant, or – more reasonably – the rickety big yellow bus that carried my sister home from school each day was on the horizon.
Two hours was usually enough time to prepare the lemonade, pack it up in the red wagon we used to play with as kids and walk back to her bus stop. I got out of school two hours earlier and everything had gone smoothly. I wore the brightest orange shirt just so she couldn’t miss me in the crowd of other kids and parents waiting.
Now my jeans were blood- and grass-stained. I knew she would be angry but it didn’t matter anymore. Today was the day I would get my sister back. As the sneakers stepped one by one down the steps of the bus, I searched through the sea of kids, looking for the purple ribbons our parents would always tie in her wayward hair, bringing a semblance of order to the chaos that comes with being a kid.
But her hair was let down, the purple ribbons nowhere to be seen. I remember her telling me how childish they are. Her lips were a red sheen of glimmer and her eyes were bordered by powder blue shadow. She took one look at my orange shirt and red wagon and laughed.
I watched her shuffle along the sidewalk, down the road back home. She didn’t even look back.