Errands

It was raining when I woke up that morning. Just a drizzle, really; the kind of rain umbrellas were made for. Not that it mattered to me. It was Saturday, and I had no immediate plans to go anywhere today.

I watched the rain fall from the window of my bathroom as I brushed my teeth. From there, I could see through the neighbor's window and into his living room. My mother was far more neighborly than I, so she could sit down with him for a bit of chit-chat. He was an older guy, probably early forties or so. Naturally I didn't have much in common, so my dialogue with him was the obligatory greeting should we cross paths.

And as luck would have it, I had to wave to the guy when he noticed me looking into his home from my bathroom.

Breakfast was dreary thanks to the pitter-patter of the raindrops against the kitchen window. I dined alone, having woken up a bit later than usual. Again, I had the rain to thank for that. The morning sunlight was my alarm, and the rainclouds saw to it I'd remain in bed longer than I would've liked. I tend to get headaches if I remain in bed longer than usual.

Actually, it wasn't until I was cleaning up after myself that I noticed the yellow note on the refrigerator. Scribbled on it in my mother's handwriting was a message meant for me:

I need you to pick up a few things. Look in my room for the list.

All I could do was sigh. One more look out the kitchen window confirmed my dismay. The rain wouldn't be letting up anytime soon.

Yet rather than obey the command left behind by my darling parent, I marched straight back to my room. Switching on the computer, I made sure to power up my cellphone as well. I knew it would only be a matter of time before I got a call from my mother. But until then, I could feign ignorance and kill some time online. If I knew her –and I did –she was probably at the store or a mall with her friend. And if that was the case, she'd be so wrapped up in her fun she wouldn't be pestering me for at least a couple hours.

As the computer finally settled after the painfully long boot time, a familiar tune filled my room. The origin was my cellphone, and sprawled across the touchscreen was my mother's picture. Guess today just wasn't my lucky day. I answered after a few seconds, just so that I could hear my favorite part of the chorus on the song I had attached to her caller ID. Oh the wonders of technology!

"Hey, you up yet?" She said over the line. I could hear other voices in the background, and a bit of static. She was at the mall, alright.

"Just got up," I lied. I made a sound like I was stretching.

"Lazy! Listen, after you eat, I need you to run by the store and buy a few things for dinner tonight. The list is in my room, on top of my dresser, okay?" Where she normally left lists for me.

"Why can't you buy it? It's raining out here, you know." Figured I'd at least try to get out of this chore. Surely my dear mother wouldn't want me going out in the rain to catch a cold.

"I can't. I don't know how long I'll be out, so just do me a favor and buy those things. If I get home too late, I'll just bring some takeout and we'll cook tomorrow. Borrow my umbrella so you don't get soaked. I know yours is a bit small." So much for not wanting me out in the rain.

"Yeah, yeah." I muttered, not caring to keep up the ruse of having just woken up anymore. I don't think she even believed it in the first place.

"Thank you! I'll see you later, okay? Be careful out there!" In the background, I could hear that friend of hers. I couldn't make out any exact words, but I was certain she was telling my mother to hurry up.

"Yes, mother." I droned.

"Okay, I love you, bye!" And with that, the line went dead.

I looked out my window, and saw that same drizzle from about an hour ago. I told myself it would clear up in a while, so I'd just wait before going out. But luck wasn't on my side today. Before I could get to surfing the Internet, the monitor went dark. Above my head, my ceiling fan started to lose momentum. I let out another sigh.

"Just my luck."

~o~

I looked over the list my mother had left behind. It was quite a bit of groceries I'd have to lug back home on foot. It almost made me wish I had my own car already. But there was no way I could afford that luxury, not on my salary. If you could even call it that; I earned what amounted to spare change by looking after a neighbor's kid from time to time. A girl my age could already have a part-time job at a supermarket or fast food joint, but to be honest I hadn't made the plunge. I knew me, and the minute I had more to spend, I'd start buying a ton of junk I neither need nor would actually want. I had poor impulse control when it came to money.

The rain wasn't letting up. I'd have stayed home a bit longer, but the heat was already getting to me. Who knew when the power would be restored. And rather than risk going over my monthly data limit on my cellphone, I figured I'd set out sooner rather than later. Like mother suggested, I took her umbrella. It was pink, but not be design. One summer ago, she had used it as a parasol, and exposure to all that direct light and heat had faded the once-red tool. Pink wasn't really my color, but I had to admit there was a certain charm to the umbrella now.

I locked the door behind me and set out. Of course, I had to be polite and greet the next-door neighbor on my way out. The market was in that direction, after all. Though the market wouldn't be my first stop, and definitely not the only one. I hadn't planned on an outing, but since I was out, I figured I'd stop by a few other stores first.

Working under the assumption that the power wouldn't be back all day, I chose to stop by my local bookstore first. I had a few books lying around my room I hadn't read yet, but I didn't feel like reading them, either. And since I had already been forced out of my home on this dreary morning, might as well spend some of my hard-earned money. A car was out of my league, but not another book!

I walked past the market, taking notice of a flyer on the window announcing a sale on some vegetables. Mother was the one who was paying for them, so it really didn't matter to me whether or not I got them on sale. I knew she'd dote on me for saving her a bit of coin by letting me have what was saved and more, so the urge to step into the market and buy the supplies now tugged at my mind. I stood in front of the market for a few seconds, just listening to the falling rain and the pitter-patter on the faded umbrella over my head.

"Excuse me." Came the voice of another woman trying to get into the market.

"I'm sorry." I said as I moved out of her way. But not into the store myself. After all, what were the odds they'd run out of vegetables in the time it took me to walk over to the bookstore and browse?

As I continued on my way, my phone gave off a short ring in my bag. After fishing it out, I saw that it was a text message from my mother. Fortunately the streets were empty, so I could afford the luxury of reading and texting back while I kept moving.

"We also need garlic. Pick some up when you go." It said.

Garlic meant she was planning on trying out some strange recipe. She rarely used the stuff, and almost never had it stocked in her spice rack. And every time she did try out an odd recipe from the huge cook book in the kitchen, I'd always eat like a queen. I stopped walking, and looked over my shoulder. The market wasn't that far off if I turned around now. If the sale somehow extended to the spices, I could really rack up the brownie points.

I looked forward, and saw the bookstore not twenty paces ahead, just beyond the street crossing. I tucked my phone back into the bag and pressed forward. I'd just swing by the new releases and pick something up cheap. No more than ten minutes. After looking both ways, I crossed the street. My shoes and socks were both soaked as I was forced to splash around in the slightly flooded asphalt. That would really sour my day further if I ended up walking away from the bookstore empty-handed.

Inside the bookstore it was warm, and there was an intoxicating aroma in the air. A mixture of freshly brewed coffee and teas, I was immediately drawn to the part of the store where the dealt in these addictive beverages. Normally I didn't spend money on food, choosing to settle on whatever my mother would cook or buy or supply me. But the combination of my soaked socks and melancholy weather urged me to buy a hot cup to melt away some of the bad vibes. And so I did; I got to enjoy my browsing with a hot cup of cocoa. Juvenile drink all things considered, but I was in the mood for something sweet.

Unfortunately for me, the cocoa was the only purchase I'd be making that day for myself. The new releases section proved to be less than enticing, and anything that did entice was in the regularly priced part of the shelf. Books were apparently a dying form of entertainment given the high cost. Had I tablet reader or something to that effect, I could get these books for half the price digitally. Heck, I was certain my phone could fit the bill easily. But there was something special to me about having a physical copy of a book. Call me old-fashioned, I guess.

So instead I flipped through a magazine for a while as I finished my cocoa. Like any reputable bookstore, they had a few chairs lined up near the windows so you could sit and read for a bit. When I sat down, the rain was still going strong outside. And ten or fifteen minutes later, when the cocoa in my cup had vanished and the magazine had ceased to amuse me, the rain continued to fall.

So out I went once more, my mother's umbrella doing its best to shield my head from the endless shower. Before I could cross the street again, a bus drove by. Staring out from one of the windows was a little boy, who immediately waved at me from his seat. Of course I waved back, being the cutie pie he was. But apparently his parent or guardian didn't take kindly to his waving at complete strangers, and promptly gave him a thwack on the head with a rolled up magazine.

I crossed the street, not taking any joy in soaking my socks once more in the process. Still, I pressed on. Once I picked up the things my mother had asked for, I could get back home and just dispose of those socks entirely. I had plenty as it were. At that moment, my phone let out another short ring. I fished it out of my bag, only for the worst possible thing to happen. It happens to the best of us when you least expect it: I lost my grip on the device. Down she went, right before my eyes, but I was powerless to stop her. Dare I tried, I'd have dropped the umbrella and exposed myself to the rain. And even then I still would've failed to catch it.

The sound of the phone crashing against the wet pavement was like a dagger through my very being. And having fallen from such a height, it was sufficient force for the phone to bounce back up into the air before crashing back down once again onto the pavement. To add insult to injury, it landed face down directly in a puddle. I wasted no time in pulling it out of the puddle, but the damage was already done. Aside from a cracked screen, the phone was dripping rainwater from within. I pressed a few buttons on the device, but she wouldn't turn back on.

After letting slip a number of curse words that would've shamed a sailor, I tossed the worthless thing into my bag. Much as I wanted to blame my mother for it all, it wasn't her fault the phone slipped from my fingers. And I knew she'd say that if I dared try it, which only made it all even more infuriating for me. Once I was inside the market, I grabbed a basket and got right to collecting items. If I just got my mind off the stupid phone, I could force the tears that were threatening to escape my eyes back.

One by one the checklist was completed. Including the garlic tacked on at the last minute, the only things missing were the vegetables. I hadn't lucked out with the garlic (it being full price), but surely I'd make up for it with the lettuce and tomatoes. But when I arrived at the fresh produce section, there were no leafy greens matching my checklist. Nor did I see any tomatoes, either. They couldn't have run out.

"If you're looking for lettuce or tomatoes, we're all out, sweetie." The voice of the middle-aged man who owned the store confirmed it.

"You didn't run out just now, right?" If that woman who came in just a while earlier had been the culprit, I would throw a fit right there in the middle of the produce section.

"No, we've been out since last night. Haven't gotten anything fresh in since yesterday." He explained. Small consolation, though it still left me without lettuce or tomatoes.

"I'm all set to pay." I told him. I'd just have to tell my mother there was none. And that would be when she finally got back, given that my phone was out of commission. A thought that made me grumble under my breath. Fortunately guy didn't hear me.

So after paying, I took my merchandise and started back home. The rain continued the entire time, not showing any signs of letting up or even strengthening. It almost felt like some god in the sky left the shower running.

Once I was back in the comfort of my own home, I put everything in its proper place and marched straight to my room. The thought of trying to fix my phone crossed my mind, but I was honestly so frustrated by the whole ordeal I just tossed it aside along with my bag. I slipped off my shoes and socks, dried my feet off with a towel, and just threw myself on my bed. A nap wasn't in the plan, but then again, neither was losing my phone today.

~o~

"Why didn't you answer me? I was so worried, I came home early!" My mother's voice roused me from my slumber. Who knows how long I had been out cold. After getting my bearings straight, I answered.

"My phone fell –I mean, I dropped my phone on the way to the store. It broke, so I couldn't call you or anything. I got angry, so I just threw myself here and I guess I fell asleep."

"I'm sorry about your phone. But it's okay, because I got you a new one, anyway." Her words dispelled the drowsiness over me in an instant.

"What?"

"Here, your birthday gift. I was planning on giving it to you next week, but I guess you'll need it now." Out of one of the bags she brought with her from the mall was the gift. I hadn't forgotten my birthday was next week, I just didn't expect her to go shopping for a gift like that. The phone she got me was the exact one I had mentioned to her a month prior.

"Thank you, Mom!" I threw my arms around her neck, nearly strangling her in the process.

"Anything for my baby." She replied.

Not that it mattered anymore, but as I un-boxed my new phone, the rain finally started to let up. And with it, the sun shone through my bedroom window.