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Unforgettable Birthday Breakfast

Distance can't break solid bonds

By Barb DukemanPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 3 min read
Unforgettable Birthday Breakfast
Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

“I can’t believe we’re doing this!” Michele shouted as we ran across the abandoned airfield, her teal scarf flying behind her. “It’s so cold!”

“You’re the one who wanted to watch the sun rise on your birthday,” I replied, trying to keep up with her.

“Yeah, but from the top of a train?”

Jackets zipped up and gloves on, we stopped in front of the steel behemoth. The abandoned train still sitting on the tracks from years ago beckoned. We approached it from the west side where the steps to the top were visible.

I looked around and reassured myself no one saw us. “Ok. You first.”

“But I can’t see where I’m going.”

“And that’s why I have a flashlight.” I shined the light in front of her. “There’s the bottom rung. Go ahead. The sun rises in about half an hour.”

“Oh my god. What if we get caught?” she asked, climbing up the side of the train car.

“We've gotten out of trouble before, didn’t we?”

“Only because of luck,” she laughed.

“Same difference. Can you see the top yet?”

Michele peered over the top. “It’s rusty and trashed, but yeah.”

“Here’s a towel.” I pulled a towel out of my bag and tossed it on top of the train car. “I’m half way there. Use the towel to sit on.”

“Throw me the bag.”

“Be careful; I’ve got breakfast in there.”

She caught the bag in one hand. “Got it.” I scrambled on top of the car and retrieved a towel for myself.

“Ok. Now we can eat.” I sat down and pulled out the familiar white paper bag – not quite the breakfast of champions, but the breakfast of teens everywhere. “Have some McBreakfast.”

“You’re such a dork. That’s why you’re my best friend.” She smiled and took her sandwich. Do you ever wonder what we’ll be doing ten years from now?”

“After graduating from USF, I’m going to teach somewhere. At least I’ll always be able to get a job.” I took my sandwich and unwrapped it. “Are you still planning on moving to Orlando?”

She shook her head and said something I’d never forget. “I’ve changed my mind. I’m moving to Oregon.”

“Come again?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “I thought you wanted to stay nearby here in Florida. Near your parents.”

She looked off toward the creamsicle orange rays beginning to show in the east. “I want to get a degree in foreign relations. I don’t want to be part of the Disney machine. When I graduate in June, I’m heading out to Portland.”

I felt as if I had been punched in the gut. "Where will you stay? What college?” I was looking at my best friend as if I’d never seen her before.

“I’ll be getting an apartment with Robin.” She finished her sandwich and fished around for the half pint of milk in the bag. “I’ve always wanted to get away from here." She’d been teased because she was model-thin, 6’1”, and a fierce redhead who spoke her mind.

“I…I don’t know what to say,” I’d known her for almost ten years, and we were going to accomplish great things together and save the world.

“Say you’re happy for me,” she replied. “I know this is a surprise, but I’ve been thinking about this for a while. I turn 18 next year, I’ll be able to make my own decisions.” She paused for a moment, looking up, “Look – the sun’s coming up.”

Barely visible over the horizon in the middle of the field, the sun was making its presence known. The colors of the sunrise formed stripes in the early morning, and a new day was being born, and along with it, new hopes, new dreams being formed in the view from on top of a train.

“There’s no way I can convince you to stay? What about your parents?

She laughed. “I’m a military brat. I’m used to moving around." The top of the train car became more visible in the light of dawn, and so did we. “We should start heading back soon."

“We? I don’t know you,” I smirked. “Happy birthday, Brat.”

“Thank you, Dork. Let’s get going. We still have to get back to the car without getting caught.”

"Roger that. At least you’ll remember your seventeenth birthday.” We got to the bottom of the train and followed the track back across the field to the parked car. "You'll still visit, right?"

“Of course. They have this thing called a plane now, and it flies.” She looked down at the ground and toward the west. “Don’t worry. I’m not leaving you. Just the state.”

I half smiled. "I hope so."


About the Creator

Barb Dukeman

After 32 years of teaching high school English, I've started writing again and loving every minute of it. I enjoy bringing ideas to life and the concept of leaving behind a legacy.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (2)

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  • Robbie Newport3 months ago

    Love the picture, it helped to imagine the story. Best friend and didn't talk to her about moving to Oregon! Military brat just didn't think it was important, usual business for her.

  • Christy Munson3 months ago

    I enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing! I do wonder if this introductory clause, "Barely visible over the horizon someone in the middle of field," might benefit from an edit? I think you mean "somewhere"? Your story tugs at one of those indelible coming of age moments. Nicely done!

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