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It was a warm fall day on the peak of October. The trees danced and swayed in the warm autumn breeze. I couldn’t fathom the fact that I’m a freshman in high school. It seemed like just moments ago I was being cradled in my daddy’s comforting, masculine arms, being so small and innocent in his embrace that nothing in the world could possibly hurt me. But the sad thing was, I was changing. Everything was changing.
I ventured through the front, creaky gate of our pasture. Slowly, I advanced toward the barn, every step crackling dried leaves. This was strange to me. Wasn’t it just a day ago the leaves were luscious and green, showing life and prosperity? But now, as if stripped of their youth they’re old, yellow, wrinkled; they’re dying.
The wind played with my long, stringy hair as I transferred my gaze from the changing trees to the barn up ahead. Peaking around the jagged corner of the barn’s backside was a wild mess of coffee brown hair that was waving to me by the guidance of the wind’s frantic tantrums. A pair of piercing, fluorescent blue eyes was fixated on me as I came into closer proximity with the barn’s elongated structure. Could he be so naïve as to believe that he could possibly frighten me? He was always doing stupid things like this. It got old sooner than I had expected it to.
Once, when we were playing a game of hide and seek in the dark, he strived every time it was my turn to be seeker to scare me. I can still picture his clumsy, chubby figure settled in front of the front bay window. His shadow cast on the floor like a lighthouse beacon showing a ship safely to shore. His infatuation with this game was getting old; he was immature in this way. Well, I use to think it was funny, and I’d engage in his game by getting him back, but it wasn’t worth it anymore.
The welcoming eeriness of the barn’s crooked structure greeted me as I hurdled over old boxes through the threshold onto the back porch. The far trough shifted back and forth. I exhaled so hard and loud it was as if my breath was giving the passing wind a high five. “3...2...1..,” I whispered. As I had expected, my younger cousin, Zackari, exploded out from behind the trough screeching louder than halting tires on the NASCAR speedway. “Bravo,” I said sarcastically, “you got me real good this time.”
“Yeah, I tend to be great at it, ya know? Scaring you and all,” he cockily sneered as he rose from the ground and patted the dirt and dead grass from the knees of his pants. His faded black shirt that he wore all the time was somehow flung on his torso in a unique fashion. His toothy grin was gleaming in the auburn sunlight as he shook his head back and forth to forcibly fling any excess dirty from his sad excuse of a hair cut. You could also smell him. I shouldn’t complain though. He had showered that morning, so at least he smelt like a gallon of Axe cologne, rather than the backside of a horse’s behind mixed with the B.O. of a sumo wrestler
I flung the white, plastic Wal Mart grocery bag to him. He dumped its contents in a pile on the ground. Three empty Pepsi cola cans, two water bottles and a glass Coke bottle.
“If you don’t mind, I’ll go first, alright?” I sort of told him rather than asked him.
“I guess that seems fair. You’re the one that got Daniel to let us borrow his air soft gun,” he said, walking toward the far fence of the corral. Daniel, my hick neighbor that has lived at the right of our property for as long as I have lived there, is always out shooting his guns. Most of the time, he uses this to be obnoxious or even to shoot crows that come near his oh so precious vegetable garden or his baby ducklings.
“Set up the cans while I go upstairs, okay?” again, I said this as more of an order. He always seemed to do everything I asked him. And yes, of course, I used this to my advantage. I see it as sort of a stupid and shameful thing now, but then it was like having my own little slave. Man, I had such an immature mentality.
On that note, I spun my foot in the dirt and trudged into the barn again. This time it wasn’t only eerie and irregular, it was different. I couldn’t put a pin on it, though. I grabbed the step at eye level and ascended the staircase with the pump gun strapped across my back. Each stair step of the wooden ladder left debris of dust and dead spiders on my finger tips. The barn loft was just as I had left. Dust on the floor, boxes stacked high and wide in one corner, the front doors’ pulleys wrapped around their crookedly assembled hooks and part of the back wall knocked completely down. It felt homie in there, though, the wind blowing the smell of dust and the oak wood of the barn walls all throughout the loft. It was perfect. It was relaxing.
I rested the gun on a ledge and fumbled in my cave-like pockets to find the guns ammo. I clumsily loaded the gun and finally was in place. One glance out the window and I could see each can and bottle placed neatly along the fence. A small and petite table placed a foot from the wire fence was their pedestal. The table, painted a light shade of sea foam green, had a circle top that was nailed to a square bottom. Two even shelves were built in the bottom as well. It had been out there for just about as long as I could remember. If anyone leaned against it, it would shatter immediately and leave them stunned, trying to puff the dust out of their now very dirty mouth before the dust turned to mud.
I grabbed the gun and pumped it vigorously to create a great amount of pressure. I aimed. “Pop!” I missed. The ground puffed with dirt about a foot from the table. How pathetic. I pumped and aimed again. “Pop!” This time the bee bee had shot and bounced off the nearby tree, pelting Zackari in his forearm. Immediately, he started whaling as if some quack of a surgeon had begun operating on him before the anesthetics had set in. I small red welt was visible from the loft window. I laughed hysterically and didn’t even bother to ask if Zackari was alright. He glared at me with red rings around his eyes and waterfalls of tears rolling down his face. What a baby. I couldn’t believe how pathetically childish he was being.
“You ready? I’m shooting again,” I chuckled, “you better get your baby face out of the way or this time you’ll have a welt right in your face hole.” He gave me a piercing death glare. I set up again. Pump, shot, hit. Pump, shot, hit. Pump, shot, hit. It seemed as if years had gone by.
I grabbed the gun and looked at its now rusted bolts and screws. The trigger was jammed. I forced it down and the gun made a loud popping sound. It was as if I was holding a champagne bottle in my palm. I shoved a small, sturdy stick down the shaft of the gun and broke the bee bee free. I turned to face the window again. There were different bottles, the tree was dead, the fence was bent down, the grass was tall and weedy, the small table was broken into a million pieces, but what had changed the most was Zackari. He was now tall and muscular. He looked about six foot, clean shaven, hair trimmed the way he talked about when we were kids, a brand new pair of jeans, and a nice dress shirt. He had changed so much.
I shook my head and cleared my thoughts. I pumped and aimed the gun. “Pop!” The bee bee ricocheted off the worn, crumbly bark of the dying tree and smacked Zackari right in the arm, the same spot as it had before. But now, him being different and all, he just looked up at me. He even grinned a little. “Wow, talk about déjà vu, huh?” he chuckled. He had changed so much. I was so puzzled by the events that were transpiring in front of my very eyes. I even felt different.
“Are you alright?” I yelled from the old loft. It startled me. Did I really just show a moderate amount of concern for him? I could have sworn just a short time before..
“I’m fine!” he yelled. “Don’t worry about it. Not even a scratch.” He walked over to the cans and put them in a sack. “We should get going or we’re gonna be late for the funeral.”
“Yeah, yeah, I hear ya,” I said, dumbfounded. “I’ll be down. Uhm, I’ll be down in a minute,” I hollered. His voice, it was not that of a child but of a grown man. I turned my head and stopped. All that was in the loft before was gone. The stack of boxes, the crooked hooks and their pulleys, everything was empty. All that was left was a box sitting on the floor that read, “Old Toys Summer of 2015.” I placed the gun in the box because it fit in the crevice perfectly like a missing puzzle piece. The barn had it’s usually smell, but older, mustier. I descended the ladder and looked all around me as I tip toed through the barn and stepped down the front stairs.
“It’s exactly the same,” I whispered.
“Nothing ever stays the same. Everything changes,” Zackari muttered just loud enough so I could hear him. On that note we turned and began to come across the gate once more. This time, walking through together, it was different from before. The grass was luscious and green, another thing different. Most of the trees were dying or had been long dead, another thing different. But as we walked through the gates, it made me think of moments ago. I was young and innocent once again in my father’s arms. But then again, things were changing. I now saw him kneeling down, being cradled in his father’s arms, because everything was changing.