When I was 16, my friends were taking driver’s ed and their parents were buying them cars, not really nice ones, but they were transportation and I longed for my independence. I asked my parents’ permission to get my driver’s license and they kept saying, “Not until you’re 18.”
“What about a car?” I asked.
“Save your money,” they said.
It didn’t seem fair. It would take me years to make enough money mowing lawns and by that time, I’d miss out on all the worthwhile experiences in high school. I’d probably end up graduating, going to community college, and living with them for two more years. I needed my freedom.
Without a car, I resigned myself to taking long walks. I preferred the woods because suburban life didn’t seem real and if it was real, I preferred the sounds of the trees instead of the noises people make when they live too close together. I brought a small shovel with me. People probably thought I was crazy or I was some kind of killer, but I just loved to dig holes. I read Treasure Island and other stories. A hole always needed to be dug to find the treasure.
On a lonely spring afternoon, I decided to take a different path through the forest. The trees were much older there and they reminded me of the woods in fairy stories. I looked for a tree that had the most potential. If I was a pirate, I would’ve buried gold there. I began digging, but it was hot and after 15 minutes I was ready to stop; then the ground gave way and I almost fell in. It was a cave filled with cobwebs and spiders and right in the middle of the hole I noticed an interesting rock. It was milky white with a shadow on the inside. I grabbed it and hoisted it out of the hole. It looked like a fossilized fetus. I don’t know what I thought I was going to do with it, but I put it in my backpack just the same. I was excited to trek back home and show my friend Clayton.
“Looks like a dinosaur,” he said. I took a second look.
“Come to think of it, it does look like a dinosaur.”
“You should take that to the paleontology museum. They might pay you well for it, if it’s not a rodent.”
“That’s a great idea, but shouldn’t we clean it up first?”
“Yeah,” Clayton said. He grabbed the hose and began to spray it, but the dirt wouldn’t come off. “Maybe we could soak it in boiling water.”
“I’ll get one of my mom’s canning pots. We set it to boil and plopped the stone inside.”
Later, I set the stove to simmer and grabbed a scrub brush. I began to massage the stone. I couldn’t tell if it was the reflection of the water, but it looked like the thing inside the stone moved.