The Bucket List

By Starling
  • 12 Nov - 18 Nov, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Sara laid out the sheet of crisp white-lined paper on her desk in her bedroom and set the new ink pen, she’d gotten for Christmas, besides it. She read a book about something called a Bucket List and decided to try it. According to the book, the list was something adults worked on to figure out what they wanted to do in the future. She was told many times, that eleven years old was not considered an adult, but encouragement came from all sides. Her grandfather said, as long as she lived each day the best she could, dreams of what could be accomplished in the future were always good.

Perching on the comfortable padded bench seat she wrote down the things she would like to accomplish.

Title: My Bucket List

#1. Finish fifth grade with good grades.

#2. Get permission to ride my bike on the main farm road alone.

#3. Go to a school dance and have someone ask me to dance.

#4. Have…

“Sara, I need help in the kitchen. I need you to keep the baby occupied while I cook.”

“Coming, Mommy.” Sara carefully lifted up the top of her, old-fashioned school desk and put the list inside. She hadn’t gotten far, but maybe later she could add some more.

Sara decided to clean out her desk. It was time to get rid of some of her childish drawings and writings. As she thumbed through the various sizes of paper, she found her Bucket List. Five years ago when she started it, they lived in Maryland. The family now lived in Florida. Her grandfather sold the farm and moved everyone to a small community, building two houses next to each other.

Looking at the list she crossed off the first three things. She completed the fifth grade with good grades; she rode her bike to the end of the three-quarter-mile farm road many times for a small private picnic; she had gone to a party but no one asked her to dance. Carefully she rewrote the wish to go to a school party and have someone ask her to dance. There was still time for that to come true.

Grabbing a book to press on she sat on her bed and added it to the list.

#4. Go on a date.

#5. Write a book.

#6. Find out more information about Mars.

#7. Learn to play tennis.

#8. Have her Mom teach her more about knitting and sewing.

The knock on her bedroom door startled her out of her thoughts. When she opened it, her father stood there. “Your Mom is sick. I need you to watch your brothers and sister, while I go to the hospital.”

“What happened?”

“They’re not sure. It appears she’s had a stroke. Now come on.”

Sara followed her dad to next door, her grandparents' house.

The packing was done. Sara’s suitcases sat beside the door near the entryway to her grandmother's apartment. She was getting married tomorrow and Mike had a new apartment to move into, to start their new life. Her diary was the last item to go into the bag she carried over her arm. It was always with her. As she pushed it into the packed leather satchel a piece of yellow paper fell out of it.

Retrieving the paper off the carpet she found her Bucket List staring back at her. The last entry was when she was sixteen, five years ago. A tsunami of feelings cascaded over her. Digging out a pen she crossed some things off. Yes, she had gone to a dance and a date. Both times she danced. She tried to play tennis, but she was not fast enough and her eye and hand coordination were way off. Mom never recovered from her first stroke. Her body gave out on the second one.

Two years ago Sara moved in with her grandmother. Her grandfather passed away three years ago. It was hard to move but she needed to start her own life. They would be close enough that Sara could visit every day, after classes at the Junior college, she was attending.

Sara looked at her watch. In half an hour, Mike would be there to pick her up. Digging a pen out of her bag, she sat on the couch and added more to the list.

#9. Get married and start a new life.

#10. Have children

#11. Get a really good job.

#12. Graduate from college with good grades.

#13. Travel to somewhere out of the state of Florida I’ve never been.

#14. Learn to cook better.

The chime on the door announced Mike’s arrival. Sara put the paper carefully back in her diary and opened the door. Her future stood there with a smile and outstretched hand.

The bottles were made for the day. Her daughter was asleep in the bassinet. Sara’s oldest was in pre-school for at least the morning. Mike was off to work and would pick up their son on his lunch break. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. Maybe she could get a chapter or two written in her book before motherhood beckoned again. Her new planner was buried under several other research books. Her diary along with a lot of other household paper had been stolen out of the back of their car. The police told them there was nothing they could do because papers were not considered valuable enough to even write a report. Her planner was her way of keeping track of things now.

In a corner of the page was a small note which read, “redo Bucket List.” Sara smiled. She wrote that there the other day when she was feeling nostalgic. No time like the present.

New Bucket List

#1. Find work I can do at home for extra income.

#2. Finish sewing the projects in the basket.

#3. Cut out the pieces to the miniature furniture kit.

#4. Finish book.

#5. Dig out the mittens and warmer clothes for winter.

#6. Sleep late one morning a week.

Sara looked at the bassinet. Number six was not happening anytime soon, but this was a wish list so she could hope. Her grandfather said to never wish your time away. She wasn’t but her life felt like it was dragging. Maybe she needed a new hobby, something where she could talk to adults. The other day she found herself pointing out some ducks to her son, and calling them “duckies”. Oh, to be a grown-up talking like one.

Right on cue, Lili began to whimper. Sara got up and headed for the refrigerator to retrieve a bottle and a glass of water for herself. At least tonight was date night for her and Mike. They never went anywhere, couldn’t afford it. They would sit outside, after the kids were asleep, hold hands and talk about the world outside their home sphere.

Sara opened up the book of Love Poems her husband had given her twenty years ago. Tears flowed freely down her face. The kids were grown and off on their own, with their own families. Mike passed away a year ago today, of complications from when he was in the service. The day was bright and sunny, but her world only held gray low hovering clouds.

In the back of the book, she found a yellowing piece of typewriter paper. A small smile turned the corners of her parched lips up. It was the infamous Bucket List she added too over the years. Occasionally she was able to mark something off, but the list was long now. Hopes, dreams, wishes and future adventures stared back at her from the paper. Maybe she could still complete some of them. She wasn’t that old yet. Life was still swirling around her.

Sara flattened the paper out in front of her on the dining room table. Should she still “plan” things or was it time to start just living and let the powers that be plan her life and surprise her. Yep, the latter was the best. Sara carefully folded up the paper as small as she could and slipped it back into the back-flap of the book of poetry. Today she would start just taking things as they come.