I pedal along the rocky trail past the houses and farms and the smell of a wet bonfire. My bag on my back bumps around as I pedal faster. I’m at the trees now, and plunge into the forest. The sweet damp air steadies my breathing. The chilly breeze makes me feel warm like I have just slipped into cool covers of a freshly made bed. Crickets chirp, as do birds but not in time with each other. I’m pushing hair out of my face when I come to the great field. Hay barrels here and there. The browns and yellows tell everyone its autumn. Rabbits are perking up their ears at me. The orange sunset dims to a purple twilight. Everything shivers as the temperature drops rapidly. I rest my bike against the fence and sit down in the overgrown grass. I hug myself in my sweater, and breathe deeply through my nose. I reach into my bag and pull out my drawing paper and a pencil; quietly, as I do not want to disturb life here. It is still light enough to see the world, in fact, it’s clearer than ever. I sing a song I make up on the spot The animals are alarmed at first and run, but inch back slowly as they realize there is no danger. I sit in the long grass while I sketch, and it tickles my bare ankles like bugs are landing on me. I swat at it sometimes, sure it’s a spider, but it’s always the weeds swishing in the wind. I pull out the tube of smarties I stole from the pantry and sit back. I close my eyes for a long time. I am cold but I like it. I look up at the clouds. Closest to me are the big puffy ones. Above them are smaller, rounder ones in large groups, and above that I can see wispy ones.
I start fiddling with the grass, picking it and letting it go for the wind to take. I begin staring into space when something catches my eye. The distinct shine of silver laying in the grass just out of reach in the field. Too curious not to investigate, I carefully climb over the splintering, weathered fence and land perfectly on the other side. I creep over to the metal object surreptitiously, looking around while my eyebrows scrunch together in wonder. I see that it’s a chain. It unravels as I pick it up between two fingers, I realize it’s a locket. I open it and find a picture. It’s in black and white and it’s blurry like it had gotten wet at some point, but I could still see that it displayed a couple, probably in their thirties. They are not smiling but their eyes are happy. The right side bears the engraving: “My Dearest Jane, I love you forever. 1931” I turn it over and over in my hands. The freezing cold metal starts stinging my skin so I slip it into my bag and sit back thinking up a story about where the necklace had come from.
When it’s getting too dark to make out the trees opposite me on the other side of the field, I pack up my things, hop on my bike, and pedal past the cooing pigeons and speedy bats, onto the paved road where my home lies ahead.
I put my bike away in the shed and go see the sheep. I sit on the gate dividing our garden from the sheep field and watch them watch me. There are just four sheep. Their glowing eyes study my movements. They don’t recognize me in the dark. I’m freezing now and I run in through the back door, jog up the stairs to my room and get into my pajamas. I stare out the window into the darkness until I’m tired enough to go to sleep. In my bed I take the necklace out for the first time since I arrived back home. It hasn’t changed, of course, but I still study it for hours and fall asleep with it laying against my chest, intertwined in my fingers.
Age 13, Grade 8
Saint Ann’s School