It all started on a warm, summer day. The sky was gray and cloudy, and rain poured from the sky in straight sheets down to the ground, splashing against the gray pavement and the green grass outside. I was sitting inside of my house, at my desk, staring inquisitively out at the rainy scene....
I turn, brought out of my reverie by my little brother. He sulks closer to me, grinning stupidly. I glare at him, trying to make him cower in my gaze, but it doesn’t work.
“I asked you a question.”
I sigh and glance back out of the window. “I was thinking of a life story. Now go away,” I add, shooing him away with my hand.
“You daydream a lot.” My brother stares at me with his bug-like eyes, clinging to my leg. I sigh, turning back to pat his straw-colored hair.
“You’ll understand someday,” I say, smiling at him. “But only if you’re a writer.” I pause, letting my fingers dance across my wooden desktop. Slowly, I gently push him away. “Leave me to think in peace,” I persist. “Please Arty.”
My brother pauses, a slight devilish grin on his face. “If you come and play with me, then I’ll leave you alone for a week.”
I pause- it’s a very tempting offer. A whole week of peace and serenity without having to worry about being interrupted by my brother would be blissful. But my brother usually has a catch…I squint at him, crossing my arms across my chest. “What’s the catch?” I ask him, glaring down at him. He smiles back at me- more like a smirk.
“No catch. Come on, come and play with me. I’m bored Molly. Pleaaaase?”
“What do you want me to do with you?” I ask, still a little bit wary of agreeing to anything just yet.
“Can we ride the horses?” he asks eagerly, blurting it out and rocking back and forth furiously on his heels. I let out a long breath, looking at him in slight disapproval.
“Now Arty? Gee, I dunno…it takes a while…and…”
“Please Molly! I really want to ride them! I’ll leave you alone for two weeks!” he sounds so desperate that I have to give in. Besides-two weeks? That will be amazing to not have to listen to my brother whine for two whole weeks. I sigh, standing up.
“Fine. Let’s go,” I say sharply. Arty hops to his feet, grinning from ear to ear. He hugs me around the waist, still beaming and radiating happiness.
“Yes! I knew you would say yes Molly! I just knew it! You’re the best, no one else wanted to saddle the horses up for me, even though I begged them and begged them. I promise you I won’t bug you again for two weeks Molly, I promise it. Oh, thank you so much, I can’t tell you how excited I am-”
“Shut it or I won’t ride them with you,” I hiss as we head down the dimly lit hallway, avoiding teetering stacks of magazines and books outside of my father’s study. We reach the stairs, pounding lightly down them in our socks. I glance at my socks- they’re polka dotted. Shrugging, I pause as we reach the back door. I scan the pile of muddy shoes before locating my old white tennis shoes. Quickly, I pull them on over my knee high socks and wait while Arty does the same. Then we both slip out of the old peeling blue door, and into the light drizzle of rain.
The yard is slightly muddy. We squelch towards the small, ramshackle barn, Arty proudly in the lead. I heave a sigh, knowing this probably isn’t a good idea. We have several horses and ponies- three horses and four ponies. The ponies are in one barn, and the horses are in the other. The barns lead out to a small pasture with some sparse grass. We’re heading towards the horse barn.
Arty starts to slow down. I hurry to walk in his step, but as soon as I reach him, he grabs my wrist and yanks me around sharply, heading instead for the pony barn. My eyes grow wide as I realize what he wants to do.
“Arty, we can’t ride the ponies! I thought you were going to ride the horses! Let me go!” I hiss frantically, waving my arms around. I manage to break free from his grip, and I stop in the mud, my arms crossed as rain pelts me like tiny needles.
“We’re riding the ponies and that’s that. Or else I will bug you every day for the rest of your life, and I’ll tell mom that you eat candy every night before bed.”
My eyes grow wide. “You can’t tell her about that, I’d never be allowed to be near candy again!” I whisper, a sense of hopelessness washing over me. I love candy- living a life without any seems impossible to me. It would be like a life without oxygen- I wouldn't survive.
“Exactly. Now help me saddle up one of our ponies.”
We enter the pony barn a moment later, the smell of dirt and manure reaching my nose. I let my eyes adjust to the dimness before spotting the first pony- named Storm- peeking out at us from his stall. Arty pulls me towards Storm. I shuffle along behind him, kicking up straw and watching some dust motes swirl by in the air.
“Let’s take him,” Arty whispers, nodding at Storm’s charcoal gray head. I nod and stand back as Arty begins unlatching the stall door. But as he’s unlocking it, something sharp suddenly punctures and itches my skin. I bite my lip, leaning against the wall and pulling my shoe off. Quickly, I grab my sock and pull it down, off my foot.
“Hang on Arty, something’s biting my foot,” I hiss, examining my foot closely. There’s nothing there but a small red mark. I sigh, scratching an itchy spot on my foot. For good measure, I pull my other sock off, and scratch my opposite foot.
The door clangs open, and I can just see Storm in my peripheral vision with his ears perked, as he stares at me, interested in what I’m doing.
But suddenly, something else happens. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Storm stretch his neck out and grab my shoe which has both of my socks placed precariously on it. Storm snags my left sock in his mouth, and turns, trotting away at top speed, my sock dangling from his mouth. I grab my right sock and pull it back on my foot, shoving my left sockless foot into my shoe. Arty starts laughing madly as Storm disappears, heading towards the pasture. “WAIT! NO!” I scream, half running, half hopping after Storm.
I tear outside after the pony that’s trotting with my sock up ahead. My arms flailing, I run at top speed after Storm, but he’s too fast for me…and he’s heading for the gate that leads out into the enormous pasture.
“Storm, you get BACK HERE!” I screech in my most commanding voice. From the barn, I can still hear Arty, laughing his head off.
Storm starts to slow, his dappled gray flank covered in a thin layer of glistening sweat from the chase. His gut hangs low, and I know Storm is out of shape. Maybe I’ll be able to get my sock back after all!
I slow a little, and reach Storm, patting his flank gently. Storm doesn’t move- he’s still right at the entrance to the gate, his overly large gut heaving. “There there,” I coo. “That’s a good pony. Just stand still.”
I let my hand trail across Storm’s side gently, creeping up to my saliva covered sock in Storm’s foaming mouth. But just as I reach his neck, Storm takes off at top speed, my sock flying and waving goodbye to me in the dim sunlight. In one last attempt to regain my sock, I dive towards Storm, but it’s too late. I slam into the ground, mud splattering up over my clothes. I wipe off my face with my clammy hands, the cool mud sticking to my fingers. As I manage to pull myself into an odd sitting position, I see Arty in the distance, making his way towards me.
“Arty!” I shout in my most commanding voice but, it’s hard to be commanding when you’re covered from head to foot in mud. “Come over here and help me!”
Arty’s gales of laughter ring in my ears as he sees me, splattered with the gooey mud. “Storm…you’ve gotta love him,” he says, gasping for breath. I narrow my eyes dangerously at my little brother.
“You better shut it,” I hiss, managing to pull myself to my feet. The mud is smeared across my shirt the worse, and it clings in lumps to my pants. I flick a lump of mud off of my jeans with my finger, before taking at step towards the way Storm disappeared.
My foot won’t move.
I try again and again to move, my foot slamming repeatedly against my shoe. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t get my right shoe out of the mud. It’s stuck under the meter of substance, and no amount of pulling will yank my shoe from the depths of despair. I glare at Arty, whose face is red from laughing. He’s bent over double, overcome with silent giggles. He knew this would happen.
I yank my foot out of my right shoe, and begin to squelch across the mud in my sock. I don’t care how dirty my sock gets- I’m not that clean anyway. Fuming and irate, I stomp across the pasture, determined to get my left sock back, and, eventually, my right shoe.
As I stomp across the dead, crackling grass, my writing brain kicks in, and I imagine the ending of this chapter of my life in looping handwriting across the page.
And that, my friend, is how I lost my right shoe and my left sock.