But it is August. For teachers that is like a month of Sundays (ie anxiety, nightmares, and feelings like time was not well spent).
And the bank accounts are depleted.
And there is a big chance my friend who has watched my girls since shortly after I started back to work after Alex was born will not be able to take care of them this year (Defcon RED has been reached).
And I have not completed all the projects on my summer list.
And I have not read all the books I wanted to read.
And I haven't gotten in shape (though the girls and I ran/walked a 5k yesterday!).
And well...my first draft isn't done.
I told myself at the start of the summer that if I didn't finally get out a first draft of the story that has been bugging me for years, that I was going to put it down and move onto my other stories, other pieces of writing. I have made a ton of progress, but I am not there yet. So to push me towards that final sprint of August I decided to Shame Myself into sharing a bit of what I do have. Is that okay? I did, afterall, start this blog 6 and a 1/2 years ago as a Writing Blog, but it morphed into a Life-ish blog when Kath was diagnosed. Anyway...here is me, challenging myself to finish.my.damn.story. Disclaimer...still in rough rough stage.
Here it is:
I hadn’t been in the woods for a bit. At first it was because of what happened to my grandma. Even though no one found her body, it was a pretty mysterious way for a 60 year-old to disappear. When the police first came to investigate, they asked questions about grandpa’s and her marriage and they asked us if they had been arguing. It was clear that at first they expected something strange had gone on between grandma and grandpa, which anyone who knew them knew that they loved one another greatly. Grandpa would rather die than to have anything happen to her.
At first I was mad at the woods because that’s where grandma went missing, and no one would let us kids near the trails, but over time, no one stopped us. But also none of us tried to go back into the woods. Why would we? I’m not sure what they decided happened to grandma, but no one seemed to think there was anything sinister in the woods. Honestly, I was a bit embarrassed, because I couldn’t seem to remember things like I used to, like the day that grandma disappeared, I was with her, but I couldn't remember anything. My lack of memory was a bit scary, but I didn’t want anything else to be wrong with me so I pretended I was fine and went about my days as usual. I didn't tell anyone.
Shrugging off my negative thoughts again, I grabbed my backpack which I always had stuffed with my notebooks, pens and granola bars and headed towards my door. With any luck, everyone would still be sleeping and I could slip out unnoticed and be back before anyone suspected I had gone. Hopefully my parents would just think I was sleeping in.
As I began to pull the bedroom door closed behind me, my eye caught a glimpse of the picture on my wall. It reminded me of a picture from the children’s book grandma read to me a child, Goodnight Moon, even though the view was not of the quiet sleeping room, but rather it was of a gothic looking house with two huge stained glass windows. It had the same green walls and a red balloon floating in the background. Even when I was a kid, I always did a quick double check on that balloon, it always appeared to be coming through the frame and into the room, or at least moving around.
But that was crazy.
And I saw a shrink once a week to stuff that kind of crazy back in.
Breathing in deep I could she smell bacon. Mom was making Saturday morning breakfast. That usually meant the regular chores would not be completed. Chances of my hike just improved greatly, everyone would be in relax-mode.
I heard sounds from my brother’s room, but they stopped when I paused by his door. Latham probably woke himself up to play video games but didn’t want mom and dad to know because they would make him do his chores or homework first.
I continued down the hall to the stairs, but it was right there as I took my first step down that I finally realized what was wrong, what felt different when I first swung my legs over to get out of bed. It shook me so much that it was as though I was being pushed from behind. I grabbed the banister so I wouldn’t fall.
I wasn’t limping.
I wasn’t tight.
I didn’t struggle with pulling up my jeans or pulling my shirt over my head.
I just did it. It was as if I woke up and didn’t have CP, or at least this is what I *thought* that would feel like.
Not knowing what to make of this all I decided to just keep going and try to figure it out as I hiked. I had felt like I needed to be alone today; now it was imperative. Maybe I was really just starting to go crazy. What was it that Clarisse in Fahrenheit 451 said, "I'm 17 and crazy"? Well, I'm only 16 but maybe crazy starts sooner in the country.
I knew my father was awake because the coffee was brewing as well the bacon was sizzling, he was the coffee maker. But he wasn’t sitting at the table nor was he between me and the door. No one was tending to the bacon, so I got to the mudroom and grabbed my boots. I didn’t even want to take the time to lace up them, I didn’t want to be stopped. I grabbed the boots in my hand and slid out the screen door into the early Indian summer morning and headed towards the small, almost invisible to the eye, opening in our berry bushes.
I walked across the yard, my socks getting damp in the morning dew, but I kept going. If I made it without being noticed I could sit on the bench at the start of the trail and pull them on, unseen by anyone looking by chance through a window in the house. If I didn’t, well…I didn’t want to think about that, I already was feeling insane, being caught walking in wet socks wouldn’t make me look any saner.
I looked back once I made it to the bush divide and I thought I saw the curtain in Latham’s room shift but I turned and continued on. He’d rather play his games then come for an actual outdoor adventure. He wouldn’t want to get cold or wet or use real muscles. He also wouldn’t want to risk telling on me and having to follow me out here today. So I knew I was safe as I headed down the hill to the bench.
Maybe I was dreaming. This was all just so weird. Maybe I really was still in bed with Buffy laying across my legs pinning me to the bed, stealing my blankets. I had that weird feeling that time was moving at a strange pace so maybe I should just go with it and maybe I’d find that it was all okay. Just a dream. A pretty elaborate dream...but a dream.
I started walking the path. The leaves were so thick on the trail that I shuffled through them, making quite the noise emission as I went. I’m sure every woodland animal heard me coming from a mile away. The rustling of the leaves were such that I never even heard him until he tapped my shoulder and I screamed, turned and punched him right in the mouth. Latham's eyes flew open and he held his hand to his jaw with a shocked expression.
“What?! Why would you do that?!”
I ran to him and tried to touch him but he backed away, now starting to get angry. “I’m sorry Latham. I was just so surprised! I was in my own thoughts, the leaves were loud…I was thinking about grandma….”
His look softened as he rubbed his jaw. “Ok, but still. I had no idea you could move so fast!”
I bit my tongue because I didn’t really want to tell him about my weird feelings…feelings like the cerebral palsy I was born with had gone away when I woke up this morning. That would sound so weird and he would drag me back home to tell mom. And I felt a pull, a need, to continue on.
“Yeah, well. Don’t scare me.” I turned and continued on. I expected that he would just turn around and leave me alone, but nope, he followed me.
“So where are you off to today? You haven’t hiked in a long time,” he started to try to bring a conversation into our walk.
I didn’t really want to talk, I had been looking forward to this walk all week and now he was ruining it…making twice as much noise and trying to talk to me. I could not catch a break. I just wanted to be alone to try to figure things out. ‘It’ being the lack of muscle tightness. And ‘it’ being the cafeteria fiasco yesterday and my crazy friends. "It" being everything in my life that didn't make sense. Everyone said that your teenage years were supposed to be your best years, but if this was 'good'!? Oh boy. I just wanted some time away from everyone, time to think.
But when the albino deer stepped into the path and stared at us both, I was suddenly very glad Latham was by my side, even if he took an extra step and walked into me before noticing the deer. The way the deer stomped its front right paw, lowered its head and stared without blinking was not very deer-like. It was more aggressive than any deer I had ever seen in my woods before.
“Shoo…go along now, shoo,” I said to it. I was tired of everything getting in my way today. Now a deer?? This was just ridiculous!
“Are you trying to be scary,” said the deer, “or just dramatic?”
Now it was my turn to take a step back. How was this deer talking? If I felt like I was in a dream before, now I knew I had to be! This had to be a dream and I really was just in my bed snuggled in. That idea helped me not to panic and run away screaming.
But there was another part of me that felt almost like this was déjà vu. Especially when the man dressed all in black stepped out from the curve of trees.
“Were you really just talking to a deer? That’s kind of cute.” The deer stamped his foot again like he was angry at those words, turned and walked back down the trail a little more, then it stepped off the trail and disappeared down a ravine. A steep one judging from how quickly it disappeared from my view.
“You both need to come with me. We have been waiting a long time for you.” And with that the man swirled around and his long duster swirled with him, miraculously not catching on any brambles. It was almost like he was a hologram because I kept getting caught and had to pull thorns out of my skin, which lead me back to realizing this was now my number one reason for knowing this couldn’t really be a dream-- I was bleeding. But the insanity of the moment was too much to process so I decided to pretend anyway.