07 April 2014

Repost: LJ Idol: Week 2 - The Missing Stair

I'm currently in the LiveJournal Idol competition for Season 9. My second entry of the season got really nice feedback, so I thought I would share it here as well.
I was playing at my neighborhood park one day as a child. Alone. This was the 80s, so my dad let me do such things. It also helped that I was in full view of my grandfather's house.

I spent the sunny afternoon swinging, rolling in the grass, playing Ninja Turtles (one of the reasons my imagination is so awesome), leaping off of the monkey bars, and just having a great time. Even though I was by myself, I was still making the most of it.

In the distance, I could hear the ice cream truck. Sadly, it was way off in the distance, so I was unsure of its true location. But there was another sound much closer to me: the sound of other children!

I can't remember how old I was, but I was ready to meet some new friends. I took off towards the noises that seemed to be coming from the other side of the tree line that divided the park from whatever was over there. The tree line wasn't very thick, so I plunged into it. And out of sight from my grandfather's home.

On the other side, there was nothing but a field of tall grass that almost came up to my head. But in the middle of the grass, there were 6 children, laughing and playing. Finding an extra burst of energy, I surged forward and joined them.

"Hi, I'm Kelen," I blurted, out of breath.

"Hi, Kelen," one of them responded. “We were just getting ready to go into our treehouse.” I looked over by shoulder at a massive treehouse that I had missed when I came into the field.

"That's your treehouse?" I asked in wonderment. The little boy who spoke nodded. "We have all kinds of fun games in there. This grass is itchy but we wanted to get our ball." A little girl next to him held up a shiny, blue ball.

"Do you want to come inside our treehouse, Kelen?" the boy asked. I nodded in agreement and the 7 of us raced for the giant tree.

The treehouse wasn't that massive as we approached the handholds that led up to it, but I was kid, so everything seemed massive to me. It was made of old planks of wood that seemed sturdy looking back and someone had used tin over the top of it to protect it from the elements somewhat. Someone had recently mowed around the base of the tree and the freshly cut grass filled my nostrils.

The other five kids raced up the handholds and into the treehouse, where their chorus of laughing and giggling commenced. The little boy who had greeted me headed up as well and disappeared from view. I frowned a little until his head reemerged as he looked down on me.

"Come on, Kelen!" I pulled myself along the handholds slowly, as it was my first time climbing into any structure this way. I was doing fine and only had a few more rungs to go before I reached the top, but then I made a mistake. I looked down.

"I can't do this!" I yelled. The tree grew taller, the wind picked up, and it felt like I was dangling by a few fingers suddenly. I was actually frozen maybe a foot or so from the ground.

"Yes, you can," the boy mocked from above. "Don't you want to have fun with us?" Rain started to pour and my clothes quickly became soaked as I was caught in a sudden summer storm. I soon couldn't tell if the water on my face was from the rain or my tears of fright.

I decided to close my eyes tightly and try to will myself the rest of the way to the treehouse. Before I knew it, I had pulled myself up two rungs; there should have only be one more before I could reach inside the house and pull myself up. I went to grab the handhold, and was met by rough tree bark.

I opened my eyes and saw the handhold I thought to be there was gone.

"It's the missing step!" the boy called down. "It's no big deal, just keep going!"

Determined not to look like a wuss to my new friends, I used my legs to push off the handhold my feet were on and reached for the treehouse desperately.

I didn't make it. I saw the boy's eyes open wide in horror as I began to fall, arms failing, mouth agape, back towards the ground. I wasn't up several feet, but definitely high enough that I wasn't going to not break a bone upon impact.

I closed my eyes...and then woke up. I was drenched in a cold sweat and had awoken my pregnant wife thrashing in bed. My missing step was a mere dream, yet so real that I could still smell fresh cut grass.

I told her I was okay and then went to the bathroom. I splashed water on my face and then stretched, immediately realizing that my back was extremely sore. I didn't recall that before I went to bed that night.

I walked out into the kitchen to get something to drink when my eyes fell upon it. In the middle of the floor, only seen due to the light above the stove being on, was a shiny, blue ball.

A missing step indeed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.