Silver Lining

Hi! I’m Dora Connor. My life is definitely not a fantasy but  it’s not a garbage dump either. I’m a 13-year-old girl who  has blonde, short hair, sky blue eyes and a slim but strong  body. I’m a ‘Tom boy’ and I literally live in black clothes. I love  dancing and doing gymnastics. My life long goal is to win the  national level medal for both. I love sports equally well. I want  to maybe become a dancer or an athlete later in life. I make  friends in the snap of a finger and also enemies in equal time.  I am also pretty short tempered. I am a bit lazy (very lazy)  to do anything other than go to the gym or play basketball.  Aren’t people normally lazy to go to the gym or play? Oh well.  I live with my mom, Rose Connor and my younger brother,  Daniel. My mom has wood brown straight hair, sky blue eyes  and is thin but not as strong as me (No boasting intended).  My brother is a mini-me but a boy, (but extra annoying). My  dad, Albert Connor passed away when I was six years old. I  don’t remember him all that well, as I was pretty young so I  don’t actually miss him that much. However, I do always wish I  had a dad. It would have been fun and would have made our  family complete. I live in a small apartment in New York and  go to a school called St. Marie’s. 

My apartment in the heart of the city. It looks historic from  the outside. On the inside, it’s very festive and cheerful. My  mom’s room is plain peach colored with a soft mattress on  the floor. In a wooden table nearby, there are usually a bunch  of daffodils in a prettily decorated vase and a frame with  a picture of the three of us. My brother and I share a room.  It’s a baby blue color nursery sized room, with a fluffy bed  and a wooden wardrobe right beside. Stuck to the wall is a  cupboard consisting of all our books and family pictures. I  look at them if I ever feel low.

I am a normal teenager with friends in a good school and  a single working mom. My mom works in a bakery. It’s an  incredibly dazzling place. It has the sunniest colors which  make the place look bigger and brighter. Six tables covered  with a cream cloth with four chairs on each side of the table  are visible. The two sofas in two corners of the room are where  my friends and I normally sit. It’s the most famous bakery in the  city. On most days, it’s crowded, on holidays it’s exceedingly  so. I love going there with my friends after school. The owner,  Lisa is an awesome, smart and generous woman. She  always welcomes us with a huge smile and hugs. She has  a daughter, Audrey, who is one of my best friends. Needless  to say, we get food for a much cheaper amount. Audrey, like  her mom, is chubby, has the eye color of honey and reddish  blonde hair. On the inside, she is kind hearted, loyal but goes  green if someone else gets more attention than her. Oh, and  she lives in fashion. She always keeps up with the trend and  doesn’t have much of an academic knowledge. Ok, back to  my mom. She doesn’t get paid much but we have enough to  live comfortably. She doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. The  closest she has to a sister is Aunt Linda; a green eyed, caramel  haired and a thin woman. She is a school friend of mom and  they haven’t lost touch. She works as a teacher in our school  for the elementary students. Fortunately, Aunt Linda lives only  two blocks away so in case of emergency (don’t break glass)  she can come here immediately. She has two children too.  A daughter and a son. Her daughter is my classmate and my BFF, Sally. She is literally like me in every possible way. She  has a pixie cut, brown caramel hair, green eyes and is also  as strong as me. She is also a tom boy, loves black and is  an awesome dancer and loves playing pranks. Her brother,  Sam, who is my bro’s best buddy is a mini version of Sally. If  someone sees us together somewhere; they will think the four  of us to be siblings (I speak from experience).  

I normally wake up at around 6 am, and go for a jog. After  which, I get ready and finish breakfast by around 8:30 am.  Mom, Daniel and I meet Aunt Linda, Sally and Sam in a sweet  shop close to our houses. Mom and Aunt Linda chat for some  time while the rest of us drool over the chocolates. Once they  finish talking, mom leaves to her bakery while the rest of us  walk to school together. 

St. Marie’s is a pretty big school, teaching from elementary to  high school. Sally and I were, and still are somehow always  in the same class. Aunt Linda drops Sam and Daniel while  Sally and I go off to class. We are always a little early so we  can gossip with the others. We play pranks on teachers often,  especially Mrs. Smith, our science teacher, because she has a  great sense of humor and most times, she falls for them. She  is a great sport. For lunch, we normally have cafeteria food,  but on Mondays and Thursdays we don’t, because those days  are when we get spinach soup and something that tastes like  soot and toothpaste mixed together. (Yuck. Don’t try without  adult supervision). Sally, Audrey and I come back home at 2  pm and take tuitions from Aunt Linda or Lisa even though we  mostly end up not learning. Then at about 4 pm, Audrey goes  back home when Sally and I go to the basketball court and  play a few matches with a few more kids who live nearby. We  come back home and have supper at our place and before 8  pm they go back home. I usually go to sleep at 9 pm and doze  off by 9:30 at the latest. The next day when my alarm rings, I  continue the same routine, every single day of my life.  

Off late mom has been looking a little pale and fragile like  she could break any second. I was getting a little worried but  eventually convinced myself that it’s nothing big. Yesterday,  while having supper, she blacked out. I, getting terrified,  immediately called Aunt Linda, the only person I could think  of and explained to her what had happened. Since she is extremely close by, she rushed right home with a doctor. The  doctor, while examining mom, said, “It looks like she has been  having a temperature for a few days,” while putting her on  the sofa. I got scared. He spoke to Aunt Linda giving her  some instructions and left. Aunt Linda came and told me  that mom had to be admitted to the hospital. The doctors  need to run a few tests and examine her to understand what  was wrong. When I asked her when, she told me tomorrow?  Tomorrow?!? I suddenly felt everything around me spinning. In  a few moments, I heard mom’s voice and saw her eyes flutter  open. “Is this heaven?” she asked, smiling despite being so  weak. “No mom, this is New York city”, I heard a voice say. It  took me a moment to realize my brother was still around and  awake. “Why don’t you go to sleep? Do you want me to tuck  you in?” asked Aunt Linda to Daniel. “No, I am seven years old  and grown up,” he replied back, yawning and went off to bed. 

Aunt Linda took mom to her room and I could hear some  talking for a while. I guessed she was trying to convince mom  about getting admitted. I started getting drowsy and bid mom  and Aunt Linda Good Night and went to sleep. My heart was  pumping out of my chest. Eventually I tried convincing myself  that I am the older sibling and I needed to be brave. I calmed  down more when I realized that the hospital fee could be  covered by insurance. Speaking of money, the thought struck  me. I have to earn money to take care of the house. Aunt Linda  can’t stay around us forever. I was wondering what could be done about it. Well, I was too tired and couldn’t think about  it and soon enough, I was dreaming. 

Next morning, I woke up thinking about the previous night. I  decided to go for a jog to clear my mind. While jogging, I was  wondering about ways I could earn. Hadn’t I heard someone  say something about a scholarship in school? Yes, yes, I had! I  had to work very hard since I was already lagging behind, but  I can try. And I might have to stop playing pranks – at least  on teachers. Then when thinking about mom, I realized that  the bakery was now lacking an employee. I also could take  up a part time job in mom’s bakery – if they hire a 13-year old. Everything seemed to be falling in place. I decided to tell  Aunt Linda about it.  

We all bid mom farewell and gave her a tight squeeze. We  also scolded her for getting sick. Mom just replied with a small  chuckle. She said, “I’ll be back faster than light,” and left. 

During breakfast, I discussed my idea with Aunt Linda. It took  some time convincing her – and by some, I mean a lot. I had  prepared a mental list of pros and cons while I was jogging.  Finally, she said yes. I was literally dancing with joy. So, I told  Sally about it while eating a toffee. As a Sally-ish friend  would, she insisted on helping me. During school, I started  listening in class so hard. My teachers thought it was a prank  at first. They kept looking back at me every two minutes to check if I was listening to them or whether I was trying to set  up a prank. Then after a few classes, they decided that I was  really trying. Then in the bakery, fortunately, they were hiring.  So, I started working there. I am working there as a waitress  because I couldn’t even boil milk without spilling at least a  little – not that I ever tried to boil milk. The only thing I ever  tried to make was PBJ and thankfully I could make it. Oh, I’ve  also tried to make cornflakes, if that’s even possible. I could  eat well but cooking, I am not so sure. The employees were  generous enough to provide dinner for my brother and I. I  am getting better and better at waitressing and am chatting  with my friends in the two-minute breaks Lisa gives me. I was  also completing all my homework on time. 

After a few weeks or so, which is today for me, I woke up and  my alarm showed it to be 12 noon. I couldn’t go to school now!  School will be over in a few hours. I thought of my brother and  went to check on him. He wasn’t there. I was definitely getting  panicky until I saw a note in night stand. It said –  

“Dear Dora, 

I’m going to school and before you get uneasy, I had cereal for  breakfast and Aunt Linda took me to school herself. Why don’t  you take a day off from school? You can tell your teachers that  you were unwell hence couldn’t attend school. Don’t worry about me. I will be alright. And by the way, Good morning to  you. 

With love, 

Daniel. 

P.S- I have no idea what I wrote. Aunt Linda dictated it to me  and I just noted it down. Okies, Bye!” 

I was laughing at the last line and almost had tears at the edge  of my eye for the rest of the note. I am already desperately  missing mom and her cheerful face. It had been 3 weeks  since mom left for the hospital. Though I felt Aunt Linda was a  pretty good substitute. We couldn’t visit mom until now. Only  Aunt Linda was allowed to see her. She kept updating us and  brought back messages mom wanted to let us know. Now the  doctors had permitted us to visit mom twice a week and bring  her a gift if we wanted to. Thinking of that happy thought I  jolted back to reality. Ok, back to my morning. I have to use  my phone now to learn to cook, not just see funny cat videos.  I had to learn how to cook today. It took me a while to find  the bread and the vessels. I started off trying to toast bread.  I was a pro. I burned only the first two and didn’t burn the rest. I  tried to break eggs and believe it or not, I broke it in a perfect  shape after maybe 3 tries only. I heard it takes people days to  master that. I started wondering if I had a cooking talent or it  was just pure luck. Maybe it was a talent since mom got a job in the best bakery in town. I started off with baking so it could  help me in the Bakery. In case you were wondering about the  name of the bakery, it’s (I am not joking) ‘Bakery.’ I moved on to  the higher level, The Cake. I was thinking of making a sponge  cake using a simple recipe mom usually uses on Christmas. I  was not scared that it will come out burnt because I was sure  it will come out that way. While it was baking, I had my toast  with an egg. My cake came out only slightly burnt. Yay! Well,  Aunt Linda and her kids are coming over today so all of us had  a slightly burnt snack.  

My friends came over today evening. Sally tells me that her  mum a.k.a Aunt Linda lets her stay for a sleepover if I was  ok with it. Duh, Of course I was. She is always there for me  when I need moral support so that’s another reason, she was  my best friend ever. Dan and Sam went over to Aunt Linda’s  house to have their own sleepover. Sally and I were watching  movie after movie with some burnt cake. After about three  movies, we had to go for dinner. That was the time to catch  up on everything going on with our lives. We had dinner and  off we went again to complete our fourth film. We stayed  up not taking our eyes off the screen until way past bedtime.  We were trying to keep our eyes open but failed. Getting  extremely sleepy, pushed our heads to our pillows.  

The next day we were getting our test papers. I was confident  enough with myself. I noted down the answers rapidly. After the papers were collected, I was wondering how surprised  the teachers and mom will be when they see my scores. When  the papers were being distributed, I was horrified to see I  had only gotten 40%. Before I used to not even prepare for  my tests yet, I had gotten more than what I had gotten now.  I was wondering aloud to Sally about my marks. She told me  to notice myself and correct myself if I was doing something  wrong. I decided to take her advice because there was not  much I could do. 

After a few days I was getting exhausted and overslept  because of working too much. That resulted in going to school  late. Then my pillow turned from cotton into a wooden table.  I was getting a good and close look in all the walls of the  room labelled ‘Detention.’ I was called to the principal’s office  once. I walked there, my legs shaking (because of the fear  or lack of sleep, I wasn’t sure) and held up the courage to  knock on the door. There he was, one big, scary Principal. I went  in and took a seat. I was surprised to find that he was kinder  than I had imagined. Much kinder. He gave me an hour-long  speech and I was bored out of my mind. I was clever and  secretive enough to steal my phone in there and recorded  what he said so I could hear it when I was in the right mind (or  if I couldn’t sleep at night). Kidding, I heard his speech top to  bottom (and recorded it). I told Sally everything and she told  me what every friend tells one another – ‘I’m here for you.’ but  I know she meant it. I went home and Aunt Linda was there. 

I told her all about what I did the full day because I usually  tell mom but now I couldn’t so I told Aunt Linda instead. She  advised me to change my routine and complete my homework  in my school breaks before chatting with friends, and told me  that she will tell Sally to help me. She also told me to tell  my teachers about mom and ask them if they could give me  some advice. I was adamant to follow it. As usual, I won the  battle and Aunt Linda gave up on lecturing me. I lay awake  throughout the night thinking about what she said and decided  to try it out. There was not much to lose anymore was there? 

Next day at school, when I told Mrs. Smith, she was kind and  understanding enough to give me extra classes on weekends.  I made up my mind to stop (reduce) pranking her. I was  catching up on school work and I completed my homework  on breaks and sure enough went back to school on time,  and I wasn’t lagging behind anymore. I was getting used to  the new routine. Sally and Audrey were helping me with my  homework and also were completing theirs’ along with me. I  don’t know what I could do without them.  

After a few weeks or so, the scholarship exam took place. I was  getting all sweaty sitting in the exam hall. It was the size of a  football stadium. My heart was telling the mantra ‘I would fail’  over and over again. On the other hand (or in this case brain)  my brain was chanting ‘You can do it’. When we got the paper,  I was shaking. I couldn’t concentrate but I think I had studied pretty well. My brain won this round. Not only did I pass, but  I also got a scholarship of $ 25,000. I had enough to buy a  mansion. But I was happy and comfortable with where I was  living so I decided to start saving up. I almost forgot about  my dance and gymnastics competitions. I had some time left  so I used it all up for practicing. I won 3rd place in gymnastics  and 1st place in dance. That was probably the happiest day  of my life. After days of waiting, mom was finally back from  the hospital.  

I continued my same routine and started concentrating more  in class (and played some pranks). No one could wipe the  smile off my glowing face. I honestly don’t remember being  this happy in ages. I will never forget all I learnt during this  time. I really need to do something to repay all the people  who helped me. Any ideas? Thank you for pushing  me to do hard work. And do you know the quote ‘There is no  thing as failure, only learning experiences.’  

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THE END
Megna Ramesh

Author

Megna Ramesh is an 11 year old,  born and brought up in Chennai. She studies in Maharishi Vidya  Mandir School. She loves art and lives inside the world of  books. Her multifaceted personality has been shown in various  occasions like awards in National Level art competition,  English in Spell Bee, Math in mastermind exams etc. She has  also been learning Bharatanatyam for about five years! She  loves holidays because then is when she travels around the  world with her family. This was her first story inspired from the  power of hard work and positivity.