First Place, Fiction, Grade 3-6: Swallow Cove

May 9, 2013 

Becky Wohlforth

Pebbles clatter under my feet as I sprint in my heavy rain boots with no direction in mind. I am fuming from the argument I just had with my parents. I stop at the end of the beach and turn to the dark path. My parents have forbidden me to ever set foot on the path without them. But I don’t care.

I hate it here. It is constantly cold and windy, there is no T.V (or any electricity at all!), and the only thing to do is read! I am burning up, so I take off my sweatshirt and drape it over a bush. I slowly start up the overgrown path. My mind wanders as I walk. I start thinking about how my parents are stupid because of the whole ‘outdoors is fun’ stuff. I start speeding up, my fists clenched, staring at the ground without seeing it, in my mind planning a way to make my parents wish they had never come to this awful place, which doesn’t even have plumbing!

I stop abruptly, nearly stumbling off a 20-foot cliff concealed behind a patch of blueberries. I spin around, but I can't tell which direction I came from. There are 3 different paths that are possibilities, probably all made by some animal of sorts. I look out at the crescent-shaped cove from the cliff and locate the cabin out of all the different colors of brown, gray, and green. I scan to the right of it and, sure enough, I see the little rotting outhouse. I keep looking and spot the one-room cabin we call the Octagon because of its unique shape. But no one is on the porch except our little white dog. I sigh in frustration. Why did this have to be the one day my mom wasn’t reading over there? I start walking in the general direction of the main cabin, being more careful now. After a long time of crawling over dead trees (stupid spruce bark beetles!) I note it’s getting darker and my feet are dragging, which probably means it’s past midnight, because it hardly ever gets dark around here, or at least it only gets dark when my parents force me into bed. I walk to a tree for a place to rest and watch the forest around me.

I hear a crack and turn to the noise, trying to convince myself it isn’t a bear. There is a black shape on the hill. I shiver at the feeling that someone is watching me. I look behind me, but there is only a moth fluttering there. I look back in front of me. There is that same shape. I stare at it and could swear it moves. I sit down and huddle against the tree starting to feel the freezing wind pierce my skin.

***

I jump awake when an angry Steller Jay screams at me for sleeping too close to its nest. I groan then, recalling where I am, and sit up so fast I scrape my head on the tree I was resting against. I rub my head as I stare around trying to remember when I went to sleep. I look up the hill at the shape that I thought was a bear last night. It was a stump.

I get up when my stomach starts growling and look around for some berries. I spot a big bush, only to find it is false azaleas, which are not good to eat.

I sit laboriously on a patch of moss when something white catches my eye. It’s a little star flower. My mother loves them. When I was little I loved to run around picking them for her. Suddenly I am sobbing and I can’t stop. I choke up and my nose is running. I realize with surprise I miss her. I wipe my eyes and try to concentrate on finding food, but my mind keeps finding some memory linked to my parents and that sets me off again.

Finally I find a little creek with blueberry bushes lining it. I find a good spot, sit and start popping the berries into my mouth. Then I go to the creek bed and start following it down. After a while I come to a place where there are two cliffs on either side of the creek. To keep walking, I have to go to the middle of the stream and get my shoes all wet. But then I come to a little pool with a dam that lets only a trickle of water through, with stepping stones across the pool. A log bridge connects the stepping stones to a path. I know that beyond the next turn in the path there is a path leading to a garden and a path that leads to the beach.

***

I dash out onto the beach and see my mother sobbing and my father trying to comfort her. I sprint down the beach and my father looks up. “Becky?!” he cries. I keep running until I reach my mother. I grab her and hug her tight, then I tell her that I’m sorry.

She looks into my face and says, “I am sorry too sweetie.”

“I love you Mom,” I admit, and I hand her a crumpled little white star flower.

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service