“OHMYGOSH, IamSOOOready,” my little sister screamed, practically hurling her book to the floor of the car. “Can’t wait. Can’t wait to be done with school, with homework, with teachers, with Maryland. All of it.”
“Amen,” I nodded. The past few weeks at work had tested most of the school’s parents, students and teachers to the breaking point. Rumors of our middle school closing due to low attendance had filtered through the hallways and classrooms like an airborne plague. Only seven families had reenlisted for the new school year, and the administration had given no indication about the school’s survival to anyone, postponing any announcements until they could reevaluate their financial situation (i.e. drink heavily and pray their Powerball tickets pay out). The kids, like sharks, sensed the blood in the water and were whipped into a frenzy. Most in fact were already leaving for other schools and so what was the purpose of behaving when discipline no longer mattered?
The past month alone I dealt with several cases of bullying, cursing out teachers, rude remarks, fighting, theft, and daily assurances that “Everything is well. Mind not the impending doom. Please close your eyes and carry on . . . ” Frankly the utter disregard for the obvious wearied more teachers than the students’ behavior and obvious disrespect. Like a zombie, I found myself restlessly tired, avoiding sleep, my family, and regrettably all desire to scream. Vacation could not arrive soon enough.
“Oh, I can’t wait to like . . . meet Ron,” Bree chimed, kindly walking my mind from more morbid thoughts.
“Yeah,” Bree smiled. “Uh . . . you know, like from Harry Potter? Normally, I’m not particularly into redheads, but with him . . .”
“Wait, Ron Weasley? Or the actor who plays him?”
“Either . . . both,” my little sister chirped. I did not know that she could, but I swear it sounded like a little bird. “It’s the accent, Murph. I just can’t like . . . get enough of his accent. Oh . . . the boy could like read the phone book and it would sound heavenly. Like angels or a choir or something.”
“And you’re meeting this boy in Florida?”
“Yeah,” she said bouncing in her seat. “Um . . . Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios, when we go there. Of course, he won’t look like Ron. He’ll be like disguised: glasses and hat. That’s like the way all the hot guys do it on the Disney Channel. You would think more people would recognize a hot guy beneath a hat and shades — I know I would — but it seems to work well on the shows I watch. Guys like to be all mysterious and stuff.”
“And you’re going to meet him?”
“Uh no, bump into him . . . on accident. It’s not like I’m planning on seeking him out like a missile or something. I’m not a stalker or anything like that. I’m just walking and I happen to fall and um . . . he’s like there to catch me. I’m sure to fall sometime during the trip, right? I’m not like the most agile girl in the world, you know.”
This much is true, I thought. Still I was still confused by this whole arranged-accidental-date thing.
“Our eyes will meet and . . . . ahhhh. True love from then on . . . until we’re old and gray. Here I’ll show you,” Bree smiles, scanning the floor. “And you guys say that I’m never organized. Look here I made a list.” She grabs her discarded book from the ground and opens to a highly decorated page. I read carefully, trying not to smudge the glitter and wet ink:
I paused at the last item on the list, cold panic seeping into my marrow. My voice wanted to speak out or scream, but I continued staring for another five minutes. Finally I manage a weak mumble:
“I feel sick.”
“Yeah, got a little giddy myself after writing it, but I went outside and shot a few baskets. Felt loads better. Like that feeling you get on Saturdays when you wake up early for school and you realize it’s not a school day and sleep until 11? Like that only better.”
“No, it’s frightening.”
“What?! No, it’s destiny! We’re fated to be together! I am like the girl he has always longed for, but never knew! His guiding hand or best friend. The girls he surrounds himself with just . . . just don’t do it for him.”
“Okay, so how does Ron come to investigate Universal? How does he know to look here?”
“Um . . . well . . . .” Bree falters.
“A dream, perhaps,” I add helpfully.
“Uh . . . yeah, a dream. Right! After all, I AM like his dream girl so it’s natural that he should get a message from his dreams or dream vision . . . like from Heaven or . . .”
“Aliens,” I add helpfully. My sister continues onward though without pausing for a breath.
“. . . . telling him that he will meet his future wife at Universal Studios on June 23rd.”
“Did the dream supply a time as well? I don’t want to be waiting by Hogwarts all day. That Jurassic Park ride calls to me as well. Plus we might consume turkey legs at one point during this imagined rendezvous.”
“Uh . . . I don’t know what that means, but I can tell it was sarcastic,” Bree frowns. “Of course, the dream tells him the time. Fate won’t like let us down. What kind of dream would make him wait for his dream girl, huh?”
“An honest one. Anyway, we’ll make a bet on it. If he shows up, I’ll confess my undying love for the first girl I see. If not, you owe me an ice cream. Deal?”
My little sister hesitated before my outstretched hand.
“Is our faith shaken somewhat?”
“NO!” she shouted, grabbing my hand. “You’ll see! He’ll definitely show up and we won’t even invite you to the wedding.”
“Ah, right hon. The ice cream down there isn’t particularly good anyway. I’m sure whatever the result, we’ll both leave disappointed.”
So a week later, I must report that something magically did indeed occur. No, Ron did not show. No, my sister is not particularly enthused about that bit. No, I am still very much single, alone and available ( Call me!). However, we endured an excellent adventure by ourselves without the disguised movie stars: riding roller-coasters, buying wands, and eating black pudding – which I discovered after consumption was actually congealed pig’s blood – at the Three Broomsticks.
Moreover, the ice cream Bree bought me was uncommonly good. We both nursed our sorrows with chocolate-chip cookie dough and mint chocolate chip (two scoops), and very much the better for it. Bree has since moved on, now targeting Mr. Logan Lerman, the star of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Since Disney has yet to create Olympus-Land or a Jungle Cruise into Tartarus, I’d say we stand a better chance of controlling these imaginary soul mates. As an expert in the matter of delusory relationships (though not the best role model), I’m helping out as best I can.
And Ron, if you’re reading this, thanks for the ice cream, man!