Narcolepsy

17 Dec

by Alyssa Hood

Chapter 1

Cooper shut his locker door with a loud slam, too excited to care. He ran down the hallway as fast as his loosely fitting Crocs would allow him. He ran past children lazily walking through the hallway, stopping where they pleased. Cooper shoved through the heavy metal doors, stepping into the crisp afternoon air. He hurtled down the steps and vaulted into the street, racing across it. He ran for another block and stopped at his house, fumbling for the key. He shoved the key in the lock, but as he turned it snapped in two.

He grasped his left earlobe and rubbed it, though it was raw and sore. It was a terrible habit and his mother called it gross and constantly told him to stop, to no avail. He pulled his fingers away and wiped the blood on his shirt. His mother didn’t know about the trip though. Only he and his father knew about the camping trip they were taking.

First they would drive to the coast, then take about forty miles, then paddle the last five onto a remote island, where a car would be waiting. Cooper could barely contain himself as he sat waiting for his dad to get home and unlock the door, with Ashley, Cooper’s two-year-old sister, in his arms and his collie puppy, Finn, by his side. Then they would all head out and have the time of their lives. Cooper couldn’t wait.

Chapter 2

The door squeaked open and there stood Cooper’s father, sweaty and befuddled. Ashley toddled over and grasped his hand in her chubby one, covered in peanut butter and Goldfish bits.

“ ’Amping tip,” she said through sticky teeth.

Cooper smiled and planted a wet kiss on her rosy red cheek and agreed. “Yeah, we’re gonna go soon, but Dada has to pack,” he said and hoisted her up onto his hip. “So, what’s up with you, Dad?” Cooper said with a tone of sarcasm.

“Oh nothing, just overworked,” he said with a smirk, gesturing Cooper in.

Cooper slowly walked inside, taking in all the smells of his father’s house, with Ashley petting his buzz-cut caramel blonde hair and saying, “Porquipine! Porquipine!” Cooper smiled and set her down on the thick shag carpeting that covered ninety percent of their father’s house. Ashley crawled over to her toys and began an intensely heated game.

Feeling okay leaving her there, Cooper ran into the kitchen, where his father was chopping thick pink slices of meat. “You finished packing, right?” His father nodded and threw the slices of meat into a Ziplock bag. He smirked, threw Goldfish into a bag, and headed into a closet, creating loud clattering noises and finally a thump. Cooper ran as fast as he could and shoved his way into the closet, where he found his father laying on the floor, eyes closed, chest moving soundly, but barely noticeable.

Chapter 3

Finn started to yowl from outside and Cooper propped his father’s head on his lap, screaming into his ears. Tears began to cloud Cooper’s vision, and just as Cooper reached for the phone to dial 911, his father’s head jerked up and his eyes snapped open.

“What was that?!” Cooper hollered at him.

His father’s eyes softened and he simply said, “I must just be tired. It’s all right.”

Cooper’s eyebrows furrowed, but he decided to leave the matter alone and help his father clean up. Cooper heard a small voice and looked down to see Ashley toddle in, her most beloved stuffed Teddy bear in her arms . She handed it to him (which she always did when she wanted him to pick her up). Cooper took a close look at it, with its matted fur, brown spots where dirt still clung, scratched-up glassy eyes, a worn nose where she liked to rub and plant kisses, and an arm that was stitched back on with purple thread instead of brown that would match the fur. Cooper took all of this in and had a sense of pity for the bear, but Cooper kept his feelings inside so he didn’t hurt his sister’s feelings, and picked Ashley up, getting a small spot of drool on his arm from a gap in her teeth.

Chapter Four

They all ate a quick dinner of creamy mac-and-cheese, buttered brocolli, and, of course, Goldfish. Little did Cooper know this would be his last hot meal for two weeks.

Soon they were piled in the car, Ashley in her stiff quadruple-buckled seat with padded headrest, and Cooper in the front appreciating the fine leather upholstery. He almost wished his mother was there, but his parents had divorced just slightly after Ashley was born. Cooper was twelve. Cooper snapped the belt into place and could barely contain himself with the excitement that was now racing through his blood. The car lurched forward and Cooper let a grin slip through his face and touched the top of his father’s hand as it moved the clutch.

“Porquipine! Porquipine!” Ashley called. Cooper turned in his seat and smiled at her. “Mold Pish,” she said, and Cooper dug for the ever-present Goldfish in their black canvas food bag. His finger traced the outline of a crudely represented fish and he clutched the thin plastic bag. He pulled it out and handed it to Ashley. Not even ten minutes in she began to guzzle down her supply of little golden snacks. Cooper was glad that his always-attentive father had brought more. Cooper gazed out the window and took pleasure in the landscape flashing by and slowly changing.

Soon they were at the coastline, where their small partially motorized boat was waiting. They pulled their car to a stop, creating a trail of tire marks in the sand. They shook the hand of the man who owned the little boat and promised they would have it back in a week. Before Cooper knew it, he was wearing a neon orange life vest and holding Ashley on his knees while his dad steered the boat, as it did work.

During a break, Cooper had soon dozed off, the corner of his lips turning into a smile at the delight of his dream. He was out in the woods by himself, the sun warming his exposed skin and the perfect blue sky partially filled with creamy clouds. Suddenly his vision shifted and the loud crunching sound of heavy footsteps emanated from the woods and Cooper was looking into the gaping maw of a coffee colored brown bear. The bear clawed at Cooper’s face, his Expo-marker-thick claws sinking into flesh, splattering crimson blood all over the dreamland.

Cooper woke up in a flash, his face wet, his father’s strong hand clutching his shoulder, his other hand on the edge of the boat. “We’re here,” he said, his eyes filled with worry. It was evening and the sun was low in the sky.

The car was waiting at civilization on the island. So they had to hike for a couple of miles, Ashley in their arms or not close behind. Finally they reached civilization and the car, a midnight blue Toyota Rav 4 with muddied wheels. They all climbed in, Ashley double-buckled in the back and the canoe strapped to the top of the car. Soon they were driving away from civilization and towards the lush forestlands.

The car was too bouncy from the terrain to strike up a conversation, but Cooper was too wrapped up in his own excitement to care. He and Ashley barely got to see their dad. Their mom got most of the custody after the divorce because their dad was a corporal in the army. So this camping trip to the San Juan Islands was a big deal to both siblings. Ashley couldn’t tear a grin off her face.

They entered the woodlands and kept going deeper. Finally a red sign flared, “Careful, llamas.”

“Llamas?” Cooper said, his voice jolting as they grazed a bump. His dad glanced at the sign and suddenly his head conked out and he lay asleep at the wheel. Before Cooper could process anything, the car veered left, gained too much speed, and started slipping down a small cliff. Finally at the bottom of the cliff, the car struck a tree and gained another dent where his dad lay, head bleeding too much, arms and legs at odd angles, no obvious pulse, and chest not moving.

Cooper’s chest was moving. He was scared, bloody, and his heart was about to pound out of his chest. He shook his dad and got no response. Cooper stuck his fingers through the gate of blood on his father’s neck and checked for a beating heart, but nothing happened. “Dad!” Cooper cried. His temples hurt, his head had been hit hard and was turning purple. He was also struggling for breath. He didn’t know it, but his ribs had been crushed and he’d punctured one of his lungs.

Cooper snatched Ashley, her thick mat of hair covered in blood, out of the car and set her down on the soft soil. Cooper collapsed, both from his injuries and exhaustion, but also from being overwhelmed from wondering how they might survive in the harsh uncaring wilderness without their father.

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3 Responses to “Narcolepsy”

  1. alyssa hood January 7, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    amazingly amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • alyssa hood January 7, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Girls Trek Too! - December 28, 2011

    […] love your descriptions,” one critic told Alyssa Hood, referring to such tasty lines as: Ashley toddled over and grasped his hand in her chubby one, […]

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