…but I only remember her being here for the 10 years, 11 months, and 30 days since I’ve been on this earth. If you’re brave enough to run up to Old Weezie’s house at night, knock three times, then count to 10, you’re a legend in this town. And it is my own private shame that I’m only one of two kids left in my class who still has to make the long walk up the scraggly, broken sidewalk to her shack. Even Steven did it before his 11th birthday, and that snot-nosed jerk-face was bragging about until he was eleven and a half!
Well, tonight’s the night. I only have 24 hours left before I really turn 11, and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself all through the 6th grade if I didn’t. So I throw off the covers with the passion of any other kid going off to war, and reach for the walkie-talkie under my bed.
“Come in Sparrow, it’s Bremusa,” I whispered as quietly and as clearly as I could into the plastic contraption that had been a birthday gift on my 10th birthday. I was just a kid then, tonight, I am a warrior.
The space in between me and my best friend crackled with the white noise that told you the satellites in the furthest reaches of space were going to connect our words soon.
“I read you, Broomehilda, are you sure about this?”
“It’s Bremusa! Amazonian Warrior Princess! We’ve been over this, did you find a flashlight?” My partner in crime, Mattie, has been my friend for almost all of my 10 years, 11 months, 30 days. He’s a boy and people think it’s weird that we’re best friends, but there’s no one else I’d go into battle with besides Mattie. Although, he keeps screwing up my warrior name and it’s getting on my nerves.
“Okay, meet you at the spot. Sparrow, out,” he whispered, and the white noise disappeared.
I take a deep breath. My dad said knocking on Old Weezie’s door is like a rite of passage, he calls it, passage into being an almost middle-schooler. He said Old Weezie actually read his palm because when he knocked on the door he passed out and laid there dying while his wimpy friends ran off. He swears that when he came to, Old Weezie breathed through broken teeth that he would grow up and have a daughter that would be braver than any other kid in Fox River City.
Well, that’s me. I was fated to do this.
I ever so slowly creep out of my bed and tip-toe to the door. My mom is usually up reading at this time, but ever since she got pregnant with another brother or sister, I’ve been in the clear this time of night. Me and Mattie decided we had to do it close to midnight because no one has ever attempted such a feat before, and hopefully Old Weezie would be dead asleep.
I grab my worn-out old baseball cap by the phone, and realize almost before its too late that it’s tangled up in the cord. But I have…I mean Bremusa has catlike reflexes and catches the receiver out of thin air before it crashes down onto the kitchen counter. I tuck what I can of my long, brown hair under the ball cap and slide the screen door open without making a sound.
It’s too easy to sneak out of house. It’s 1989 and that Unsolved Mysteries show has scared the living crap out of my parents for the last 2 years, but it’s their fault for ignoring my recommendation to get a laser security, or better yet, a watch dog.
My sneakers don’t make a sound on the sidewalk as I walk up Canal Street. It’s a full moon so the street lights were shut off a long time ago. It’s still bright enough so that I can see Mattie up ahead waiting for me at the corner of Mechanic Avenue. Our carefully planned rendezvous point. The shadows don’t hide the outline of a skinny, blonde-headed boy smacking a flashlight against his hand. It isn’t until I get closer that can’t hear the familiar rattling of batteries inside.
“I don’t know why but it’s not turning on,” he whispered in an exaggerated tone. Mattie was dressed in his favorite Ernie Riles jersey, 3rd baseman for the Milwaukee Brewers, and khaki shorts. His mess of blonde hair fell over his eyes in the way it does. And on his feet…
“You’re wearing flip flops?”
“What?” he looked up at me bemused.
“You don’t think a secret mission like this that will probably include running for our lives would be better with shoes? And I can tell you there are no batteries in that flashlight.”
“Oh shoot, well maybe we should cancel.” He tried to act casual. Like we could just work up the nerve to do this another night.
I had a feeling my brave friend would chicken out at the last minute, so I invoked the sacred spirit of Bremusa, Amazonian Warrior Princess, and stood to face him. For effect I grabbed him by the shoulders.
“I’m doing this for you, you’re only 10 years, 5 months, and 24 days. If we complete our mission tonight, you’ll be the youngest kid in all of history to knock on Old Weezie’s door. And this is my destiny! What will my dad think if I don’t fulfill Old Weezie’s prophecy? Come on, Sparrow — it’s now or never.”
I could see a look of desperation all over his face, his blue eyes always gave everything away, but he said, “Okay, Bremeesiola, let’s do this.”
“Bremusa!” I said in earnest, but grabbed his hand and we were off.
To be continued….