Hey people. It's been quite some time. And I'm sorry this isn't a real blogpost, but a copy of my final paper for my Non-Fiction class. I'm supposed to write a short autobiographical piece of writing for part one of this assignment. Part two is for me to take a step back from it and analyze it for themes and such as if I were an unconnected third party. Here's where you come in: I would love you forever if you would read through this and give me your general impressions so I know what an outside third party is actually thinking as they read this. I've already written a rough draft of my critical analysis, but I could tweak it or even this original short story thing based on your thoughtful responses. Thanks in advance if you decide to help me out with this! And without further ado, I give you...
"Hmm..." mused Jarin, "I wonder if we could trap it with a marshmallow..." He bent over the pile of sticks and rocks we'd collected in the last twenty minutes, his young face scrunched up in concentration.
Wiping my dirt-covered hands on my worn-out overalls, I suggested that a s'more would probably be better in case it was picky and didn't like marshmallows plain; I knew I didn't. "If it's got chocolate and graham crackers and marshmallows, there's no way it won't want some," I added matter-of-factly.
We agreed that we'd sneak an extra s'more away with us from the campfire later that night and went to work assembling our trap.
It was an annual tradition in our extended family to go on one big camping trip together in the middle of the Summer. For the past several camp-outs my cousins and I had turned making chipmunk traps into something of a ritual, as well. In the back of our minds I think we always knew we wouldn't actually catch anything. Our traps were handmade, wholly unreliable, and not very stable. They had very little real logic behind them. We didn't care; it was just something we did to do something. It made us feel adventurous. Like we could go out and become Daniel Boone.
The color of our hands progressed to increasingly darkening shades of brown and gray as we strategically stacked stones on top of each other and used sticks to line the inside of our structure for support. After about an hour and much trial and error, we had what looked like a miniature stone hut, complete with a smooth rock roof concealed by dead leaves. The finishing touch was a tiny trapdoor at the front so we could slip the pilfered s'more inside as bait.
As we sat testing it out in our isolated corner of the campsite, Brooke meandered over to us. "Hey, Brooke!" we greeted her warmly, eager to show her how good our trap was this time and have her admire our handiwork.
Peering down at us, she crossed her arms and looked skeptical. "What are you guys doing?" she asked, furrowing her brow.
We glanced back up at her, slightly crestfallen and somewhat confused. "Brooke...you know what we're doing..." I said tentatively. Up until this year she'd always helped us with this project. As the oldest grandchild in our family, she had been the leader: the one who had started this whole trapping thing in the first place. Now at the wizened age of 10, she seemed to have lost interest in it altogether. Previous years, Jarin and I had always just followed her lead because we looked up to her. This year we were leading ourselves.
Rolling her eyes and shaking her head, she responded, "Of course I know what you're doing--but why?!" She sounded exasperated. Irritated.
"Maybe we'll catch something this ti--" Jarin began. But Brooke cut him off before he could finish.
"You're not going to catch anything. It never works." She walked away haughtily to do whatever it was that she thought was so much cooler than us or our project.
I tried not to look or feel disappointed as I watched her go. Turning to Jarin, I smiled wildly and exclaimed, "This time it will."
"Yeah," he said, returning my pre-braces, crooked grin. "This time we'll catch something."
After dinner, with s'more bait in place, we went to bed hardly able to wait until morning when we could check our trap. Undeterred by past experience, we were just as confident and hopeful as always that our trap would work and we'd have a pet chipmunk for the remainder of camp. As I tossed and turned in my sleeping bag, trying to fall asleep to the rhythmic sounds of my dad snoring and the rushing water of the creek near our tent, it felt like tomorrow would never come.
When it finally did, the kids--as usual--were up before the parents. Jarin and I found each other as quickly as we could so we could check our trap together. "Do you think--?" I half asked him with bare enthusiasm.
"I don't know--let's go find out!" he answered back hopefully. Both of our voices were dry and crackly from having just woken up, but unmistakably laced with excitement like on Christmas morning.
We raced each other to our little stone trap and were surprised to find Brooke already there, standing beside it. We stopped in our tracks, not sure what to make of it. We stared at her. She stared back, looking smug.
We nodded uncertainly at her, and Jarin spoke quickly to no one in particular, "C'mon! Let's see what's in there!" He started to move towards the trap but didn't quite make it before Brooke blew:
"This is so stupid," she said angrily. Her voice rose to a volume kind of shocking for that early in the morning. "There is not going to be anything in there!" On this last heightened note, she dramatically swung her foot back behind her and kicked over our primitive little construction, blasting it apart. It separated back into it's composite parts at an astonishing speed.
But amid the dead rocks and sticks and leaves and dirt, all three of us saw something small--something living--dart away and disappear into the trees behind us. We could read in each other's puzzled faces that yes, we had finally caught our chipmunk. And because of Brooke it had gotten away.
After the initial shock had worn off, Jarin and I glared at Brooke, unable to believe that we'd finally succeeded only to have her literally tear apart all of our hard work. We were left with the scattered remnants of the only trap that had ever worked and had to content ourselves with the guilt and bragging rights we could hold over Brooke's head for the remainder of the trip. We never did catch another chipmunk.