Chapter 2 - Part 1
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Paivi couldn’t have been more excited. Friday, the fifteenth of August, was a special day. It was not just her fourteenth birthday. She was also finally getting her braces off. In all honesty, she was more excited about getting the metal contraption removed than she was about the birthday. As far as she was concerned, birthdays come around every year, but it’s not every day that you get a new face.
She considered briefly that her new gleaming smile would attract a few boys, maybe a boyfriend? Okay, she didn’t want to get too carried away. There were more obstacles to getting a boyfriend that a mouthful of beautiful teeth couldn’t solve. At six feet tall, Paivi had to hope there were some taller boys at St. Andrew High School than there had been at Riverview Junior High. Otherwise she would be out of luck.
Paivi didn’t look much like a girl anymore, more like a woman with a baby face. Being tall was not only a problem with the boys, but also with clothes shopping. She had difficulty finding pants that didn’t make it look like she was preparing for a flood. And she had huge feet. Well, they really weren’t huge for her. Mrs. Anderson always told her if her feet were any smaller, she would fall flat on her face. Mr. Anderson would add jokingly that if they didn’t have shoes in her size, not to worry, at least the boxes would fit.
The morning of the fifteenth dawned bright and cool, as if recognizing the setting of Sirius, the Dog Star, signifying the end of the Dog Days of summer. Paivi woke to the light tinkle of wind chimes that hung from the porch below her bedroom window. The sun filtered through the purple curtains that fluttered in the light breeze.
She couldn’t help but feel happy knowing what a great day was in store for her. The smell of fresh waffles wafted up from the kitchen. She didn’t waste any time getting down to breakfast.
“Happy birthday, my love!” said her mom as Paivi entered the sunny kitchen. There was a large stack of steaming golden brown waffles covered with powdered sugar sitting in the middle of the table. “Don’t bother looking at the newspaper this morning,” she added hurriedly.
“Why? Did that terrorist group blow someone else up? What else is new?” Paivi added flippantly, grabbing the front page and reading the headline ‘7 Dead in McDonald’s Playground Attack: Righteous Front claims responsibility.’
“Righteous Front.” she snorted. “I hope that makes them feel better about what they do. I mean, seriously, what’s righteous about killing innocent people?”
Mrs. Anderson sighed at her daughter’s nonchalant response. Attacks by the domestic terrorist group Righteous Front were so commonplace that everyone under the age of twenty thought weekly terrorist attacks were a normal fact of life.
“I just don’t know what’s going on anymore. I wish the government could get a handle on the situation. Maybe one of these presidential candidates can get it right, although that Senator Stevens seems to have no new ideas. Maybe Moira Kelly. She seems to have her head on right. Those Righteous Front members are just a bunch of right-wing loonies. I know the economy is bad, but wanting to get rid of immigrants, legal or not, isn’t going to solve the problem. It’s not their fault! And the RF keep killing citizens too, so what are they really trying to prove? I suppose we should just be glad we haven’t had any attacks by those monsters here in St. Andrew,” nodded Mrs. Anderson.
“Yet,” added Paivi cautiously. “Don’t say that too loud, they might hear you!”
“Well, anyways, I think we are all set for today,” said Mrs. Anderson as handed Paivi a plate and a fork and knife, happy to change the subject. “We have to be at Dr. Summers by noon. It’ll probably take some time there, maybe an hour or two. And then the girls are coming over for pizza at five thirty. The movie is at eight over at the Cineplex and I think that just about covers it! So what are you excited most about today?”
“I have to say—getting my braces off! I couldn’t ask for a better birthday present!” answered Paivi.
“Well, great, that solves the problem of having to buy you a present!” said Mrs. Anderson brightly.
“Now finish your birthday waffles while I go drag your brother out of bed. I swear, if I didn’t get him up, he’d sleep the whole day away!”
Five thirty arrived quickly. Paivi paced back and forth in the living room, watching anxiously out the front windows, awaiting the arrival of her friends. She kept running her tongue across her smooth teeth. She couldn’t stop looking at them in the mirror. Not that she was vain—she just couldn’t believe those awful braces were finally gone. And she just so happened to be having a really good hair day. Double bonus! So far so good, she thought. Things could only get better!
As she was looking out the front window for the tenth time, looking for any sign of an approaching car, she heard a noise behind her and jumped.
“Jeez! You scared me!” she said as she wheeled around, clutching her hand to her heart.
“Gotcha!” shouted her younger brother Torsten as he hopped down the last few steps. His curly, dark hair was neatly combed and he was wearing khaki shorts and a button-down shirt. This was quite dressy compared to his normal wardrobe of basketball shorts and a T-shirt.
“Wait a minute, why are you so dressed up anyways? Got a hot date or something?”
“What, this?” he asked, fidgeting with his shirt collar. “I dress like this all the time. So, uh, what are you guys doing tonight? Is Aimee coming over?”
“Oh, I see! Yeah, Aimee’s coming over. Only don’t get your hopes up. Aimee will NOT go out with an eighth grader!” snorted Paivi.
Check back next Wednesday for the next installment of INTO THE SHADOWS. On Monday, join me again for my very first contest! You could be the winner of a fine Barnes and Noble gift card!