Cast: Me: 40, sweaty, swatting at gnats/chiggers/mosquitos the size of pterodactyls
Violet: 3, carrying a small walking stick, not sweating at all
Max: black lab, ecstatic
Milo, black lab, ecstatic to the point of temporary insanity
Scene: Pennsylvania forest trail in the late afternoon. The sun is filtering down through the high canopy of treetops giving an ethereal look to the whole woods. Bugs are thick as thieves.
(Camera peeks around from a sneaky Yeti’s vantage behind a fat tree trunk to watch as two black dogs flash by with the quickness, followed by the very slow approach of a man and a little curly-haired girl, each carrying walking sticks that compliment their different statures. Their voices are garbled at first before coming into audio focus…)
Violet: …..and the deers, and the cows, and the monkeys, and the….deers, and the chickens!
Me: Yep, you’re right! I guess there are chickens and monkeys out here too, living in the forest.( I slow down my already creeping pace to let her catch up) I just haven’t seen them yet is all. Who else lives in the forest Mama Bear?
Violet: There’s the deers…
Me: (interrupting her) Yep, the deers.
Violet:….and the bulls and T-Rex.
Me: T-Rex, huh? Hmph. I hope we don’t run into him back here. Not that it wouldn’t be pretty cool and all, but no one would believe us and that would bother me for months, you know?
Violet: Look! Milo has a stick!
(Milo has a stick. In his jaws. Actually it’s more like a medium-sized tree limb and he is blasting at us at about sixty mph with the thing swaying for three feet out either side of his dog mouth and I know damn well what happens next.)
Me: Milo! Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! (This echos through the warm woods and bounces up to the top of the mountains on either side of this hollow as I do my best to prepare for the impact.)
Violet: Hahahahaha! Milo is a maniac, huh?! (As the last sound escapes her lips, Milo moves just inches to the left of me on the trail and the stick/log in his mouth slams into my shins with all the force of a very deliberate and effective medieval dog-knight attack.)
Me: $#&!**!$&#!Milo! Owwww!
Violet: Hahahahahaha, Daddy, Milo is a maniac, huh? He has a stick!
Me: Yeah, he’s a damn idiot is what he is, baby! (I turn to holler at him but he is gone around the trail bend.)
Me: (regrouping) Hey Violet, how’s that walking stick doing? Is it helping you walk over the stones and the bog roots?
Violet: Nooooo, they’re not stones, they’re rocks! They’re rocks, Daddy!
Me: Okay alright they’re rocks. Whatever. Just try not to trip over them and split your lip open okay?
Violet: Okay. (within five seconds, no lie, she trips and falls.) Arrrrggggghhh. Whahhhhhhhh! I fall down! (crying)
Me: Oh dammit. We are never gonna see any deer. (I come to her side) You’re okay, kid. I don’t seen any blood or anything. Pick yourself up and let’s keep hiking.
(I help her up and notice the glint of sun on metal. That’s how far we have managed to get from the Honda. Maybe sixty yards, tops.)
Violet: (sniffling) I tired Daddy.
Me: You’re tired? Already? But we’re hiking, mama. Don’t you wanna hike a little further at least?
Violet: Hold me Daddy. I so tired. (she plants herself at my boots/her arms raised high/the ‘pick-me-up’ position)
Max: (bolts by one way, tons of fuel yet to burn)
Milo:(zips by with his log just missing the two of us)
Me: (sigh) No more hiking?
Violet: Okay! All done hiking! Bye-bye hiking in da woods! See you tomorrow!
Me: (lifting her up) We didn’t go very far, you know?
Violet: Let’s go to da ice cream store!
Me: I don’t know. You have to hike pretty far to get to the ice cream store.
Violet: Okay, we go to da ice cream store. ( She says this as if it’s final)
(We roll out of the woods, her three year old body hanging way lower down my 40 year old one than it did just yesterday. I get the dogs in the car, they’re dripping with creek. Halfway to the ice cream store, I glance in the rear-view. Violet’s out like a light, her little head bent down in that wobbly way, slowly flopping from side to side when I hit the mountain curves.)
As the closing song fades in, Camera rises up above the blue Honda Pilot, backing away swiftly up into the sky as the vehicle passes by the Dairy Queen without stopping, our vantage continuing in reverse, harder/faster, until the Honda of our story is just a dark dime below as the music soars.
Fade to black.
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