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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Retreat (as in quiet time away) (08/01/05)

TITLE: Into the Woods
By Shari Armstrong


The weather was finally getting warmer and school was almost done for the year. Another lonely day at school, just my book for companionship. I couldn’t wait to get home and off the bus. Without looking up from my book, I felt the combination of turns and hills, not to mention catching whiff of the all too familiar smell of the neighbors’ barns that had been cleaned out that day. One more stop before my house. I finished up the paragraph I was on, tucked the bookmark in place, and stuffed my book in the backpack, just as I heard the driver gear down to stop at my house. I started up the aisle before he came to a complete stop, “Bye, Roy.”

He smiled, “Bye,” as he opened the door for me.

I hopped down the steps, crossed the road and headed inside for a snack. I’d have an hour of peace and quite before my sister got home from school. “Hi, Mom,” I said as I dumped my backpack, grabbed a bowl of chips and some Kool-aid. “I’ll have to wait for Dad to get home to help me with my math. What’s for supper tonight?”

“Hi,” she replied, as she went about cleaning the kitchen from baking bread earlier. “Beef and noodles.”

“Yum!” I put my dishes in the sink, grabbed my book from my backpack. “Mom, I’m going outside for awhile.”

She smiled, “Enjoy.”

I got my book back out and retreated to the woods. Well, not so much woods, as a strip of trees between our property and the neighbor’s field and behind, going down into the ravine. But, it was enough to get away by myself. I watched my step in the garden, careful not to step on one of the tomato plants. Not long till we’d be having tomato slices with mayonnaise and salt. I made my way to the barbed wire fence to the best place to crawl under. Even though we didn’t own the ravine, the neighbors didn’t care if we went back there.

We considered it our playground and had endless adventures on those two hills. One day my sister and I were Nancy Drew and friends, the next we were Lucy and Susan going through the wardrobe. Today, I just wanted to sit and read and get away from everything. I made my way to the bottom of the ravine to the creek and sat on the big rock. I took my shoes and socks off, stuffing the socks in my shoes and waded a bit. I watched the water bugs scurry away and crawdads zip under a nearby rock. The flat stone bottom felt cool on my feet.

I returned to my perch on the rock and started to read. It was so nice to only hear birds, and the source of today’s neighborhood smell softly mooing at the top of the other hill. They were refilling for the next scheduled cleaning. Here I wasn’t lonely, I could be alone by choice. Here I wasn’t being picked on by bullies, I could be whoever I wanted to be. Today I was just me enjoying a favorite book, the almost fresh air and the warm breeze.

My adventure in another place and time was interrupted by the sound of the bus gearing down bringing my sister home. I put my book down, put my shoes and socks back on and made the climb up the hill. I grabbed the branches of the maple that fell in the last storm to help make it a bit easier. The roots stuck up in the air taller than me. Dad, or maybe even Grandpa, might have climbed that very tree when they were younger. Until it fell, we couldn’t even reach a branch. As I got nearer the house, I heard Dad pulling in the driveway. We could probably get my math done before supper.

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This article has been read 1179 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brandi Roberts08/09/05
Very nice story. Well done. Thanks for sharing! :)
Debra Brand08/10/05
Good telling story.
Karen Ward08/10/05
That was really sweet - my kind of retreat! Well told.
dub W08/11/05
Good job, well constructed story.
Beth Muehlhausen08/11/05
A relaxing and enjoyable read.
Suzanne R08/12/05
What lovely memories.
Pat Guy 08/12/05
This reminded me of the tress I'd love to climb - my havens. Thanks for a good read down memory lane!
Sally Hanan08/12/05
Cute place described here. You could have left out the entire beginning, as you merely listed things most people know happen when one goes home on the school bus. Most times, the reader wants to experience something new.
Amy Michelle Wiley 08/13/05
Ah, I, too, loved the woods behind our house and loved to read. Brings back many memories... :-)
darlene hight08/14/05
Nice experience that you helped the reader share. well done