I wandered up in the foothills for a long time,
close by. I took off his leash and we left Pearblossom with its lazy golf links and dry arroyos. Wilson
The trail was familiar. It had been a daily trip for my mother and me when we first moved here, when we would ride for hours, thrilled by our new lives, each day staying out longer. By the end of elementary school, other interests had occupied mother’s time, and our horses remained in the barn. The barn has been empty for a year.
At the edge of the neighborhood, just as Wilson and I were turning into the street that would take us home, I saw the same boy with the mangy dog from the bus ride. Oh no! The same guy that bugged me at school.
I stopped at Jen’s, the first house on the street.
“Alli! How did you get here?” Jen’s mother looked past me, expecting mother’s car in the driveway.
“I walked. Is Jen home?”
“She’s at rehearsal. Aren’t you in the play?”
“Yes. I came to see if I could catch a ride. Mom has a meeting tonight.” I said.
“Sorry, Alli. ”
“That’s o.k.” I said, hoping my older sister would be home. She worked at the mall a few nights a week, and attended the community college during the day. Other times, she was supposed to take care of me when mom was busy with her board work.
Rats. If I missed rehearsal, I’d be kicked out.
Dad might be home. But his job was far away, and the traffic always caused delays.
Our front door was locked, and the cars were not in the driveway.
I looked for a spare key, under flowerpots, gutter spouts, trashcans. I climbed the back fence hoping to get in through a window. I left
by the front door. Wilson
He barked the entire time as I bumped into patio furniture and bruised shins and elbows, all the time telling
to shut up. I got so banged up that I had no energy left to climb the fence again. I waited in the dark for somebody to get home. Wilson
Stars, first a big one, then millions of them, all beautiful, across the Milky Way distracted me.
was whining when he wasn’t barking. Wilson
Dad used to set up a telescope when we first moved out here. We had come here to the desert many times before we moved, at all night amateur- astronomer events. I learned the constellations during those dark nights. Just Dad and me and millions of stars.
I suddenly remembered that Dad would not get home until Friday night. Mother had helped him find a place in town. Nobody had asked me how I felt.
After an hour, Dad pulled in the driveway and I yelled loud enough for him to hear me and come to open the back door.
“You’re home!” I jumped up to greet him.
“Your mother called me. How long have you been out here?”
“Your Mom was sending a posse up the hills two hours ago.”
“ Dad, I’m late for rehearsal.”
“When were you supposed to be there? We need to get word to Mom and the sheriff that you’re safe.”
“Dad, it’s not my fault!”
“Let’s go. Put
out. You need to apologize to everybody, young lady.” Wilson
“Dad, I’m sorry.”
“I had to cancel a very important meeting. You really messed up, Alli…”
“I had a tough day. This boy…”
“He bugs. Mother gave him a ride…”
“What’s that got to do with anything? You’re too old for these tantrums. Like the horse. Cause, I’m sick of that. You never took care of it, never rode it, and then when we told you we were selling it…”
“Dad. It was my horse, mine. How could you?”
“You had responsibilities, chores. You didn’t do your part. That’s how it goes, young lady.”
“I have a lot of homework, Dad. O.K if I don’t come with you?”
“Well, don’t get on the phone.” He yelled, as he slammed the door behind him.
I was doing my math when the phone rang.
“Alli?” A boy’s voice.
“Who’s this?” I knew who it was, or I thought I knew.
“ Were you looking for me?” Bulldog, or Raymond, or whatever his real name was. What was he doing out there? Had he followed me?
“What do you want?”
“The police is looking for you; they’re all over the place. I told them I saw you walk toward your house.”
“Well. I just called to be sure you were safe. That’s all.”
“Stop bugging me.”
And I hung up. The phone rang again. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, so I pulled the phone off the hook. I thought, just for a little while.
Now, they are going to believe me when I tell them about Bulldog.