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The Dark Path

"No, Katelyn. I don't want you playing at George's house until I've met his mother. You know the rule." Momma just doesn't understand. George is my bestest friend. Why can't I play at George's? "Katelyn. Katelyn! Are you listening? I swear, child. Why don't you go play in the yard? And don't run off like you did before. You understand?" Yes, Momma. I went out the back door and picked up the chalk. Gonna draw a lion and a elumnaphant and a giraffe. Geore is just watching. I know that.

"Watcha doing?" Move, George. You're in my zoo. "Can you come over?" Momma won't let me. George squinched his eyes as he looked at me. I kept drawing. Momma said no. "Let's go to the path then."

There's a path behind my house. It's in the woods. Momma said not to play there. Scary place, but I'm not scared. George and me played there before. We danced in huge circles, and I did cartwheels, and I throwed leaves in the air. Momma said it was a dark path, but George was right. It was full of light. The light peeked around corners, and if you stood int he spot under the trees you looked all speckled over with the light. Momma caught us on the path before. Momma was mad. She didn't say a word. Just tightened her lips and kept brushing her eyes.

Momma wasn't looking. George and me ran into the trees behind the house. We got tot he path, and we made a house of leaves. George said he didn't feel well from running so hard, and he lied down and rested. We had a circus on the path when George felt better. Lions and elumnaphants went down the path in a parade, and there was men with whips and pretty ladies with gold outfits. George said that was silly because women don't wear gold outfits. They probably don't. George knows a lot. We had fun on the path.

George said we'd better go. Momma would be looking for us, and we didn't want to get in trouble. I got home and picked up the chalk and started drawing my zoo again. Momma didn't know I'd gone. She was too busy with her work.

Sunday I didn't see George. Momma and I went to church, and George didn't come by my house. Momma still wouldn't let me go see George at his house. She read scripture all afternoon and made me listen. It was boring. Momma kept saying "keep us safe" over and over and didn't want us to get in no trouble.

George came by Monday, but he wouldn't talk until we left the yard. George yelled at me. Don't yell, George. I didn't remember. "You promised to come to the path." Did I, George? I'm sorry. Momma wouldn't let me out of the house. Momma kept me with her. George squinched his eyes and looked at me a long time. He was nice to me then. I played with George. We went to the path, and we were happy.

Momma came. Momma was mad. Momma thought she had lost me again. Momma told me I wasn't supposed to be on the path or even in the woods. The next day she kept me in the house. It rained, and Momma said she was glad. She said she could keep an eye on me that way. It rained Tuesday, too, and Momma was glad. Wednesday, Momma took me to church to help set up for services, and I had to help and not get in trouble. Momma wouldn't let me away.

George was mad at me Thursday. "You broke your promise again, Katelyn. Again, do you understand?" he calmly said as he squinched his eyes at me. George wouldn't talk to me. He just walked by the house and went to the woods. George, I couldn't help it. George, Momma wouldn't let me away. But he was gone.

Friday, I took George flowers. I took the last flowers from the garden. Took them to the path and put them in our house of leaves. It was cold Friday. It was awfully cold. George was mean. George didn't want me to go, but Momma called, and I ran home. Momma didn't know I'd gone. That was good. Momma thought I was playing out front. I was safe.

Saturday, George was happy. We went to the path and played at our hose. We played together. We stayed together all day. Momma never called. Momma never came. We were safe. It got dark, but George said we should stay there; we were safe now. There were lights in the woods. George said to ignore them. They weren't important. "We're having fun," he said. But, George, what about Momma? "We're having fun; that's what's important." George, what about Momma? "Ignore the damn lights! Ignore them!" George yelled. George knows a lot. Okay, George, I'll ignore the lights.

The path was dark then.

Momma never came.

Momma never called.

And George was happy.


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