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Boondocks

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Last year, I was done. I had no drive left, no interest in life. I’d been in the same school for years, the same people, the same scenery. The only place that interested me was the past, so I chose to live there in my technicolor dreams, instead of the real world full of gray and beige. When I was little I loved learning and discovering new things, but that eventually died. So wrapped up in memories, distracting myself with tv and books, my grades dropped, I drifted away. I felt caught, trapped in nothingness, practically building my own cage. I needed a change, I needed freedom. Soon I had the opportunity.

After school ended I went to visit my friend Cecil who lives in Kentucky,she lives way out in the country. Her small house sits nestled in rolling fields surrounded by woods, miles from the nearest neighbors. The night I arrived at Cecil’s house, it had just begun to rain when I pulled in the drive. Boisterous shouts and honey accents distracted me from the fact I was getting soaked, until a crack of thunder silenced us. We rushed into the house and locked the doors, just as the wind began to whip around the house. Cecil and I holed up in her room and traded secrets and stories we had waited too long to tell, so caught up in making up for lost time, we didn’t notice when the power blew.

The watery rays of sun through the window told us it was morning, but the air was so heavy we couldn’t bring ourselves to move. When we finally crawled out of bed, we found the rest of Cecil’s family already repairing the damage from the storm. Cecil’s brothers had dragged all the broken branches out into the driveway to chop them into firewood, but when we saw the flames licking at the leaves and the delighted shouts of the boys waving around their lighters, it was obvious we might have been better off without their help. Cecil’s parents were recovering from the power outage the most sensible way they knew, by throwing a storm party for all the neighbors and using the remaining fuel they had in their generator to power the amp for the band. By the evening we had dragged the charred branches from the driveway, and scrubbed the pots for the fish frying at the party. We fed the pigs and the pheasants, pulled out the leftover fireworks from the Fourth of July, and walked down the dirt road to buy ice from the only store still open.
When we were done with the chores the bloated sun hung low in the sky and people were starting to arrive. Cecil and I put on cleaner clothes and dark eyeliner that soon melted off our faces in the heat. We weren’t really dressing up to impress anyone, it was just the ceremony of it. The neighbors brought food, hush puppies dripping in grease,bean salad, watermelon, grits, five different types of pie and about fifteen different kinds of alcohol. All the kids gathered down by the pond, drifting across the lake in inner tubes about ten of us flipped over the canoe and and half heartedly hung onto the edges. We stayed down there until the fireflies crept out and the smell of frying fish drew us out of the water into the scratchy grass, screaming with laughter in the fading light.

Cecil and I were chasing the younger children through the chicken coup when we heard Heddy arrive. Heddy was a family friend who was in college, and in our minds, knew everything. Climbing into Heddy’s old car we set off into nowhere, windows down with our heads hanging out like dogs. There was something so glorious about setting off into nowhere, drinking a lukewarm bottle of champagne she had the trunk and listening to her stories. The trees blurred past and the buzz of the radio hypnotized us so that we lost track of time until we pulled up to Cecil’s house. We got there at just the right time,Cecil’s little brother was just about to set off the fireworks. Lying on our backs on a picnic blanket, hoping the kid wasn’t about to blow himself up, we waited for the first rocket to burst. Bam! it shot off into the heavens and exploded. A giant dandelion tuft, the gods made a wish on it and it drifted off, leaving trails of smoke in the black. Bare limbs tangled, heads tilted up we watched them, bursting over and over again above us, forever burning against the night.

The guests slowly dwindled away until only most jovial and most likely drunk were left. Cecil and I crawled upstairs to bed and kicked off the sheets, pushing open the windows and fanning ourselves with old magazines that had faded pictures of women with perms and clown makeup. We tried to sleep but the music blasting from the barn and the sticky heat kept us awake, so we talked until our voices in no way differed from the buzz of the cicadas. We were awoken by our own screams, as Cecil’s brothers were tickling our noses with the hairy spiders they had found in the kitchen. For breakfast we had left over saltines and virgin margarita mix, the only things not spoiled by the temperature, which rose over one hundred degrees. THe rest of the day was spent in the water, floating on our tanned backs and lazily trailing our fingers through the dirty pond. When we heard my father’s car pulling up the drive, we hurried to the rope swing hanging over the pond, to jump in one more time before I had to leave. Rough rope scraped at my feet and my heart beat fast as I swung high in to the trees.“freedom!” I screamed, and then I let go.



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