Editorâ€™s Note: â€œCracks in the Cloudsâ€ is a piece of creative non-fiction. All of the events in the story are true. This is the third part of an 8-part series that will run weekly in the Collegianâ€™s Verve section.
My chest convulsed but I told it to keep quiet.
I was stronger than him.
I waved to Joan and Mary. They smiled; I could tell they had been in the Garden. Clay laughed behind me as he swung his small leg over the horse he had left in the community corral behind me, behind the bus.
I turned to him and stared, the most evil of all my stares. The one my mother had taught me. It stopped his smile; he kicked his horse in the ribs and took off. Joan kissed my cheek and opened the truck door for me.
â€œMary and I worked in the garden all day, Lucas. I made cookies and JohnLuke barked at these deer we had in our yard for what felt like 30 minutes. Are you hungry?â€ She asked.
â€œI want to go play with JohnLuke,â€ I said.
A mile south from my parentsâ€™ house was a game trail off the main road that led to Mary and Joanâ€™s house.
It was in a cottonwood forest. A stream ran through it. Broken branches littered the forest floor.
It was in between the house of my neighbor that drove a John Deere. He caught live rattlesnakes for pets. The neighbor next to him grew pot in his garage. He had Christmas lights on his deck all year around. I took the trail to their house frequently.
One afternoon, in mid-October, I took the trail. The sun wasnâ€™t showing.
The night before was cold, and the grass was still wet with the leftover frost. My pants became soaked after the half-mile walk to Mary and Joanâ€™s house.
I couldnâ€™t see the circles under their eyes until I met the porch. They were dark, but not as dark as the raccoonâ€™s eyes I saw digging around my motherâ€™s garden. Maryâ€™s voice pulsed. â€œDoesnâ€™t your mother ever wash your face?â€ she said pointing at my nose and cheeks.
When I looked in the door mirror I could see the brown on my face. I wiped at the dirt feverishly with the sleeve of my white turtleneck. The walk through the forest had scuffed up my appearance.
The grass was as high as my chest on the walk up to Mary and Joanâ€™s house. The water in the creek was higher than it was the week before, the dirt was softer, muddier and without my footprints.
So I ran.
I listened to my feet squishing into the soil the entire way up; the birds chirped around me, a blurring of sound formed.
I ran past yellow flowers and deer poop; I ran past the burned rocks we had used to set fireworks on the year before. I ran past the yucca plant where I had buried my action figure Peter Pan the month before.
I didnâ€™t want anything but Joan and Maryâ€™s cookies. The leaves on the trees shook and fell when I pushed them out of my way running up the hill.
The sky was dark and low; barely a beam of light could find anywhere to bleed through.
Staff writer Lucas Dean FiÅ¡er can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.