Nature has no name. Where wooed urgency tumbles into a howling excitement, desire, need, while I stare under a green world with the sky falling into me, and into the water below. New water, big fun water.
Fun gets whispered flowing in inaudible waves that catch and play a melody on my inner tuner. At first, they hadn’t been whispering. Suspicious, they changed their minds. Instantly, I sensed subterfuge and started asking questions.
You are too little. You can’t come. It won’t be fun for you.
They must mean my little brother. I can come. I can tell it will be fun for me.
No one helped me, though, so I helped myself. I did what everyone else was doing.
They told me not to come. I followed them anyway. The pack of them out-ran me fast disappearing far ahead while I am still in the familiar playground of the park in the woods across the street. They leapt like deer one after another into the bushes and disappeared.
They had all been changing into shorts. This was important for some reason. When they said I couldn’t, I proved that I could. I’d gone and done the same. Fishing a pair of shorts, my little brother’s were the first ones I could find, out of the big pile of clean laundry on the couch, where everyone else was getting theirs from. I proudly put them on, without help. I don’t need anyone to help me get dressed, see. Whatever they were going to do, I was coming.
I am wearing shorts I shouted, then screamed after them. My two older sisters, Nicky, she didn’t go to school either, Tosh was old enough to go to school, and Moe, he was already in fourth grade. Then there was my half-brother Ben, and a friend Matt. Moe and Tosh warned me not to follow them.
We were in the usual park across the street, where I played all the time. They warned me not come into the dangers after them. Danger wasn’t stopping me. My little brother didn’t come. He was the little one they were avoiding and not letting come. Not me, though. I am big enough. I headed straight for the trees were I thought I’d last seen them. My world went silent while I kept on going into the unknown.
I might get lost in here forever. Forever started to happen.
Just shy of forever, an intoxicating siren song of squealing roaring, fun, drifted into the silence or the scream of the endless forest. I could navigate by it, jumping over logs, creeping between trees, crawling under low branches squeezing through scratchy walls of pokey bushes.
They said I couldn’t. But I can.
I’m saved from being lost forever, maybe kidnapped by the sight of Ben, Tosh, Nicky, Moe, Trish, and Matt, splashing, laughing squealing shouting tag.
See, I can! I tear up to the edge of the creek shouting.
Surprise, then signs of exasperation turn the air to soup. Every glance up at me, a groan.
You can’t come!
We told you not to!
I’m here! See, I could, too, come. I’m so proud of myself that at first I’m smiling smug, triumphant, standing there, waiting to be accepted, and join the game. The fun stops.
I’m not taking her back, you take her back.
You are the one who couldn’t be quiet.
Well mom told you to take care of the little kids.
You ran too slow.
The nicest of my two big sisters tried to get me to leave back the way I came.
My next sister growled for me to stop ruining all the fun and just go away.
She might get lost, you need to take her back.
She ruins everything. I’m not taking her all the way back.
I’m not going!
Well you can’t swim!
Oh, that is what they are doing-swim. It’s what they were all talking about. That’s what they are doing. I could do that. It looks easy and fun.
I can swim if I want to. You are not my boss!
But you can’t.
Yes I can. I can if I want to.
Tosh splashes Matt and laughs at him. He lunges for her. She is the one who would say get out of here. I expect that.
She turns and tags Nicky. Ben lets Nicky catch up to and tag him, then roars after Moe.
Moe would tag me when he get’s caught, so I’m heading right into the game now. It felt like everyone was just right there, but when I try to join the game, I have to climb straight down a dirt bank as high as I am. I edge up to it and dangle my legs down over the side. It’s scary. But I’m calculating my leap into the water.
No! Moe shouts.
I’m dumbstruck. He is usually sorta nice to me, so him not wanting to play with me hits me where tears are. I start to sob and I can’t stop. Then, all the unfairness of it, the anger of being left out comes up in an epic wave of repressed wails. No one likes me and no one is nice to me fills up my chest with a bursting pain shattering my my body into shaking like I’m crying all over.
Shut up! You are ruining everyone’s fun! Tosh groans.
Ben is still chasing Moe, so he is gone somewhere where I can’t see him. Then he is somewhere else, then somewhere else. He looks at me every time he is somewhere else with a strange face that makes the wailing come harder. Tosh reproaching makes me madder, till I’m screaming uncontrolled at the top of my lungs cuz I don’t know what else to do. I’m almost beat. But I try to slide down and reach the bottom with my feet, but the bottom is water and my feet don’t reach it. I want to jump, but it’s not the ground I’ll land on and it’s high and to scary.
No one will help me, wells up in my chest and erupts in a fresh ear piercing howl of sadness and despair. I see it reflected on their faces.
Someone is gonna find out we are here if she doesn’t be quiet. But, I don’t care. If someone finds out, they will not be so mean, and help me play, too. So, I let my head start to pound with the shouting without letting up.
Matt swims over to the bank were I am. He looks up at me with a different face and says something I can’t hear while I’m screaming my head off.
You want to come swim?
Yes! I stop crying like the sun came out.
You need some help getting in?
Yeah, but no one will help me.
I want to help you.
The soup in the air vanishes, it’s slurped up and a fresh breeze blows through the trees and through the trees in me.
He comes close to the bank and looks up at me. Can you jump? I’ll catch you. His head disappears under water then bobs back up.
Where did you go?
Moe stops and gets caught. She doesn’t know how to swim!
I can to jump! It scars me, but I’ll do it, I’m thinking. But where did Matt just go?
Why do you keep going somewhere?
My feet don’t touch the bottom here. I have to swim to not go down. I can catch you, but if you can’t swim then you might go down and not come back up.
I thought of Moe disappearing then coming up somewhere else. I’d do that.
I’ll do what Moe is doing.
Do you know how to swim?
I think so.
Have you swam before?
Oh, then I better not bring you down here. Your mom would be really mad at me if you went and drown.
What is drown?
It’s when you go down but don’t come back up.
I thought about Moe going down and I wonder about where he is, and wonder and wonder cuz he doesn’t come back up.
But I will come back up. Why wouldn’t I?
Well you have to know how to do it. If you never did it before, you don’t know how and you will go down and not know how to come back up.
If that happened, you mom would be real sad. She would never see you again.
My mom would be sad if I were to go down and never come up?
The idea struck me. Mom would be sad if I went down and didn’t come back up?
Are you sure she would be sad?
Yes, I’m sure. She would be so sad and real mad at me.
The idea felt like a miracle bloom. I’d never even Imagined mom would be sad if I never came back.
Oh, and I sat down at the edge of the drop off, happily watching my family wade and swim, totally content that mom would be sad if I drowned.
A deep contented satisfaction filled my chest growing till it moves outside of me all around me filling the creek and the water. Watching everyone who would take me across the water but didn’t do it so I wouldn’t go down and not ever come back up, and that mom would be sad if that happened to me and she never saw me again, felt fine. It was nice. Since they couldn’t carry me across but wanted to, that means they did want me playing with them. And all we needed was a bridge.
Bliss erupted! Out of it shot a bridge. A bridge appeared right in the middle of the swimming hole. I leap onto it run across like a deer hop off then splash into the shallows on the gravely beach on the other side. I feel myself swimming, laughing in a paradise of cool water like the creek over near the park, but lots more and fun, and I dip and duck under and splash my sisters.
A deafening sound blows me off my balance, turning my mind blank. I don’t know what happened. When I open my eyes everyone stopped playing and stared shocked out of their minds. I look up at the difference everyone is staring at.
The tree that had been to my right and just behing me, lay right across the middle of the pool.
Blinking, I stare at it. Then follow the length with my eyes. It goes to the other side where feeling like I’m playing.
Oh! My bridge! Yay! I think, leaping up onto it and skip like a deer to the other side, hop off, and dash to the water.
Wow, you are brave. Ben stares at me with a face I don’t understand. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere close to that thing. It almost landed on us.
Why? It’s all right. It’s my bridge!
I am four.