– It’s my birthday. I’m sixteen today. As I walk towards the kitchen I hear the local news report.
“A Redlands High School theater student has gone missing. Callista Gregos the latest victim in a surge of missing women in the Inland Empire. If anyone has any information about Callista or any of the missing women please contact authorizes.”
“Happy birthday baby.” Granny says and gives me a big hug. “Strange stuff has been happening all week.” She says. Then hands me my birthday pancakes. I start to devour them. “It’s the solar eclipse. It makes people act weird.” Granny continues while looking at the TV. “But you, my baby, you’re just perfect. All sixteen years of you, is just perfect.” She says with a big smile. “You’re papa would be so proud of you.” She says and does the sign of the cross in the air. I divert my eyes and I see the picture of Zoe, Amy, and me at my last birthday outing on the refrigerator door.
Granny notices I’m looking at the picture. “What happened to Amy? I haven’t seen her around for a while.” She says.
“She stopped hanging out with us. Never retuned our calls.” I say. “I miss her.”
“Well, maybe she’ll call today.” She says sounding positive.
I see Zoe waiting for me through the living room window. “Gotta go Granny. Zoe’s here.” I say while Granny makes the sign of the cross on my forehead, an old Catholic habit. “A blessing to keep you safe.” Granny says. It’s a waste of time, if you ask me. But I let Granny do it every day I leave the house because it gives her peace of mind.
Zoe greets me by making the peace sign with her hands. Her long wavy hair is in a bun today. Her glasses sit at the ridge of her nose. I notice she is wearing her wooden Jesus cross. “Frankie, I did a tarot card reading this morning since it’s your birthday and all. Get this, the solar eclipse will bring change.”
“Good, I like the idea of change,” I say.
“No, Frankie something strange is going to happen today with the eclipse. Haven’t you noticed all the stuff that’s been happening? That’s why I have Jesus with me today.” She says and kisses her wooden Jesus necklace and holds it up to the sky.
“Zoe, strange things have been happening for while. Did you hear about the latest girl gone missing?”
“Yeah, creepy. So with the tarot card reading and all the strange stuff happening and it’s your birthday, I have this for you.” She says and takes out a small jewelry box.
“What, you shouldn’t have.” I giver her a hug and open the box. Inside is a beautiful rosary made of purple jade.
“It’s to protect you from all the crazies.” She says.
I giver her another hug. “Zoe, everything is going to be fine. You need to stop playing with those cards. Right now you sound like a crazy person.”
“Frankie, just be careful today. I have a bad feeling.” She says facing me with her hands on my shoulders.
“Ok, I will. Now stop being weird!” I tell her and put on the rosary.
We cross the street and enter through a brick gothic gate. On top of the gate there is a sign that says, “Redlands High School established in 1891.” Gargoyles sit atop the gates and it feels like they’re watching us.
Everyone is rushing to their first period class. We head to the quad where we’re having Astronomy class today.
“Now class, you must wear these special sun glasses when you look up at the eclipse. I don’t want anyone going blind in my class,” says Mr. Martinez our Astronomy teacher.
Zoe and I put on the goofy sunglasses. Then we look up in to the sky. For a second I feel light headed so I look at Zoe and I notice she’s holding her cross while she stares at the eclipse. I look up again. I feel like I’m floating then someone bumps into me.
“Sorry,” he says.
“No worries,” I say still gazing at the eclipse.
“It’s beautiful isn’t it?” he says.
“Yes, light and dark encapsulated.” I say.
“Like people, don’t you think?” He says.
I look at him with my goofy sunglasses on.
“I’m Ian,” he says.
“Hi,” I say. His big smile makes me feel warm inside.
The bell rings.
“I have to go.” I say.
I walk to my locker feeling light headed again. Then I notice that everyone around me is moving in slow motion. Then there’s a loud bang that brings me back to reality. I guess I was day dreaming again.
I open my locker and I catch a glimpse of Zack in my locker mirror. He looks like one of those all American models in a Ralph Lauren ad. For a second that bastard makes eye contact with me and smiles. I look away in disgust. I slam my locker door. I can feel my face getting hot. Frankie, keep it together, deep breath, deep breath. I tell myself. But I can feel tears running down my cheeks. I hate crying in front of people.
I hear Zoe calling me but I run towards the bathrooms in the ESL part of the school because no one knows me there. In the bathroom I find Amy leaning against one of the walls. She’s pale looking. Taking deep breathes and there’s blood all around her feet.
“Amy, ” I say. “What’s wrong?”
She starts to breath heavily and pulls her scarf off and I see a huge belly.
“I’m having a baby!” She screams.
I’m dumbfounded. “Why didn’t you tell us?” I say.
Then Ian walks in, “Go to the office and get help!” I tell him.
“No, we need to save their souls.” He says.
“What, you sound crazy,” I shout out.
Amy starts to yell. “I have to get this baby out!”
“Lie down and start pushing then!” I yell.
“Frankie if I don’t make it, this baby belongs to Zack. He put this baby inside of me.” She blurts out.
Ian and I look at each other. Reality slaps us in the face when we hear Amy scream again. She’s lying on the floor and we start to take deep breaths together.
“Push… push…push Amy!” I say.
“I am……pushing…” Amy replies as sweat beads fall down her face.
“Push…I see the head,” I say.
“Jesus, how much longer…I’m tired…hoof…hoof…hoof….mmmm…I’m pushhhing!” Amy screams.
Out comes a tiny baby girl slathered in blood. I notice she has a strange mark, a crescent moon, on her forehead.
I reach towards this new life in front of me but Ian holds my hand. “Wait.” He takes out a glass bottle filled with water. He rinses the baby. Then he rinses Amy’s forehead. He says, “Que Deus os proteja,” May God protect you in Portuguese. Then makes the sign of the cross. “They’ll be ok now.”
Amy is lying on the floor. Her face is pale. I wrap the baby in Amy’s scarf and hold her. The baby’s cries echo in the bathroom with mine.
Just then Principle Cane and the paramedics walk in and swarm the bathroom. They ask me questions. But I can’t talk. I can’t move. I feel nauseous. Ian’s gone. Then everything turns black.