Amazing Kids! Magazine

A Walk in the Woods

By Oliver Peterman, age 14, Ohio


I stepped out of the car and on to the loamy, familiar, Kentucky soil. I looked up from my shoes and gazed upon the rustic and beautiful house. The wood of which it was composed decayed, but sturdy. The house was shaped like a square, but with a small, triangular prism on top. The quaintness and nostalgia overcame me and I rejoiced, for I had arrived at my home away from home. I could imagine how my life would be, planned and well thought out – on a linear path, completely planned and predicable. I was overjoyed as I caught sight of my grandfather hustling out of the house, his smile brightening the world as luminous as the sun and as joyful as a soldier arriving home.

He yelled,” Hey everybody. I’m so glad you’re here. Everybody is inside, so come on in.” He came up to my family and me and gave everyone a great big hug. I could see the happiness in his hazel colored eyes.

We followed him into the house and we were met with a resounding welcome from our family – Uncle Shawn, Aunt Lori, Uncle Steve, Aunt Robin, my cousins Henry, Audrey, Annabelle, and Ellie. Glee evident on everyone’s faces as my parents started to chat while the kids went outside. I kicked off my shoes and felt the Kentucky grass caress my feet. It was like a thousand skilled hands giving my feet a massage.

I can do this forever, I thought. Thinking that my life would be like this forever made me so happy. I thought then that my life would never change. I was happy with my life and I did not want it to change. We raced around the house with vigor, our feet almost at terminal velocity. We ran until we could run no more. We hurled ourselves down on the grass, panting and gasping for air, laughing all the while. We started to chat, but then my grandfather walked over.

“Anybody want to go on a walk?” he asked.

“Sure.” I said back. In almost complete unison with my brothers, who also agreed.

We started to walk toward the hollowed path in the woods, foliage and nature engulfing the path. The birds sang and the squirrels scurried about. Cracks were in the brown autumnal leaves from the tiny footsteps of the animals. Amazing and beautiful, the primeval earth surrounded me. This was a beautiful sight, and it made me so happy.

I don’t want anything to change. I want to be with my family and never have them leave me. Nothing will change, I thought.

We walked along the trail together, talking about current events in our lives, my grandfather’s hardy laugh dominating these grounds. As it was autumn, the trees were stripped of their leaves. We approached a massive and leafy hill, perfectly formed. It was as if an ant hill was magnified. The hill soared like a mountain. The sun caressed its summit. We started to walk up, my brothers and I leading while my grandfather was behind us. We all whipped back our heads because of a yell. It was my grandfather struggling for balance, waving his arms in great panic, his body waving side to side like a palm tree clutching the ground in a storm. Fear was in my body. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. Then it happened, he fell. It was like an ivory titan falling from its pedestal. Then we heard the horrible sound. It was a pure wretched sound. Like the snap of a thousand trees. A great shout of pain followed. He fell back against a massive oak tree. He collapsed upon the ground. I knew he was in excruciating pain. He was on the ground not moving. My entire body and mind were desolate. I ran to him, panic seeping into my steps. That desolate feeling ingrained into my body. I knelt at his side with my brothers. He got up slowly, pain evident in his body language. He just laughed. We all laughed nervously, knowing that he was not well.

“We should head on back, dinner’s almost ready,” Hh said, trying desperately to hide his pain.

“We should get you to a hospital!” my brother Nick said. My brother Wyatt and I concurred.

“No, don’t worry about it,” he said, trying to institute a facade of cheerfulness. We consistently asked him if he was okay, and every time he answered ”Yes.”

We arrived back at the farm house. He said yes so many times, I actually started to believe him. I started to become happy again, as did my brothers. This trip would be a happy memory. I looked back at the woods and took all of it in once more. The oaky smell of the trees hit my nostrils like a freight train. The leaves fell from the trees like raindrops. The fallen leaves covered the ground like a blanket. I turned away from the woods and went up to the house to join my family for dinner.

I walked up the creaking, decaying wooden stairs. I set my foot on the familiar top balcony-like deck of the porch. Joy was slowly rising in my body. It was like warmth surging through my bones.

Nothing could tear apart my family. If I have them, life is completely predictable and perfect, I thought. I walked in the screen door and felt at home. I sat down at the table and started to fill up my plate. I grabbed a massive hunk of chicken and dropped it gently upon my plate. The aroma of the tender meat enriched my mood. I grabbed a lot of mashed potatoes and green beans too. I slapped them all down on my plate and prepared to have my face covered in food. I was about to dive in, but then I heard a crash – a soul crushing crash – a family crushing crash. My grandfather fell straight out of his chair onto the ground. My Aunt Lori screamed in complete surprise. My grandfather was on the ground, unconscious.

“We need to get him to a hospital!” my brother Nick yelled. “He fell against a tree on our walk in the woods.”

My uncle Shawn and my father rushed to my grandfather. Everyone was moving in a panic. Everyone, except me. I was stunned. I could not move. It was at this moment that I found life was unpredictable. This realization struck me like a punch to the jaw. Life was always going to change, and I realized that. My Uncle Shawn and my dad picked him up. With a unified grunt, they hauled him out the door. The door swung slowly shut as they put him in my dad’s car. They started to drive off into the night to the nearest hospital. The night was as dark as obsidian. To me, it reflected my feelings. I had no time to reflect on my life. Everyone in the house got into a car and followed my father to the hospital. The ride to the hospital was the longest ride I had ever been on. I was just sitting in a seat, thinking that I had no control over anything. We arrived only moments after my grandfather and rushed in the hospital, bringing a deluge of footsteps into the building. All of the footsteps were rushed and full of panic. My father greeted us.

“He’s in the ICU. They told us that he has 5 broken ribs, and that one of them impaled his lung. Shawn is inside.”

Wow, I guess that wretched crack was his ribs, I thought.

We all went inside and waited in the waiting room. The whole room was brightly colored, but I did not feel that way. Many people were waiting in this waiting room too. I could tell that they were in the same situation as me. I was hoping that he would live, desperately. I had never been so scared in all of my life. Then, when I almost had lost all hope, a doctor came out, a smile encumbering his face.

“He’s going to be okay, but you may want to come back tomorrow. It would be better if he stayed here for the night.”

I was so happy at that moment. My entire family was as well. I looked at the white, unstained hospital and rejoiced. This place had healed my grandfather.

We took the doctor’s advice and went back to the farm house. We all immediately departed to go to bed. As I laid down to sleep, I was happy that my grandfather was ok. I was overjoyed that I would see him the next day.

Life may be unpredictable, but it can still be joyful. As long as my family and I are together, I don’t care if life changes, I thought.