She is relieved to see the sun after such a long time of rain. It was mind-numbing to have to spend every hour after school cooped up in her tiny bedroom in the tiny apartment shared by five people and two birds. Could a person go insane, she wondered, from staring at the same posters for five hours straight?
And now the wait for the amphibious bus is less an exercise in umbrella adjustment and more a pleasant basking in the sunlight. She stretched out on the bench and waited for her friends.
It took only a few minutes more for them to appear. Jasmine, tall and elegant, and Aida, short and with long thick curly black hair that Imogen envies to no end. Throwing their bags down under the bench, Aida asks, “Are you staying in the city for the summer, Imogen?”
“No, she goes to her grandma’s, remember?” Jasmine taps her shoe against the pavement.
“Oh, yeah...the one who runs the taco stand?”
Imogen sighs. “Yeah.”
Aida groaned. “That’s so annoying! I wanted to finally finish Remy’s Crazy Big Ice Cream Sundae.” The sundae, sold by the ice cream place around the corner, consisted of thirteen scoops of ice cream, fudge, cherries, and whipped cream. “Do you work at the taco stand?”
“This year, yeah. It’s better than just sitting around all day, though.” This was only partially true. She had spent her summers up until the age of thirteen running through the sunflower fields that backed up to the tiny green taco stand her grandma owned with her brother, Hank, and her grandma’s dog, Annabel Lee. Then Annabel died, and her brother got a job in the city for the summer. Now it was just her, wandering through the sunflower fields alone in the heat of summer.
Her parents have already told her that this year, I expect her to work instead of moping around all day.
The bus arrives, and they climb on, swiping their wrists across the scanner. It hadn’t taken very much persuasion for Imogen’s parents to approve of her getting the Wristband implant two years ago. They settle in, and the bus rumbles off. It felt strange, Imogen thought lazily, to have the bus driving instead of floating through the water as it had been these past few weeks. The bus was, of course, amphibious, built to float through water or drive on the raised-up streets, as the weather dictated.
“Did you do the history notes?” Jasmine leans over her shoulder.
“Yeah. Do you need to copy?”
Imogen pulls out her notes and handed them over. As Jasmine furiously scribbles into a notebook, she gazes out the window. It was a shame that she couldn’t stay in the city over the summer. She always hated having to come back to school and not knowing a thousand inside jokes and stories. For a second, she considers telling her parents that she would just get a job, like Hank, and stay home. But a combination of inertia and remembering that getting a job meant staying in her tiny, airless room all summer makes her reconsider. At least out in the country it was a little cooler...the heat didn’t bounce off the concrete and blacktop. Plus, the flight out was always fun. Her parents usually gave her enough money to gorge herself on candy in the airport.
Imogen reflects that her grandma thinks she is terribly spoiled. On that count, she is correct. She further reflects that her grandma probably needed someone to come out and work because she couldn’t find anyone else. And here she is also correct.
It won’t be all that bad, she tells herself. She just has to remember to pack sunscreen.