Fog, Forest And Being Found
It’s Friday night, September, four days after school started. I usually like school–English, especially–but this year, I wasn’t into it. I’d spent the summer hanging out with these guys who were a couple years older than me, who plan elaborate pranks and listen to beautiful noise music I’d never even dreamed of, who took me to shows and parties, who explained “existentialism” and how to drive stick. They were back at their school, seniors now; I was back at my school, where everything seemed… stupid.
So, that night. I’m in my room, twisting my hair into silky towers that fall back down around my shoulders when I let go. It got late, and then later, when I hear a thump at the window, and then another one, like hail. I flip up a shade and see Gabriel–like an angel, but in corduroy and sneakers–ready with another hunk of dirt from the garden. He waves, tossing the dirt between his hands, waiting for me to come outside.
I slide out the door and we run full-flight down the curve of the lawn until it spits us out onto asphalt road. It’s silent. We don’t talk, not a word, until we’re both out of breath and gasping for it; Gabriel says “We’re going to play a game” and then runs again, slower this time. We’re friends, a unit, but Gabriel is older and knows everyone and doesn’t want to say where we’re going. I don’t ask, but I make sure to stay back, sometimes running backwards to throw him off, so he knows that I’ll do what I want.
We take shortcuts across backyards and over low fences until we get to a muddy path, obscured by low trees that are silver, some that I can only half-see, in the dark. Minutes later, deep in the forest, I hear voices that I know, and Gabriel and I amble onto an open field that I also know, but from another angle. A crew of kids are standing, waiting, some of them dressed in black like they mean it. One of them sees Gabriel and I, and yells at everyone to stop and shut up and listen; he explains the rules of a game that I haven’t played since summer camp, and divides us into teams. On “Go!” all of us fly back into the thick of the woods, amped on the collective energy; I meet up with girls I recognize, older girls who are cooler than I am, but who grab on to my shoulders and wrists and ankles while we look for somewhere to hide, without losing each other, all of us in cut-offs and loose hair, tangled in trees and each other. Gabriel is gone somewhere with some guys, showing off and running hard into each others’ territories, marked by hoodies wrapped around tree trunks, or crouching in twos or threes.
For hours, I collect scrapes and mosquito bites, and hold my breath when I think I’m found, my heart like a kick drum; eventually I give up and lay flat on the grass in the clearing with other girls who are over it, talking and scratching our legs and rolling on top of each other and laughing, the sound of it pealing out of the clearing while early morning fog rolls in. Everyone drifts, into groups and back into the forest to do whatever, or onto the main path back home; Gabriel and I walk, slow and deliberate, behind everyone else, until the fog swallows their heads and bodies, until no one is there at all.
- Kate Carraway
Toronto’s Kate Carraway is the best writer around because she can work things like ‘pfoooo’, ‘obseshes’ and ‘ Fffffffffffffffffff ffff’ into super awesome, she’s totally-talking-to-my-life columns for Vice, the Grid, The National Post and Elle Canada.