Peru in the Trees

by Lauryn Cooper, age 12
Peru in the Trees Lauryn Cooper is a 12-year-old writer in Greensboro, NC. She enjoys hanging out with her friends, reading, and writing. She got the idea for her story "Peru in the Trees" because of her love of sloths and her father's recent trip to Peru.

“Everyone at my school thinks that I’m a nobody / They just don’t know the real me / I’m Peru Emma Maxwell / I’m known as the “quiet girl” or “nobody” / None of that is true”

Everyone at my school thinks that I’m a nobody

They just don’t know the real me

I’m Peru Emma Maxwell

I’m known as the “quiet girl” or “nobody”

None of that is true

I want to one day be a regular kid

The kid that everyone knows

I have no clue if that will ever happen

But I know that I can try

Try hard

-Peru Maxwell

 

Chapter One: Spring Break

My heart is pounding as I enter the history classroom on my last day of school before spring break. Everyone in my class is going somewhere amazing, except for me. Alice is going to Alaska, Christopher is going to Brazil, and Brittney is even going to Australia. Our spring break is a month long, so it’s not like anyone would stay home.

But I’m staying home. Just me, my mom, and Fluffster, my Pomeranian puppy. My dad is in the army, so he hasn’t been home for ten years.

As I head into class, I hear the usual bullies laughing and teasing people.

“Fat Pat! Awkward Annie!”

People call me average all the time, and it doesn’t even rhyme with my name! I had thought that, since I was starting at a new middle school, everything would be perfect, but boy, was I wrong.

I sit in my chair, waiting for the bell to ring so that Mr. Abram can start the lesson. The rest of the class is in the hall, getting their stuff and socializing.

“Peru, what are you doing here?” Mr. Abram asks.

“Waiting for the bell to ring, apparently.”

Alex Ritman is standing outside of the room as if she were waiting for someone. She’s the most popular girl in school. The bell rings loudly, and Alex walks in slowly, trying not to look eager to get to class.

“Alex, please sit down,” Mr. Abram says.

For five minutes, we’re the only students in class. When I glance over at her, she is eagerly doodling in her notebook.

Today is an early release day, so I only have five hours of school. Four more people walk into the classroom eight minutes late. I don’t have any idea who they are because they never talk to me, other than the terrible jokes they make up.

“Okay, now that everyone is here, we can get on with class. This semester we are talking about South America. Each of you will choose an animal from this bowl. You will study and research the animal you have chosen,” Mr. Abram says.

I get to go first. My hands shuffle in the bowl, hoping to pick something good. I unfold the card and it reads: “Three-toed sloth.” I’m excited to start researching, so I don’t pay attention to what everyone else gets; I start reading web pages right away.

After an hour and a half of research, class is over. I have English, science, and chorus during the rest of the day. The bus finally comes, and spring break begins. I’m actually glad I’m staying at home, because it means I can watch Netflix for a month.

My mom opens the door for me and says the same thing that she says everyday. “So, how was your day?”

“In history, we’re studying South American animals, and I got the three-toed sloth,” I say, quickly dropping my bags.

Fluffster is asleep on my bed. I don’t have any homework, so I can just relax. My heart is pumping quickly from excitement. I can’t help but to research the three-toed sloth more. My phone dings before I can get my laptop. A text message from my best friend, Marcella, was here. She lives in Costa Rica, so it’s been five years since I’ve seen her.

My mom bursts open my bedroom door, full of excitement, before I can read the text.

“Peru! Marcella’s mom just called me, and guess what?” she asks, waiting for a response.

“What?”

“Marcella’s family invited us to go to Costa Rica to visit them! Isn’t that exciting?”

“Are you serious?”

“Absolutely.”

I can’t believe it! I’m going somewhere for spring break, and it’s Costa Rica!

 

Chapter Two: My Adventure Begins

My alarm wakes me up at one in the morning. I have to be on the plane at 3:35 for an eight hour flight, so everything is packed and ready to go. I put on a pair of jeggings, a short sleeve top, a sweatshirt, and sneakers. When I finish packing the last items in my bag, my mom calls me downstairs for a quick breakfast. Since we didn’t want any food to spoil, we haven’t bought groceries since we found out we were going to Costa Rica. I eat an apple, and I drink some water.

“Peru, it’s 2:00. I think we should start loading up the car.”

Bag by bag, we shove everything into the trunk. It’s a 30 minute drive to the airport, so I catch up on some of my sleep in the car.

When I wake up, we’re in a parking deck outside of the airport doors. I reach for my backpack, and help my mom unload the car. We go through security and get our bags checked in, and then we have to wait for an hour.

On the table next to me, I see a few books about Costa Rica. When I flip through one of them, I am surprised to see an article about three-toed sloths. I find out that Costa Rica is famous for its beaches, and that sloths sleep for fifteen to eighteen hours a day.

“Flight 1527 to Costa Rica is boarding,” I hear over the loudspeaker. “Again, flight 1527 to Costa Rica is boarding.”

We board the plane second in line. I still can’t believe that this is actually happening! I just realized that my plane ticket says First Class. This is my first time in first class. I sit down in seat F, the window seat. My mom is on my left, and another lady is on her left. We listen to safety instructions over the speaker on the plane, and then we take off.

 

Chapter Three: This Is Actually Happening

After eight hours on a plane, we arrive in Costa Rica. The view of palm trees and tropical-colored buildings is something I know I will never forget. It seems unreal. Marcella and her family are waiting for us at the airport to drive us to their house. Once I see them around the corner, I run to Marcella.

“Marcella!” I yell from across the airport.

“Peru!” she yells back.

Before she can say anything else, I give her a big hug. This is the best way to start my vacation. We grab our bags and get into Marcella’s family’s car. I catch up with Marcella during the ride to her house. She lives in a two-story home with a basement. When I walk in, I’m greeted by her cat, Snowy, and her dog, Patriot.

“Marcella, why don’t you show Peru her room?” Mr. Jennings says.

She takes me to a room with white walls, a bed, desk, dresser, nightstand, and closet. It has a bay window looking out over the city.

“Do you like it?” says Marcella.

“Do I like it? I love it!” I say happily.

I roll my suitcase into the closet to unpack my clothes for the month. Patriot walks in with a card in his mouth. After reading it, I find out that some of Marcella’s friends want to invite me to go to the Cafe for lunch tomorrow. I set the card on the dresser to think about it. It takes me a hour to unpack a month’s worth of clothes. It’s seven o’clock, so I get ready for bed. When I come out of the bathroom, I see the note on my dresser. Maybe I will go.

 

Chapter Four: The More the Merrier, Right?

I wake up at 7:00 to get ready for my adventure. I have no idea who I’m meeting today. Marcella is waiting for me downstairs, ready to get in the car. It takes us about five minutes to get to the downtown Cafe, the place where we’re eating.

I jump out of the car and eagerly open the restaurant door. It’s not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a downtown Chick-fil-a, but it’s dark, loud, and crowded. Most of the people there probably have tattoos.

Marcella guides me to a table where three kids are sitting — a girl and two boys.

“Peru, this is Samii, Nathan, and Dylan,” says Marcella.

“Hey,” I say, quiet but excited.

“That’s her? You said that she was cool!” says Nathan.

“Don’t worry, Peru. He’s not like this every day,” says Samii.

I try to get past his comment. I look at the menu to decide what I want to eat. Everything is so basic. Burger, chicken, fries… it doesn’t have any pizzazz to it. It seems like I’m the only one not talking in the group.

“Hey, Peru, what do you think you’re getting to eat?” asked Dylan.

“Ummm, I might get the, ummm, cheese pizza slice,” I say quickly.

“Oh. Well, I’m getting the burger. It’s my favorite,” he says with passion.

“Okay, everyone, how about now we all place our orders,” says Marcella.

“And how about while we wait for our server, we say our I’m sorries,” Samii says, gesturing to Nathan. “We may have hurt someone’s feelings.”

“Whatever. I don’t care about her feelings,” says Nathan rudely.

Ugh, he reminds me of someone from back home. I liked him, but it is obvious he hates me. At least almost everyone else here likes me.

 

Chapter Five: Finally

After hours of trying to ignore Nathan, Marcella finally decides to leave. Before we start walking down the street, she stops me and tells me about a new sloth exhibit at the zoo.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I could work on my project, and maybe even get extra credit. I didn’t even want to say anything besides “YES!”

“I’m taking that as a yes, you want to go,” Marcella answers.

“My project is on sloths, let’s go!” I say, pulling her out of the door.

“Umm, okay, bye guys.”

“Bye,” they all say in unison.

***

The car pulls up to reveal a sign reading “Costa Rica Zoo.”

“Welcome to the Costa Rica Zoo,” a guy with a sharp mexican accent says, “Eighteen or older, $4.99, children and seniors, $2.99, babies 24 months or younger, free.”

“Okay, then here is ten dollars. Take change out of that, please.” says Marcella.

She gets handed the change, and then we head straight in for the sloths.

“You got your camera?”

“Yeah.”

My camera is my phone, and sadly when I press the home button, I see a notification from my mom.

Hey, Peru, we have to leave early. Your father is home from the war. Pack your stuff up tonight. Our flight leaves at 7:00 a.m. Luv Ya!

“Look, Peru, the sloth came out!”

I take about 20 pictures, and then I feel sad. My trip is already over. I love Marcella. But I guess there is always a time to say goodbye.

 

Chapter Six: With Love, Peru

After returning home from the zoo, I take my suitcase out from under my bed and take the clothes out of the drawer. I plug up my phone, clean out my backpack, and leave Marcella a gift that I picked up. It’s a little pocket-sized sloth with a camera around its neck. I wrote on the tag, From Peru 2k17.  Underneath it, I wrote a note:

Dear Marcella,

Thank you for expanding my world. I met your friends, and we went to the zoo and saw a sloth. I just know that I’m going to get an A+ on the project. I wish I didn’t have to leave, but you have my number, and I will try to come back soon.

                                         With Love,

                                           Peru Maxwell, 2017

***

Today, when I woke up, I had a pain in my chest. I had to leave, but then on the bright side I could see my dad after ten years.

I give Marcella an even bigger hug than before.

“You are my best friend and the greatest cousin ever!” I say to her.

“That’s not true — because you are,” she says back.

As we leave through the doors of their house, we wave and say our last goodbyes. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I got to do it with someone I love.

 

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