Huff… huff… huff…
According to my watch, I had only been running for about six and a half minutes before my legs began to feel weak and my heavy breathing was making me more dizzy than fueling my muscles to keep going.
I hadn’t gotten as far as I had hoped with my first sprint. I could still faintly see the shadow of Valley Oaks behind me, a few lit windows shining hazy beams of light out into the fog. I think I was far enough down the road where no one could look out the area and see my escape, but I made sure to keep my eyes open for any traffic headed in either direction. The last thing I needed was some dang goofy teacher driving by and catching me on the side of the road.
Before leaving, I had polished up my sneakers really good! And I even brought plastic bags to wrap around my feet once I got out of sight so I could keep them from getting all dusty and jacked up from running. I certainly had a lot of ‘bag’ left over when I was done. Maybe I’ve just got tiny feet? Whatever. It works for now. I also made sure to bring my toothbrush and enough bottled water to brush, rinse, drink, and re-clean my shoes if necessary. I also brought two different flavors of chewing gum just in case some girls want to start kissing. I’ve got spearmint and wintergreen. Is there a difference between the two? I’m not really sure. One was in a blue package and the other was in a green package, so… I don’t know… there’s got to be something going on there.
OH! And I’ve got to remember to spit the gum out before I make out with anybody. I know that much at least. Even if I don’t know much more. I remember that blasted Maddie Styles chick from across the street kissing me all the time! That girl had her lips all over me every chance she got! But that was no fair. She was eleven and I was only eight and a half. Come to think of it… I think that actually counts as her molesting me! Every boy in my neighborhood ended up getting ‘mouth molested’ by some girl at one time or another. Taking advantage of us and pressuring our unsuspecting minds into agreeing to such a traumatic moment of total confusion.
Where did all those pretty girls GO? When we boys all thought that girls were ‘icky and dumb’, all they wanted to DO was snatch us around a corner and plant one on us! Now they’ve all vanished and treat us like we’re infected with the plague. I sure hope these strange creatures get easier to figure out when I get older.
I got two extra shirts in my backpack… my favorite and my second favorite. I’ll change into my favorite first, of course. BUT… just in case I spill something on it, I’ll have a spare. I won’t have to walk around looking like a dork all night with a big stain on my shirt. I got a stick of deodorant, and extra pair of undies, and my good hair brush. I am SO ready for this! Nothing can go wrong. I’m super prepared for every possible incident. The only obstacle I’ve got to get around is running the rest of the way there. And this old road is getting darker and darker the further I follow it. Geez! I can barely see where my feet are landing.
My fast walking wasn’t going to get me there fast enough. I wasn’t even a third of the way there yet, and I already left a lot later than the other guys so the party might already be in full swing. Awww, I don’t want to miss anything cool! Ok, let me just walk for a few more steps, catch my breath, and then get back to running again. What time is it? YIKES! Ok… picking back up to a jog now. Now a bit faster. Oh man… I’m going to be so sore tomorrow. Can’t stop now. Go. GO!
Huff… huff… huff…
Another three minutes go by. My legs are exhausted. My arms are fatigued. My chest hurts from the heaving, and I make a few clumsy missteps before falling down to my hands and knees, my body forcing me to cease the torture that I had been putting it through over the last half hour or so. My elbows bend as my arms are almost too weak to hold me up.
I feel like I can’t take another step.
Huff… huff… huff… huff…
I drop my backpack from my shoulder and take a few sips of water. Not too much. I don’t want to cramp up. Just enough to keep my throat from drying out completely.
Ok. Alright. Just… let me take a second. I must be almost halfway there by now, right? I’m sweating. My hair is wet. Ugh! I didn’t think about my hair being wet! It’s ok, though. I’ll take my shirt off, dry my hair with it, and it’ll be fine. It might even look cool, you know? Well… it might.
Mmmm… still cold. God, that tastes good. Ok. Get up, Preston. Got to keep moving. We can, like… post up against a wall or something when I get there. I just need to keep running. Yeah… just… just keep running.
My legs were beginning to tingle when I heard a sound approaching in the distance. Breathlessly, I turned my head to look back over my shoulder, noticing a few flickering lights approaching from down the road. They were coming pretty FAST! And by the time I recognized the flickering display in the fog as a horde of police car lights, it was almost too late for me to rush off to the nearest hiding spot.
Oh geez! Oh geez, oh geez, oh GEEZ!!! It’s the POLICE! Did the Valley Oaks headmaster call the frickin’ POLICE on me??? Oh gosh… there’s like FIFTEEN police cars headed my way right now! What do I do? What the… .ahhhhhhhhh, what do I DO???
My body was weary, but my sudden panic gave me a temporary boost as I got back up on my feet and grabbed my backpack to get as far off the road as my severely limited window of time would allow. There was an old, half dead, tree standing not far from me, and I dashed towards it as fast as my, almost numb, legs could carry me. I got around to the other side and pressed my back to it, shutting my eyes tight as thought it would somehow help to make me more invisible as the cops rolled by.
What the heck am I going to DO??? Are they really looking for me? Or, like… for everybody from school? Are they going to bust up the party? What if I show up and they think I snitched on ’em on something? I’ll never be invited to another party again! Not any of the GOOD ones, anyway!
One car! Two cars! Three… and four… and five…
They were all in a line, speeding past my lame hiding tree. Lights flashing… but no sirens. Odd. Oh no! What if one of them sees me? What if they threaten to take me back to Valley Oaks? What if I try to run and they, like… SHOOT me or something? I can’t get SHOT! How the heck do I explain getting SHOT to my mom? Awww man, she’ll NEVER let me go to a public high school if I get SHOT!
Luckily for me… I don’t think a single one of those policemen was paying me any attention at all. They seemed to have some kind of emergency on their hands. Another fortunate break for me. I’m starting to think that this party thing was meant to be. Awesome.
I waited until all the cars were gone and then leaned over to put my hands on my knees as I tried to get my breathing under control again. Between the excitement and the exercise… I wasn’t sure how much more of this my poor little heart could take.
Still… all weirdness aside… a mission is a mission. And I’m not giving up until I get there.
So I got myself together, took another mouthful of bottled water, swishing it around in my mouth before spitting it out on the ground. Close to the tree, of course. Here’s some extra rain for you, life saving hiding tree. Then, I tried to fix my hair a bit, stretched my legs, and went right back to running. Lordy, I hope I make enough friends tonight to get a ride home. I’d hate to think that I have to make this run twice.
Tired and achey… I kept up a pretty decent pace for the next five minutes or so. Even my shoulders hurt now. But when I looked through the fog, I saw my salvation just mere steps away! The CORNFIELD! That big beautiful cornfield on the side of the road, standing proud, with the old Simpson farm just on the other side of it! Mind you, it’s a pretty big cornfield, so I’m not quite there yet… but at least it’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
Feeling a renewed sense of energy and hope, I kept right on jogging past the stalks and tried to prepare myself for my very first ‘sneaky’ party. Just remember to stay calm. Speak up, loudly and clearly. Smile. Always smile. Take an interest in other people. Listen to what they have to say and respond. Mingle. Don’t force it. Right… I remember. Don’t slouch. Standing up straight suggests confidence. And power. Like Batman!
‘Hi, I’m Preston. Preston Miles.’
‘Hi, I’m Preston. Preston Miles.’
‘Hi!!! I’m Preston! Preston Miles!’
‘Hey, Baby! I’m Preston Miles! Did you drop these panties on purpose or was it just a lucky accident?’ Ha! Oh wow, this is going to be so AWESOME!
As I saw the end to the massive cornfield coming to an end up ahead, I noticed the sound of music faintly playing in the distance. I also saw, what looked like, a fire flickering outside in the yard. I heard some voices, a few cheers… YES! This is totally happening right now!
Ok. Alright. Slow down. Catch your breath. Wow, I’m pretty sweaty. It’s ok, though. I brought my towel and some Wet-Naps too. And my body spray! Can’t forget that. Ummm… alright, so… before anybody sees me like this, I needed to get changed. I didn’t want to do it right there on the side of the road where some random car might drive by and put the headlights on me. So I did the only thing I could do, and I wandered into the cornfield. Just far enough in to be hidden from the main road, but not so far as to get myself all turned around in there.
Ouch! You know… most people won’t tell you this ahead of time… but cornfields aren’t quite the romantic playgrounds that some movies make them out to be. OWWW!!! Seriously, those stalks are SHARP! Especially when your skin is wet with sweat. It’s like walking through a field of razor blades. And I’m still kind of small for my age, so every now and then, I had to jump up a few times to see how far I was from the road. My head popping up over the tall stalks like a target in a whack-a-mole game. I think I’m far enough in to change though. No biggie.
I squatted down and opened up my backpack, this time gulping down an entire bottle of water before taking the towel to wipe myself off. I started chewing my gum right away so my breath could be well on its way to being fresh by the time I finished changing. Wintergreen. I don’t know, I like green. I like Winter. It seemed like a good choice. I peeled my shirt off over my head and toweled down a bit. Then I undid my belt and unzipped my pants, letting them fall to my ankles. Do thighs sweat? I think my thighs sweated a little. I’ll towel them off anyways. I kicked off my shoes and then stood on top of them to keep my socks from getting all crusty with farm soil and stuff. Then… once I was dry? Body spray! Sweet smelling body spray!
I took out my hair brush and tried to get my brown locks to act right, giving myself a little bit of a swoop over my right eyebrow. And that’s when I heard something moving behind me.
I immediately stopped breathing! My head snapping around to scan the whole area around to see if anybody was looking. Not that I could see more than five feet in front of me in any direction. All I could see was… more corn.
My heart started beating fast. Is somebody out here with me? Here I am standing in a cornfield, on top of my own shoes, wearing absolutely nothing other than my light green boxer briefs! If I get caught like this, it’ll ruin everything!
Should I, like… call out to see if somebody is out there? Or, should I keep my mouth shut? Nobody can see over this tall corn, if I say something they might be able to find me. I just kept quiet for a minute or two, both of my hands covering my junk just in case. Then, when the silence returned and the coast was clear, I figured that I had better get changed and get to that party before I ended up destroying any chance that I had at making this evening the miracle I was hoping it would be.
Feeling my undies, they seemed a little bit damp too. Not by much, but… I brought an extra pair of those too. I dug out a pair of navy blue briefs from my backpack and just held them in my hand for a moment. A chill went through me as I looked all around me again to make super super SURE that nobody was in that cornfield with me! I could SWEAR that somebody was watching me undress. Something out there was, like… moving. Really slow. I tried harder to listen for what direction the rustle of corn leaves was coming from. I didn’t want anybody taking celly nudes of me out here in the open. People will spend the rest of the year calling me ‘Kiddy Pink Weiner’! That would ruin everything. But after standing there being an all-you-can-eat mosquito buffet for a few minutes, I decided that I was just wasting time, and the quicker I got this over with the better.
Ugh… oof… I thought these undies had little bit more room in them than this. No biggie. I’ll wiggle in to make them fit. I was butt nakey now, so I was trying to shimmy my hips back and forth and yank those briefs up as fast as I could without tearing them or anything.
ACKKK!!! You stay away from my ‘gender naughties’ you dang mosqitoes! Darn bloodsuckers!!! Stay away!
Alright! Undies on, new pants and my fave shirt, shoes back on, hair fixed, breath fresh… I think I’m ready. Okie dokie then. Let’s go get ourselves invited to a party. I packed everything back into my backpack and casually slung it over one shoulder, and then I tried to walk out of that cornfield as painlessly as I possibly could. Those tiny little cuts and scratches itch a lot more than I thought they would, but I worked all of that out as I approached the Simpson farm. Everybody was hanging around outside, a big fire lit in the fog, loud music playing, and what looked like a whole picnic table full of alcohol! People were already laughing and having a good time, all I had to do was walk up and morph into one of them. Otherwise… I’m walking home tonight. I can’t think of a better incentive to make a few friends than that.
As I got closer, I noticed how… well… how ‘big’ everyone looked. There was no doubt that I was the youngest guy there by a few years at least. That can be intimidating for a number of reasons, but the main one was the fact that I didn’t really look like anybody else. When you’re different, your playing field automatically tips up and makes the whole fight an uphill battle. But, it’s not like it wasn’t uphill already anyways, right?
A bunch of people gave me a bit of a strange look, but I didn’t show any loss of confidence at all. I came here to party, and that’s just what I’m going to do!
“Hi! I’m Preston! Preston Miles!”