“Write about a traumatic childhood memory.”
Tanika looked over at me from the other end of her pool, her sunglasses sat low on the bridge of her nose, “Do you want to play hide-and-seek?”
“What?” I asked her, “Aren’t we a little old for that?”
She laughed, “I’m getting Chase, he’ll want to play, too.”
Unfortunately, I don’t remember her brother’s actual name, so we’ll call him Chase.
We climbed out of the pool and toweled off. I had spent nearly every day at Tanika’s house that summer, just lounging in the pool, or playing Sonic on her SEGA, just trying to have as much fun as we could before returning to school. Tanika was my best friend, and our families had known each other for years. She was going to be in 5th grade in the upcoming school year, I was going to be in 7th. Her older brother, Chase, was visiting for the weekend, but he hardly wanted to play with a couple of kids, and spent most of his time in his room, ignoring us entirely.
This time, he agreed to humor us in our game of hide-and-seek, and it probably saved my life.
Tanika was “it” for the first and only round that we played. Chase and I separated, running in opposite directions into the woods behind their house. He headed down the path we took to play by the creek, and I wandered into the heavily wooded areas that we didn’t normally explore.
I could hear Tanika call out that she was coming to find us, and pushed further into the unexplored part of the woods. Suddenly, I lost of footing, and fell forward into something wet and mushy. I immediately panicked, realizing that I was starting to sink into the ground. I didn’t know what was happening, but the ground seemed to be swallowing me up. I grabbed onto a nearby tree and started screaming. The ground was heavy and cold around me. I still don’t know if it was some kind of sinkhole, or a very muddy pocket of water, but I was so scared.
By the time I saw Chase was running towards me, I was up to my rib cage in thick, muddy water. With one arm around the tree that I was holding, he pulled me out with little difficulty, and carried me back to the house, where Tanika was waiting. We agreed not to tell their mom, because we were afraid that she would be upset. The three of us snuck back inside, and Takina and I went to her room, where I changed into a pair of her orange sweatpants, a matching orange sweatshirt, and a pair of black clogs, all of which were a size or two too small. Chase threw my clothes in the wash for me, and we retreated into the living room.
We didn’t really talk about what happened after that, and I spent less and less time at Tanika’s house that summer. After we returned to school, we grew more distant, until we were practically strangers. I never knew why that happened. We haven’t spoken since.
Thanks for reading, friends.