Grade: 12th grade
Age: 17

Two Eggs, Over Easy

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Her alarm goes off. Its piercing shrieks wriggle their way into her ears, crawling into her brain, drumming her awake with tiny mallets. She peels her eyelids apart, with the same gentle force as the air sealed cans of paint, whose contents now coat her walls, were once shoved apart by her mother’s steady hands. She grumbles, her spine aches as she rolls over onto her back, staring up at the ceiling. Everything is white. Her vision is consumed with the rhythm of the stucco above her, casting its dim shadows across the ceiling. Her eyes caress each tiny valley created by the paint, falling down each indentation, and climbing to its peak again. She can hear the metallic clang of pots and pans on the stove, as her mother cooks two eggs, over easy, for breakfast. And the water’s boiling for coffee, she can hear it hissing through the walls. She pictures the silver steam rising up from the kettle’s spout in ringlets, circling the cupboard drawers, dampening their grain with its heat.
“Are you getting up?” Her mother’s question echoes down the hallway, a distant remark made to no one in particular.
“Mmm no,” she grumbles at the ceiling, and with weak resolve, begins sliding out from within the fabric cocoon of her bedsheets. Her feet touch the ground first. Its smooth wood feels wet with cold, like morning dew.
Standing up slowly, she grips her wooden bedside table for support, seeing stars.
Sometimes when she stands up too fast her vision goes black. When she steps too firmly, her hips ache. Sometimes when she gets up from her desk, her knees crack under the weight of her ascending torso. In these moments she realizes she’s growing up.
Once her vision returns, and the surrounding room creeps back into focus, she walks, more like floats, over to her calendar, stepping to face it head on. Its reflective surface stares back at her. She has stood in front of this calendar for four years now, with a pen in her hand. And today is no different. Using the black marker with a round cap, she smears two lines marking an “X” across the glossy surface, writing her will across today in temporary ink. The date reads 6/6/19, and in very small, frantic letters at the bottom of the box: “future”.
Taking a step back, she admires her work; today now crossed out with thick ink. The word “future” still echoes in her head, but she’s not certain she knows what it means to her.
She understands present. It’s easy enough. Present can be found in moments when her snorting laughter ripples through her chest, splashing across her tongue. When the sky gets dark outside and her mellow voice quivers on the phone, rolling tears down her cheeks. When she drives too fast, checking the golden light of the speedometer, eyes peeled scanning the road, as her foot nudges the gas pedal further down. In these moments, she feels presently, and forever, sixteen.
But she is not sixteen, nor is she seventeen. She’s an adult now, at least legally. A senior in high school who stays up too late for little to no reason, cries often but not as much as she would like, and feels the impending weight of a place called future on her shoulders.
And today, the smeared black Thursday, marks the start of future. She turns away from the whiteboard, and makes her way to the bathroom, to brush her teeth and spit the taste of her dentist-approved mint toothpaste down the drain. To spread the same chalky cream across her face, the one that smells like old tangerine peels, the one her mom bought her at the start of sophomore year because, like her dad says, and for once he’s right, she’s at high risk for skin cancer. She is not sixteen.
She walks into the kitchen to scarf up a portion of breakfast. The room smells of burnt coffee and toast. Upon seeing the brown-bagged lunch her mother made waiting for her on the counter, and a plate with two eggs on the table, she does not feel like a woman prepared for the responsibility of the word future. She does not make her own lunches, wakes up too late to eat breakfast with her mother, and, as she often puts it to her friends, does not always remember to do her laundry. But future is today, as the whiteboard said, and she must be ready.
At the table, gingerly slicing her eggs, she watches their yellow yolk spread across her plate. But she’s late again, forced to shovel her breakfast into her mouth, yolk dribbling down her chin.
“Really?” Her mother’s voice echoes from across the table.
She laughs sheepishly, wiping the yellow from her chin, and stares into her mother’s soft eyes. At the wrinkles accentuating the corners of her pink-lipped smile. At her strong, feminine eyebrows, filled in with brown charcoal liner. Maybe, she hopes, in her future she’ll learn to keep her brows filled in strong, and eyes kind like her mother’s.
With her lunch in hand, and her head full of expectations, she steps outside. The air smells of oak leaves and uncertainty. She breathes it in, taking in deep gulps of its freshness. Hesitantly, she places a white-sneakered foot onto the earth, the next follows obediently. She has made these steps one hundred times before, and has always assumed that she will go on making them one hundred times over again. But future isn’t so revealing, it keeps its secrets. Future makes no promise that her steps will land on steady ground, but she must walk on if she intends to reach it.
The corners of her lips wrinkle into a smile as she strides out into the morning gleam of her lawn. Today, she will carry out her future by the familiar force of her strong legs, and the cap and gown clenched tightly in her fist.

4 thoughts on “Two Eggs, Over Easy

  1. Well-done! girl contemplates future and faces it; cap-and-gown at end a nice but fitting surprise.

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