Into the hole

 

I scampered through the brush, Matthew directly behind me. I was zonked, and finally my legs just screeched in protest and I simply had to stop.

“Ok! Ok! Enough.” I said to Matthew, who stopped directly in front of me. He was my best friend, all the way from my childhood. He was quite handsome, but of course, I didn’t notice such things.

“What? Are you tired?” He asked jokingly. I of course knew that he was only joking. I was much stronger than he, although he hated to admit it. “Who am I kidding? I’m exhausted.” I softly chuckled under my breath as I leaned down and put my hands on my knees.

“Well that was a workout!” I was nearly hyperventilating as I said this.

“Who knew that a herd of buffalo would react when you threw rocks at them?” Matthew asked, pretending to look perplexed, his brown eyes sparkling with laughter. I rolled my eyes in that ‘mature’ way of mine.

“Well, you learned something then.

Matthew looked back towards the way they had come. He seemed to be listening intently for the sound of thundering hooves. The chase had been rough, and I was nearly completely confident that we had craftily lost the buffalo herd. Matthew knew better however. He ran his fingers through his dirty blond hair and nodded his head. I looked at him.

“We’d better keep going. I keep hearing their hooves and that can only mean they’re not far behind.” Chivalrously, he offered me his hand and helped me stand up from my crouch like position. And we ran.

We ran through the canopy like trees. The sunshine poured down on us like friendly little rays. The more we ran, the hotter and faster we seemed to become. Suddenly, I heard a scream right behind me. A manly scream. Matthew!

I immediately stopped and turned around. A large hole had appeared. I gazed uncertainly at it. The whole outside circumference was littered with fallen leaves. The interior of the small hole seemed to be outlined with solid gold. I reached down and touched it with my hand. I could hear Matthew’s screams growing farther away.

“Matthew!” I shouted into the tunnel. I worried. What was down there? Could he escape? Could we escape? No response came.

The worst possible thing happened next. I heard hooves.

Loud, terrible, thundering hooves.

Headed straight for where I was crouched on the ground.

I quickly stood and looked around wildly. If I went down the hole, I could be with Matthew and everything would be alright somehow. We could make it through this together. But there was the possibility that Matthew could be dead already. No, I thought. He’s not dead. He’s stronger than this.

The thunder had grown closer, and as I looked behind me, I began to see the dust swirling in the near distance. I nodded.

And I slid into the hole, directly towards extreme uncertainty. But I will make it.

And so will Matthew.

Together.      

~Em

And Kat’s version…

The Hole

or, Birch Chasm

by Kat

Kalassidy glared into the dark night, her fair hair stark against the blackness, dark as a hole in the earth.  She tugged at her shorts and hoodie, trying to cover every inch of flesh which the mosquitoes could get at.  

It didn’t work.  

Kalassidy sighed, tired but still determined.  She would find Mart, no matter how long it took her!  She held the lantern above her head, and turned around slowly, finding her bearings.  

There.  Behind those ocher-white fallen birches – Mart must be!  The fallen birches brought to her mind memories…memories of her and Mart.

Kalassidy remembered her fourth birthday, when she had invited all ten people from her daycare class, and everybody had bought her the same gift – a toddler-size Target sweater in various shades: some in heather gray, tomato red, and a garish green color.  

Everybody…except Mart.  

Mart alone had brought something Kalassidy had liked, a compass.  He alone told his mother to find something outdoorsy for her, he alone.  

From that point on, Mart and Kalassidy’s strange relationship had blossomed.  Kalassidy remembered how she would leap out the window of her room, if she was in trouble with her foster parents, to go rafting through the evening down the creek with Mart.  She was ten.

She recalled those times when they would explore the woods together, twelve but not even considering that they had outgrown nature’s greatest playground.  

She remembered, last year, those coffees Mart brought her, in the morning, when she was tired from reading textbooks late at night –

Mart had supported her dreams, understood her like no one had.  He had troubles of his own, too.  Only Kalassidy understood him.  Each other were all they had.  No one cared much for two undersized foster kids.  Through his depression and failures, Kalassidy listened, comforted, stood by –

And now he was gone, run into the woods on a November night, when his “fosters” were on vacation.  Only Kalassidy cared for him, and so off she went to find him.

She stumbled through the unexplored parts of the Lenxy Woods, stumbling farther than she ever had in all her childhood.

She tripped through deep, dusty drifts of leaves, allowing the briars to snag her jacket and tear her hoodie.  

That was when Kalassidy reached the birches, and knelt beside them.  A wide chasm, several feet long, ran between the felled trees.  Kalassidy had never seen it before.  Cautiously, she called into it, her voice echoing soundly for a distance she neither knew nor cared.  In the darkness, she did not see the limp shape so many miles below.  She did not know that Martin, driven wild by his emotions and desperate thoughts, had run off into the woods in search of a place to fall.  

She did not know that Mart had discovered this chasm before.

But Kalassidy rose and continued to search through the woods, the infinitely deep woods.  And here Kalassidy was, wandering through the woods with nothing to guide her, nothing except

a small,

orange plastic,

weather-beaten,

compass.  

 

 

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