In the May 2014 issue, we asked readers to respond to the following prompt: “I went for a walk and you won’t believe what I found …”
Here’s what we heard–just one, lonely response:
Schooled on Main Street
We went for a walk through your new hometown, the place where you’ll conduct Important Scientific Exploration. You’ll uncover truths previously obscured, peering through that crisp-as-chill microscope lens.
But this place is the sort that hasn’t seen technology since the mill days, and erosion or worse has crumbled it since. Main Street’s quaint shops and motorcycle bars leaned close together, but as the road wound past the old mill and over the river, “For Sale” appeared more than “Open.”
One building loomed majestic from the top of a hill. The base rolled into a grassy park where a father and his daughters approached a softball field, bags slung over their shoulders.
“Let’s go up there,” I said – my own means of exploration, ambulatory and amateur. Soon, our quadriceps burned from the incline. The sound of water tumbling over rocks retreated behind us.
This was no manor house or mill.
Instead: high school, no longer used.
The name remained etched in stone over the entrance. The second-story windows were intact while the first story was shrouded in plywood. No graffiti words of wisdom adorned those boarded-up windows. The flagpole stood tall and bare, no banner waving in the wind.
We circled to the back parking lot. Grass grew in tufts through the asphalt. The signs, too, stayed posted, letting nobody know that there was to be no parking here, that this was a smoke-free drug-free danger-free school zone.
A dead sentry overlooking a faint-pulse town.
We created our own hypotheses – new school elsewhere, teens with other walls to taunt. We went down the hill and across the river, admiring the way the water tumbled under the bridge. The stagnant lily pond. The girls and their father, setting down their bags, but yet to throw out that opening pitch.
-Diana Gallagher, New York
The Backbone of Friendship – the story that inspired the prompt
Before Celebration Station was built, the wire fence between by apartment complex only separated me from a barren field–not bumper cars and cotton candy. Tulsa, Okla. was sure different than the Poconos. Trees, sure. But they were strategically placed. There was no “woods.” So when Tom, my new friend from Nimitz Middle School, suggested we crawl through the little hole in the fence to explore, I was excited.
We forged a river (more like a drainage ditch) and then went up over a small hill and found a somewhat-forest-of-a-land before it turned into a small clearing; the field had concrete in parts beneath. Something must have been here at sometime, we thought. Then, he found it.
“A spine! A human spine!”
I ran over and saw Tom holder a backbone. I wanted it. But he found it. Like any good friend, we shared. Tom snapped the bone in half and we headed back over the “river” and through the hole into my parking lot. He went home, carrying the bone. I went inside my apartment and showed my mom the human remains that we didn’t even need to unearth.
“Tom has the other half,” I told her before she told me that it was most likely a wild animal, couldn’t possibly be human. I agreed with her out loud, but my imagination–and Tom’s–came up with scenario after scenario as to how the bone got there and who it belong to before it belonged to us.
-Donna Talarico, Lancaster, Pa.