Mrs. Ewen’s 4th Grade – 2nd Hour

Clowns, Canada, and Caves 

Today is going to be the day, Ricky Alieanna thought as he sat on a large rock in front of his family cabin in the Canadian woods. Canada was his home. The only time he had left the northern country was to visit his aunt in Tennessee. The mere idea of traveling stirred his insides. What if the car broke down? What if the map blew out the window and they couldn’t find their way back to Canada? What if he didn’t pack enough clothing? What if the only thing they had to eat were brussel sprouts and ham salad sandwiches? What if they rolled the windows down to get some fresh air and then it rained? What if he got sick, and then . . . He didn’t want to think about the “and then”. The “and then” had happened to his mother.

Ricky worried about everything. The past three years since his mother’s passing had left him a bundle of nerves, but as he looked out across the wooded forest, he thought about what he wanted his life to be like when he grew up. More than anything else, Ricky Alieanna dreamed of one day becoming the world’s most famous cave hunter, but his worries kept him from moving farther than the boundaries marked by the boulder on which he sat.

Ricky rubbed his fingers through the multi-colored attempt to cure his life long fear of clowns. The blue, white, pink, and purple mess on top his head perfectly matched the tie-dye t-shirt that he wore with his blue jeans. He thought that if he could look like his fears, and be forced to look at himself everyday, then maybe he could for once conquer them. Ricky was so frightened of clowns and dolls that he had once told his fourth grade teacher that he was allergic to them. The thought of the painted on faces and cheesy fake smiles made him cringe.

Many times Ricky had thought about hopping off the rock, stepping forward into the forest and exploring the first cave he came across, but before he could take the jump, his mind would make him believe that the first cave he found was a refuge for retired clowns. Oh how he disliked clowns!

He focused his green eyes on the path in front of him. All he had to do was take the first step. But what if I fall? What if I cut my leg completely off with a blade? Maybe I should take a blade for protection, he thought. A blade was a good idea . . . but then there was the whole thing with the leg. He liked his leg. He didn’t want to lose it. He only had two and figured cave hunting would be nearly impossible with only one leg.

He could picture in his mind the hanging stalactites and the grounded stalagmites. He had learned about them in school—that’s when he knew that he wanted to be a cave hunter. Other than that, he absolutely did not like school. He didn’t like math, he didn’t like tests, and he did not like Mrs. Reynolds—mainly because she wouldn’t let him play Minecraft during math. If it weren’t for Minecraft, he wouldn’t have a single friend. Since his mother had passed away, Minecraft had been his escape; Steve and Herobrian where his best friends.

“Tater,” his dad, Bob, had said, “just because school doesn’t suite you, doesn’t mean you get to stay home. Your momma would want you to get out and see the world—explore those caves you’re always going on about.” Ricky missed his mom. Since her accident, it had just been he and his dad. ‘Tater’ was what his mom used to call him; she said it was because he used to like taters so much when he was a baby. Now, his dad called him ‘Tater’, too. Ricky thought it was his way of trying to keep her memory alive.

Thinking of his mom made him brave. Ricky stood up on the giant boulder and steadied himself. There were only two ways to go, frontward or backward. He was tall for his age, but often times he felt like a two year old baby who was too worried about the “what ifs” to do what he really wanted in life. In front of him was a land of adventures, behind him fear and worry. He knew his dad was right, his mom would want him to get out and see the world, instead of staying cooped up inside their cabin.

Sometimes he wished he was like the hero in his favorite novel, Divergent—Four, the brave Dauntless leader who could throw knives and believed in protecting those around him. Many times Ricky had stood on the rock, and many times he believed that he would take the step into the very woods that had taken the life of his mother, but all those times he had traded his desire for a bowl of chocolate ice cream. Not today, he thought. He looked back at his cabin where the comforts of Minecraft, chocolate ice cream, Steve, and Herobrian waited for him. It would be so easy to turn around and walk back, but he had come this far.

Ricky looked up into the sky; it was his favorite color of blue. He breathed in the cool crisp Canadian air of his homeland. Worry began to seep into his brain as reminders of his mother’s accident tried to convince him to go back inside. She wouldn’t want me to live this way, he thought. Ricky closed his eyes and jumped. He took a step forward, and then another—leaving behind the clowns and other worries that had kept him from fulfilling his future. Ahead of him were paths untaken and caves not yet explored. Today is the day, Ricky thought as walked into the wilderness in search of caves.

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