The Vanishers

Every evening i watch.  It’s been happening for almost a week.  Tonight, i’m going to do more than watch, i’m going to follow.  Where do they go.. the couple who lives next door to us?  Evenings at 5:45, they go for a walk.  I’ve seen them go out for walks toward town sometimes, but for the last few nights, it’s been different.  They head to the end of our street and then disappear into thin air.  Well, not thin air exactly.  But they go into the woods between the houses down there.  And they don’t come back until at least three hours later, after dark.  I look out my bedroom window and see them walking with a flashlight.  They certainly don’t look like they’ve been walking in the woods for three hours.  Our street, Garret Lane, ends in a cul de sac.. with woods and a little creek beyond.  There’s no trail through those woods.  This cul de sac is out in the middle of nowhere.  It was built twenty five years ago as part of what was supposed to be a large development, but that large development never materialized.  There are only twelve houses on this street.  My parents love it here.  They think it’s idyllic, but it gets a little boring for me every now and then.

I’m sixteen and got my license two months ago.  Twice a week, my parents let me take the car out myself to cruise around a little.  But tonight, even though it’s one of those nights i could take the car, i’m going for a walk instead.  They’ll think it’s weird, but my Mom and Dad think i’m weird anyway.  I have my nose in books too often.  I have two girlfriends i like.  We go to movies once in awhile and to the mall sometimes.  But the mall is twenty miles away.  I’d rather stay home and read, watch old movies and sketch.  Anyway, tonight, i’m going to find out once and for all where Alex and Ginny go.  I’m going to have to be careful.  I’ll have to leave the house and walk the other way, toward route 34.  Town is four miles to the left, and right goes way out of town.  I’ll have to double back and walk behind the hedge.  Good thing there’s all that boxwood hedge behind all our houses.

I rush through my dinner.  My Dad is an excellent cook, and i usually have seconds, but i have to be done by 5:30 so i don’t miss the walk.  It’s summertime so i have no homework.  I ask to be excused and clear my dishes.  Be careful, Justine.  Be back by 9.  I notice my Mom roll her eyes as i walk out the front door.  I told you they think i’m weird.

So i sit on the front steps and read a few minutes until they walk by.  They smile and wave, and as soon as they’re by the next house, i walk toward 34 a ways then come back and creep behind the hedge.  I watch Ginny and Alex walk, holding hands the whole time.  I scramble along behind them and the hedge scooching down.  I should be a PI someday.  They don’t talk much.  A little about their dog.. a Golden Retriever named Byron who likes everyone, but nothing that indicates where they’re going.  We get to the white house at the very end of the street.  Two Garret Street.  It’s not an old house.  It was built at the same time as all the others.  But it looks older.  There are a few cracks in the hot top and dandelions are peeking through.  The house needs a paint job and some moss killer on the roof.  Ginny and Alex no longer hold hands, and he lets her go first as they walk around the house.  I’ve never noticed until now, but no one seems to live here.  I wait a minute, then follow them into the forest of firs.  About seventy yards in i lose sight of them.  They vanish.  I didn’t see them go behind a tree.  They’re gone.  And all of a sudden it’s foggy.  It’s July.  It’s never foggy around here in July.  I plod a little further, moving branches along the way.  Then i stop.  I see the most beautiful tree i’ve ever seen.  It’s not very tall compared to the trees around it.  About twenty feet tall and a maple, i think.  But it looks like a maple looks in the fall, with leaves of beautiful colors.  Along with the orange and yellow, there’s a gorgeous shade of purple.  And the leaves glow a little.  I’ve always thought trees are magical, but this seems like true magic.  I want to race home and tell my parents, but my legs won’t move.  And underneath the tree sits a big and very real tiger.  A tiger?  I’m not at all afraid of him.  It’s like he can see right through me.  And he talks.  I say, where are Ginny and Alex?  Tiger says, they’ve climbed the tree and gone to the moon.  If you learn the password, you can go to the moon too…  It’s magnificent there.  Venus lives there. There’s peace and happiness.  And none of this sounds strange to me at all.  Then i ask him about peace.. and i also ask him, just because i feel like it.. if the goddess can do anything about horrible Presidential candidates with tiny orange hands and really bad hair.  Tiger laughs and says.. we’ll see…


By M. Raynes


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