Finding the Lost

It was midnight and pitch dark. We had done many things before, but we had never done this. We went into the woods seeking adventure. Everyone said we were a bunch of punks. Even our parents. Me, Evan, Chris, and Mike loved hanging out. Even when we got in trouble. And we got in trouble a lot.

“Boys, bring in the toilet paper rolls,” I said.

Mike, Chris, and Evan jumped over the fence, carrying ten rolls each. My mom, lay in our house, still sleeping. Soon, she would find her beloved woods trashed. We had woods in our backyard, huge woods that my parents would go to all the time. I used to get lost in there, but now, I knew it like the back of my hand. I was mad at them. I was mad at them for fighting all the time and ignoring me. So now, I was trashing their beloved woods.

“Great,” I said with an evil smirk.

In total, we had thirty rolls. Each of the boys had ten rolls, and I couldn’t manage to get any because my parents would notice. Not like they would notice me otherwise. All they cared about was each other, the house, and the woods.

We started to throw the rolls on the trees, kicking dirt as we went. All of a sudden, we heard a long, piercing scream. We jumped, all dropping the rolls. We walked backward. We saw the black outline of a stocky figure coming toward us. We all froze.

“Run!” I yelled.

We skidded over the fence, running at full sprint to my house. By the time we got to the front door, we were all panting and out of breath.

“WWWhat wwwas that?” asked Mike with a quivering voice.

The other boys were too scared to talk, so we just stood there for about a minute in silence.

Finally, Chris said, “Chase. Let’s just go back to our bed in our home.”

I nodded my head, and all the boys departed. I stood there, watching them for a moment. Then I too went up the steps to my house. On my way to my room, I passed my dad who was sleeping on the couch because my mom kicked him out of their room. I went up the stairs, trying to be quiet, so I wouldn’t wake my mom or dad.

As I went to my room, I passed my mom’s room with her door open. I peered inside, leaning my head so I could see the big, old bed with its dusty, dark wood. I didn’t see my mom though. Strange, I thought. I walked into my room and jumped into my bed, with my clothes still on, and stared up at the peeling ceiling.

The next morning, I woke up to the smell of burning food. I went down the stairs to see my mom was in the kitchen, trying to cook, and my dad was still sleeping on the couch.

“Mom,” I said.

She didn’t give any acknowledgment of me being there.

“Can I go play?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said, still not looking up from her black pancakes.

I awkwardly and slowly walked outside, and the door swung on its rusty hinges behind me. I walked all the way to Evan’s house and told him that I wanted to go back to the woods tonight and explore. I told him to meet me at midnight and bring a flashlight.

“I’ll be there,” he said. “And I wasn’t scared of that stupid ghost thing anyway!”

He made ghost noises and moved his arms like a dying octopus’s tentacles. I smiled and laughed. I felt really good. It was the first time I laughed since my parents started fighting. Then I went to Mike and Chris’s house. On the way, I passed the grass field with the old trees that we used to sit on to throw rocks at passing cars. Then midnight came. When I thought that my parents had gone to sleep, I snuck downstairs and out the back door to the woods. As planned, they all met me there with flashlights and their own scare-away items. Evan had his mother’s cross, Chris had garlic, and Mike had an anti-ghost spray bottle. It was one of those stupid things that companies get a lot of money on, even though they never work. I just came with an old flashlight I found in my room. We all smiled and exchanged silly expressions.

“We should all spread out to cover land faster,” Mike suggested.

“No way,” said Chris. “We should stick together. In horror movies, if you spread out ,they pick you off one at a time.”

“So, we should stick together then.”

“I agree,” I said.

So we set off into the woods in a line. I was first, followed by Evan, Mike, then Chris. We had been walking through the woods for about a half hour, and we were getting tired. Just when I was about to tell them that we could go home, we heard a loud moan coming from a parting in the woods. It sent a shiver down my spine. I remember that part of the woods. It was where my mom used to go when she needed space from my dad. I looked at it now, in the darkness of midnight, wondering what horrid creature awaited.

“We sh-should go,” I said.

“No way,” Evan said, “I came to see something cool.”

I smiled at his joking stupidity.

“Fine,” said Mike, “Let’s do this thing.”

Chris just nodded. I could tell he was too scared to speak. We slowly stepped forward, every step making my heart explode out of my chest. The moaning was getting quieter now, but you could hear stifled sobs. What kind of creature cries? We all looked at each other and exchanged questionable looks. I was less scared now. As we got closer, the sobs turned into soft cries of pity and sorrow. I remember those cires. I’ve heard them all my life. I knew who was there. It all made sense now. My mom being so distant. Her loving the woods. My dad getting home so late. Them fighting all the time. I stepped into the shadows of the thick trees.

“Hi, Mom,” I said.

Mike, Evan, and Chris gasped. Mom looked at me and wiped a tear from her eye.

“Chase,” my mom said.

“Well, I’m here now, Mom,” I said.

I hugged Mom, embracing her as tight as I could.

“Things with me and your dad are complicated, sweetie,” she said. “Sometimes things just don’t work out.”

“I know, Mom. I know.”

“Honey, I am so sorry I didn’t pay attention to you, I just-just-just love you, and I don’t want you to turn out like your father because you are a wonderful boy. My little boy.”

“I love you no matter what.” I said, tears now streaming down my face. “Let’s go home,” I finally whispered, after a long minute of silence.

She nodded and stood up, holding my hand. The boys parted, letting us go first, then followed behind. I could tell they to were holding back tears. I was thankful for them always being there for me. We headed back to my house and ate a little food. Even though it was midnight, we were surprisingly hungry. My dad still hadn’t gotten home yet.

After food, drinks, and a lot of silence, my mom finally said, “I’m going to call your parents. You should be heading home,” she said.

After Evan’s, Chris’s, and Mike’s parents came to pick them up, me and my mom went upstairs. I slept in her bed that night. It smelled of dirt and moldy food, but I didn’t care. Things were going to be different now. I knew it.

My mom woke me up in the morning, and we went downstairs. I noticed that for the first time in a while, she changed out of her slippers and put on sneakers. When my dad woke up, my mom sent me upstairs so her and dad could talk. Even though the door was closed, I could hear them yelling at each other. When they stopped yelling, I went downstairs. When I got to the living room, I found my mom staring out the window at the front of the house.

“Things are going to be different now. Different but better,” she said.

I watched Dad get into his old car with all of its dents and dirt.

“I know, Mom,” I said, “but I love you.”

I watched Dad’s car putter off in the distance. Mom gripped my hand and squeezed it very tightly.

“I love you too, sweetie,” she said.  


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