Author: Writer in the Woods PM
My neighbors and I used to be best friends. This was our field.Rated: Fiction K - English - Friendship - Words: 841 - Published: 01-22-13 - Status: Complete - id: 3094509
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Summer was frog hunting season. Feet dangling over the edge of the storm drain, my neighbors and I waited patiently. We focused on the murky water, gripping our nets steady. The younger boy knelt at the top of the drain, concrete digging into his bare legs and creating spotty patterns. The smell of sun-baked grass masked the underlying stench of sewage that filled the whole field. Mud caked our feet up to our ankles, evidence of our previous adventures closer to the water's edge.
A small, slimy frog head popped up from under the muck. Hitting my neighbor's arm and pointing, I silently insisted he swipe it. Slowly, as to not scare our prey, he crept his net closer. As the frog saw the shadow of the net, it drifted away. Fearing our only catch of the day would escape, my neighbor leapt in after it. The murk came up to his waist, but he didn't care. He lifted the net, frog trapped inside, over his head and grinned at his victory. His younger brother secured our catch in the paint bucket, and we struggled to lift him out of the mud.
As he scrambled up the bank of the drain, repeatedly sliding back down the mud, his shoe came off. He panicked, trying to spot the missing shoe. Unfortunately, the shoe had been brand new. After plunging our hands into the grime until we were exhausted, we finally gave up on the shoe. We leaned against my fence, flicking specks of dry, purple- though my dad would insist it was burgundy- paint, off our drenched clothing, and caught our breath after a long day's work.
Cars whizzed past us on the road beside my house, and the sunset glared off the asphalt bike path between my fence and the street. As the train charged past on the tracks that separated the field from the forest preserve on the other side, we counted cars and argued who counted correctly. Eventually, we grew restless again and let our catch go on the hill on the other side of the field so we could watch it race back toward the water.
Winter was sledding season, and we would stand at the top of that hill again once the seasons turned. When snow blanketed the field, all the neighborhood kids would swarm to this modest incline. No matter how miniscule it seemed, it was still the only suitable place for sledding in our neighborhood. Bundled up against the chill that bit at our ears and noses, my neighbors and I would venture to the hill, eager to beat the other kids there after school since we lived the closest. We dragged our tubes and sleds up the slope, the snow slipping and making the walk feel like a hike. Once the others arrived, a competition always broke out to decide who made the best sledding ramp. Inevitably, some upset child would let out a piercing war cry, starting a massive snowball fight over the winner of the ramp contest. In anticipation of this, my neighbors and I were sure to build a snow fort rather than a ramp, choosing to protect ourselves over participating in the competition.
We were always the last to leave. Often, our lack of motivation to make the short trek home was from pure exhaustion, so we would lie in our freshly made snow angels next to each other and stare up at the stars. Sometimes, there would still be a few straggles left at the top of the hill and we could hear their laughter echo through the field. We could always hear the cars and the train as in summer, but now they were even louder from the slush that covered the road and tracks.
Dragging ourselves from our beds of snow, we trudged back to my house, trying not to trip over our sleds. We passed that same storm drain and wondered where the frogs went during winter. Somewhere, frozen in the mud, my neighbor's shoe was still buried. As we walked in the door, the warmth wrapped around us like an embrace. We shed our snow gear, realizing just how wet and cold we had been. Watching our bright red fingers begin to thaw, we carefully clutched our hot cocoa mugs. We sat at my kitchen table and chatted. Just out the window of my sliding glass door, the snow glistened as the moonlight reflected off it, and if we looked closely, we could see our three little snow angels all in a row in the middle of the field.
The field had other seasons. Spring was swimming season; there was no better place to swim than the murky flood water of the retention pond after a spring storm. Fall was leaf collecting season, and we would take great joy in seeing who could press the most leaves into their journal. No matter the time of year, no matter the seasons, the activities were always in our field.