Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Up the Road

        I never met one who could run worth a durn. In fact, they don’t run at all except when they’re little. But when they get big, they just don’t do it. He was the only one I ever knew who even tried.
        He came trotting up the road like a big toad frog that had been bit too many times. It was pitiful, but at least he was trying. I came out in the road and at first he acted like he was afraid of me. I never understood them that way. How can they be afraid of me?
        His fear went away, but I could tell he didn’t want me along. I went anyway. I’m glad I did because not far up the road where all the trees start, I started having the best time. And the big hill, you should have seen him trying to run up that thing. I didn’t think he would make it. At the top, he was making a lot of mouth noise, and I thought he might fall down.
        When we got to the other road, I started feeling strange, out of place and far from home. I don’t know why, but I thought about Momma and how she might be worried about me. He even told me to go home, so I did. I turned around and ran all the way back to Momma’s box.

        It was a long time before I saw him again. Meanwhile, I had grown up, but he was about the same-- he still couldn’t run. This time when I came out in the road, he smiled a little. But he was afraid, only I could tell it was not me he feared; he feared something up the road. I could feel it. He feared going up the road in the dark.
        They are like that. My mom and dad fear the dark and never get out of their box at night unless it is to get in their running box. I think it’s because they can’t see. They are almost blind when the sun goes down, and they never go around without some kind of shine. He had a little shine coming out of his head, but it wasn’t much, not like a running box shine.
          I could feel his fear go down when I stayed with him a little while. Then we got to the tress where all the smells are, and we went up the hill. He was still pitiful on that hill. I was afraid he might fall down and roll to the bottom. Why did he do it? I guess he just didn’t have a running box.
        I also noticed how if I stayed out ahead of him very long, he would make that sound with his mouth. For some reason, when he made that sound, I would always come back, and I could feel his fear going down as I drew near. He even spoke words to me. “Stay close,” he said. I liked that, and I stayed close. He needed me. He was afraid when I was far and happy when I was close. That made me happy. We were a team.
        We went up the road together a long way until he turned in at another box. I stopped in the road and watched him. He stopped trying to run and walked up the little road to the box and he went inside. He looked back at me a long time before going inside. He was thankful, I could tell. He didn’t need me now that he was at the other box, so I went home.
        He came back a few days later still trying to run, but he had not gotten any better. He looked like he was trying to stomp flies, but even a sick fly could get out of his way. I was so happy to see him that I ran out fast and crashed into him and almost knocked him over. He didn’t even get mad at me, but he smiled real big and said, “Hey boy.” That made me feel good.
        We went up the road together.
        He was not afraid, maybe because the sun had not gone down. Since he was not afraid, I felt free to run off the road some when we got to all the trees where the smells are. I sniffed a lot. There are so many smells in the trees that it drives me crazy.
        He stomped up the hill.
        I sniffed and emptied and peed on stuff.
        On the other road, some running boxes came by. Now I knew to get out of the way and go into the trees. He liked that. We went further up the road, and I heard somebody like me warning us to stay away from their box. I felt uneasy, but he told me to stay close. I liked that. I protect him in the dark; he protects me in the light. We are a team.
        We went all the way to the other box. He went inside. I went home.

        He came by again, and we went up the road. We went by the trees and I sniffed and peed on stuff. We went up the hill. I ran by him like he was a rock. I didn’t care if he couldn’t run. I hoped he knew I didn’t care that he couldn’t do nothing. I just liked being with him. We had fun.

        Then he quit coming by. It’s been a long time. Now, I mostly just lie around in the yard and wonder when he’s coming back. Why is he waiting? Is he ok? Does he think he has to run like me? Doesn’t he want to be a team anymore? I just want to see him and hear that clicking sound coming from his mouth. I spend my days being sad and looking down the road and wondering when he’s coming back. When he does, I’ll be here and we’ll be a team and we’ll go up the road together.