Mom often says that when people start to care about their appearance, when they start to pay attention to what other people think of them, and when they start to rush around for money, they’ve grown up. But the thing about growing up is that it never takes you by surprise: you grow up gradually. Maybe one day you’ll wake up with a startle and find that your childhood is gone, but bear this in mind: it is already gone and long gone, unable to regain, impossible to reload. Childhood slips by and sneaks out of the room, maybe while you are sitting in front of the mirror, or maybe while you are talking on the phone with your friend about a crush which you just had. And when of this adds together, it makes sense why childhood is so precious.
This story I’m going to tell is about two adventurous children—and growing up.
It was Darren’s twelfth birthday on July 12th, and his Mom had agreed to take his sister Elly and him to Fun Kingdom, the local amusement park to celebrate. Darren was excited now that he could finally go on the Supreme Ride—the roller coaster he’d been dreaming of since he was nine. It wasn’t like he wasn’t enough of age all along; it was because their mother never had time to take them there.
Darren lifted his dark-blue bag from the floor and strapped them on his shoulder. Skipping to a halt beside the shoe rack, he bent over to tie his shoelaces, only to realize that he wasn’t even wearing his sneakers.
“Darren! Mom says we’re leaving without you!” Elly called out from the back seat of the car. His nine-year-old sister Elly resembled Darren’s looks as much as she could. Both had messy jet black hair, sparkling brown eyes and a grin that could throw the whole world off balance. But Elly was a head shorter than Darren, whose age took advantage comparing to Elly’s.
“Hang on, I’m coming!” Darren put on his Skechers and slammed the door shut behind him. He jogged to the car, in which Elly was sitting and making a face at him. “Hey if you’re not withdrawing your tongue, I’m gonna cut it and feed it to Lobster.” He threatened her as the car pulled out of the car park. Lobster was Darren’s pet lizard, but it was called Lobster because, well, when he received it as a present Darren was feasting on a lobster. Plus he totally sucked at making up names.
“Oh no, you won’t.” Elly rolled her eyes in a kind of grown-up way and giggled.
“Oh yeah, I won’t?” Darren tickled Elly on her belly, which he knew was an itching spot for his sister. Elly laughed and kicked her legs, finally doubling over, unable to control herself. “Stop it!” Darren let his sister go and sat back satisfied, watching Elly take big gulps of air.
“You two sure look excited.” Mom poked her head back between the seats.
“Of course we are! We’re going to Fun Kingdom today! The Fun Kingdom! The Supreme Ride in there is a dream for everybody, and today is gonna be a dream-come-true!” Darren leaned forward and bumped up and down in his seat, with an equally thrilled Elly beside him chanting, “dream-come-true, dream-come–true”.
Darren went on as their car stopped at a cross road. “I mean, the Ride’s got this super high slope where you go all the way up into the clouds, and boom!” He waved his hands through the air and sliced them down as if they were the Ride he couldn’t wait to get on. “You zoom down like you’re soaring the winds! How exciting will that be?” Most of his classmates at school had the experience at Fun Kingdom, and according to them, the fun wasn’t exaggerated.
“Calm down, Darren. You’ve taken too much adrenaline.” Their mom glanced at the rear view mirror and smiled. “That’s going to scare your sister.” She added, turning back to the front.
Darren took a look at Elly, who held up her pink sling bag, its pale straps slung across her tiny body. Elly had her hair tied up in a pigtail, a bright pink rubber band holding it up. “She probably just wants to ride the ponies on the merry-go-round.” Darren teased.
“Am not! I’m going on Supreme Ride with you!” Elly puffed up her cheeks, slipping the “S” because she was missing some teeth.
“Yeah, right. And the next thing I know you’d be falling out of it and crying for mommy.” Darren mocked. Elly gasped. “You can actually fall out of a coaster?”
Their mom spun around. “Darren, take that back. Stop messing with your sister!” Darren rolled his eyes and Elly stuck out her tongue at him. Darren glared at her and mouthed, like you dare to go on. Elly wiggled her head and mouthed back, like I don’t.
The rest of the way was torture to Darren, because he kept trying to restrain his beating heart, or it would explode of excitement. Oh how he wished the car would fly, then they’ll get to Fun Kingdom in no more than a minute. But he needed to face the truth: their Camry couldn’t leave the ground even for an inch. On that happy thought, Darren looked out the window at the busy streets. It was a noisy morning for the town of Kaylem. People in suits, people with grocery bags, and people on bikes rushed around with much speed, and once Darren even thought a girl on a dazzling sapphire bike actually surpassed them several times. But he must have been wrong because he didn’t see the girl being left behind by their car.
The alarm on his watched beeped, and Darren lowered his eyes to examine it. It was already precisely ten o’clock, the sun fully awakened after a long night’s sleep. Something bright blue flashed his eyes, and he shot up right like a spring. It was that girl with the sapphire bike again. Darren rolled the window down, and poked his head out of the car. Feeling the summer breeze ruffle his hair, his eyes darted around for the girl, but as mysterious as it seemed, the girl and the bike had vanished soundlessly, leaving no trace of flickering blue.
“What’s wrong, D?” Elly yawned, eyes still groggy. She had fallen asleep shortly after their conversation, and slept through the trip since there wasn’t pretty much to do. Streaks of sunshine fell on her, tracing a golden outline and making her glitter and glow.
“Nothing. How can you still sleep while all these fun awaits us?” Darren sat back and asked his sister.
Elly shrugged. “I’m a born sleeper.”
The car jerked right. “Guys, we’re here.” Mom called out.