Growing Up Alaska: Never Late

Growing up, we had a pretty regular schedule. We got up, had chores, at breakfast, went to school and so on. Rarely did it change and my mother never set an alarm clock.

She woke up at the same time nearly every day and got our day started. When you could smell the coffee on the stove, you knew it was time to get going. And this went like clockwork until the one day it had to be.

About once a year our school would do a field trip. Almost all of our trips were overnight since it was 128 miles just to get Fairbanks alone. This particular trip was going to be traveling to Healy to visit the Usibelli coal mine which no one was particular excited about except the fact that we were leaving Central.

I was awakened by my mother yelling and dishes crashing. A check of my watch told me it was 7:29 and my bus was picking me up 7:50. Since the plan was to get up at our normal time, 6:30 am, it meant I had no time to do my chores or finish packing.

With my mom yelling, I flung myself out of bed and scrambled to grab my bag and shove the last of my things in it. My dad came to check that I was in fact up and told me he would take care of my chores.

Running headlong into the kitchen, I grabbed the eggs and toast my mom had whipped together, then ran to brush my teeth while still trying to button up my shirt. With my mouth full of toothpaste, I heard the bus horn blare. The bus driver was a minute early, but she wouldn’t wait, especially on a long day for her like this.

“Go! Go! Go!” my mother yelled at me as she placed a large paper bag with my lunch into my arms as I ran by. I tossed my toothbrush into the sink, since I already had one packed, and sprinted for the door, cup of water in hand to rinse out my mouth.

The bus horn blared again and she rolled down the hill to get a better view of my house. I slammed down the nearly empty cup of water on the railing before jumping from the porch and running for the bus, only slowing to spit out the water I was rinsing my mouth out.

Out of breath, I launched myself onto the bus that began rolling even before I took my normal seat. I was the first to be picked up, so no one saw my frantic dash except the bus driver.

In the mirror I could see toothpaste around my mouth and noticed I’d forgotten to brush my hair. I cleaned up and rebuttoned my crooked shirt before we reached the next stop, which was thankfully over ten minutes away.

I stored away my bag and lunch under my seat, excited to being going on a trip.

Once everyone was on the bus and we were heading to Fairbanks, students began pulling out their lunches and snacks to start the traditional trading of foods.

I pulled out my bag, expecting my usual sandwich and chips, only to find a smorgasbord of items that my mom had frantically gathered from the pantry. A can of chili (no can opener), a sleeve of saltines, a half eaten jar of peanut butter (no utensils), an apple, 3 pieces of sliced homemade bread, a can of Pepsi, a juice box, half a bag of Fritos (my dad’s), a can of Vienna sausages, a small block of cheddar cheese, two paper towels and a slab of homemade caribou jerky that our neighbor had given us nearly a year ago.

Needless to say, I had very little in the way of trade value, but luckily, through my classmates, I was able to make lunch and one friend took pity on me and shared her Oreos.

It turned out to be a great field trip, but we have never let my mother live down that one time she woke up late.

Author: matthewlasley

I am a school teacher and an author. I like to write picture books, middle grade, science fiction and short stories. I live in Alaska and I love history, so those two things often influence my creative writing.

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