24th street was bustling with people, It was around supper time and so the sun was starting to set.The long busy streets were filled with light posts and little shops on each side. Most of them had big display windows with colorful awnings. Little kids splashed in the rain puddles while their parents bought gifts.
One little shop at the end of the street was blue and had a yellow and white striped awning hanging over the window as well. It was spacious but it gave you that feeling where you feel like you are in a safe place. The shop was completely empty, except for the shop owner, Mr. Oliver himself. He was very friendly and his 67th birthday was today. The same day as mine. He had a short, scruffy, white beard and was very kind. He wore a light grey robe and his circular glasses added a nice touch to his blue eyes. In his hand he held a cup of tea, and looked like he was getting ready to go for some time to himself. My family knew him because we were neighbors. When Mr. Oliver was a bit younger, he would come to all my little league soccer games. As me and my best friend Ryan passed his shop, we waved to him. He smiled and waved back. We kept going but Ryan grabbed my hand and held me back.
¨Uh, Collin? I think I might've left my umbrella back at the alley.¨ Ryan complained. I stare at him, jaw wide open.
¨Seriously Ryan?¨ I ask him, obviously frustrated. But he was my best friend after all. Ryan gave me the look. Sigh.
¨Fine… but if my mum is mad at me for being home late for my birthday supper, it's not my fault.¨ I finally agree. And so we turn around and scurry through the streets, Ryan was the clumsy friend, and I was the brave one. Well, sometimes I'm the brave one. We turned the corner at the end of all the shops into an alley. It was wet and cold, with old brick buildings on either side. I didn't like the vibe of this place. Spider webs nested in corners and trash was scattered everywhere. Ryan took the lead. ¨What color was it again?¨ I ask him, shivering.
He turns around to look at me. Raises one eyebrow, but then lets out a sigh when I just stand there and don't even try to think of anything.
¨It was red with white polka dots Collin¨ He answered, starting to get annoyed. We looked everywhere. Garbage cans, benches, and even looked up on the roof, straining our necks to see up there. Pretty soon we give up and just sit against one of the brick walls. The clammy, cold, sharp edges of each individual brick rested against the back of my neck and gave me a quiver of fright. Ryan grabbed his backpack and put it in between his legs.
¨No service.¨ he said with a frown while rummaging through the old blue backpack. I sighed.
¨Well, I have an idea.¨ I said boldly. Ryan raised an eyebrow and ran his fingers through his wavy blonde hair. I get up and peek around the corner of the alley and looked out into the streets. It was completely empty. No people. Shops closed. Silence lurked around us. I realize that it's starting to get dark. I turn back around to Ryan.
¨Ryan what if you go back to my house, tell my mom what were doing, and I keep looking for the umbrella here.¨ I suggested coldly.He got up and gave me a nod.
¨Okay, see you later then?¨ He asked me stopping in his footsteps.
I give him a thumbs up and sat back down. The minutes passed by. Slower than ever. My old grey sweatpants layed on the cold cement floor and my baggy, brown hair rested on my head. I sigh. Then all of a sudden I hear a rumble coming from the sky. Before i knew it, it was pouring rain and the alley started to fill up with water. I grabbed Ryans bag, put one of his hoodies on, and ran into the streets, holding the bag over my head to try to avoid getting any wetter than I needed to be. Then I hear a sound. It was like the clattering of a trash can falling. I stop dead in my tracks. Turning around I drop the bag and my mouth opens wide.
¨Mr. Oliver! Are you okay?¨ I shout, running towards him. He was laying on the sidewalk with a knocked over trash can next to him. He didn't look hurt, but still. He was 67.
¨yes I´m fine dear boy. I guess these old legs are starting to get worn out eh?¨ He said with a chuckle. I smiled, and put my arm out for him to grab but he seemed to get up just fine without it.
¨What are you doing here? I mean, shouldn't you be at your shop with a nice hot cup of coffee on this cold night?” I asked him while picking up my bag and brushing it off. Mr. Oliver put a hand to his ear.
“Eh?!” He shouted through the loud sound of rain water hitting the pavement. It was quite mesmerizing actually. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” I shout. He walks over to me.
“Ah. well I thought you might need this if you were going to find that umbrella. It's a special one. So don’t lose it though son.” He answered with a smile and yet another one of his little chuckles while holding a small black umbrella that came out of nowhere and passed it to me. I give him a certifying nod and he turns around but stops after about seven footsteps.
“Oh and son? Don’t forget to follow the beat.” He said, still not directly facing me. I raise an eyebrow but immediately stopped, realizing how impolite that would be for a sixty seven year old man. Even though he didn’t even see me. Follow the beat? What beat? What was that supposed to mean. But I figured it was best to just keep on walking away. And then out of the blue my eyes pop open and I immediately spin around to see him holding on to an umbrella, identical to the one he gave me, and was floating away like Mary Poppins. He got higher and higher until he was so far and so high I could barely see him through the thick rain. Though I could still see the outline of him holding onto his top hat and shouting “woohoo!” my mouth had been open for quite a long period of time now and it was starting to get dry so I figured that it would be best if i shut it. Woah. was I dreaming? Could this actually be happening right now? I tried pinching myself but all that did was hurt. I start to back away slowly and pull my hood up over my head. Then I shot my head around again, because of a startling yell that Mr.Oliver seemed to be saying. It happened again.
¨AWAY WE GO!¨ He shouted happily. I gave out a little boyish like giggle and started to walk away again. I could hear the splashing of rain puddles underneath my feet, and the sound of heavy rainwater, falling from the sky and bouncing off of the cement. I kept walking and walking but the raindrops didn't sound like rain drops anymore. They almost sounded like the sound of a beat. A musical beat. It was catchy actually. It was kinda cool but freaky at the same time.
¨Who's there?!¨ I shout. No one answered. I start to get frightened. The beat kept going and then I shot my head back around again because of another startling sound that sounded like somebody hitting trash cans with sticks. It went smoothly with the beat and it was like they were slowly forming a song. I figure it must be something of my imagination so i decide that it is not so scary anymore and that it is musical. I put Ryan's bag over my shoulder and jump in the rain puddles following the beat. One by one. Splash splash. I went further and further and the beat was growing louder and then it was like the chimes from all the shops joined in. More and more street sounds joined in and I tapped my feet and jumped in rain puddles until I was in a part of the street I didn't remember being in. Ever. I stop tapping and jumping but the music kept going and grew louder and louder until it started to hurt my ears.
¨STOP!¨ I scream. And it did. I stood in the middle of the street, getting soaked by splashes and splashes of heavy rain and in my brain I kept thinking of a book I read called the end. Was this the end for me? I thought. I wipe my tears and drag myself over to the nearest little shop. It looked like it was an old bookstore. It was black but had no colorful awnings and no bright lights. I read the sign hanging above the old cracked door and it read: Mr. Oliver's. My eyes popped open. I look around me and notice that this was a street I had been on before. But it looked like it had been abandoned. Some shops were old and cracked, some were burnt down. No. no. no no no this cannot be happening. Am I in the future?!
¨MR. OLIVER?! ARE YOU IN THERE?¨ I scream while tears came ripping out of my eyes. I banged on the door but it was locked.
¨MR. OLIVER PLEASE! WHERE ARE YOU?!¨ I scream. No one answered. I slumped against his door.
¨Please. All I want for my birthday is my family and Mr. Oliver. I wanna go back.¨ I cried and put my head in between my knees.
¨That seems like some heavy stuff hey there?¨
My head shot up.
¨Mr Oliver!!!¨ I scream and run up to him and give him the biggest hug known to man. He chuckles and uses his hand to lift my face up.
¨You are home boy, you are home.¨ he says wisely.
I look around and notice I'm in his bookshop. It was blue again and I could see outside it was still raining but there were people. Mr. Oliver motions for me to sit in a big comfy chair. It was green and soft. It felt nice. He laid a blanket over top of me and hands me a nice warm cup of tea, I wipe my tears and take a sip. Mmm. peppermint. My favorite. ¨Mr. Oliver. What happened? It was like I was in the future or something. Your shop was torn down and everything was scratched and falling apart. Nothing was colorful. I was so scared.¨ I said.
He gave me a soft smile and sat in an identical chair to mine, right next to me. He cleared his throat.
¨Well, my dear boy, I'm afraid I have to tell you that, that did happen. indeed, you were in the future. It happens to all boys and girls on their 12th birthdays and because today was yours, it happened to you today. You see, the trip is to prepare children for the real world. It is to show the children what could happen to the things they love and care for if they aren't being useful in this world¨ he said boldly. Then he put his hand on top of mine. I look up at him with a worried expression on my face.
¨Am I being useful for this world Mr. Oliver?¨ I ask him.
¨More than you know boy, more than you know.¨ he said with a smile. I felt a huge relief blow out of my brain and it felt good. ¨Collin? May I ask… what did you see when you took that trip?¨ he asked me with a worried smile. I didn't wanna worry him so I made up a hilarious lie.
¨A kangaroo finding a baby chicken and then they both fall down a well.¨ I said with a smirk, trying to hold my laughter inside. He looks at me and then bursts into laughter. I knew he wouldn't believe me, after all he is the smartest man I have ever known. He smirks and then stands up.
¨Collin. Did you know that you already told me what you saw?¨ he chuckled and smirked some more. I think back and realize that I actually did. Wow. He's good. He's real good. I let out a little laugh.
¨Well. Your mother must be getting pretty worried. We should get you back home son.¨ he says and walks over to his coat hanger next to the front door. I get up and grab the spare hoodie in Ryan's bag so that I would be dry for the long walk home. Mr. Oliver opens the door and I follow him outside. I take a big deep breath and start to cross the road. Mr.Oliver does not follow. Instead he stands still and starts rummaging through an old bag.
¨Are you coming Mr. Oliver?¨ I ask him, looking back. He looks up at me with a smirk on his face.
¨You didn't actually think we were going to walk did you?¨ he asked me with yet another one of his chuckles. I give him a confused look. He finally pulls something out of the bag. It was the same black umbrella he used before, and the one he gave to me. Ohhhhh. I think I know what he means.
“You still got it?” he asked me with a smile. I nod and pull my black umbrella out of Ryan's bag. It was quite heavy but it would be so cool to fly with it. Mr.Oliver walks over to me and whispers in my ear.
“Hold it up real high now boy and don’t you let go.” he tells me. I give him a quick nod, unable to speak because of all the excitement. He lifts his umbrella up and I do the same. Next he lifts up his toes and looks at me.
¨Ready?¨ he asks me.
¨Ready.¨ I reply with consistence. I lift up my toes as well and look to see Mr.Oliver floating above ground by about a foot high, waiting for me. I push myself up and my mind was blown. ¨Woohoo!!!¨ I shout, floating higher and higher. Mr. Oliver reaches out his hand and I grab it.
¨Your house is north so if my calculations are correct, we go that way.¨ he said. Then he motioned for us to go north.
¨I promise never to tell my mom that we did this!¨ I scream with excitement. He smiles and we continue on. The wind hit my face and it felt amazing. The rain washed down on me but I didn't mind this time. I finally felt what it was like to be a bird. My crazy brown hair blew in the wind and my shoes stuck to my feet, holding on for dear life. I look below me and see some familiar houses.
¨Hey were here!¨ I shout. Mr. Oliver releases his hand from mine and taps his umbrella. As soon as he does his umbrella starts to fall to the ground. I do the same.
¨Ahhhhhhhhh!!!¨ I scream as I fall down faster than ever. But I don't feel anything. No hit, no slam. It was just over. I laying flat on the ground and I opened my eyes. Mr. Oliver held his hand out for me. I grab it and he helps me up. I brush the dust off from my pants and I lead Mr.Oliver to the door. The house was pretty huge. It had a nice garage, and a front porch with outdoor furniture. There were some windows, and I could see that the lights were on. Fluffy white curtains covered half of the windows though. Our house was pretty much blue colors, and looked identical to the ones beside it except for the color. I take a deep breath and put my hand on the doorknob. I hesitate.
¨Just do it. I'll make sure they don´t know you were gone.¨ He reassured me.
¨How?¨ I ask him, confused. He puts a finger to his lip and says shhhh. I inhale… and then exhale. I turn the knob slowly and push the door open. Ryan runs towards me and gives me a big hug.
¨Your back!!!¨ He shouts. I laugh and look at Mr.Oliver.
¨You made Ryan remember didn't you though?¨ I whisper to him. He nods and I turn back to Ryan. I walk inside my house and kick my shoes off. The house smelled like lavender scented candles. Which was no surprise considering that there were like 4 candles in every room. My mom was super big on yoga and mindfulness. My dad was a grade 9 teacher and was really funny. I have 2 siblings, Maya, my older sister, was 14 and she loved to bake. She was always making apple pies or muffins for us. She is also super smart and is a straight A student. My younger sister is 4 and her name is Catherine but we all call her Kathy for short. My house looked exactly as I remembered it. Blue colored wallpapers in every room, neat and tidy, and always smelling like lavender. I lead the way and Ryan and Mr.Oliver followed me into the living room where my family was sitting. I could see my mom and dad, Maya and Kathy, my grandparents, and my Auntie Shelly. Auntie shelly was an artist and she would always be coming to our house with a new color of hair or style of clothes. Today was blonde hair with a style of creativity. My grandparents were both always telling me and Maya stories about the old days when they were kids and had to walk miles for water. They were sweet but sometimes way too close for somebody's personal space. As I walked into the room my mother clapped. She had her hair up in a messy bun, holding together with chopsticks.
¨Happy birthday Collin sweetie!¨ She shouted as she gave me a big hug. I smiled. Kelly clapped her hands once or twice but then got tired and Auntie Shelly had to carry her to bed. My family chattered on and I sat there, looking from Collin, to Mr. Oliver. He looked down at his watch.
¨Wow I best be getting home now.¨ He said and started to get up.
¨Well do you need a ride?¨ My father asked him. Mr. Oliver chuckled.
¨I only live a couple houses down. besides , I have a different way of getting there.¨ He said while looking at me. My father sat back down and continued talking to my grandpa. Mr. Oliver started to walk out of the room but turned around and winked at me. I smiled, and a few seconds later heard the front door shut and i raced after him. We were outside and it had stopped raining but the streets were filled with puddles. Mr.Oliver looked at me.
¨Do you really have to leave? I thought you were going to stay for supper.¨ I asked him. He smiled.
Well need to get home now. It's late out.¨ He replied. I sigh.
¨At least just let me ask you something first… earlier, I followed the beat you told me to follow… but it was what led me into the future… how come?¨ I ask him.
¨well, when I told you to follow the beat, you were already in the future. In fact, you went to the future the exact moment I got on my umbrella. You see, the future was telling you that people could turn against you, and that the best thing to do is carry on. But you know my dear, that I would never turn against you in real life, and that when you when you were in the future, it was only your brain that was making up stuff to show you what could happen. So don't you worry okay?¨ He told me. I nodded my head and gave him a big hug. He patted me on the back and then started walking away. I turned around and shut the front door behind me. Wow. I forgot how nice it felt to be home. Future here I come!