What date do you have circled on your calendar? That is, what upcoming date or event are you looking forward to?
Elsie scrambled to her cubby as the final bell rang for the day. She shoved her arts and crafts project into her backpack, not caring that the glitter was spilling all over the rest of her belongings. Her classmates shrieked and howled as they gathered their own things, but she barely heard them over the beating of her own heart.
“Good luck tomorrow, Elsie!” Miss Amanda called to her as she reached the door. Several of her friends stopped and echoed the sentiment.
A smile as bright as the sun beamed from her face. “Thanks guys! See you in a few days!”
She raced through the halls to the elementary school’s entrance. Mama was waiting at the pick-up spot with the other parents, leaning against the hood of her maroon sedan and chatting with Raquel’s mommy in their family’s big black SUV. Mrs. Velasquez said something that made Mama laugh, and Elsie felt like giggling too.
“There you are, princess!” Mama waved to her. “Are you ready to go home?”
She ran to Mama’s side and hugged her. “Yes! We gotta hurry and go home so we can go to sleep! I want it to be tomorrow now!”
Mrs. Velasquez laughed at her. “Tomorrow will be here before you know it.” She smiled to let Elsie know she wasn’t being made fun of. “You take good care of your Mama until then.”
“Yes ma’am!” Elsie answered hastily. She wanted to get home.
“Ana dear, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you guys need anything.”
“I appreciate that, ‘Landa. We’ll catch up again after, ok?” Mama waved to Mrs. Velasquez as Elsie hurried to the back of the car and hopped into her seat. She threw her bag to the floor and buckled in.
“Mama! Let’s go!”
Mama laughed. “Ok, ok, we’re going.” As she drove home, she asked Elsie how school had been. What had she learned today? Did she have fun in art class? Mama couldn’t wait to see what Elsie had made so she could hang it on the fridge. Elsie had been too excited today to focus on anything other than art class, but she was pretty sure Miss Amanda had told them something about ocean habitats.
Their evening routine was too much the same for the eve of such a momentous occasion. How could she still have to do her homework (Mama helped her label the ocean diagrams on her science worksheet) and brush her teeth after dinner? She already had an excused absence from school for tomorrow. Surely all those other rules could be canceled for the night.
Mama did let her have ice cream on the couch while they watched a movie together. The Princess and the Frog was her favorite. She wanted to be just like Tiana when she grew up. Mama said she could be whatever she wanted to be and she would be if she worked as hard as Tiana.
Elsie yawned as the credits rolled. She was sure she would be too excited to sleep, but Mama carried her to her bed. Before she fell asleep, she insisted on putting one final X on the calendar over her desk. She and Mama did it together, just as they had every night for the past 457 nights. “One more sleep, baby girl.” Elsie grinned as she fell asleep. The circled day would finally be here when she woke up.
* * *
Sergeant Darius Jackson nodded politely to every person who thanked him for his service on his way to baggage claim. The airport was full of military families come to greet their returning soldiers, but there were plenty of business people and tourists mixed in among them. He had no difficulties locating his pack and retrieved it as quickly as possible.
As he exited the terminal into the sea of people, a green dress and dark curls caught his attention. The little girl held a sign that shed glitter every time she moved it. “Welcome Home Daddy!” it proclaimed. The beautiful honey-haired woman holding her hand caught his eye and brought trembling fingers to her lips. The child looked up at her mother in confusion, then looked to see what her Mama was looking at.
The sign was forgotten as the little girl—how much she had grown in the months he was overseas!—ran straight to him, her face streaming tears to match those now falling down her mother’s cheeks. “Daddy!”
“Elsie!” He scooped her up in his arms, encircling one around Ana as she came into reach. “Daddy’s home. I’m home.”
Notes: Whew, I don’t know where this came from. I came up with a bunch of different ideas of events that someone might be looking forward to—a concert, a recital, a birthday—but Elsie popped into my head with a military father who was coming home on the “circled day” and I just had to write her story. Nothing but wholesome goodness to start this week off.
For myself, there’s nothing in the immediate future that I’m eagerly awaiting. My 30th birthday is this fall, but I’m as yet undecided how to feel about that. I am looking forward to July 2020 though. My husband and I are seriously talking about going to Tokyo for the next summer Olympics (only 521 days to go!). It would be an exciting anniversary trip for our 3rd wedding anniversary, and a heck of a 31st birthday present for him. Hopefully we can do some serious budgeting and make it happen. We’ve been tossing the idea around since Rio, and heck, if we can do it, why not?
Your turn! What are you excited for? What upcoming date is standing out for you? Maybe it’s payday. Maybe a holiday. Get those ideas down on paper! Time to write! Have a great night, I’ll see you tomorrow!
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