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A Walk in the Woods Part 1

“Stay on the path!” my aunt yells before I can close the door completely.
“Ok!” I yell back, even though I know she can’t hear me.

I was sent to my aunts for the summer because I needed “Relaxation” as my mom would call it. The divorce therapy group agreed with her.
I jog to my memory of the day my parents told me they were getting a divorce. My dark brown ponytail swings with each step. The memory comes with small jolts of pain.

“Honey, we have something to tell you.” My mom and father sat me down on our barf colored couch. The tension in the room was so thick you could cut it with a knife. “I know that your father and I have been married for a very long time...” my right hand grabbed my left arm and I squeezed. I didn’t want to hear this. I’d seen it coming, but I didn’t want it to actually get here anytime soon. “We just don’t love each other anymore.” I squeeze harder, but neither of them looks at my now throbbing arm. Their eyes look nervously around the room. Cowards, I thought. They didn’t even have the courage to look me in the eyes to tell me that my life was changing because they figured out that they hate each other NOW.
My mom’s hair was pulled up into a bun, neat, without a bump or imperfection. Everything else to her was just the same. Perfect. I wish she’d make a mistake, oh what a strange thing that would be. I guess she saw divorce as a mistake, like she’d done something wrong. Her eyes watered up when she said she’d get me therapy if I needed it. I nodded. I wasn’t going to lie. Wasn’t going to let her think I was fine with my parents that used to be so happy together hating one another now.
“We only want the best for you. We know that it’s going to be hard with just starting high school, but we’ll be fine.” My dad said. He was completely different. His imperfections were some of my favorite things about him. Like how my mother could’ve bought him all the nicest shirts in the world and he still would’ve choose to wear plaid ones almost everyday. How his glasses were always just a little crocked. The little things I loved like that could go on for miles. But at the moment I hated him.

I jogged faster so I could feel the pain from my legs. Pain was good, made me forget about my parents. My iPod jiggled in my loose sweatpants. A sheet of sweat covered me and I was glistening. At that moment I thanked god I was wearing a black tank top. I kept jogging and jogging and jogging.
White trees started to pass me faster, the leftover leaves from the last autumn crunch under my feet. The sun rays down on me and I can feel eyes burning into my back. I look around and see him.
His eyes are a beautiful dark brown with flecks of gold lodged into them. Black hair almost comes to covering one of his beautiful eyes. He’s wearing a white t-shirt and jogging shorts with a pair of Nikes. I look away and cuss at myself on the inside my head because I had stared to long. ‘He probably thought I was some kind of stalker!’ I think, kicking myself.
I don’t pay attention to where I’m going and fall. OUCH! A rock has sliced open my knee pretty badly. I try to stand up but I can barely walk. Laughing at my stupidity I sit back down. Don’t need to get myself anymore hurt. I grab an empty space in my pocket where my phone should be. Stupid! I think to myself.
After a while of thinking I come to a conclusion: just sit there and wait until someone comes along and ask for either help or a phone. I wait for about ten minutes until a familiar pair of sneakers come jogging up. And he stops abruptly.
His eyes lock with mine and he gives me the most beautiful smile I think I’ve ever seen. Then his smile fades when he looks down to the cut on my knee, still bleeding and hurting like h***.
“You ok?” he asks and offers a hand. Butterflies whirl in my stomach as I grab it. His well sculpted muscles help lift me up. What’s this guy’s name?
“Thanks.” I stand up and see that he’s about my age and maybe an inch taller then I am.
“That looks pretty bad, there’s a creek near by. We should probably go clean that up.” He’s talking about my cut. I smile and once again his smile kills me. GORGEOUS!
“Yeah, thanks. I’m kind of new around here if you couldn’t tell. I haven’t really got all the rocks and stumps that I could possibly trip on memorized yet.” He laughs at my little joke and I swear I just might melt. He helps me walk forward, and I can’t help but notice that one of his hands is at my waist.
“Yeah, I think I would remember someone like you.” I would blush but I’m not sure if it’s a compliment or not.
“Meaning….” He smiles and looks the other way to hide a slight blush.
“Meaning your very memorable.” I laugh.
“Yeah, not everyday you have to help a partly crippled person walk to a creek. I understand.” I say this with a laugh because I want to end the subject. Maybe move onto cripples or the creek we’re heading to.
“You’re funny.” He laughs again.
We walk for about ten minutes in silence until I can hear the sound of water trickling. The sound doesn’t change and I’m starting to question whether or not it’s right next to the path.
“Here, we have to cut through some trees to get there, you ok with that?” he asks. I think about Aunt Lisa. Oh, what she knows won’t hurt her.
“Yeah, let’s go.” We walk deeper and he lifts me over fallen trees and stray branches. The sound of the water grows into a low rumble and soon we’re here.
“Lets clean that off shall we?” he sits me on a seat like rock and walks over to the creek. He pulls a wet wipe out of his pocket and dips it into the creek. Where’d that come from? Weird…
He walks over and points at my leg.
“Can I?” I nod and he pulls my leg straight so my cut is crunched up with my knee and he can get out the muddied blood around it. He gets out all the blood and I have to ask.
“So you always pick up random strangers, take them to your hidden creek and clean out their cuts with a wet wipe that you pull from thin air.” He chuckles slightly.
“No, only the ones I like.” He looks up at me and smiles. After a second or two of looking he looks back at my knee. If I haven’t melted, I sure have now!
He bends my leg now to clean out the stuff inside the cut.
“Sorry if this hurts.” He scraps into the deep cut, trying to get out everything possible. The scrape stings and I want the scream, but I don’t. (I can’t let him see me at my worst.)
When he’s finished I feel better. I still can’t walk because it hurts, but at least it won’t get infected. Now that’d be terrible.
“That’s good for now, but I think you’ll have to clean it more when you get home.” He smiles again and helps me up. “You think you can walk home?” I want to lie and say yes so I won’t look weak but I don’t want to get more hurt. And if it means spending more time with him it’s worth a little embarrassment.
“No, not really.” He picks me up and I hang my arms around his neck.
We walk (or he walks and I hold on) for about five minutes until he asks.
“I never got your name. What is it?” I’m surprised that I forgot to introduce myself I can hear my mom now, ‘That’s terrible manners Ashley!’
“Ashley. But you can call me Ash.” He smiles and nods.
“I like it.”
“And yours?” I ask.
“It’s Jayden. You can call me Jay though.” He gives me another killer smile and we come to a turn.
“Which way?” he asks.
“Right.” I point at the right path and he starts walking that direction.
“Your parents won’t mind me helping you right?” he asks this as if he’s worried an angry dad’s going to run out with a shotgun.
“I’m with my aunt for the summer, and then back to the first year of high school! I don’t think she’ll mind though.” He smiles.
“First year always sucks the most.” He laughs.
“What grade are you in?” I’ll honestly be surprised if he says anything higher then sophomore.
“Same, just saying what my brother always says. He’s going to be a senior next year. Do you have any siblings?”
“Nope.”
“Lucky.” He smiles.
“Not really, I’ve always wanted a little sister actually.” He smiles as if he wants one too, but I know boys too well. None of them truly want siblings, unless they’re older and can drive them around.
Then we come up to my Aunts house. She’s sitting on the porch, with my phone in hand, looking worriedly out into the woods. Jayden puts me down.
“Sure she won’t be mad.” Jayden asks and I rethink my previous statement.
“At this point… I’m not sure.” We walk (hobble) to the house.

“Ash!” she yells and starts walking towards us. She starts to slow when she sees Jayden and her eyes narrow. Oh, this is going to be just great…




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