Branwenn went home with her face, clothes, and long, dark hair caked in mud, and a raven on her shoulder. She wasn’t scared anymore. The raven was by her side protecting her. She was elated. She felt free.
There was something so amazing about having a bird on your shoulder. A bird who wanted to be there. She couldn’t help but go home quickly. As she drew nearer to her street, she realized that having a bird in the house might not be a good idea. She had never thought, when she read The Raven that the bird might have pooped all over the guy’s door frame. She was about to lift the raven off her shoulder, when he flew away by himself, flapping his wings slowly yet gracefully through the air. Branwenn opened the door, wiped off her shoes and headed straight for the shower.
The next school day was horrible. Branwenn’s friends had seen her run off toward the park in a fit of screams instead of getting in the car with her Mom, and wouldn’t even look at her. When Jason, a tenth grader, asked Karrey, “Wait, you and that girl Branwenn are friends right? You sold the Girl Scout cookies last fall together?” Karrey tried to persuade him that he had a severe case of amnesia and that she, Hazel, Fern, and Amber were not friends with Branwenn, and then spit on the floor with disgust.
This, and not to mention the fact that Branwenn’s mother was furious at her. She had missed the usual milk and cookies, and homework review that was she and her mother’s tradition, and her mother was terribly worried about her, especially when she tracked all the mud in the house. So, Branwenn had to do extra dishes that night, and Tuesday night.
Branwenn lay awake in bed, staring at the ceiling. The rain had ceased. Branwenn’s eyes began to water to no end. She started to sob, so she rolled over to let the tears soak into her pillow. In about an hour of sleepless tears, Branwenn’s eyes seemed to clear up, and her mind came back to order. Tomorrow, she was going to do something really, really, nice on her own. Her parents were going to a conference, in Nevada and they were leaving to drive south from where they lived in Oregon that night. Branwenn was going to be all alone. Her heart leapt. She was going to play hooky.
She slipped out of bed, and turned on her LED desk lamp, then she scribbled a list of things she would do tomorrow, to get her life back in order.
She folded it up, and set an alarm for 4:30 AM. Then she slipped the list under her pillow, and fell asleep.
In the morning, at 4:31, Branwenn was getting dressed. She went through her wardrobe, and picked an outfit that she wouldn’t usually wear. The sun was shining outside, so it meant she could wear cooler clothes than usual. She wore black tank top with a ruffly white chemise, and a crimson red skirt. She wore dark green eye shadow and siren red lipstick. Today was her day. Black nylons and tan, heeled lace-up boots. She emptied her piggy bank, and got ready for an amazing day. She glanced at her list:
- Go out for breakfast
- Get a haircut
- Make 3 new friends
- Get new clothes
- Eat pizza for lunch
- Give all old clothes to Goodwill
- Get an after-school job,
- Go to a dance.
Branwenn took a deep breath. She was going to do it. Every single thing on her list, in one day. She had 600 dollars that she had saved up since she was 6 in her piggy bank. She took a deep breath. She knew that once a month the community center held a dance for teens to socialize. Today was the day.