Adirondack Adventures This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 31, 2008
I flipped restlessly in my warm bed, wondering why I couldn’t sleep. Normally I’m one of those deep sleepers who can slumber through thunderstorms, especially after a long day like this one. It had to be pretty late; I could hear my sister’s steady breathing across the small room. Then something ran overhead, sending shivers down my spine. I stared hard at the ceiling, trying to pierce through the darkness of the cabin, not that I could see anything. Those darn mice in the attic are really getting out of control, I thought.

Every other summer, my family visits the Adirondacks in upstate New York: no plumbing, no running water, no Starbucks, no grocery stores, no nothing. Our nearest neighbors live across the lake, and it’s a big lake. Our cabin is a mile down an overgrown, winding dirt “driveway,” and our neighbors use our driveway to access their motorboat to reach their cabin. Not that they ever disturb us – our cabin is deep in the forest, impossible to see from the driveway.

We bring everything we will need for a week, including buckets for washing dishes and about five heavy water jugs for drinking and brushing teeth. Our suitcases are filled with sweatshirts and gloves, thick socks and hiking boots in order to brave the August “heat.” Lacking a shower or tub, we canoe to our neighbors’ dock and inch into the freezing water, dunking our soapy heads and springing back onto the dock for a warm towel and some sunbathing.

The Adirondacks are extremely peaceful – only other family members and the rustling trees break the silence. Every day we canoe on the lake and watch the sunrise from the point. But the animals are always nearby. Coyotes howl at night, otters play around the point, zillions of minnows sparkle in the shallow water off the tiny islands, loons glide silently by our canoes, and enormous spiders lurk in the outhouse. The cabin doors are always shut lest some pesky insect finds a hole in the antique screening on the porch.

Now I lay motionless, listening to the scraping of mice claws, sprinting back and forth overhead. I stared at the ceiling, but the darkness was so complete I couldn’t even see the edge of my bed. And then – joy! – a mosquito began buzzing next to my ear. It should be illegal for mosquitoes to be so loud, especially at night. I wondered how soon it would bite me, as I am a favorite target. I usually return home sporting tons of bites covered in every kind of non-itch lotion I can lay my hands on.

I drew my covers up to my chin and swatted at the mosquito with my pillow. No luck. I buried my head under my pillow. Would the stupid buzzing ever go away? I must have dozed off for a minute, and when I woke up, I listened. No buzzing. The stupid mosquito was gone! Then why had I woken up? I heard the tiny mice footsteps running back and forth again. I waited a bit. Why were they so busy? It was probably early morning by now.

Seemingly hours later, I had had enough. I needed my sleep. Between the stupid mosquito and the busy mice, I had barely slept at all. I glared at the ceiling. It must be nearly dawn, I thought, as the ceiling became more distinct. Suddenly I saw a shadow. Wait, if the mice are in the attic, why is there a shadow on the ceiling? I lay still and held my breath, listening to those tiny claws running again.

“Anne?” I whispered urgently. “Anne?”

“Whatttt?” she answered groggily.

“Anne, do you see the shadow over my bed?” She sat up, now fully awake. She nodded mutely, petrified. Okay, now it was time to call in my parents.

“Dad?” I said loudly, hoping somehow he would hear me through the heavy wooden door that separated the bedrooms. “Dad?” He is a light sleeper; he would wake up. Anne hadn’t moved an inch and I didn’t want to get out of bed and bang on their door. The shadow moved again. Anne screamed.

Nothing like a high-pitched scream to get your parents’ attention. Dad came running in, and I pointed to the ceiling.

“Okay, both of you, out of here,” he commanded, hurrying back to his room. Some kind of record – he was fully dressed by the time my sister and I had scampered into their bedroom. We lay next to my mom, having completely given up on sleep. She had evidently understood through my dad’s quick explanation what was going on, though I told her the full story, not leaving out any details. And she told us what my dad had seen hanging from the corner above my bed: a bat.

She told us a story about a bat she’d discovered in her first apartment while we waited for my dad to return, listening to the cabin doors opening and shutting. Finally he came back.

“You girls can go back to bed now,” he said. Apparently he had managed to herd the bat out of our room and into the kitchen, shutting the door behind it. He had then shooed it onto the screen porch but couldn’t see it since there were no lights to turn on. He had gone back in the house to get a flashlight, and when he returned, the bat was gone. We never figured out what happened, though my mom said it probably got out the same way it came in.

Suddenly something dawned on me. That mosquito had pestered me all night but then, when I woke up, I could only hear what I had thought were mice in the attic. Where had the mosquito gone?

“That bat probably had a tasty snack in your room tonight,” my dad said with a grin. I gulped. The mosquito had been right by my ear. Anne and I scooted out of my parents’ room and climbed back into bed. I glanced at the clock – 4:48. Light was just beginning to seep through the window as I settled back down to sleep. It had been a long night.

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

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