Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

Smile, Synomon Says This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The sound of the clanging metal of the steal hook has my conditioned dog barking happily with understanding letting her tongue hang out of her doggy mouth, her eyes shine with delight. I grin at her expression and yell out informing my mom of my whereabouts. But unusually she stops me.

“Honey, Aunt Paula, Amanda and Austin are about to be here.”

“I know, but she needs exercise before it gets dark.” Since my mom is dog tired and stressed from cleaning, busily getting ready for her best friend’s arrival, she feels the need to be aggravated by my inescapable logic.

“You’ve taken her out every day since we moved her! One days break will do her good!” My mother announced.

“You’re the one that preaches it to me that I need to be more responsible! And it’s not like Aunt Paula, Amanda or Austin are really going to be devastated if I’m not here the moment they arrive! But Synomon’s going to be disappointed if she doesn’t get her walk.” I say, both me and my mom glancing at my dog. Her expression is terribly confused, tugging at the leash towards the door. When she registers that our attention is on her, her tail wags and she woofs again, asking to leave.

“Whatever!” My mom yells exasperated and stomps out the room. I roll my eyes and saunter out the door.

Thank goodness, I think. I hope Aunt Paula will do her good since it’s been so hard on her for Christmas. Not that I’m making it any better. But I can’t feel guilty because you learn in life that if you are to survive with a string of happiness you have to stop pleasing other people. It never really works out and you just end up being disappointed. Because I didn’t cause her hurt, nor did I cause my own. But we deal with it, me doing so by getting away from everyone. Because what I said was right, no one would really care if I was gone for a few hours, Austin busy with Solomon, my older brother, Aunt Paula and Amanda cutting up with my mom. I was always left in my room to dance anyway.

We are walking around the curve bend and I position my feet to leap over the huge ditch, when a flash of royal blue captures my attention and immediately I dive into the dirty ditch, scrambling my feet and my heart rate spikes.

Aunt Paula’s car.

Despite my anger with them, blind spiteful meaningless rage, I had a sudden urge to go home and see them. But I wouldn’t let anyone ever control my actions, or veer me off course of what I want to do. Stubbornness, I reckon.

Or caution. I sigh and hop up, seeing the car disappear around the corner. I skid across the road and through a hole in the fence that surrounds the soccer field, and enter Hurricane Park form the entrance into the field. I jog across the parking lot, eager to be hidden safe amongst trees when I hear cheering. I jump up the steps and see a large crowd has gathers on the first of four baseball fields in Hurricane Park. The area between the first and second is where I usually enter the woods but today that is clearly not an option because it is blocked off by a concession stand. I kick the ground ridiculously in frustration. How was I going to get into the woods if I had to practically crawl over a building to get in? I sigh and tears threaten to form.

When did I become such a touchy, sensitive baby? Ugh, I shake my head at my own idiocy, switching my vision from my right to my left and back again. But something catches my eye as I do so. The area between the second and third baseball field was practically empty and it too led into the woods. It was probably farther than I’ve ever explored of my woods. And suddenly that seems like a positive thing, a challenge an adventure, a chance to map out more of my woods. I smile and I and my dog jog into the woods.

Breaking is never the right word to describe how I enter the woods. It’s more like coming up from underwater, like finally being about to breath. I let the cool air wash away my sad, angry thoughts, I let the woodsy smell intoxicate me.

I sigh, content, and Synomon seems to register my happiness, looking back at me, smiling widely trotting along. The air is cooler than usual, being under towering loblollies, which strikes me strange considering where I’m usually at is filled with oak, cedar, sweet gum, maple and even an occasional dogwood.

But the smell is pine and woodsy, like Christmas, which fits the setting since it’s Christmas Eve. This statement doesn’t bring the usual array of happiness most kids feel, since I know tomorrow will be more sad than anything. Our first Christmas without Daddy.

I shudder but the calming breeze shakes me of my thoughts and I let my fingers graze dew wet leaves bringing my fingers to my lips tasting the sweet water. This is why I come here, why I lie to my mom on where I go. Because she would never understand, she wouldn’t try to understand.

That this place is necessary for my survival, essential for my sanity. A place where the past and memories don’t exist, where the future is nonexistent, a place to live. To be.

But I can’t help but notice the lengthening shadows of the darkening day, but stubbornly I continue, not having a distinct destination. Because I’m not walking to go somewhere. I am here.

The underbrush has thickened and after a few yards I am struggling to get through it. I let Synomon’s leash down, knowing she gets through it better her way. But I continue to rip through the thorns, even when they mercilessly hold my skin to the point that when I break through on hard icy ground I am bloody my cloths are torn and my skin is defaced. But I’m use to pain, and my first thought is to move on. But when I finally look around I know I’m in trouble.

Briars are a part of the experience, being in the woods. It’s just there survival technique to be all sharp and poky. I’ve ran barefoot through briar patches before, torn through nets of thorns but I’ve never encountered such a massive wall of thorns. Such an inescapable, brutal dome of deadly briars ready to shred my skin. And then I notice my dog isn’t with me.

“Synomon?”

“Aruugh!” I hear my dog whine and I jerk down to see her beside me.

“How’d you get in here baby girl?” She doesn’t reply just smile like the sun just broke over the horizon when in reality it was dark. Too dark to see past the thick thorns. But for a moment I forget about my worries as I stroke my beautiful dog. And I am touched at how happy she is to not be parted from me. Touched by her loyalty.

“Arugh!” She exclaims slithering through the briars, at a thin spot near the ground. Hopeful I follow after her on all fours. But thinner does not mean it’s easy to get through. And it’s dark and the ground is moist and muddy. The briars relentless tug at my helpless skin as I break my way through into the still thick underbrush. And as I stand I am suddenly so overwhelmed by confusion, bewildered by the dark, unknowing at which direction is which. Until I feel my baby girl‘s fur against my bleeding leg. I bend down and pick up her leash.

Suddenly I feel the leash tug and I blindly follow the direction. And it seems to go like this for a long time, just following my precious dog. I had no way to know where we’d end up or if she was leading me deeper into the woods and all of my instincts screamed for me to take control, to pull against the tug of the leash, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t see.

Blindness is a terrible thing to endure. At least you can see the horrible thing coming after you, or see if you aren’t going the right way, but when your blind your senseless, and hearing and smell can truly help you against your sightlessness.

But suddenly bright lights shine from not so far away, like streetlights. Overjoyed me and my dog jog through the rest of the forest, until I can see my exit into Hurricane Park.

My dog led me home.

But before I sprint to the house I touch a huge pine tree and I bend down and affectionately pet my dog. Because these are the two things that would never hurt me. My dog, and my home.

And as long as I had these two things, I could survive anything. And then I decided to tell my mom the truth. And I decided to go back to the house and see Aunt Paula, Amanda and Austin. Because it shouldn’t take too long, before you know it, I could be in my room and dance.





Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback