Maybe by the end of this year I'll be a little more confident in my writing and sharing abilities. And maybe, by the end of this year my stories won't be quite as sappy... I make no promises though. I like sappy. And as my writing buddy over at Book Plots & Polka Dots pointed out - there are plenty of authors who have found success being overly sentimental.
A Time for Daring, Part II (Click here for Part I)
She pulled the messenger bag over her head and laid it down beside Will. Slowly she gazed up at the tank, following the grated ledge all the way around. When she got back to where she started, the bag of jelly beans was sitting on Will’s lap and his fingers were sticky with melted sugar. She had learned early to always travel with jelly beans. Jelly beans, the Adderall for twelve year old geniuses who were often a little too excited.
“So what’s the plan?” Will asked, bringing Maggie out of her head and into the present.
“The north side of the tower will be seen by the most people. It faces the factory. I say we put the mural on that side,” she said, pulling out a can of purple spray paint.
“We’re calling it a mural now, are we? You do know your ‘mural’ is just glorified graffiti, don’t you? Remind me again why we couldn’t just toilet paper someone’s house like all of the other miscreants that roam the hallways each day?” Will said stuffing his mouth with a handful of jelly beans.
“Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full?” Maggie asked, motioning for him to wipe off the thin line of drool that seeped down his cheek. “Toilet papering someone’s house isn’t extraordinary. I’m through with living a life of quiet desperation. I’m breaking out, Will. This is me breaking out.”
“I don’t understand you,” he muttered.
“You don’t have to. This isn’t for you. This is for me. You chose to come on this little adventure. All I ask in return is for your support,” she continued to shake the can of spray paint and made another trip around the tower, studying the side of the tank, pretending it was a canvas and she was a painter.
When she reached Will again, he was holding the bag of jelly beans toward her.
“Seeing as how you are my only friend, it’s the least I can do.”
She grabbed a handful of the bite-sized treats, sorted through them, and placed all of the green ones in Will’s outstretched hand. It broke her heart a little that he wasn’t joking. She was his only friend, this lonely boy genius. And he had just climbed a water tower for her. On comic book day.
“You do realize this is just a little bit cliche,” Will said, stuffing the whole handful of green jelly beans in his mouth. “Discontented high school student climbs to the top of a water tower in a small town, ready to leave her mark. I’m pretty sure this exact scene is in a movie somewhere.”
“You’re probably right. You’re always right, Will. But that’s okay. This is about being bold and brave and willing. I don’t really need to be original. Purple first?”
It only took her five more minutes in her ridiculous high heel shoes to cast them off and brave the grates barefooted. It just seemed like a wise life choice all the way around. It would really suck if she fell off a water tower because her heel got stuck in a hole while she was trying to be extraordinary.
Maggie emptied the purple can of spray paint, and Will dutifully passed along a new color, all the while keeping watch over their quiet little town in case anyone decided to look up at the water tower on this particular afternoon.
She was extremely thankful he was there for just a brief second when he stopped her from making a critical spelling mistake. That’s not quite the kind of mark she was intending to make on the town. After the better part of an hour, and four empty cans of spray paint, the mural was complete. It was by no means a masterpiece. In fact, up close, it kind of looked like gibberish, but Will assured her that what they really needed was just a new perspective.
He was only kind of right. When they reached the bottom of the ladder and slowly backed up about a hundred paces, she could finally read her sign clearly, sort of. It was very obvious that her arms had gotten tired about halfway through. She had painstakingly outlined the letters in the first word with multiple colors, but by the end, the text was hilariously small and skinny.
Maggie began to wonder if her level of extraordinary left something to be desired. Will insisted that they get rid of any evidence that could implicate them in their crime, so they tossed the empty cans of spray paint into the dumpster behind the 7 Eleven on their short walk home and waved goodbye to one another on the corner of Simpson and Holly Grove.
When she got home, Maggie climbed the stairs up to her bedroom, past her favorite pair of green Chuck Taylors, and immediately pulled off the uncomfortable blazer and skirt for a more relaxing pair of sweatpants and her favorite “What would life be without Mr. Darcy” t-shirt. Then she glanced over at the alarm clock next to her bed. It was only five o’clock.
She spent the next forty-five minutes pacing down the upstairs hallway waiting for her phone to ring or to hear a knock on the front door letting her know that she had been caught and was going to be carted off to jail. Then she decided to get her homework done and make some dinner before her dad got home just in case she needed to be in his good graces.
At seven o’clock she heard the back door open and her dad toss his keys into the bowl sitting on top of the fridge.
“Something smells good, Mags!” Maggie peeked around the corner and watched as he dipped a spoon into the gravy and sighed with contentment. “Breakfast for dinner. My favorite.”
He started setting the table as she pulled the biscuits out of the oven. They filled their plates and then took their usual seats across from one another at the kitchen table.
“Sorry I forgot to drop off your shoes, kiddo. I got called in a little early and it totally slipped my mind,” he said continuing to sigh with each bite.
“That’s okay,” Maggie muttered, pushing her food around her plate. “I managed to not take out anyone on the stairs today.”
And then they fell into silence. She couldn’t tell if it was an awkward silence or a silence of contentment. Usually they shared stories about their day at dinner. Her dad would talk about his paperwork, and she would fill him in on the awkward thing Will said in the library as he was tutoring the football quarterback. It was their routine, and Maggie couldn’t help but notice that this dinner was anything but routine.
Finally, her dad pushed his now empty plate aside, pulled his badge off his belt, tossed it on the table, folded his hands in front of him and looked intently across the table at her.
“So dinner waiting for me when I got home. And not just any dinner. My favorite dinner. And something tells me you probably have all of your homework done already too. Am I right?”
Maggie just nodded and took a sip of her glass of orange juice.
“Interesting thing happened at the water tower this afternoon.” He leaned down and attempted to look her in the eye. Maggie wished that she hadn’t eaten so many jelly beans. The sugary candy churned and curled in her stomach and the smell of biscuits and sausage gravy was starting to make her nauseous. Darn that Will and his candy habit.
And here was the moment that Maggie had been waiting for the whole afternoon. The moment when her father, the Sheriff of Mt. Pleasant, realized that his child was a delinquent and shipped her off to military school so that she could be cured of her wicked ways.
“‘There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for,’” the Sheriff quoted. Maggie looked up into her father’s eyes and saw him beaming back at her. “It’s about time, kiddo.”
And deep down, this was the moment that Maggie had expected the whole afternoon. She was sitting across from a man who filled his school’s pool with jell-o when he was eighteen. A man who chained himself to a beloved oak tree scheduled for the chopping block when he was twenty-six. And a man who told his daughter every day to live a life of passion and inspiration.
“There’s a bucket and some sponges by the back door. I’ll give you two a week to bask in your glory, then that water tower is going to need to shine like new. Consider that your community service.”
Maggie realized that she might just live an extraordinary life after all. She would bask in her moment. She would walk through the park every day after school for the next week to enjoy the view. She would remember the rush of doing something unexpected, and she would find a way to live that life of passion and inspiration. And she would buy Will an extra bag of jelly beans as atonement for his help cleaning up her life lived deliberately.
“Oh Captain, my Captain.”