Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Every day in the summer was another opportunity for adventure. My mom and dad worked, leaving my brother, sister and I to fend for ourselves. We didn't mind though. My oldest sister was "watching us", so technically we weren't alone. Lucky for me, my sister loved to read and did a lot of it all summer long.
I was not a reader. I was a do-er. I loved the outdoors no matter what the weather. I would get up in the morning, throw some water on my unruly hair (sometimes), grab a poptart and run out the door. I imagine myself kicking my heels together and yelling "yeeeeehaw!"
I loved to play in the creek not too far from our house. I could spend hours down there and to this day, I have the layout of the entire area burned into my brain. If you told me to name the best place on the earth quickly without thinking, I would definitely say the creek! At the end of the creek, there was a tunnel. I didn't know where the tunnel went, but I was very curious about it. I could see the beginnings of words I was never allowed to say spray painted on the walls. I could see the slick, moss covered bottom as it led to the unknown. My mom, knowing I was afraid of very little but well aware of my Catholic, fear of the devil upbringing, told me that there were holes in the tunnel and that if I fell into a hole, I could drop all the way to hell and then there was no way out. I thought about that... a lot.
I am going to try to write a narrative story with dialogue about the day that I went into the tunnel.
"Sandie!!!" I yelled, "I am going outside!"
I was always very vague when I told people where I was going, not to be vague, but because I never knew where I would end up. Today I knew where I was headed. The. Tunnel. I had been warned about the tunnel... never to go in there so I didn't end up someplace where I didn't want to be. My mom even tried to scare me about the tunnel. It worked for a while, but not today!
I ran out of the house, slamming the door in my wake. I jumped off the porch and onto my bike, hesitating only a minute remembering when the neighbor rode it without clothes. EW.
I loved to pedal as fast as I could and then, really close to the curb, slamming on my brakes so that I would skid to the side in the gravel. I did that over and over again all the way to my friend Jen's house. She lived in the south end of my neighborhood. We had met on the school bus and had become fast friends.
Jen was more daring than I was. I loved adventure, but there was always my mom's voice in the back of my head, with a doom and gloom story to warn me off of what I was about to do. Jen didn't seem to have that voice in her head, and she made mine quieter.
We had decided to go into the tunnel after weeks and weeks of standing on the edge, looking in at all the graffiti and wondering what the teenagers always did in there. Well, today was the day!
"I think we should hold hands," Jen said as she gazed into the dark abyss that was the tunnel.
"I think that's a great idea! Then if one of us falls in, the other one can pull them out," I said.
Jen looked at me quizzically, but I didn't want to explain what my mother had said so I quickly followed up with, "in a puddle". She smiled and nodded.
Jen stepped in, walking the narrow concrete balance beam that ran down the middle most of the way. We could hear the water dripping through the tiny cracks in the tunnel. One dropped down the back of my shirt and right away I thought it was the lifeless claws of someone from the underworld. I stepped a little closer to Jen.
As the concrete narrowed and disappeared, we found ourselves in the middle of the tunnel. It was cold and dark and I could hear our breathing.
"What's on the other side?" I wondered.
"I think it's a land of fairies," Jen answered. She started to move forward into the water when I grabbed her arm.
"Are you sure we should go into the water? My mom..." I started.
"Why are you worrying about your mom?" Jen demanded, "She is at work!"
I tried to explain to Jen that my mom had warned me about the portals to hell under the puddles in the tunnel but she stopped me, telling me that I was crazy.
Still, she paused and flipped her long bangs.
"I don't believe your mom, but still... let's just go back for today," Jen said a little breathlessly.
She turned around and headed out of the tunnel.
I followed feeling... relieved.
We would save the tunnel for another day.