Hello, and welcome to another Free-Write Friday! For those of you who don’t know, each week Jake and I pick a Writing Prompt from 642 Things to Write About. We write separately, and have no idea what the other is writing until after we both post. This means any similarities are just proof that I am in fact a psychic. (Just kidding, but how cool would that be?) After I’m done, I will update and put a link to his here.
This week’s prompt! *drum roll please*
Write about a character at two very different ages in his or her life. Describe one day at each age.
I roll over and shut off my alarm clock. 6:00. Ugh. No one should have to get up this early. Not on their birthday. I am about to close my eyes and sleep and few more minutes when I hear a knock at the door. Before I can even sit up, the door opens and my little brother bursts in and jumps on my bed, landing on me. “Ouch, get off Ryan!” I push him off my legs as I sit up and he lands on the floor.
“Happy Birthday Calla!!!!” He gets up, unphased, and brushes himself off. He can be a real pain sometimes, but he’s only eleven, so I put up with him. I look behind him, to where my parents are still standing in the doorway. My mom is holding a plate of pancakes with a lit candle stuck haphazardly in the middle, wax already dripping down the side.
“Happy Birthday sweetheart,” she says, handing me the plate. “Make a wish.”
I close my eyes, thinking about what could make my sweet sixteen the best ever. I blow out the candle. When I open my eyes, I see that my dad is holding a small silver box with purple ribbon. I try not to get my hopes up too much, but the box is just the right size…
He must have seen my look, because he hands over the package, a poorly concealed look of excitement on his face. I set my pancakes down next to me, then rip into the box. Inside is a small metal teddy bear on a keychain. I pull it out to examine it. “I thought it would be useful so you don’t lose these,” he holds up a set of car keys. “Go look outside.”
I run to the window and see a brand new silver car sitting in the driveway. The bright red bow on top gets rid of any doubt I had that this is mine. “Oh thank you, thank you SO much!” I run back and hug my parents.
“Hey! I did the bow!” Ryan crosses his arms and pouts. I reach over and ruffle his hair.
“Thanks Ryan, it’s beautiful.”
I usher them out so I can get ready, eating my pancakes as I go. A half hour later I am showered, dressed, and in front of the bathroom mirror, trying to tame the rat’s nest I call hair. Everything has to be perfect for my party tonight. I mean, it’s not every day a girl celebrates her 16th birthday. Twenty more minutes, and I am finally ready to walk out the door.
I drop Ryan off on my way to Millroad High School. Everyone in the parking lot admires my new car, as they should; it’s a great car. School is the same as ever: my friends wish me a happy birthday, classes go on, all in all a pretty boring day. I can’t wait ’til I am out of here. As I walk past the office on my way to sixth period, I notice the tv blaring the news. I can’t hear what the reporter is saying, but they keep showing clips from various cities across the world, all with one thing in common: they were burned to the ground.
**Five Years Later**
The sun is just peeking out over the horizon as I scan the area once more. I am on lookout, halfway through a four hour shift. From my perch, I can see for miles around. There are a few trees, like the one I am sitting in, but mostly it’s just rubble as far as I can see. I settle back into my branch.
In an alternate world, I would just be a typical college student, psyched to finally be 21. Here it’s just another day of survival. It’s no good to dwell on what might have been. I’m just lucky to be alive.
I can’t believe that five years have passed since everything began. I don’t remember which country started it; it doesn’t matter now anyway. What matters is that everyone joined in, and no one stopped until it was too late. The entire world was reduced to ruins. Almost everyone is gone. Those who were ‘lucky’ enough to survive now scavenge and fight every day to stay that way.
I pull a tattered metal keychain out of my pocket. It’s a teddy bear, scratched up and missing a few limbs, but still solid in my hand. It’s the last thing I have from my parents. They gave it to me on my 16th birthday, the last time I ever saw them. I put it back in my pocket. My watch is almost over.
There is a door laying on the ground under my tree. To anyone who happens by, it simply looks like part of the wreckage. But behind that door lies the only refuge I have left. A modified storm shelter now serves as ‘home’ to me, my brother, and a few other teenagers. My new family.
The door moves. Someone is coming out.
My brother climbs up to my branch and sits down next to me. “Happy Birthday, Calla,” he says quietly. He holds out his hand, and drops something into my palm. A Hershey’s Kiss.
“Where did you get this?!” I ask. It is rare to find any store-bought food anymore, let alone candy.
“Taylor and I found it when we went scavenging the other day,” he explains. “I told him you were turning 21, and he thought you should have it.”
“Let’s share it,” I respond, pulling out my knife and cutting the chocolate in half. We may never see chocolate again, so Ryan takes his half gratefully.
“Make a wish,” he says plopping the candy in his mouth.
My hand drifts to the key chain resting in my pocket. I don’t bother closing my eyes; there is no way my wish could come true. Not anymore.