Apartment 34

1952. It’s the second day at my new school. We just moved, and I am no longer at Royal Vale School in the Snowdon area of Montreal; I am now going to Willingdon, in leafy Notre-Dame-de Grace.

I’m waiting under the big clock for Judy in the lobby area, where I’m supposed to. She lives in our building and is in Grade 4. I’m only in Grade 2, so my mom asked Judy if she would walk me home after school. Judy lives in the apartment next door. She said okay – and yesterday was good. But now today she’s five minutes late… where is she?!

We get out of class at 3:15. It’s almost twenty-five past now. There’s hardly anybody around anymore. I don’t think she’s coming. She’d better come. I’m not sure of the way home!

It’s 3:30. She’s not here. She’s not coming. Okay, I’m not gonna cry. I’m not. She just maybe had to stay after. I’m gonna go. I think I know the way.

It’s just down this street. It’s right… down… here… Isn’t it? Wait… where… am I supposed to turn somewhere…? I’m not sure… This doesn’t look right! …I said I wouldn’t cry, but…

Oh, here’s a nice lady! She’s old, she has white hair. She’s asking me what’s the matter. I manage to tell her I’m lost – it’s hard because now I’m crying a lot.

She’s sooo nice! She says she’ll get a policeman to help me get home, she’ll phone him first. So we go into her house and she’s on the phone and now a policeman in a uniform comes. He smiles at me.

He helps me into the back seat of his police car. There’s another policeman in the front seat. They both smile at me and say it’s gonna be okay. They sound French like the other French people I know who come into my dad’s store. They ask me my address. Uh-oh.

I tell them I don’t know. They are surprised but I tell them it’s because we just moved. They ask me if I know the street. I say, “Yes! I think it’s Cote Saint Luc!” They ask me my last name. I tell them. My phone number? I forget because it’s new!

We drive up and down a little bit but I don’t know anything, I can hardly see anything because I’m still crying a little bit. They smile back at me and say it’s gonna be okay. But we still don’t find my building.

Finally the police car pulls into a gas station. They get out and say they’ll be back in a minute. I watch them go inside the station. I wait.

I wait. And I wait. And I wait. I don’t understand what’s taking them so long! It’s like forever! Maybe they forgot me here! Finally I’m just about to open the door and get out, when they come back. It’s about time! Now I’m sad and mad. I don’t think it was very nice of them.

“Well,” they say, “you don’t know your address number, so we’re going to drive up and down, along Cote Saint Luc and maybe you will see the building that is yours. Okay?” “Okay,” I sniffle. And they start driving.

After only about two blocks I yell “Wait! That’s it!”  They pull over. “Are you sure?” one of the policemen says. I say “Yes!” Because I’m sure! I see now the number: it is 5650. I will never forget it now! The nice policemen walk inside the lobby with me. There is a whole big wall of metal mailboxes with a doorbell on top of each one. They go, “Hmm…”

They think I’m lost again, because they look for my last name but it’s not there anywhere. But that’s because we just moved in! “Wait, I know!” I yell out. “It’s apartment 34!” Are you sure, they ask me again, they think maybe I am making it up. “Yes, yes!” I say. We walk upstairs, I’m so excited to be home I’m practically running now!

We knock at the door, number 34, it’s partly open, the policemen are with me. My mom comes very fast to the door, “Ellie!” she yells, so happy, and she hugs me so hard she is squishing me. She thanks the policemen and they leave.

Oh! And look who else is here with mom! Judy! She did have to stay after class but she says she was down at the clock maybe just after I left. I don’t know. Mom says I should’ve been more patient. But I was! I waited and waited! Grown-ups don’t understand how it is for a kid. Five minutes is like – like an hour!

Anyway, I am very proud of myself. We just moved in, but at least I remembered one thing – Apartment 34!

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