Sara would be mortified when she went to school this morning. She’d be the only person she knew on Earth without a phone.
How could she text her fellow tenth graders during class? How could she take dozens of selfies with them? How could she check for ‘likes’ on Facebook?
A day, a week, a month, or a lifetime without friends. The reality was very depressing for Sara.
The bus ride was only the start. Her friends were busy texting, snapchatting, Facebooking, listening to music with earbuds stuck conspicuously in their ears.
An outcast she was.
Walking from the bus Sara felt rather alone as her friends laughed at each other’s phones, shared ear buds, took photos of themselves, and pretty much ignored her.
Well, they weren’t actually ignoring her but perhaps she distanced herself from them.
Without her phone, things just felt different, as if things were out of place somehow on campus. As she walked across the concrete quad, Sara noticed a large section of grass and two huge elm trees with branches at least thirty feet long.
When did the school plant this area?
The first period bell rang as Sara made her way to the science lab. A low-flying police helicopter buzzed the school and she watched as the blue and white craft disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.
She almost mentioned it to Jenny but decided against it, as Jenny was busy watching and listening to a YouTube video. Looking around, Sara thought she was the only one to see the helicopter. All the rest of her classmates were crowding through the lab door eyes glued to their phones.
“That was pretty cool, huh?”
Sara turned and was met by a smile. The smile with really white teeth that belonged to Denny – a boy she knew but with whom she had never spoken.
“The helicopter, of course,” Denny replied. “Don’t see them that low very often.”
Sara nodded and made her way to her stool in the classroom.
The rest of the day felt like every other day at school, but Sara knew it wasn’t. She saw a poster hanging above the cafeteria extolling the virtue of having respect for each other.
That’s nice to see.
At lunchtime, Sara joined Jenny, Pete, LaTisha, and Ben on the benches beneath the solar-paneled awnings. Small talk ended quickly while the others turned their attention to the devices in their hands. Jenny and Pete were positively rolling over a cat video, while Ben and LaTisha were sharing ear buds listening to a new musician.
Sara started to view Pete’s screen but then turned away, got up and threw the trash from her lunch away.
On the way back to the table she happened to see Denny, the boy she never spoke with before today, sitting by himself with a drawing pad. He was busy making strokes here and there while tilting his head every few seconds and looking toward the front of the school.
“What are you doing?”
“Drawing,” Denny answered without changing his tempo.
Sara laughed. “I can see that. But what are you drawing?”
He pointed a pencil indicating the flag pole in front of the school office.
“You’re drawing the flag?”
“That and the clouds behind the wavering cloth.”
“Wavering cloth,” Sara said. “Are you a writer, too? That’s pretty descriptive.”
“How would describe it?” Denny asked putting down his pencil and looking up from the drawing pad.
Sara thought for a moment and then shrugged. “I don’t think I’ve noticed the flag there – I mean I know we have a flag but never really thought about it.”
“I don’t know.”
“Shouldn’t we notice things around us? I mean, it is waving in the wind and there’s a cloud now behind it that looks like a dog.”
“Actually, more like a cat,” Sara responded.
“I guess it could be a cat,” Denny conceded. “If it had big long teeth and longer legs.”
Sara shook her head letting her long brown hair bounce around her shoulders. “That sounds like a lion.”
“A lion or a dog – it’s my cloud. Oh, and by the way it has shifted and is no longer behind the flag.”
“The wavering cloth of a flag?”
“Yes,” Denny smiled just as the lunch bell rang. “Back to reality.”
“What class do you have now?”
Denny packed up his supplies into his back pack, cleaned up his lunch trash and smiled at Sara. “The same as you – English.”
Sara stood still as Denny moved from the tables and headed to class.
I feel so stupid! I didn’t even know he was in the same class with me.
At the end of the school day, the bus ride home seemed quite out of the ordinary to Sara.
The birds were flying in and out of the trees on the median island separating the north and south bound lanes as the bus rattled its way toward her stop. A woman honked repeatedly while sticking her head out the driver’s window and screaming at a car that seemed to refuse to move when the light turned green. There was a new digital billboard on Ninth Street advertising a film coming soon to the theatre three blocks from Sara’s house. There were a lot of things Sara saw on this particular ride home which she had never noticed.
Looking down the long aisle of the bus, she noticed that no one else was noticing the things passing by the windows.
It made her think.
At dinner her parents relented and said they would shop for a new phone the very next evening.
“We can wait until next week,” Sara replied. “That would be fine.”