Reagan Wilson, class of 2023
If we weren’t on this stupid island, I could be a real photographer.
This thought grazed across my mind almost every day. I mean—it’s a gorgeous city—but on an island, half surrounded by a rocky mountain, the rest by a sea.
Talk about boring.
About a hundred people live here, and they all love it. They do normal things, normal daily things. They have three meals a day, they go to work, or school. Some stay home. They are never sad. Even if someone had died, they would still be as happy as always.
It’s too happy, how can they just sit there, being on this island for years?
I hate this city.
I patterned my walls with photographs, which I took myself. Auntie Lori thought they were gorgeous, and insisted I take more, but I’ve nothing more to catch.
And that’s the problem.
I’ve seen everything.
Well not everything, but I’d just love to see something off this island for once.
“Auntie?” I peeped, coming downstairs in a nightgown. “Can we go somewhere? Leave?”
“No.” She grunted.
“Eat.” Aunt Lori said in a deep and gravelly voice, tossing me a grapefruit. Her nails were dark, her hair wasn’t frizzy, but was everywhere, and she had a deep voice that honestly kind of scared me.
I grabbed the grapefruit and cut it quickly. Forcing it into my backpack, I asked again. “Just to a little island somewhere. Nothing too far. We have ways of transportation. ”
“No. I said no, now go to school. You should love it here like everyone.”
“Well I don’t.” I said, grabbing my backpack. “Bye.”
She didn’t say goodbye back, I didn’t expect her to. Now off I was, to the one place that’s worse than home. School. I sighed to myself. I only had to go twice a week, but it was awful. Most people hated me for no reason whatsoever.
I think someone said something to me as I walked into our tan stone school, but I didn’t care to notice it. I kept walking into my first class.
“Good Morning, Abrielle.” Madame Zucchini smiled. “Did you study this past weekend?”
“No.” I said. I knew she was trying to be nice, but face it, there’s no fixing my grades.
“Oh, well that’s too bad, isn’t it? Well try and pay attention as much as possible today,” She said, Which, from what I’ve learned is “You should try to be smarter,” in teacher. She glided her hand to a table. “Take a seat, here.” She pointed again, from me to the desk.
I sat. Not calmly, but more so of a plop down, ever so slightly frustrated.
“Ericole, There.” She pointed to the desk next to mine, as the boy walked in. I looked down. The floor was a faded mosaic. My feet were inside of black flats.
“Hey,” he said, sitting down next to me. I glared at Ericole. Just great, he’s here now. Way to make things worse, teacher.
“What’s that?” He pointed to my backpack. “What’s in there? Anything super personal?” He drew out the word personal, like that was going to get me to hand it over.
“Books. Notebooks. Pencils.” It wasn’t a lie, but not the whole truth. That is what was in there. But, I didn’t tell him about my camera. It was too valuable to even risk it getting taken.
He laughed. “That’s it?”
“That. Is. It. Now quit talking to me,” I huffed.
“Sure thing, sassy.” He rolled his eyes. My chest burned. I had to hold myself back from hitting him. I could never stand Ericole, and if Madame Zucchini hadn’t placed me by him, I wouldn’t have to deal with him. Anger boiled in my chest, and I tightly clamped my eyes shut.
“Today we’ll start a project. Since October is the month of Italian heritage, we’ll be focusing on that. There are hundreds of caves on our Island. Pick one, any of them and find some kind of writing. I’ve been to ten, and each one’s different. Some have pictures, writing.”
I zoned out at that point. I looked down, and started counting on my fingers.
Awful people that I sit next to?
Someone tapped my shoulder. I spun around. “What?” I smiled as fake as possible.
“Potresti voler ascoltare Madame Zucchini,” she said.
You might want to listen to Madame Zucchini. The girl had blonde shoulder-length hair and bifocals.
“Grazie,” I replied in Italian, the same language she had used. I stroked a finger through my messy, medium length, light brown hair, and focused my eyes on my blonde and frizzy haired teacher.
“And along with this piece of writing, you will conduct a presentation with the photographs you take. I know many of you don’t have access to a came-”
“Did you say photograph?” I stood up, and widened my gray eyes.
She nodded. “I’m glad you caught that. Yes you will take a photograph of the cave too.”
A multitude of groans came from all around the room. I smiled slightly as I sat down again. Well, that’s not too bad, I suppose. Madame Zucchini walked around. “You will work with the person sitting next to you,” she said.
I groaned. There goes my moment of happiness.
“Is there a problem, Miss Abrielle?”
“No…I mean we don’t work well together.” I slouched into my seat.
“Well that just—what are people saying?”
“Uh, ain’t that a bite?” A girl from the back piped up.
“Sure, yes. That’s a bite.” Madame Zucchini agreed. “That does bite, you all only have to talk for two weeks. One project.”
I groaned again as our teacher continued talking. “There’s not much to explore on our island, very small, I know. But there’s always enough.”
There’s never enough. I thought to myself.
And with that, the bell rang, causing armies of teenagers and kids to strut through the halls. I walked outside on my own.
I walked on the cobbled streets, watching the gondolas glide by in the winding canals that went all around the city. I slowly came to a pause when one gondola stopped. It was a long walk home, and I suppose gondola would be easier. I don’t even have to talk to them, just tell them where I’m going.
“Ciao, ma’am, I have four euro.” I told her my address in our Italian language, as best I could.
The woman nodded. She was tall and slender, couldn’t be more than two years older than me, with a yellow ribbon pulling back her black curls.
“Salve signorina. Due euro per favore,” the woman replied. “Sono Ami. Come ti chiami?”
Despite living in an Italian town, most people spoke English, and I was one of them. I paused and thought for a minute. Hello, young lady, the woman had said. Two euro please. My name is Ami. What is your name?
I smiled after a few silent seconds. “Sono Abrielle.” I looked at Ami. I speak little Italian. I was silent, thinking, hopefully not too silent, when it popped in my mind how to say it. I kept my eyes on Ami, and I said “Parlo poco…Italiano.” Yes. That was it.
Ami smiled, and two dimples creased on her cheeks. “That is alright. I speak inglese.” I nodded, and then frowned, focusing on Ericole laughing and rolling his eyes down the street.
The girl nodded, too. “I am Ami.” She grinned. She began to take long strokes in the water.
I took my camera out of my backpack and studied it. It was a Bolsey C22, one of the newer models. We have no access to outer cities, so for all I know, there could be an amazing one right in the next island.
“You take pics?” Ami shot a confused look, then smiled.
“Yeah, do you?” I said, almost bouncing in my seat.
“Woah, don’t pull your wig.” Ami laughed. “You could say so. My mom loved to, but left to see the world. She and I agreed this island was just too small. Haven’t seen her in eight years. I was seven, then.”
I nodded, then stared. “You agree it’s too small?” I called excitedly.
Ami nodded and pulled up to the side of the water. “I’ve got to get going, I’ll see you soon, Miss…?”
“Call me Abrielle,” I replied. “Wait,” I said as she pulled away. “Wait, wait wait!” I stuttered, but Ami never turned around.
Upon stepping through the doors of our house, I decided two things
One, I’m getting off this stupid island one way or another.
Two being, maybe I really have a friend. Ami was fun.