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The Watering Hole (Revised Version)
It's their secret and they won't tell anybody else. Until they leave on Thursday. That's when they'll tell my brother the secret and then he'll tell me.
Four houses down in the tacky lime green house lives Zack, Sarah and Luke Richards. Zack's five years older, Sarah is three years older and Luke is two years older than me. Them and my neighbors from next door Josh, Jasmin and Jeff McNulty are around the same ages and have a secret place. It's hidden somewhere in our neighborhood. No one knows where it is except them. Now that Zack, Sarah and Luke are moving, the McNnulty's are going to need someone else to go to the secret place with. They'll tell my brother because he's their second best friend.
Today's the day! The day that the Richards move and my brother finds out where the secret place is. The Richards were mean not to tell us where it was and I’m glad their leaving! They said I was too young to go to the secret place and that I'd bother them since I'm only ten years old. They wouldn't let my brother come along, even though he was there age because they were afraid I'd follow him and try to tag along.
Well you know what? I'm not too young! I'm ten years old and smart for my age! Nobody's going to tell me what I can and can not do because I'm a big girl. I'm the big One, zero! And I finally reached the double digits in age! I'm going to the secret spot and they can't do anything about it because they have to leave, forever!
We went to the secret place for the first time. The McNulties call it the watering hole. That's because there is this mini circular lake like the ones animals in the jungle use for water. In plain sight the watering hole is disguised as trees and beautiful scenery for people to look at when they are jogging and walking their dogs on the bike path. If you go closer, down into the tangled vines and weeds there is an arch. This arch is like a doorway into a different universe. A place where imagination can run wild. Once you cross through the arch, there is a narrow pathway. A dirt trail clear with no plants. Trees grow up against the path like a tunnel.
Walk a little further down the pathway and there will be a tree as big as a grandfather clock. It grows right in the middle of the pathway. Spray painted in cherry red on the tree are the words, “up here, come.” Then on the side of the tree are nails as big as my foot. The McNulty's told us they are there so that we can climb up the tree. I was afraid to climb it, but the others weren't.
“There's a big piece of wood up there that you can sit on,” they said.
There was also random writing about fish written on the wooden board with pen. We must not be the only ones who know about this place. Past the tree is a ditch filled with blocks of wood of all different sizes. They call it the junk yard. Among the blocks and boards of wood were pellets from paintball and BB guns. They explained that during the summer the older kids around 17 and 18 years old use the junk yard to shoot at each other. They call it the war zone. Past the junk yard/ war zone is a bridge someone must have hand made one time out of wood from the junk yard. The bridge leads us across a small narrow river filled with mini tadpoles and fish. It can't hold more than two people at a time so we had to take turns crossing it.
On the other side of the river the path stops and is blocked by pointy branches and thick vines. “To get back on the path you have to crawl under the branches and vines like an army man,” said Jeff, the oldest of the three McNulty's. So we crawled under the tangled mess and got all muddy from the ground. On the other side we saw the path come back into view. As I tried to get to my feet, to follow the others my pink princess shirt with a crown on it got caught on a branch. I yelled for my brother and the McNulty's to wait for me, but they didn't hear me. They were already out of my view and I was now alone. I struggled to free myself from the tree's grip as tears began to run down my face. Maybe the Richards had been right. Maybe ten years old is too young to be out exploring in a forest. I' m just a kid and I don't know how to get back to the entrance of the secret spot. I didn't think I had to know because I was with my brother and the McNulty's. Now I was with no one; I was all alone. A little girl in a big, dark, scary forest.
I tried once more to free myself and this time I dug my feet deep into the muddy ground and grabbed a near by vine and began to yank on it with all my might. I threw my 72 pound body against the vine in an effort to free my self. It worked as my shirt tore away from the tree. Now I was left with a snag in my shirt, the size of an M&M and I was still all alone.
Remembering the safety tips I had learned in school the week before, I decided to stay where I was and not go on and try to find the others because that could get me even more lost. The best thing for me to do was wait for them to come back this way, looking for me. I guessed I'd be staying there for a while, so I sat down in the mud, curled up my feet, so that it looked like I was in a ball, grabbed a small nearby stick and began to move it back and forth through the mud until it resembled somewhat the look of a rainbow.
Then, my stomach growled as I remembered that my brother was the one carrying all of our food. The McNulty's were going to take us to this place they call the food court. “The food court has a picnic table and is usually a good stopping place, to rest and eat,” they had said. It was also near the watering hole, which saved them the trouble of having to carry drinks along.
I was scared, but felt safe. Something about the place no longer seemed frightening. It felt warm and welcoming. While I waited for the others to find me, I took the time to relax. I layed there, until the sun used it warmth to cast a spell on me and sent me into a sleeping trance.
A little while later I began to hear voices as I slowly opened my eyes from my nap. I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes as I looked in the direction the voices were coming from. I was no longer near the tangled branches and vines, where it was all muddy, but was now in what looked like the food court. As I hoisted myself up on my arm I turned my neck until I spotted my brother and the McNulty's. They were sitting in the sand near the picnic table and were playing marbles.
“What's going on?” I asked as I began to yawn.
“Jessie you scared us half to death! When we were already far down the trail we noticed you weren't following us. What's wrong with you? You know better than to go off on your own like that!”
“But Corey I...”
“No buts,” screamed my brother, Corey. “Just go eat your PB and J sandwich!” He said.
Once I was done eating and let my brother cool off a little I explained to him what happened.
“It's alright Jess,” he said understandingly. “I was just afraid I lost you.”
Corey was the best big brother ever. He always protected me and never complained about having to play with me. We never got into fights with each other either.
I hoped that this little accident wouldn't keep him from letting me come back to the watering hole again sometime because he could be like that. One time this girl at the park behind our school would bully me so Corey never took me to that park anymore. He started taking me to the park behind our house instead. His intentions were always good and out of love, but he worried about me way too much.
After playing one more game of marbles with the boys we explored on to see more until it happened. Cheep. Squawk. And a noise like scraping metal. That's when we saw the houses that lay at the end of the trail. Through the window we saw him. A shadowed figure. Spying. Looking. Spying. Looking. And at who? As our faces turned white like a ghosts, we decided not to stay and find out. We screamed, running all the way, crawling back under the tangled vines and branches as fast as we could, running across the bridge, which almost broke from all of our weight being on it at once and ran through the arch, jumping onto our bikes like a bull rider. Zoom. Hurry. Zoom. Hurry. Finally we made it home and sighed with relief. That's the last time we would ever go to the watering hole.