How to be Organized

How to be Organized

7 Ways to organize and improve your daily routine

We all have this vision in our heads to be a better person than we were yesterday. Everyone’s goal in life is different. Getting organized is a fundamental building block to reach your goal. Getting organized is easier said than done. Taking a slow and steady step will help you get there. Sometimes keeping things systematic is therapeutic for many.

Don’t we all like to find our car keys immediately when we are looking for them? Rather than searching for the keys all over the place? The idea of putting things in designated places helps avoids confusion. This holds good for storing and sorting information as well. Good organization can lead to better thinking. With a clear mind, one can start with small goals and reach for higher ones in the process. Some simple hacks will save time. This will relieve you from the burden of remembering and keeping track of everything.

Checklists:

How to be organized

Do you know that successful people don’t store everything in their brain? They use the tools available to jot down their ideas. Write a to-do list every day and cross off completed items, this gives a sense of accomplishment. Even if you are not into making checklists, start simple and you will enjoy the benefits. Go through the list of tasks and start with one task and as you finish it, go for the next. By doing this, you enter a world where things are sorted, uncluttered, and organized.

Fun fact: Do you know when you write down tasks and strike off , your body generated happy harmones called “Dopamine“. 

If you don’t write down the to-dos, certain tasks can fall apart. You can use any media to make checklists. You can use as simple as paper and pen, to complex productivity tools out there in the market. Some tools that you can use are:

  • Sticky Notes
  • Paper Diaries
  • Whiteboard
  • To-do note
  • Web tools
  • Scribbling pads

Plan ahead:

How to be organized

The next important step towards getting organized is planning. Planning saves time and saves us from chaos. Writing what needs to be done and sticking to the routine will make us feel happy and create good habits. Rewarding oneself in the process will help to motivate. We all have so many goals like Staying healthy, eating healthy, meditating, or even waking up early. Without a proper plan and schedule, it is impossible to achieve these goals. One of the best habits to cultivate is to workout. By planning, we can push ourselves to achieve this goal. So how do you plan?

  • Place your workout clothes and shoes
  • Pack your gym bag the previous night
  • set an alarm for gym time
  • As soon as alarm rings step out of the house 

Now with consistency this becomes an habit. So planning is important part to becoming organized.

Use online scheduling apps :

How to be organized

Thanks to science and technology we have so many interesting apps and scheduling software, which makes our life very simple. You can use one of many online scheduling apps including Google calendar, to set reminders about due dates, birthdays, anniversaries, project completion dates, etc. You can also share calendars across different people, so it is easier to manage all your schedules and your kids’ schedules all in one place. Using color-coded tasks to differentiate between different tasks or giving priority to different tasks is now possible with technology.

  • Mobile apps
  • Calendars
  • Electronic calendar

Decluttering:

How to be organized

Cupboards, kitchens, and all things at home should have proper storage. Organize your workspace using separate bins for different items. You don’t need to invest a lot for organizing, you can use simple plastic boxes to get things done. Practice putting unwanted things away immediately after using them. When the space is clean there is more energy and you feel fresh to use that space.

If you have everything within your reach and the same place, you can find it later. They help you keep all the files, documents, papers in one place. Also managing to schedule is very important to stay organized. Several great tools help you manage your time. Scheduling different tasks for different days makes planning easier.

  • Mondays – Laundry
  • Tuesdays – Emptying the trash
  • Wednesdays – Office cabin dusting
  • Thursdays – Menu Prep
  • Fridays – Gardening

Procrastination:

How to be organized

Why we procrastinate? – Fear of failure

  • No motivation for completing a task
  • The task itself is boring and mundane

Sometimes getting things done is easier than thinking about doing it. Taking smaller steps in completing a task helps too. Also scheduling and setting aside time to do tasks will be helpful. Reduce the distractions from your work environment. This helps you focus more on the task at hand. For a mundane task like cleaning the house, you can listen to music or call your friends to remove the burden from doing the task.

Delegating work:

How to be organized

You don’t have to do all by yourself. Delegating work makes you a good team player. Create a list of things-to-do for each member of the family. It’s easier to plan and execute things when it’s a team effort. Go through the list of things every week and find tasks that you can delegate to your family. Distributing the tasks and having accomplished them at the end of the day or week will be satisfying.

Having a disorganized place can be very frustrating. Even getting simple housekeeping responsibilities right, like keeping the remote in its place, can have a major impact on your mood. By teaching your kids how to get organized, you are making them independent in their actions and work. Getting kids to help around your house is the best lesson you can teach them.

Understand the priority:

How to be organized

After you identify your tasks, now go ahead and rank the tasks based on priority/urgency. Pick the task based on priority and finish it to closure. This way you are on top of your schedule and have some time to reward yourself with a glass of wine or chocolate. The amount of information available continues to grow as do the demands on our time. So when we delay our work, we lose time. It’s like searching for a needle in the haystack.

Good organizational skills take time, but it is not impossible with the right set of tools and mindset. Use these ideas in your life and be more productive.

A land of myth and a time of magic

A land of myth and a time of magic

In a land of myth and a time of magic, the future of Gerbley Farm rests on the shoulders of a young girl. Her name, Mackie Gerbley.

Mackie lived on her family farm with her dad, Tom O’Connor Gerbley, her mother, Sheila Gerbley, and her dog, Jersey. Mackie is a jumpy person who is always looking for adventure. Her red hair flamed, and freckles shone like speckled sand on a beach. There were always adventures living on a farm, but to her, they weren’t so exciting. Mackie would pray for bone thrilling, spine chilling, making-history adventure. Little did she know…

“C’mon Mackie, get out of bed!” yelled Sheila for the 40th time today. “We have to go feed the animals!”

“I don’t want to get out of bed,” Mackie complained.

“Come downstairs and eat breakfast right now, or else I will bring in the new chicks without you,” Sheila yelled teasingly.

“Oh! That’s right. It’s pickup day for the new baby chicks!” Mackie said to herself as she got out of bed and ran downstairs to eat breakfast. “Where’s the cereal mom?”

“No cereal today. You will have eggs for breakfast,” Sheila said. “If you don’t hurry up, I will pick up the chicks. You know that we are supposed to be there in half an hour.”

“Ugggh. You know I hate eggs. Why do you make me eat them?” complained Mackie.

“Then why in the world are we raising chickens?” Sheila remarked sarcastically.

“Uh, for you and dad, obviously,” Mackie said while frying herself an egg.

“Just hurry up. I will leave in five minutes whether you are ready or not,” Sheila told her. “And figure out if your dad is making barbecue for lunch please.”

Mackie gobbled down her egg and ran up the stairs to brush her teeth and get dressed. She ran back downstairs and found her dad outside watering the crops.

“Hey, Dad!” Mackie said exhausted and out of breath.

“Hey, pumpkin! Did you go for a morning run?” Farmer O’connor asked.

“You wish,” Mackie said with a small giggle, “Anyways, Mom was wondering if you wanted to make barbecue for lunch.”
“You know I’ll take any chance to barbecue,” Mackie’s dad couldn’t help but smile whenever he knew he would get to barbecue.

“Mackie! Where are you?” Mackie’s mom yelled from inside the house. “I’m going to go pick up the chicks!”
“Coming, Mom!” Mackie yelled.

Mackie ran to the car. She and her mom made their way to the chick pickup when she suddenly realized something.
“Mom, we forgot to feed the animals!” Mackie said in worry.

“Relax porcupine, I fed them while you were sleeping,” Sheila assured Mackie.

“Oh, thanks, mom!” Mackie said gleefully. “Ahhh, I’m so excited to meet the new chicks. They are going to be so cute.”
Mackie and her mom drive to the place where they were going to pick up the chicks.

“We’re here!” Sheila said in a happy tone.

“Aww, I’m so excited,” Mackie said as she jumped in her seat.

“Calm down, Mackie. The chicks won’t run away,” Sheila chuckled.

Mackie and Sheila walked into the big barn where they met the owner.

“Hi!” Mackie exclaimed.

“Hi, you must be Sheila Gerbley with the order of 25 chicks for Gerbley Farm,” the owner said.

“Yes, that’s me,” Sheila said in awe, ” The chicks are so cute!”

“Can we take them home already?” Mackie complained.

“Yes, bring them to the car and wait for me. I will pay him and come,” Sheila chimed.

Mackie and her mom arrived back home and put the chicks in their new home. Jersey, the farm dog barked in excitement.

“Hi, Jersey,” Mackie cooed.

“Hey guys! Back already?” Mackie’s dad asked.

“Yup, and the chicks are in their new home,” Mackie stated. “Mmm, what is that smell? Wait……”

“It’s barbecue time!” Mackie and her dad exclaimed together.

They sat down to eat the delicious barbecue that Farmer O’connor made.

“Thanks dad, it’s great,” Mackie beamed.

“You really outdid yourself this time Tom,” Sheila complimented.

The Gerbley family finished eating lunch, and it was time to show Mackie’s dad the baby chicks.

“They are so cute,” Mackie’s dad said.

“I know, right?” Mackie agreed.

“We should probably add some more dry straw and hay to the coop,” Farmer O’connor mentioned. “Pumpkin, do you mind going and getting some more?”

“Of, course. Consider it done,” Mackie said as she made her way to the barn.

The afternoon passed as Farmer O’connor tended to his crops, while Mackie and her mom cared for the animals. After the farm work, they went inside to take a shower and eat dinner.

“Goodnight, pumpkin,” Mackie’s dad said as he kissed her forehead.

“Goodnight, porcupine,” Mackie’s mom said she turned off the bedroom lights.

For some reason, Mackie wasn’t able to sleep until she came to the realization that the outside candles were on!
“Uh, oh,” Mackie whispered to herself as she went outside to put them out. “UH, OH!”

Mackie came out to see that the candles had started a fire! She ran inside and wrote a note saying that she would be home soon. She grabbed her jacket and ran out without a plan. All she knew was that she had to retrieve the water and earth element. She would have to combine them to make the ground wet. She started her journey and came across something while looking for the earth or water element.

“Hello? Is anyone there?” Mackie quavered.

There was a soft rustle coming from the bushes, the wind was howling, and it was pitch dark. She started to hear growling.
“A wolf!” Mackie thought to herself.

She froze in her tracks as she heard the animal growl. It jumped out of the bushes right at Mackie.

“AHHHH!” Mackie screamed in terror.
To Mackie’s surprise, the animal didn’t rip her into tiny bits and pieces, instead it licked her and barked happily.
“Wha–JERSEY!” Mackie gleed. “Awww, hey buddy.”

Jersey licked her face and sat in her lap. But it was time for her to finish her adventure.

“Okay, Jersey. Let’s go and find the elements,” Mackie said.

Thirty minutes passed before Mackie saw a small glow coming from the bushes.

“That’s it,” Mackie thought to herself. “I found something.”

She wandered in the direction of the light only to find the air element. She wished for the air element to help her, but it only made it worse. The wind blew making the fire spread faster. She knew she had to find the other elements quickly.

“C’mon, Jersey, we will have to run,” Mackie stated.

Another 15 minutes of running later, there was another glow from the bushes. She had to go through a maze to get to it.

“This is going to take a while,” Mackie thought.

She ran towards the light, finding many dead ends.

“Here it is, Jersey. The earth element!” Mackie smiled but knew her journey wasn’t over.

She grabbed the stone and put it in her pocket. She continued to run in search of the water element.

“What was that?” Mackie inquired, “Oh my god, it’s a lion!”

“You must know me,” the lion responded to Mackie’s shriek.

“You can talk,” Mackie gasped, “and no, I don’t know you.”

“Me? You don’t know me? You don’t know the king of the jungle?” the lion asked.

“If you are the king of the jungle, can you tell me where I can find the water element?” Mackie asked.

“Oh, so it was you who was foolish enough to set my home on fire,” the lion said. “Well, if you want the element, you have to solve my riddle.”

“Ok, what other option do I have?” Mackie asked

“None other,” the lion snapped. “Here is your riddle. What disappears as soon as you say its name?”

Mackie thought hard until she thought she had the answer.
“Is it silence?” Mackie asked.

“Correct,” the lion said as he handed over the water element.
Mackie merged the water and earth elements, stopping the fire. She completed her task and returned home like nothing happened.

The Greedy King

The Greedy King

In a kingdom called Griffindale there once was a very mean king. The king’s name was Alex. He was very arrogant and always greedy for power and wealth. So many people hated the king because of his greed and arrogance.

The king had millions and millions of really tall guards. He was so obsessed with his wealth that he always told his guards, “Hey guards, wear this shiny golden armor because I don’t have a place to keep them, and if you lose even one small piece, you will be hanged!!!!” The guards never really liked the king, but they were helpless.

The king lived in a grey and black castle as tall as a skyscraper. It was very crooked. The castle had millions of rooms and millions of stairs. It also had a huge garden where magical things happened.
In the kingdom, there lived a boy named Adam with sky blue eyes. His friends and family called him Addie. He wore a fur coat that could fit a giant. He was very kind and understanding. Adam had an older brother named John who was a servant in the castle.

One day, John and Adam walked past a fruit stall near the castle.

“Hey John, can we buy some apples and peaches please?” Adam asked his brother.

“Ok,” sighed John. John bought the apples and the peaches, and when the two finished eating their fruit, they continued their stroll. Suddenly, Adam accidentally bumped into one of the castle guards! Luckily, the guard didn’t see him. The other guards were slashing at the poor people in the kingdom because the king wanted to get whatever money he could from them.


“Hey! Stop hurting them!!” Adam yelled, but the guards didn’t listen. Adam turned to his brother and pleaded, “Look what the guards are doing! We have to stop them!” John agreed.

Just then, Adam had a great idea. He said to John, “You know how the king has a garden where magical things happen? Let’s go there and find a spell to cure the king of his greed!”

So that night, the two brothers tried sneaking into the castle, but they were caught by the guards and thrown into prison. They worried that they would never escape. John and Adam heard the guards talking. The king ordered that tomorrow the boys would be hung. Adam and John needed to find a way to escape.

According to legend, the castle prison had a secret wall that prisoners could escape through. Adam and John spent most of the night trying to find the secret wall. Finally, Adam found it! They escaped through the wall and ran to the magical garden where the spell book was kept.

Their luck was poor. The king was sitting in the garden when the boys arrived and he sent them back to prison. This time, the secret wall was sealed and they would need another escape plan. Luckily, Adam had small hands that could fit through the jail cell bars. Adam tricked the guard into coming close to their jail cell.

“I have a secret about the king. Do you want to hear it?” Adam said. He knew that the guards hated the king and loved secrets about him.

“Tell me quickly. I don’t have much time,” the guard replied. Adam whispered so that the guard would lean close. While the guard was listening to Adam’s lie, he snuck his hand through the bars and grabbed the keys without the guard noticing. The guard walked away to tell the other guards the secret about the king that Adam had made up. That was their chance to use the keys and escape. It worked!

Once again, the brothers ran to the garden, but this time nobody was there. They found the spell book and read how to cure the king from his greed. Next to the book was a magical wand. They waved the wand in the direction of the king’s bedroom and recited the spell.

Then, just as they were about to leave, the king was right in front of them! Instead of putting John and Adam back in jail, the king thanked them for curing him of his greed. He said, “You will be presented in court tomorrow at 9 o’clock sharp.”

The next day in court, the king gave a lot of his wealth to John and Adam and distributed the rest of his wealth amongst the people in the kingdom. He told his guards to give nice clothes to all the poor people. The whole kingdom loved their king from that day on.

9 Tips for Writing Stories by Award-Winning Author, Sid Fleischman

9 Tips for Writing Stories by Award-Winning Author, Sid Fleischman

My late grandfather, Sid Fleischman, wrote over fifty books in his lifetime. Here are a few of his writing tips.

1. It’s the job of the hero or heroine to solve the story problem: Don’t leave it to a minor character like Uncle Harry. You’d know something was wrong if Watson solved the crime instead of Sherlock Holmes. This clunky plotting sank many of my stories when I started out. 

2. The main character should be changed by the events of the story. Remember your fairy tales? Change is built into the refrain at the end: “And they lived happily ever after.” 

3. If there’s a hole in your story, point it out and the hole will disappear. If you’ve written something that readers might not accept as plausible, don’t simply hope they won’t notice.  Point at the problem and come up with an explanation that will satisfy them.

4. Dramatize important scenes; narrate the trivialities. Use dialogue and what-happened-next detail to bring your major scenes to full life.  The rest can get by with mere summaries.

5. Give weather reports. It helps the reality of a scene if foghorns are blowing or kites are in the sky on a windy afternoon or the day’s so hot wallpaper is peeling off the walls. 

6. The stronger the villain – or opposing force – the stronger the hero or heroine. A wimpy problem delivers a wimpy story. Stack the odds against your hero, then figure out a way for her or him to triumph.

7. When possible, give important characters an “entrance”. That’s why grand staircases were invented. 

8. Write in Scenes. It’s generally hard to find any pulse in straight narration. Color it grey. Show; don’t tell. Color it splashy.

9. Imagery is powerful shorthand. It says in four or five memorable words what might otherwise take you sentences to describe.  “He could bathe in a shotgun barrel” beats “He was by far the thinnest person I’d ever seen in my entire life.” Don’t settle for comparisons that don’t quite fit the bill. It takes time to think up fresh similes and metaphors, but it’s time well spent. 

To learn more about Sid Fleischman, his life and his writing, visit his website at www.sidfleischman.com.

SCARLET

SCARLET

There was once a girl named Scarlet who had red hair true to her name. She lived in a big two-story house on Corcus Lane in the city of Twilight Mist. Her heart was as big as the world. She was funny, smart, and brave, and she had an amazing sense of smell. She could smell a fire from 30 miles away!

One summer day, warm as freshly baked bread, Scarlet trudged upstairs. Usually, her parents didn’t give her chores in the summer, but today she had a million things to do. Suddenly, she heard the phone ring. It was her best friends, Alice and Alex.

“Hey Scarlet! We don’t really care if you say yes or no, but you are coming exploring with us! We think there is a quartz in the city!” She and her friends were obsessed with gems and stones.

After a lot of persuading with her mother, she finally gave in. Scarlet, Alice, and Alex searched for the quartz until lunchtime. Scarlet was getting tired of looking and suggested they turn back, but instead, they decided to split up to cover more ground.
Suddenly, as Scarlet reached the outskirts of Twilight Mist, she felt a strong hand firmly grip her back. Scarlet could hear her enemy, Crystal, and Crystal’s best friend, Rebba, snickering behind her. Then the hand let go. Scarlet stumbled on a rock and landed on the grass.

“Wait. What? I landed on the grass?! Twilight Mist is located on a peninsula! It doesn’t have grass on the outskirts!” she wondered out loud. A thought struck her. What if she was in a new city?

“Hi,” a voice woke her from her thoughts. It belonged to a girl with long, silky hair. She was wearing a sky blue mask and wore long feather earrings. “Umm. Sorry. I did NOT mean to scare you, but are you new here?”

Scarlet smiled, “Am I that obvious?”

The girl replied with a grin, “You’re not wearing a mask. Citizens of our town, Midday Clearness, must wear masks because we live near a fire zone and it can get smokey really fast. My name is Jackie,” she held out her hand.

“I’m Scarlet,” she replied. “Actually it does smell like smoke!“

“Well, you have a great sense of smell, Scarlet, ‘cause there is a fire 30 miles from here! We better get you a mask,” she said. Scarlet could smell the fire moving closer to the town.

“Where is your mayor?” Scarlet asked urgently. She needed to get all the townspeople of Midday Clearness to evacuate before the fire reached the town. Jackie said she would bring Scarlet to the City Hall.

When they arrived at the City Hall, the mayor was busy fixing a Rubik’s Cube.

“Someone hurt you, I presume?” he said lazily.

“No!” she screamed. “The fire is moving closer to your town! Make your people evacuate! NOW!” He was impressed by how much Scarlet cared about his town. The mayor put down his Rubik’s Cube and pressed the alarm button. A recording of a woman’s voice bellowed from alarm speakers placed all over the town:

“Fire. Fire. Please evacuate now. Bring all children, pets, and special items to the edge of town.” Scarlet, Jackie, and the Mayor watched sadly as everyone rushed from their homes.

Thanks to Scarlet, everyone got out safely and tearfully watched their town go down in flames from a safe distance. The mayor looked down at Scarlet and said, “What can I do to thank you?”

She replied, “I could use a glass of water. And the path back to Twilight Mist.” Scarlet learned that she had been taken through the deepest, darkest, most dangerous path of the forest from Twilight Mist to Midday Clearness. The Mayor arranged for guards to escort Scarlet back home through a much safer path.

Scarlet’s parents and her friends, Alice and Alex, had been looking for her tearfully. As Alice caught sight of Scarlet, she ran and broke into sobs.

“Where have you been? We’ve been looking everywhere for you! We were all so worried!” she cried.

Scarlet told them about Midday Clearness, Jackie, the Mayor, and the fire. They were amazed by the story.

Scarlet realized that while she was saving the people of Midday Clearness, the Mayor had slipped a quartz into her pocket. She handed it to Alice who accepted the gem with a wide, goofy grin. Scarlet asked her parents if she could invite Jackie for a sleepover. Of course they said yes. Jackie took the safe route to Twilight Mist.

They quickly figured out that Crystal and Rebba had sent Scarlet to Midday Clearness, thinking she would never find her way back. Crystal and Rebba were sent far away as punishment.

“No! We will come back! We will get our revenge!” they screamed as they were being sent to a far off place. But did they come back? Well, nobody knows. But what we do know is that Scarlet became one of Twilight Mist’s best police officers in 3 centuries!

And after that, all was well.

A Coin In The Fountain

A Coin In The Fountain

The town San Orizani, Italy, is secluded from the rest of the world. San Orizani in a word: quaint. Green hills surround half the town, a huge crystal blue lake cutting off the other half. Small cobblestone streets join together in a circle at the middle of the community. The streets are surrounded by houses and shops straight out of a renaissance painting. The only lavish part of the village is the magnificent white fountain in the center of the town square. Coins litter the bottom as water flies out of the figurine. The entire town looks like it belongs in a picture book. The only connection to the rest of civilization is a small train station, located about 3 miles from the town. Five small buses serve as transportation to the train station from 6am to 6pm.

We walk into San Orizani, marveling at the picturesque scenery. I brush my dark hair out of my eyes, snapping pictures. A whine interrupts my train of thought. Looking down, I see a small girl with light skin and dark hair. Her lips are pulled into a pout. My sister, May.

“I’m huuuunnnnngggrrrryyyy,” she groans. We walk towards a small restaurant and get some pizza. As we walk around, slices dripping with cheese and olives in hand, we notice hoards of people heading toward the buses.
“Summer?” May calls out to me.“Why is everyone leaving?”

I shrug at her. “I don’t know. Let’s keep looking around and we can take the last bus. We have another hour.” I replied. She answered with a shrug and ran forward, noticing a huge white statue. She closed her eyes and flicked a coin into the fountain.

Laughing, I asked, “What did you wish for?”

She looked at me, “I wished we could stay in Italy forever.” I smiled at her, but I frowned inside. Our flight back to the United States was leaving at 1:30am tomorrow morning. We couldn’t miss it. This was our first trip after our parents died in a car crash last year. They had spent ages planning this family trip to Italy. They were so excited to show us the country where they had spent their honeymoon. So we decided to go without them, and now I was in charge. If we missed our flight home, we wouldn’t be able to buy new tickets.

I was determined to make the most of our time left in Italy. The hour flew by as we ran around the town, laughing and taking pictures.

Tired, we made our way to the buses parked neatly on the side of the road. I was surprised to see that nobody seemed to be inside the buses. I knocked on the glass door, but it was obvious that no one was around. To make matters worse, May was hungry again.

We hurried around the town for 15 minutes looking for anyone who could help us, noting that all the restaurants and shops seemed to be closed. Panicking, I called every taxi company, but none of them would help us. We finally came upon a tiny pastry shop and walked inside. An elderly lady seemed surprised to see us.

“Ti sei person?” she inquired. I had no idea what she meant. I pulled out my phone, looking for the Italian to English translation.

“Lei parla inglese? Do you speak English?” I asked in my best Italian. The smile from the woman’s face indicated that I had butchered the words.

“Sí. Yes.” She said in a heavily accented voice.

I rushed to order pastries, biting into pure heaven as I paid as quickly as I could. Biting into the sweet croissant, I sighed. A bad pastry in Italy is better than the best pastry anywhere else.

“Thanks. What’s your name?” I asked the lady.

“You call me Signora Bianchi,” she said. “Are you missed the buses?” She didn’t know English very well, but she knew more English than I did of Italian, so I tried to understand her.

“Yes, we missed the last bus and it’s really important that we get back to Florence,” my voice cracked on the “really.” I tried to hide my panic in front of May, who was munching away gleefully. Signora Bianchi nodded thoughtfully, slipping another streusel onto my plate. She shot me a smile.

“You call taxi?” she asked. I sighed and nodded. I had called everyone, and no one was picking up or willing to make the hour-long drive to San Orizani for a few measly euros. Signora Bianchi looked at us. “You try waiting by bus station? Someone will come, I’m sure. Or you ring someone on your cellular?” she suggested. I had called everyone I knew, but I decided to take the woman’s advice and head to the bus station.

“How do you know there will be someone at the bus station?” I wondered aloud.
Signora Bianchi looked at me curiously, handing May an apple danish. Her eyebrows bunched together and she tilted her head as if she didn’t understand me. I tried asking the same question in Italian.

“Come fai a sapere che ci sarà qualcuno lì?”

Signora Bianchi laughed loudly, her head moving up and down. She still didn’t understand my question. I sighed, and showed her my phone. She read the translation.

“Ohh. Capisco. Yes, someone is there, my grandson, Antonio. He helps you,” she assured. I breathed a sigh of relief. We had a chance to get home. I dragged May from the table, who was on her third croissant. I quickly turned back to try and pay Signora Bianchi.

“No, you find home. I do not need euros for this,” she smiled and handed May another pastry, which May accepted with relish. I tried insisting that Signora Bianchi accept the money.

“No. Go to bus station. Presto! Quick!” She pushed me toward the door. Grabbing May’s hand, I raced toward the bus station. A man wearing a leather jacket and a biker helmet stood there, looking at his phone.

“Lei parla Inglese?” I asked him. I hoped he could speak English.

“Do you speak Italian?” he asked with a surprisingly soft accent.

“Um, no, but are you Antonio?” I replied.

“Anth-onio,” he said, correcting my pronunciation of his name. I didn’t know what it was, but there was something about his responses that got me riled up.

“Please listen. We missed the last bus to the train station and our flight leaves from Florence, and we have to get to Florence-”

“No, Firenze. If you are in Italia pronounce the names of places correctly.”

“Could you give us a ride to the train station, please?” I begged, choosing to ignore his rude comments. He looked at me with dark brown eyes and smiled.

“No,” he said flatly. I was astounded. I opened my mouth to shout at the man. Just then, May started sobbing, and both of us looked at her. Something about a sobbing girl must have suddenly scared him.

“Signora Bianchi said you would help us, but you’re just a big meanie,” May cried. Antonio sighed.

“If Signora Bianchi sent you, then yes, I will help you.” I threw my arms up in exasperation. If May had just cried as soon as she saw him, we could have left ten minutes ago.

“Yes, thank you. Let’s go!” I shouted. Antonio laughed, and we settled down on his black motorcycle. We flew across the road and got to the train station in less than ten minutes.

Breathlessly, I thanked Antonio, and we rushed into the station. I glanced at the huge clock in the center of the train station. I gulped anxiously, realizing our train was leaving in five minutes. With a sweaty palm, I shoved our tickets to the lady at the counter. She seemed to be moving in slow motion as she stamped our tickets. A scream threatened to erupt out of me. I grabbed the tickets out of her hands, and May and I raced to the platform as if we were being chased. Just as the train started to move, I felt something fly out of my pocket. Our passports! I flew toward them.

“Summer?” May called softly. I looked behind me. May’s wish at the fountain had come true. The train, our way home, had left.

We were trapped.