I’m headed into the woods at the end of my street. I live alone in the woods. It’s Saturday, or summer, and I’m walking over the field at the back of the school at the end of my street. I’m eleven and can, at a distance, identify older kids who might beat me up.
There are three ways, from this side, to take into the woods. Two only we know about. In the backpack my father bought me at a yard sale, I carry a folding shovel, a short saw, a hammer and nails, one Phillips and one flathead screw driver, a Swiss Army knife, kite string and part of a clothesline, a Penthouse (my birth month and year, stolen from my uncle’s collection), eight Oreos, a half-bag of Fritos, a Milky Way bar, and two bottles of strawberry Crush.
I’m headed into the woods at the end of my street. My red All Stars soaked with cold dew from the grass. It’s early, and the tree leaves are bright with sunlight. The sun is up, shining, but the grass is still wet, and I’m crossing the field at the back of the school. I’m scanning the edge of the woods for white high tops. White high tops or cigarette smoke.
There are two secret ways to take into the woods. I go for the path in the middle. The middle path leads to the neighborhood junk pile. My camp is close to the side with the red, rusted Volkswagen bug. We smashed all the windows a long time ago. Smashed them out with my hammer, except for the windshield. For the windshield, we stood on the roof, dropped a cinder block through, and dented the hood jumping down as the shattered glass sparkled on the black vinyl seats. Even now the glass sparkles on the black vinyl seats. We love breaking glass. All the windows are smashed, but we still shatter bottles on the cinder block, or over the hood of the car.
I take the middle path into the woods. The woods knows me.
In the future, I’m not eleven. We are both in the kitchen, and the sudden smell of rain in the garden makes me horny. I step out in the weird stormy-yellow daylight and am instantly soaked through my t-shirt and jeans. Raindrops are bouncing off a Budweiser can on its side in the mud. I’m sure there’s a frog or a snail somewhere, too.
In the future, I look out over the neighborhood from our fortress on the hill: everywhere kitchen and dining room lights, or blue TV flashing on living room walls. I wonder how many kids have already locked themselves up in their rooms for the night. I feel like I have a heart, but it’s summer—Saturday night—and there’s nowhere to go, anymore, to break glass.
In the future, I wish we lived by a lake, and we opened the windows. If we lived by a lake, we could look out over the water somewhere.
Dave Martin is currently an MFA in Poetry candidate at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he works as assistant director at the Writing Center, assistant poetry editor for Third Coast, and as an editorial assistant for Comparative Drama. He lives with his son and two cats.