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As the three o'clock bell rang, a sense of excitement filled the air. I ran with my friends through the cluttered hallways and scurried onto the bus. The seats were filled with bouncing children preparing to go home. Many waved to their teachers as the buses departed. I had anticipated this moment for so long--I was officially a second grader. The last day of first grade had arrived, and I had the remainder of summer to enjoy and have fun. I couldn't wait to get home and begin my vacation.
The bus finally rolled quietly around a corner and stopped at my house--the last stop. My mother was standing at the door waiting for me. She smiled and causally took my bag. I didn't even have to ask for permission to go to a friends house, my mom simply said to be home by dark.
I walked only a short distance to where my friend, Maggie, was waiting. It seemed odd that we were such good friends. She was pretty and popular, and I was simple and somewhat shy. The differences however made a perfect match. The times of fun and laughter between us were countless. A majority of my summer was guaranteed to be spent running around with this close friend.
Soon, however, darkness was drawing in, and I reluctantly said good-bye to my friend and headed for home. The porch light was the first thing I could see of my house. The light was such a brilliant white. I loved how it illuminated its surroundings. A sense of security overwhelmed me when I saw this light, for my mother always turned it on until I had safely returned home.
I walked up the steps to the front door. When I stepped inside, I was bombarded with the wonderful aroma of a home-made meal. I could see my mother working in the kitchen. She looked up from her masterpiece and welcomed me home.
"Did you have fun?"
"Of course", I replied. "We made a lot of plans for the summer."
"Don't you want to know what we're going to do?"
"Not really, I feel that you are old enough to make good judgments. As long as you use your head, are reasonable, and are being safe, I don't mind what you do."
I looked at my mother with a blank stare for a moment. I was totally confused.
"Do you mean that I can do anything that I want to?
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"Now, I didn't say that. You have to stay in the neighborhood and be with a friend. The old rules also apply."
"So, be home by dark and stuff like that."
"Yes, and make sure your plans don't conflict with upcoming family events."
"All right, I can handle that."
"I thought so, but remember that I'm always here if you need anything."
I was so honored to be given such a privilege that I could barely eat. I wasn't totally independent not given some enormous duty, but to a second grader this was some big thing.
After a night of heavenly dreams, I awoke with a new sense of adventure. I inhaled a bowl of cereal, barely stopping to chew, and I finished my orange juice as I ran up the stairs to get dressed. Randomly, I grabbed a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. I threw my clothes on and burst out of the front door onto the dew moistened grass. I was free, and I was going to enjoy it.
I began my celebration by going to my friend's house. We were going to have the time of our lives. We started our journey by going outside. The orange glow of the sun was just visible over the hilltops. Birds were singing and busily catching their breakfast. Nearby, neighbors were arousing from their beds and wearily retrieving their newspapers. Meanwhile, Maggie and I headed toward our ragged fort hidden under a tree in the back yard. Here, we discussed the possible adventures that could take place throughout the day.
While we were in the fort, and hour went by quickly. By now, people were leaving for work and doing chores around the house. However, this time was not wasted. We had produced an endless list of activities we hoped to get accomplished--Go to the playground, swim, play house, etc. We performed our secret handshake and headed out for some fun.
Within minutes, we arrived at our first destination. It was the neighborhood playground. We were the only people here, which meant more fun for us. We left no object untouched. We went from see-saw to slide and back again. The monkey bars were a great place to practice our acrobatics. I became temporarily nauseous after spinning on a tire, but recovered after a few minutes firmly on the ground. The swings were outrageous. We went so high that the chains rattled. Then I did something my mother always discouraged, but I didn't care. I jumped off of the swing while still in motion. I flew through the air and landed with a thump. It was more exciting than I had ever expected. I was so proud of my feat that I repeated it several more times until I became bored.
The day grew to be very hot. We returned to our houses and got a hose out. The cool water was relieving as it dripped down our noses to our necks. A rainbow appeared when the water was sprayed toward the sun. We examined the different colors but soon lost interest. As I jumped through the rope of water, I observed a neighbor run by. I had a brilliant idea. We could squirt unsuspecting passersby. The next person to pass was our first and only victim. The water shot from the nozzle and onto our target. A scream was heard as we fled from the scene into safety.
Unfortunately for us, Maggie's mom saw the whole incident. Maggie had to go inside, and I was asked to go home. I felt a hint of guilt for what I had done, for my mother would be disappointed. Then, I paused, realizing that she would never know. I slowly made my way home.
When I got home, I announced my arrival. There was no response, but I had become hungry after all of my adventures. I wanted to eat, but I knew my mother would be making lunch in the near future. I compromised by satisfying my hunger with a piece of fruit. I choose an orange that was utterly perfect. My only dilemma was how to open the orange. I tried biting it, but it tasted awful. Then, out of the corner of my eye I saw a gleaming knife. It was calling my name. I knew that I was forbidden to use a knife alone. I thought, and I walked closer to the knife, and I thought some more. I grabbed the knife. Its silver blade sparkled. I knew it was wrong, but I was old enough, I was sure I could handle it.
I picked up the orange which seemed much smaller now. My hand shook as I drew the knife closer to the rind. I slowly and carefully led the knife along the orange. I was almost complete. Then suddenly in a fraction of a second, I found the knife in my arm. Terror struck me. I dropped everything and ran for help.
"What's wrong?" my sister asked.
"I cut myself."
"Calm down and let me see."
I quieted down and showed her my cut. Now that I looked, it really wasn't that bad, but it hurt. She cleaned it up and put a Band-Aid on it. For now, my pain had subsided. However, I would have a scar to remind me of my stupidity.
I went to my room after I was treated. I sat and thought for the longest time. Then I burst into tears. I wondered if my mother could trust me after this. I wondered if I could trust myself.
I sat in my room for two hours, refusing to eat lunch. I felt that I didn't deserve such luxuries. In between my weeps, I learned a lot about myself. I realized that I was not invincible. Also, throughout the day I had seen sides of me I never knew I had, and that scared me. I wanted to be a good person not an evil one.
My mother's words replayed over and over again in my head. I wanted to scream; it wouldn't stop. Then, something clicked. I realized what I had forgotten earlier in the day. I was capable of many tasks, but some still required assistance, and that was all right.
The scar I received that day would help in the future. It would be a reminder of my limits. I would become a better and more helpful person. Most of all, I would always think before I acted, for a false move could prove fatal.