I.L.A. period 6
Pain. And fear. Erupting through my body. And the screams. Oh, the screams behind me hurt almost as much as the animal crawling through my scalp. As my feelings of safety and security in this place, that I was now running from, got torn away from me. Ripped from my body replaced with a new kind of pain. I had to get out. Get safe. As the thickets brushed past me, cutting, scraping, bruising my skin, I had only one thought… Run.
My day had been dreadful so far. I got up at 8 to run some errands with my mom. These included going to the mall and walking around looking for a specific whatever (whatever that whatever was, I never knew). Although I felt that this was just wasting whatever free time I had left in the day. Not only that but, to this day, I still question why my parents thought that bringing me on shopping sprees would be a good family bonding experience. Because in reality, it was just hours of boredom, complaining, and walking with minimal communication or talking. Hours and hours. Of wishing for something. Something to take me out of this misery.
Finally, my prayers were answered. I was back in the car going to a sleepover. The relief of not having to spend the rest of the day with my family and getting to spend the night with my friends was so good. It’s not that I don’t love my family, but as many other middle schoolers can relate, being around them for days on end without a break can get tiring. So once that break came, I was ecstatic.
Once I got to my friend Trajan’s house, I stepped inside and put my stuff down. His mother (which I consider my second) greeted me warmly, when I yelled, “Hello” as I always do.
His younger brother Duncan grabbed my shoulders shaking me yelling, “who are you? Intruder! Who are you?” as if I was some sort of outsider.
Max, the youngest of the the three brothers, was screaming as he came bounding down the stairs. Oblivious to the fact that anyone besides his immediate family was even in the house, this was just his loud nature. Not only that, but I was also welcomed by him shrieking the words, “Milo’s here!” with his high 6-year-old voice.
Then I was off to find Trajan. I went to the kitchen, and there he was, reading. “Hi,” I said. No response. “Hi,” I said louder now waving my right hand in a long swooping motion trying to get his attention. No response.
“Trajan!” his mom exclaimed. “Put down that book and go say hi to your friend.”
He obeyed his mother… but not really. Without looking up from his book he gave me a gentle, quiet, “Hello.” Normal for Trajan, yet something I’ve never gotten because of my louder more extroverted personality.
I came over their house with something I wanted to do, and it seems that Duncan, who was two years younger than me, had the same idea. We wanted to climb the place we called “The Mountain” in their backyard. “The Mountain” is a large, rocky hill in their backyard with a beautiful, flat peak at the top in which you can see the whole forest. We were going to continue building a stick fort up there. We all thought it was a great game plan so, we gathered our usual materials: our swiss army knives, some paracord, and our usual snacks which included Extreme Cheddar Goldfish, some Chobani yogurt tubes, and some tomatoes (these were only for Duncan). We were ready. We set out on our adventure. Ready to travel the world our only boundary , of course, being the size of the woods.
I loved them though. No matter how limiting they were. I truly felt at home their. The woods were a place where there were no rules. I didn’t have to take out the trash or do my homework. I was free. And safe from what society expected from me. Oh how I loved the woods. The fresh forestry smell, the quiet, peacefulness of it all. The flowing water through creeks, so shallow, so clear. The wind blowing through the trees making the most amazing whooshing sound. I loved the imperfections and differences. The intricate juxtaposition that mother nature bestowed on them like the soft, gentle moss, laying on top of the rough, heavy rocks. All of the structures and colors. And the occasional animal that goes by. Life surrounds you. A different kind of life. An accepting kind of life. One our greatest ancestors, the first homosapians, lived in.
As we were leaving, we called to Trajan but he said he would catch up with us because he wanted to finish what he was doing (probably reading). And Max, who always wanted to join in was still getting ready. So Duncan and I set out without them making sure, though, that they would come out soon. As we went outside careful to not let their dog packard out, we talked about our “big plans.” Mostly about the stick fort or structure. We had the basic structure but we needed to fill it in with more sticks then cover it with leaves. Then Duncan remembered that he had something he wanted to show me. It was a fallen tree and he told me that he thought it was super cool. I totally wanted to check it out. So, now a little ways into the woods, we walked over the creek, and over some rocks to get to the stump of the fallen tree.
It was pretty cool, and it made a natural bridge over the creek, we had just realized. Now we could safely walk over instead of chancing it with rocks and sticks and tempting fate to pull us into the cold water. The intricate patterns of the roots mesmerized us. So much so that we took a couple of minutes in almost complete silence, the only sounds being those of the forest, to examine it. Everything was so beautiful, peaceful. Well, that was, until Duncan screamed “BEE!”
Then noise. And fear. And panic. Everything seemed as if it was in slow motion for a second. I saw the bees, I didn’t know where they were coming from, but I knew we were swarmed. The only thoughts racing my mind were bad ones; Is this where we die? Then it was as if someone had hit the fast forward button. The adrenaline hit so fast that it seemed that I only had to blink and I was over the creek. Running. My surroundings a blur. I heard Duncan screaming behind me, he wasn’t as fast and he was caught in the thick of it. I wished I could have gone back and helped him but I had to get help.
I felt something almost tickling the top of my head, then, Sharp Pain. More screams. And running and running and tripping and getting up and screaming, calling for help and pain and more running. I knew I was close, trees still rushing by left and right. It’s funny how something so beautiful can be so dangerous at the same time. I was still moving pretty fast, but I was getting tired. My feet were getting beat up by the stubbing of my toes on rocks and roots.
Then another sting to my head and I was back to full speed not even thinking about the pain. This whole time I had been swatting around me but now I was frantically hitting my head. Banging the already painful stings trying to kill the animal crawling through my hair.
I was up the hill now, the forest thinning around me. Then I saw it, the house. I was so close. With the house I saw Trajan and his brother Max conveniently timed. I thought it was obvious at the time that something was wrong (what with Duncan screaming behind me and all), but they just stood there. So as I was running past, pounding on my already pounding head, I yelled back at them, “Bees! Run!” Max took up running right behind me. But all Trajan did was walk calmly inside. I don’t know if he didn’t hear me or anything, but he came in even after Duncan. This surprised me because a bee (which was later killed by Trajan’s mom) flew into the house after Duncan.
Once we were all inside, the pain truly dawned on us. At this point I kind of wished I was still shopping with my parents, because no bee would get me there. I didn’t cry (surprisingly), but Duncan did. As I sat there with ice on my multiple head stings, he was washing his. He got stung once on the hand and once on the side of his ribs. After everyone was calm, which took about an hour, a realization came upon me. Although I was completely petrified while it was happening, I realized that my strong fear of bees had now diminished. I mean, now I knew I wasn’t allergic to them (not all of them at least). I also knew how much it hurt to be stung, and I had survived it. It was awful but some of it might have been worth it.
I learned two things that day: One, hard or painful events can actually pay off. And two, to be very careful wherever you are even if you trust the place you are going because surprises can always catch you off guard.
We didn’t step into those woods for at least six months after the incident. How could we? A place where we felt at home and so connected to. Something we thought was so good; nature. And yes, eventually we did go back in. I don’t know if it was this event or us just maturing out of wanting to be there but it just wasn’t ever the same. No fun. Just anxious alertness. It was as if all of a sudden, part of me was lost. And I didn’t know if I would ever find it again.