Double Dare

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.



Last Modified on March 26, 2017
This entry was posted in Life
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29 thoughts on “Double Dare

  1. You sure were brave, caves, cow skulls, and snake skins would have done me in!

  2. Love this.

  3. You have a gift. I love reading everything you write. LOVE.

  4. Beautiful. Our cave was a creek, and we’d go there for hours. I was always slightly relieved not to find a corpse in it. What is it with the childhood death obsession? I think we liked to scare ourselves…

    Thanks for making me think about that creek again.

  5. Di

    I think I have run past that cave and never imagined the wonder of it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Ann

    Just beautiful.

  7. You actually transported me there . . . which is impressive, as I’ve never been there, nor have I had a watch with Cinderella on it.

  8. Suzie

    Oh, to be young again…and brave and uninhibited by life!

  9. The magic of having a space where adults don’t dwell. Wonderful!

  10. Jessica Tessler

    Wow. I can’t even tell you how much I love this.

  11. You took me there. Write more for us. Pretty please. xo

  12. Love your writing so much. Every.Single. Time. Every. Single. Word. (And I think I had that watch!)

    I’ve been meaning to write my #WhereILived (but you know me, I’m blazy), I think you just may have inspired me to do so.


  13. Kir

    there was a muddy, creek like place about 139 steps from my backdoor but it seemed like it was a million miles away from safety and civilization. Your piece took me back there, all those jumbled thoughts, all that childhood courage and the tiny prickle of fear that propelled me home long before the others.

    I loved every word.

  14. I’m so glad to read your post today. And how fabulous that you are linking up with Ann! I’m just starting to wade back into the writing thang. Cautiously. I was recently in Arizona and learned the rattlers are being born right about now. I was lying on the hot pavement when someone suggested that might now be prudent. Glad to be living again.

  15. My Inner Chick

    Now I remember why I come here.

    Because your writing is Delectable. X

  16. OH! It makes me sad that my children will never know the imagination-laced adventures that we had. (I didn’t have a cave, but, man, I wish I did!)

  17. I read your comment on my blog and clicked on your name and was brought here, to this URL, which I actually sent to myself from work today so that I could read it in peace and quiet! I hadn’t put two and two together. This was so beautiful, and I wanted to savor it without interruptions. I just did, and it was even better the second time. Nice to make your acquaintance!

  18. This seems quite an adventure, two children rock climbing. It could have turned anyway, but it ended up a great story. Loved it.

  19. Gorgeous. This took me back to my childhood places – mine was an empty field filled with wild strawberries in the spring. Great imagery!

  20. I want to know more.
    God I love your writing.

  21. Lorene Whitehouse

    Amazing writing-love your descriptive “Julie” phrases- I want to be out hiking in that amazing place of adventure with you! Sounds adventurous and fun! Keep up the great work!

  22. Those places did feel so far removed from everything, didn’t they? I was always called home by the promise of lunch or supper too.

  23. What a beautiful, dreamy remembering. My own childhood was greener, but full of the same sense of discovery and meandering inner monologue.

  24. Love. Just love. “Stutter-steps” is my new favorite. I can picture all of this perfectly. It’s my childhood, too.

  25. Just lovely, Julie. Oh, to go back to who and where we are. Some things, like this, I wish I could do again, just for a little while. But now, I live for the moments that make me feel as you must have felt here. Such discovery and innocence and newness of being…

  26. Just love this. This is exactly how it is to be a kid who explores and dares and imagines.

    Brave children, afraid of everything, yet not.

  27. Your words make me taste that combination of fear and invincibility that define childhood. Will I ever let my kids wander so? I doubt it, at least not when they are young enough to wear Cinderella watches or ride pink bikes with baby license plates on the back like mine had when I would ride around our neighborhood and to the next, without cell phones or calling when we got there or anything at all.

  28. How do you capture moments like this so perfectly? I love this. What a perfect memory.

  29. A beautiful slice of childhood.

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