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Horrifying Day This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.


   I scarcely know where to begin, though I sometimesfacetiously fire the cause of it all in the direction of my mother. It had been along, grueling seven days before we packed up the ol' minivan. Most families goon vacation to rest and relax, or because they don't know what to do with theirtime and money so they waste them on expensive hotels in a place they've visitedfor 30 years. When my family gets in the car, it's a quick prayer for safety andthen we're off like a runaway train to get there before dawn. In my family, ifour blood isn't boiling by the time we reach our destination, we haven't hadfun.

On this particular vacation, my cousin's family and mine were on ourway to Yellowstone National Park. Driving in separate cars, we successfullyreached Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After hunting down a couple of cabins we zonkedout for the night.

We arose, disoriented, but as ready as tourists can beto hit the sights. We jubilantly rummaged through the park, stopping at mudpots,geysers and wildlife. When we pulled into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone,the clan jumped out and scattered, some to the overlook, others to the bathroomand some to toss the football. I was lured into a game of interception, but justbefore we were ready to leave, I decided I needed to head to the throne. Oncethere, I heard the slams of sliding doors, the pop of the front doors and thesounds of an engine audibly displaying the effects of a trek across interstatehighways and steep mountain passes. Then came the mortally wounding shift intodrive. I jumped three feet off the john, ran down the steps of the single-stallouthouse and hobbled up the road screaming for them to come back, not realizingmy pants were around my ankles.

Caught up in confusion, each party musthave thought I had jumped into the other car. Not knowing when they would stopagain, I had no idea when they'd realize I was missing. I parked my butt on thecurb, thinking how I would react when I saw them again. It wasn't going to bepretty, not after what they had done. After a few minutes of solitaryconfinement, a creepy man walked up and asked if I wanted to watch a movie in hisvan with his kids. Sure, he probably had lots of candy, too. I may have been 13,but I was old enough to spot a pedophile when I saw one. Soon a ranger in a parkcar pulled up and I hopped in, knowing he was on McGruff's side. I gave him thedetails of the party I was traveling with so he could find them.

Later,I learned the group had stopped to look at moose on the side of the road andstill didn't realize I was gone. Then, they were off to West Yellowstone to seean IMAX film. A light bulb went on in their heads, finally, and they realized Iwas missing. Apparently my mother felt remorse, but my brothers and cousinssnickered. Yeah, right, really funny.

Still in the ranger's car, I beganto process what had happened, and I was scared! I realized that I relied on myfamily for security a little more than I had thought. Panicking at my panic, theranger said I could play with the radar gun. What a perfect way to calm a youngteenager down - let him play in a police car. I was having a field day, despitethe pit in my stomach. But then I paled as the thought of never seeing my familyagain popped into my mind. When would I find them? The Yellowstone air wasturning cool, and the sky was beginning to lose its luster. The stars were outwhen the ranger said he was going to drop me off with another ranger who hadcontacted my parents. He also mentioned the word "PlayStation," whichis always enticing.

I was let off at an old, musty cabin to await myparents. Sitting in front of NHL '95, I began to think of how important my familyis and how frightened I had been. On the other hand, my conscience was telling meto buck up and act like I could handle it. I put the game down, too drained toreceive another whipping by the computer.

Piece by piece, I started to putmy feelings together. I remembered my penetrating fear the moment I knew theywere gone. Although I thought 13 was old, I was still a kid, and realized Icouldn't be without someone looking over my shoulder for too long. As far as Ihad been concerned, when they left it was the end, the bitter end.

When Iheard a knock at the door, I jumped to my feet and ran to the arms of my mother.I had waited for this moment for six long hours. I tried to hold back the tearswhile expressing my feelings of abandonment. Not willing to lose totally mytough-guy mentality, and trying to show my brothers I was handling it, I sulkeddown the walkway and into the car. Face first, sobbing into the seat and holdingnothing back, I hung onto my Mountain Dew, candy and a T-shirt I received inrestitution for my mother's mistake. Beyond relief to be back in familiarterritory, I took the ridicule from the rest of my family. They actually thoughtit was funny.

No one ever knew the effects of that day. Whenever it cameup, it was in a joking fashion, so I got used to laughing it off with a snideremark. That day, though, I gained greater appreciation for a caring mother.Although I can laugh about it now, it was a day I'll never forget. Now I couldhandle it with a lot less panic, but I have to remind myself that I was only 13.With the help of my parents, I have realized I can find my way out of just aboutany predicament. I will be forever indebted to them for what I learned aboutmyself on that horrifying day.






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By Leah L., Coarsegold, CA


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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the December 2000 Teen Ink Travel Contest.






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