The Pitfall of Going Alone

Delivered on 6/5/17 in Dallas, TX
Delivered on 6/16/17 in Dallas, TX


“I’m screwed! I’m completely screwed! What am I gonna do now?” The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and that’s a BAD sign. Because it means I’ve missed the school bus.

I can’t wake my mom up. She had a late shift at the hospital last night, and she’ll kill me (KILL ME) if I wake her up. The last thing she needs is for me to cut her sleep short to inform her that she’s gotta drive me to school because I hit the snooze button too many times. No. That’s not an option.

The high school isn’t that far away, I don’t think. I mean, I’ve never walked there, but I think I could. I’m also really bad with directions, but, let’s see, okay, mapquest says it’s an hour away by foot, so I can still make it in time for second period. I don’t have that No homeless people walking about,quiz until 3rd period, so this is perfect. Whew! I can do this.

Oh god I really don’t wanna do this! I hate walking, and I’ll get all sweaty and gross. (pause) No, I’m doing this. I don’t have time to eat. Or shower. Or even brush my teeth. I gotta run. Phone? Keys? Wallet? Backpack? Got it. Time to go.

The walk is pleasant. I wave hello to a few older women jogging with well-behaved dogs on leashes, which is good because I’m kind of terrified of dogs. It’s about that time in Oklahoma when it gets warm enough for the winter snow to slowly turn to mush. Mush. Mush. That’s the sound my sneakers make against the muddy grass of Elm Street.

Now that I left my neighborhood, I realize the road to the school is not pedestrian friendly. Everyone who lives around here has a car, so there’s no need for a sidewalk, right? And we do have a car, but not today. Today I’m walking. On Elm street. To the high school.

I pull my razr flip phone out of my cargo shorts. If I had any friends this would be a good time to text them and ask for a ride. Or at least tell them to cover for me in first period. But the closest I had to a friend was this guy named Mark, and he was neither in my first period nor inclined to pick me up. Instead, I’m playing snake.

I’ve walked so much, but I’m still so far away. I need the distraction from all the cars flying past me just a few inches to my right. Getting lost in the game is a welcome distraction; it makes the journey more bearable. I hardly notice my socks getting wet. It also helps me not think about how unprepared I am for that quiz I have today. And--(whoa!)

I trip forward, my phone flies out of my hand, and I lose the ground beneath me. I find myself in a deep hole, underground up to my chest, just wide enough so I can stretch out my arms. WHY is there a hole here and WHY is it so deep? With a sigh of resignation, I grab around the edges of the hole. It’s all extra mushy -- don’t you hate that feeling in your hands? But all I know is I need to get out. I sink my fingernails into the sludge and slowly climb out of this ditch.

Finally out, with my clothes all dirty and my hands sticky, I look down to the edge of the hole. To my horror, that squishy ground I just rubbed and grappled with is actually a DEAD DOG! This rotting body covered in matted yellow hair is staring at me with glazed eyes and a menacing, crooked underbite. It’s hard to tell, but it must be a mix of German Sheppard with zombie Cujo, freshly dead, with hundreds of gnats swirling around it.

My heart is racing. I’m lightheaded. I feel like I’m gonna puke. I run towards the school as fast as I can, never looking back. I’m late for second period, and I just wanna get through this day. I’m filthy. I reek. My toes are numb inside my wet socks. I’m sure my classmates are staring at me. I keep seeing traces of dog blood on my hands even after I’ve washed them a dozen times.

I don’t remember how I did on the quiz. Next thing I know it’s 5th period and I realize I don’t have my phone. Oh no. My mom is going to MURDER me. I might as well go bury myself in that hole. When that bell rings at 2:30pm, I know I can’t go catch the bus. I HAVE to go back to the hole and find my phone.

I summon the courage to ask Mark, the closest thing I had to a friend, to drive me back to the hole. I’m surprised he just says, “Sure, man. Whatever.” We get there, and I’m pretty sure this is where it all happened. But there’s no dog. There’s no cell phone. There’s certainly no 4-foot deep hole. Did I make this whole thing up? Am I going crazy? Mark’s cell phone rings. It’s my mom. What!? “Are you sure? How did she--” Mark just shrugs. She wants to talk to me.

With a calm, kind voice, she tells me what happened: An animal control man picked up the dead dog about an hour ago and found my phone. He covered up the hole and called the number under “Mom” and told her to come pick the phone up. At this point, she’s worried and goes to the school, but they tell her class is already dismissed and that I didn’t ride the bus today. She remembered I had mentioned Mark’s name in passing, so she looked him up in my contacts in my phone. And that’s how I’m now talking to her, “Mom, I’m so sorry. I messed up big time today. But, if you’re not too mad at me, come pick me up. I have a heck of a story to tell you on the way home.”

I tripped over a dead dog and fell in a hole because I wanted to be independent. I thought that I should just take responsibility for my own problems. I think I learned a lesson today: if I rely on those who love me and appreciate a helping hand, I might avoid a few holes down the road.