Double Dare

A mile from our home (or so it seems, but we are young and the world is unimaginably big) there is a cave to which we trudge on summer Saturdays.

We go there to hide. To pretend. To be more than we are. Or simply different.

It’s marked by shoestring, vine-choked and roofed with mud. We’ll be there soon although we don’t wear watches. I got one for Christmas but it’s lost. Broken. Or both.

It had a Cinderella face and a blue leather strap. I liked it. Just not enough to be careful.

I am careless.

So we’ll have to tell time by the movement of the sun.

I’m pretty sure we’ve been gone for hours. It feels like hours, doesn’t it?

My stomach growls and I think Next time, I’ll remember to bring snacks and maybe water. Also, I will be more careful with my Cinderella watch if I ever get a new one.

The trail grows steep in spots and we run in stutter-steps to keep from falling.  At the bottom, I find my fist is full of leaves. They’re sharp and sticky, ripped from branches along the way. Our socks are laced with burs so we sit on baking rocks to pluck them clean.

Carry on. Then, stop!

Squat to stare at the skin shed by a rattler and then at a cow’s skull. Whisper about mortality. And human sacrifice.

Could it happen here?

Of course not. This is a cow.


A breeze kicks up, smelling of jasmine. It’s sweet and lovely, but the hairs on my neck still prickle. Beware of snakebites. And madmen. Hold your breath here. Don’t step on cracks. There.

Someday we’ll come back to play kissing games. Someday we won’t think that kissing’s gross. But today is about sunshine and dried grass and so much space you can’t see the end of it. We must be a mile from civilization. Which is very far.

Almost far enough.

We’ll stay for days. Or until lunchtime.

Thirsty. Invincible. Tempted home only by the promise of cold milk and warm kitchens.

We’ll hide again tomorrow.


Today, I’m linking up with Ann Imig for her #WhereILivedWednesday series.

And hey! You should, too.

I double dare you.


29 Comments to Double Dare

  1. by Ellen

    On March 26, 2014 at 6:57 am

    You sure were brave, caves, cow skulls, and snake skins would have done me in!

  2. by Wendi

    On March 26, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Love this.

  3. by Suniverse

    On March 26, 2014 at 8:38 am

    You have a gift. I love reading everything you write. LOVE.

  4. by Nancy Davis Kho

    On March 26, 2014 at 9:25 am

    Beautiful. Our cave was a creek, and we’d go there for hours. I was always slightly relieved not to find a corpse in it. What is it with the childhood death obsession? I think we liked to scare ourselves…

    Thanks for making me think about that creek again.

  5. by Di

    On March 26, 2014 at 9:30 am

    I think I have run past that cave and never imagined the wonder of it! Thanks for sharing!

  6. by Ann

    On March 26, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Just beautiful.

  7. by John (Daddy Runs a Lot)

    On March 26, 2014 at 9:54 am

    You actually transported me there . . . which is impressive, as I’ve never been there, nor have I had a watch with Cinderella on it.

  8. by Suzie

    On March 26, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Oh, to be young again…and brave and uninhibited by life!

  9. by Deb Stone

    On March 26, 2014 at 10:09 am

    The magic of having a space where adults don’t dwell. Wonderful!

  10. by Jessica Tessler

    On March 26, 2014 at 10:25 am

    Wow. I can’t even tell you how much I love this.

  11. by tracy@sellabitmum

    On March 26, 2014 at 11:35 am

    You took me there. Write more for us. Pretty please. xo

  12. by Charlene Ross

    On March 26, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Love your writing so much. Every.Single. Time. Every. Single. Word. (And I think I had that watch!)

    I’ve been meaning to write my #WhereILived (but you know me, I’m blazy), I think you just may have inspired me to do so.


  13. by Kir

    On March 26, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    there was a muddy, creek like place about 139 steps from my backdoor but it seemed like it was a million miles away from safety and civilization. Your piece took me back there, all those jumbled thoughts, all that childhood courage and the tiny prickle of fear that propelled me home long before the others.

    I loved every word.

  14. by renee schuls-jacobson

    On March 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    I’m so glad to read your post today. And how fabulous that you are linking up with Ann! I’m just starting to wade back into the writing thang. Cautiously. I was recently in Arizona and learned the rattlers are being born right about now. I was lying on the hot pavement when someone suggested that might now be prudent. Glad to be living again.

  15. by My Inner Chick

    On March 26, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Now I remember why I come here.

    Because your writing is Delectable. X

  16. by Julie

    On March 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    OH! It makes me sad that my children will never know the imagination-laced adventures that we had. (I didn’t have a cave, but, man, I wish I did!)

  17. by Jenny

    On March 26, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    I read your comment on my blog and clicked on your name and was brought here, to this URL, which I actually sent to myself from work today so that I could read it in peace and quiet! I hadn’t put two and two together. This was so beautiful, and I wanted to savor it without interruptions. I just did, and it was even better the second time. Nice to make your acquaintance!

  18. by Lisbeth Coiman

    On March 26, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    This seems quite an adventure, two children rock climbing. It could have turned anyway, but it ended up a great story. Loved it.

  19. by Kristin Shaw

    On March 26, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Gorgeous. This took me back to my childhood places – mine was an empty field filled with wild strawberries in the spring. Great imagery!

  20. by Alison

    On March 27, 2014 at 1:39 am

    I want to know more.
    God I love your writing.

  21. by Lorene Whitehouse

    On March 27, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Amazing writing-love your descriptive “Julie” phrases- I want to be out hiking in that amazing place of adventure with you! Sounds adventurous and fun! Keep up the great work!

  22. by Kim@Co-Pilot Mom

    On March 29, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Those places did feel so far removed from everything, didn’t they? I was always called home by the promise of lunch or supper too.

  23. by Cameron

    On March 29, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    What a beautiful, dreamy remembering. My own childhood was greener, but full of the same sense of discovery and meandering inner monologue.

  24. by heidi

    On March 31, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Love. Just love. “Stutter-steps” is my new favorite. I can picture all of this perfectly. It’s my childhood, too.

  25. by Carolina Valdez Miller

    On March 31, 2014 at 10:50 am

    Just lovely, Julie. Oh, to go back to who and where we are. Some things, like this, I wish I could do again, just for a little while. But now, I live for the moments that make me feel as you must have felt here. Such discovery and innocence and newness of being…

  26. by Andrea

    On April 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Just love this. This is exactly how it is to be a kid who explores and dares and imagines.

    Brave children, afraid of everything, yet not.

  27. by angela

    On April 3, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Your words make me taste that combination of fear and invincibility that define childhood. Will I ever let my kids wander so? I doubt it, at least not when they are young enough to wear Cinderella watches or ride pink bikes with baby license plates on the back like mine had when I would ride around our neighborhood and to the next, without cell phones or calling when we got there or anything at all.

  28. by Kari Marie White

    On April 6, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    How do you capture moments like this so perfectly? I love this. What a perfect memory.

  29. by Nina

    On April 9, 2014 at 11:21 am

    A beautiful slice of childhood.

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