The men who live in the woods behind my house had been getting out of hand for some time. They were all in their mid-fifties, golfers formerly, and meat eaters -- jolly men in general -- but since... [+]
We’re finally here, we’re finally here! I have no idea where it is, but I love it already. Blades of grass tickle my feet as I run across the field, my head up and legs pumping. I cross a dirt path that’s scattered with pebbles that hurt my toes a little but it doesn’t matter because there’s so much to see, so much to hear, to smell – I catch a whiff of something and dart over to a ring of trees. Yes, yes, yes – there it is, I knew it – its beady little eyes stare down at me, its tail twitching back and forth. I call up at it and it disappears – what fun is that?
I glance over my shoulder to make sure mom’s following me but she’s fallen behind so I head back to find her, nose to the ground. Suddenly the grass isn’t just grass anymore, it’s covered in these big square stones, some of them sunk into the ground, some sticking up and blocking my view. I weave around the rocks, calling for mom. I finally spot her but she isn’t even looking for me, it’s like she doesn’t even remember I’m here. She’s kneeling on the grass, staring at one of the chiseled rocks, holding a bunch of flowers and making these strange sounds like she’s coughing, but softer.
I don’t like it and suddenly I don’t like this park anymore either. Why are we here? Why isn’t she playing with me? Where’s the man? She said we were coming to see one, but he’s not here. I knew something was wrong. We should go find him, then we could have some fun.
I walk up to the woman and try to get her to go but she doesn’t look at me. She just lays a hand on my head and I sit next to her, head tilted. We need the man, we have to find the man, why isn’t he here?
She places the flowers in a little cup, next to a piece of cloth on a stick that moves when the wind rushes by and plays through our hair. I lay my chin on her legs and look up, trying to understand. A drop of water lands on my nose.
She keeps making the funny noises, and I join in, knowing, somehow, that this has to do with the man. She mumbles something but I only catch the word “can’t” and I don’t know what she means.
The rocks leave longer and longer shadows on the grass. Still she doesn’t move. My eyelids feel heavy and I think maybe I sleep but not a lot. The gray sky fades till it becomes more like black. The funny sounds are quieter now, but I still hear them. I’m suddenly afraid. Her legs seem like they’re stuck to the grass. What if she never leaves? What if she never goes home? We need to go home. We need to eat, we need to sleep, we need to play.
I sit up and lick mom’s face. It’s salty and I keep licking.
Come on, mom, come on. We have to go.
Slowly she stops making the sounds. She pushes me off but wipes her cheeks with the back of her hands.
She reaches out a hand to the big rock, the one with the flowers. Then she pulls her feet out from underneath her and stands. She leans on the rock.
“Goodbye,” she whispers. She takes her hand away. Turns to me.
“We can do this,” she says. “Let’s go home.”
With a happy shout and little jump, I agree. We can.