As an assignment for Creative Writing with Ms. Rosenfield, students chose a song and imagined a back story that would have inspired the song. Timmy chose “Boondocks” by Little Big Town.
Whenever I meet someone new and the always ask: “Where are you from?” I reply with: “The Boondocks.” Instantly, I see their face almost cloud up and I can see the judgement forming in their mind. People will think that just because I was raised in the rough, isolated areas of Arkansas that I’m poor, unintelligent, and that my life belongs on a farm. The boondocks may not offer much compared to a city, but I like to say otherwise; That’s where I was developed and learned everything I needed to know as I grew up. Roaming the fields and forests of the boondocks are my true home where my heart lies. I would not trade anything for it to be raised in the luxury homes of a city. My experiences have taught me many needed lessons while in the boondocks. One of my experiences while in the boondocks simply taught me to appreciate the good times and to find a laugh out of every situation.
Growing up in a Alexander, Arkansas, everyone knew everyone. In a small town of about 2,000, you knew the name of each person you walked past. However, with the town so spread out due to farming and isolated from the major cities, we kept mostly to ourselves. We didn’t have all the great attractions of a major city or the variety of stores and restaurants. Everyone worked to keep a roof over their head; The focus was on necessities not so much of wants. Despite the lack of wealth in our town, I was able to enjoy my childhood with a few of my closest friends: Kim, Karen, and Philip. The outdoors were where we spent most of our time and our parents literally had to drag us into our homes. We would always play hide-and-seek in the forest and fields and enjoy whatever the outdoors had to offer. Along with our imagination, my friends and I were inseparable from the outdoors. Our parents always warned us everyday: “Watch out for the wild animals! Don’t stray too far from the house and into the forest.” The four of us always took that caution lightly until one experience changed that.
It was a typical day in the boondocks; All the adults were tending to the farms, the small stores were getting the signs switched from “closed” to “open,” and the kids were finding a way to entertain themselves instead of working the fields. I grabbed my coat and ran down the stairs and got the same words from my mom: “Don’t go too far out there.”
“I know, Mom. Don’t worry,” I reply with a sigh.
I gather my group one by one at their houses and we head out to the forest once again.
“What we should we do today, Jimi?” Karen asks me.
“Umm, tag?” I reply.
“No, I feel like we just played that. Let’s do something else,” Philip chimes in.
“How about we explore the parts of the forest we have never seen,” I suggest.
“Your mom would flip out,” Kim quickly says.
“She doesn’t have to know and it’s not like anything bad will happen. We will get back before dark,” I counter.
I shouldn’t have said nothing bad will happen because I ended up jinxing our whole situation.
The four of begin a small expedition into the uncharted areas of the forest. The heart of the forest teems with wildlife that we never see on the outskirts. Squirrels are jumping up and down the trees, the endless chatter of birds fills the air, elk perk their heads up from feeding to take a peek at us. The sight is definitely one that makes a person appreciate the beauties of nature more. We take a quick break at a small creek and enjoy a small picnic of things we gathered in the forest. Of course, Philip throws in a box of Twinkies.
“Really?” Karen sarcastically says.
“What? I knew we would get hungry,” He replies with his mouth full of a half-eaten Twinkie.
We enjoy the rest of our makeshift meal and set out again deeper into the forest. The sun is starting to gather at it’s peak so we know it is about noon.
“What is that over there? Philip points to an object behind some dense vegetation.
We approach and find a cave. At that moment, we all look at each other and then back at the darkness that looms in the cave.
“There is no way I’m going in there,” Kim says.
“Come on. This is the excitement we’ve been looking for!” I yell.
“We have no idea what’s in there,” Karen points out.
I look at Philip and he says: “What they said,” and points at Kim and Karen.
I pull out a flashlight and nod my head, “I came here to adventure, not be scared of a little darkness.”
I venture in and hear everyone yelling at me to come back, but I ignore them only to find them following me in. We are all huddled together like a train as we shuffle into the darkness only to be guided by the one ray of light. We eventually find the end of the cave and see remains of what appears to be a rabbit. The sight and smell makes me gag. To our right, we hear a low growl. I quickly turn my head and see two glowing eyes glaring into our souls. The golden glare makes the hairs on my neck rise and almost freeze me in place. I shine the flashlight on the eyes and find a black bear. My heartbeat is in my throat.
I whisper, “Guys…Run!”
The four of us scramble out of the cave and split into two groups: Philip and I together as Karen and Kim run the opposite way. With our great luck, the bear chases after Philip and I. With some distance between us and the bear, we climb a small, fig tree. The bear arrives under us and stares at us. It then turns around and begins walking away. Defeated.
With a sigh of relief, I say, “That was too close.”
Philip stutters, “Uh. He’s coming back and he’s very angry!”
The bear rams the tree and begins clawing at the tree. Pieces of bark fly off as the claws dig into the tree. Eventually, the bear puts the tree into a choke hold and begins jerking it back and forth. If we weren’t faced with death, it would have been a pretty fun rollercoaster. The tree begins to crack as it begins to break from the bear’s strength. My mind is blank as I try to come up with an escape plan. The tree begins to snap and fall over, but a rock hits the bear in the back at the same time. Kim and Karen stand about 30 yards away throwing rocks trying to distract the beast. The bear faces them as Philip and I jump out the tree right as it crashes to the ground with a thump. Karen and Kim run away and when the bear turns to face us, we are gone.
The four of us bolt past trees and bushes not daring to look back. I’ve never ran so fast in my life and I was sure that I ran faster than an Olympic track athlete that day. We eventually reach the edge of the forest and collapse on the ground as we try to regain our breath. We all look at each other and begin laughing.
I jokingly say, “I think we need to start listening to my mom more.”