A mile from our home (or so it seems, but we are young and the world is unimaginably big) there is a cave to which we trudge on summer Sundays.
We go there to hide. To pretend. To be more than we are. Or simply different.
It’s marked by shoestring, vine-choked and roofed with mud. We’ll be there soon although we don’t wear watches. I got one for Christmas but it’s lost. Broken. Or both.
It had a Cinderella face and a blue leather strap. I liked it. Just not enough to be careful.
I am careless.
So we’ll have to tell time by the movement of the sun.
I’m pretty sure we’ve been gone for hours. It feels like hours, doesn’t it?
My stomach growls and I think Next time, I’ll remember to bring snacks and maybe water. Also, I will be more careful with my Cinderella watch if I ever get a new one.
The trail grows steep in spots and we run in stutter-steps to keep from falling. At the bottom, I find my fist is full of leaves. They’re sharp and sticky, ripped from branches along the way. Our socks are laced with burs so we sit on baking rocks to pluck them clean.
Carry on. Then, stop!
Squat to stare at the skin shed by a rattler and then at a cow’s skull. Whisper about mortality. And human sacrifice.
Could it happen here?
Of course not. This is a cow.
A breeze kicks up, smelling of jasmine. It’s sweet and lovely, but the hairs on my neck still prickle. Beware of snakebites. And madmen. Hold your breath here. Don’t step on cracks. There.
Someday we’ll come back to play kissing games. Someday we won’t think that kissing’s gross. But today is about sunshine and dried grass and so much space you can’t see the end of it. We must be a mile from civilization. Which is very far.
Almost far enough.
We’ll stay for days. Or until lunchtime.
Thirsty. Invincible. Tempted home only by the promise of cold milk and warm kitchens.
We’ll hide again tomorrow.