Against All Odds This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Boston, MA
I woke up against all odds that day. My eyes opened and flooded with the pastel morning light, my pupils contracted and I blinked. The only sign of the hard night before was on my breath and in my heavy limbs. That’s what I get for drinking vodka without a chaser. I wouldn’t be surprised if my heart had stopped the night before, if only for a little while. Alcohol does that. I clenched my fists slowly, just to make sure they were still there. My hand brushed against sweet grass and someone’s arm. I jumped and sat up. But there was no reason to be afraid, it was only Rusty. He was gone to the world, and I nervously grabbed his wrist. He had a pulse, and it felt quite normal. “Rusty.” I said. “Wake up! What happened?” It took some shoving, but soon he sat up beside me.

“I don’t have a clue.” He said, rubbing his bleary eyes. It was a meadow, a forest clearing really. The grass was really green, and the sky was really blue. Where was the concrete and pollution of home? I nearly screamed when I saw how close the rabbit was. It looked up at me with its beady brown eyes and twitching brown nose. It lifted its ears with curiosity. “Boo!” Rusty said, and the poor animal ran off to the security of the forest, its little white cotton tail bobbing all the way. I picked a flower from the bush beside us, it looked a bit like a daisy. We sat in silence for a minute, because after all, what was there to do? “Check your phone.” Rusty told me, and I could see his mind spinning as he tried to remember the previous night’s events. There was no service, so I looked through the text messages. They were mostly between my sister and I. Where are you? She had asked me repeatedly. Out of town. I had answered. Then there were the standard “come home now” texts from my mom. She tried so hard to keep us in line, but our will was to strong for her. I liked to have fun. Then there were some messages from a number I didn’t recognize, but I had saved the contact as red neck Joe.

“Who is this?” I asked Rusty, but he had no idea as well. We stood up, and fell over again the second we tried to walk. “I feel sick.” I told him. We decided to remain seated instead. He flopped on the ground and I did the same, resting my head on his legs. “What do you reckon?” He asked me.

“Stay put until we regain consciousness.” I suggested. He began to create limericks, a habit he had when he was bored. Some of them were funny, others sad, but most of them were vulgar. I laughed. “You got a tongue.” I told him. While the sun raised higher in the sky, we amused ourselves with riddles and jokes, waiting for our bodies to be able to move again. “I’m gettin’ too old for this s***.” He told me angrily.

“What s***?” I asked him curiously.

“This partying stuff, I’m partially deaf, I’ve broken nearly every bone in my body, and I already have arthritis. What’s the point?”

“Being young?” I suggested.

“There’s no point in all of this, I look like I’m thirty, and I’m only sixteen.” He mumbled.
I left him to his sorrow, because I knew he got really melancholy at times for no reason. Soon, it was noon and the sun overhead beat down on our painfully white skin. “Let’s go to the trees.” I said. We stumbled to our feet and found we could walk a bit better then before. We quickly took refuge from the outrageous heat in the forest. Of course, now we also realized how parched we were. Our hands shook from hunger and our tongues swelled. We searched our pockets, but only found a lighter, an ipod, a switch blade, and a pack of smokes. “That’s it, we’re gonna die.” Rusty said.

“Not if we keep our wits about us.” I reminded him. How to keep your wits in a situation like this? Find running water perhaps, and follow it to civilization. I suggested the idea to Rusty, but he said he’d rather get eaten by a bear then walk that much. Now what? I tried to climb a tree to see where we were. It was a pine tree, and soon I regretted it, my hands were sticky with sap. Close to the top of the tree, I broke through the forest canopy. Eagerly, I looked around, but only found mountains, and more trees. “Where the hell are we?” Rusty called from the ground.

“The middle of nowhere!” I replied. We were screwed you could say. No food or water, hung over, and without a cell phone. “Maybe we should make a camp fire.” Rusty said sarcastically when I came down. Instead, I forced him to keep walking. We found a river, but it was slow moving, so I didn’t let him drink it. “I grew up around oceans and marshes.” He told me. “I hate trees.”

“I grew up around buildings and cars.” I told him. “And I hate water.” Just looking at the river made me nervous. Ever since I slipped under the waves at Castle Island, I hated water. Deep water, shallow water, even bath tubs looked sinister. Almost as if the water itself were plotting to kill me. Needless to say, I take showers. We traveled along the river for some time, our limbs grew heavy and our heads drooped. I had though at this moment that we didn’t have much longer to live. So I sat down. “Come on!” Rusty told me. “We can’t stop now.” But we had to. We couldn’t go on any longer, and Rusty sat down to. He was so tired at this point, as was I, that he stopped speaking english. The only words that came out of his mouth were Irish, his first language. “Sea.” Or “Aon.” meaning yes and no, is all I would reply, because while I could speak it, I could barely hear. Then he said the lord’s prayer, which surprised me, because Rusty wasn’t all that religious. “Mar a mhaithimidne dár bhféichiúna féin.” I said the last line with him and then we were silent. “Amen.” I said. He started to laugh, hysterically.

“What?” I asked him, very confused.

“I banged your sister, we’re gonna die, so…” I may have been on my last leg, but that didn’t stop me from punching him in the face. He held his bloody nose and sighed. “Guess I deserved that.” Then I heard something and stood up.

“What?” He asked me, he didn’t have the best hearing, so he must not have known.

“That was a car!” I exclaimed, pulling him to his feet. We flat out sprinted to the source of the sound, falling over roots and our own tired feet. And then, like Moses parting the Red Sea, the trees disappeared, and there lay an expanse of black road. We could have sang. It was route 3, and we found out we had been in New Hampshire this whole time. Unsure of what to do, we just held out our thumbs, waiting for a good samaritan to stop, hear our story, and take pity on us. It took nearly forty five minutes before a man stopped. Being a girl, and a very skinny one, I have a right to be afraid while hitchhiking. Rusty had no fear, and he just leaned in the window and begged the man to give us a ride. We were only a half hour from Manchester, and I have friends there, so we didn’t plan on staying with this man for to long. He let us ride with him, and we couldn’t stop thanking him. He even had water bottles in the flat bed of his truck, and we happily drank two each. The man asked us what we were doing in the middle of the woods, and Rusty told him our embarrassing chain if events that led to this. He nodded and didn’t laugh, which I found surprising. “You gotta be careful out there.” He told us in his mountain accent. “You never know what could happen in the woods of New Hampshire.” I believed him, this place had to be the serial killer capital of the world. We thanked him when we got to the city, and were on our way. He called his cousin on a pay phone, and I called my friends. And an hour later, we were seated at Linda’s kitchen table eating tuna sandwiches. “So who drove you guys up here in the first place?” She asked, unwilling to believe our story.

“We don’t know.” Rusty said.

“And frankly, I don’t care.” I said. We looked at each other and smiled. We didn’t want to find out what happened that night, and we never did.





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