Short Story Contest Winner: “The List” by Jordan Buhler

Making a list. That’s what I was doing one late night. I had my Disneyland magazine, scrolling through the lists of roller coasters to choose ones that I wanted to ride. After the whole scare about this mysterious coronavirus on the news, this list-making was very comforting. The whole family was going in just a few short days, and I could hardly wait. That night was full of sweet dreams.

The next morning, I woke up excited for an awesome day, not expecting this day to be one of the worst days of my life. The sun was shining through my shades, and I jumped out of bed ready for the day (or so I thought). I only had to drive to my college campus for one class, and the rest of the day was completely free. After class, I got wrapped up with my best friend about this coronavirus. She was telling me how the president of our university was talking in chapel about possibilities about the school closing for this virus. We spent the rest of the conversation shrugging off the worst-case scenarios. Why would our college close for a sickness?

Back at home, my mom was getting scared about our Disney trip not being cancelled with all this talk about the virus. I knew exactly what would help my mom. My list. I ran to grab my list to share with my mom the fun rides we were going to do on our trip. I tried to find the opportune time to share my list as she kept reading articles about this virus. I had this intense urge to share with my mom this list. This list of hope and excitement. This list that held all my dreams. Before I was about to share the rides with her, I heard one word from my mom’s lips. It wasn’t a good one. My mom was just staring at her phone, and I knew. I just knew. Instead, my mom was the one who shared with me the information of Disneyland closing for the next couple months.

My soul, heart, and everything in me shattered into pieces. I slowly placed my Disneyland magazine next to me on the couch instead of on my lap as before. I folded my list—yes, my precious list—and put it on top of the magazine. I listened to my mom telling all my family members about what happened as I sat there quietly, trying to process everything that happened. This trip that we’ve been planning for a year has been cancelled five days beforehand.

I left my magazine on a table in the main room. I didn’t want to take it into my room where it would taunt me. I held my list in my hand for a couple more seconds before tossing it into the tall trash can in the kitchen. I didn’t look back. I couldn’t. All my hopes and dreams were tied into that little list that didn’t exist anymore. The bad news kept on piling on throughout the day. The day ended with me sitting on the cold, hard bathroom floor throwing away wet tissues and causing my red eyes to burn.

That list. It teases me from the trash can—Why did you get your hopes up just to have them crash down hard? Sometimes I wonder why I have to be such a positive and optimistic person. It just makes the disappointments that much harder. However, I know that through having hope, I enjoyed Disney while it lasted. By looking through that magazine, I was able to experience the anticipation of going to Disneyland. By choosing rides, I imagined the thrills of the roller coasters and the excitement of going on these rides with family. Even though I never went there, through my imagination and dreams, I partially experienced what those rides were like. And I will keep on dreaming. Because dreams are what give me hope, and hope is always worth the disappointment.


Photo made available by Glenn Carstens-Peters

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