It was my first time being eighteen. And my last, I think.
I was alone for the first time. Well, sort of. I lived in the apartment over the garage of my old house. I had a job, a car, and most of my days alone.
For an introvert, it was basically heaven.
Even during the holidays.
My first Christmas was coming up and with it, the opportunity to buy my very own ornaments, things that I’d use for a long, long time, like my mother had used her mix-and-match ornaments. I thought about it on a daily basis after Thanksgiving.
I had wanted to get a gorgeous, full fake tree but sticker shock and dissatisfaction held me back. (300 plus for a fake tree? A skinny, short fake tree?)
And besides. It was my first Christmas. Shouldn’t it be special? What was more special than a smelly, real tree drying up next to my computer?
I squealed and wished and hoped. It just never seemed like the right time until I was driving my betas to Wal-Mart. Who knows why? We’d escaped a family dinner or something and we were alone in my car. (Never a good idea.)
I was after Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight Saga, but I saw the bound Christmas trees lined up against the garden section of the store. I faltered. These Wal-Mart trees were twenty dollars, the same kind of dough needed for the movie.
The tree and I locked eyes from across the store. Its branches and greenness drew me in. I was light near a black hole.
With an evil giggle, I scurried forward, leaving my betas to push our cart after me.
There was no way I would end my adventure with just a DVD (of a movie I had yet to see *sniff*.)
I hugged up the tree, getting poked by the green leaves, assaulted with perfumey smell of pine. Mm. Christmas.
I lifted the tree into the cart. It was almost weightless but it was longer than me so I stumbled a little. We rolled our kill into the garden center to pay for our junk. We’d really gone to Wal-Mart for Eclipse but candy was candy was candy. So we got candy because who argues with that logic?
After swiping all of the candy over the scanner, and beeping in my tree, the clerk looked at me.
A deep, soul-piercing stare over his glasses. His eyes were dead and foggy so I couldn’t return the favor. He asks, as if he already knows the answer. “Do you need help out?”
He assumed I couldn’t handle this shiz. Challenge accepted. I tipped my chin up and said, “Nah. We got this.”
(I seriously say that in real life.)
His strawberry-blond eyebrows lift. He didn’t say anything else on that but ripped the receipt from the machine and said, “Have a nice day.”
Being Colorado, or any state in winter, the day was already gone. The sky was black, black, black. The snow outside, though, reflected what light there was so it wasn’t so horribly dark on Earth.
The kids and I navigated on the nearly invisible ice, braved the cars drifting in through the parking lot. The holidays had arrived. People frantically skittered around, carting loaded wire baskets full of presents.
We trotted down the dark aisle, the cart rattled and the tree bounced. Then, my beta spoke up. “Elie, how are we getting the tree in the car?”
My car was a small, two-door Camry ‘96. Two door. It sat by the cart return.
We stopped and stared. The younger beta cracked up. Yeah, I had done it again.
But older beta said, “Oh.”
“Oh.” I said. “The trunk!” I scurried forward, helping secure the cart against the back bummer of my car. I jammed the key into the trunk. I only had this car for maybe three months. It was my first car to celebrate my new license. (Lies. I just needed a way to get to work.)
It took me a few twists and turns until I got the trunk to pop.
I pushed the thing up, calculated the size of my trunk versus the tree. The trunk seemed deep enough but not wide enough. Not even if I put the tree diagonally.
It didn’t stop me from trying. I settled the tree diagonally but the tip bent and threatened to snap. Not gonna work.
I pulled my tree out before I broke something.
The children shut the trunk and the three of us stared at the inside of my car. Yeah, the front was probably long and wide enough for the tree but we wouldn’t be driving right.
My eyes skimmed up to the top of the car and another brilliant* idea struck me.
“Sun roof.” I nodded to myself.
“Oh my god.” The eldest beta muttered.
I scooted along to the driver side, opened the door, popped the driver seat forward and stared at the vacuumed back. Uh-huh.
I looked back at my kids.
The boy grinned at me and climbed into the back seat.
My girl climbed into the passenger seat. We opened the sun roof, stuffed the tree (sort of beating the boy by accident) into the car and pushed the tip out the roof.
It was tightly bound so that it didn’t block all of the back.
I prayed anyway as I backed out of my space. We’d take the streets for sure but then there was the danger of children, a Christmas tree, and a mad eighteen-year-old catching the eye of an officer.
My ideas are never as awesome as I think they are.
We navigated through the back streets around the shopping center. We lived half an hour away. It might as well have been two. My body tensed and I paid special attention to the speed limit and lights.
But the great thing about the area north of Denver is that it’s so quiet. Especially on a December night after dinner. The streets stretched abandoned under the orange glow of streetlights.
People we met at street lights didn’t stare or anything. I wasn’t the first maniac to do this, huzzah!
We wove our way through the streets, crossed Interstate 25 and found our even more desolate neighborhood in record time. No one was outside at the house so we were clear. Between the three of us, we wrestled the tree out of the car, unleashing pine needles for a later time.
We pushed and pulled the tree up a nearly vertical staircase. Besides almost falling down the stairs and possibly dying, we called ourselves awesome and broke out our snacks.
Baby Bottle Pops and Rolo chocolates in hand, we rested around the tree until I secured it to the stand and released it from the plastic ties. It sprung open, a dress through a doorway. Full, happy, slapping my computer across the desk.
It might have been devoid of the ornaments but it was still beautiful and fluffy.
Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.
But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.
Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?
Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she's certainly no damsel-in-distress—she's the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.
About Bridget Zinn
Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the "summer of love" and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was "Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect."
Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers' copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.
Here's official website: www.bridgetzinn.com
~~Much love to those who spread this around. Make sure to use the hashtag #Poison whenever you can.