I wrapped my jacket around me to keep out the frigid air. It was cold and drizzly and my clothes were soaked. “The tapestry of life will outlast all of us,” my dad had always told me. “Everyone who has ever lived and ever will is a part of the tapestry. Sometimes a thread will come loose when the person it’s connected to has given up on life. Never become one of those loose threads, Allison.” But now I had become a loose thread. And I didn’t think I would ever be able to weave myself back in again.
My life began to unravel when my father was diagnosed with cancer last year. He could still continue homeschooling me until he died three weeks ago. Then I was put in public school, and that was when I realized that there was no going back. That my life was changed permanently. My mom had always had a full time job, and with my dad gone, we needed the money more than ever. There was no way I could be homeschooled.
* * *
I was in the very back of the group, atop my brown and black, chomp-happy horse. The man at the front hadn’t told me its name. As I watched the tour guide go on and on about some historical landmark with only the teachers engrossed, as I watched the boys have a spit fight, and as I watched the girls gossip about who liked who, I wondered if anyone would really notice if I left. If anyone would wonder why I disappeared. The more I thought about it, the more I realized they wouldn’t. I was convinced no one would notice if I left.
I made up my mind. I swiftly turned my horse around and galloped in the opposite direction. And just like that, I had begun my ride of infinity.
I rode and rode until nightfall, and from sheer exhaustion, I eventually fell asleep on the horse. When I awoke, it was morning. My horse had halted. I quickly kicked it in the sides to get it moving, and then I noticed a tree line in the distance, lush and green and leafy.
Suddenly, all I wanted to do was reach the tree line. I was hypnotized by grief, and all I wanted was one small bit of hope to cling on to. I began to convince myself that if I reached the tree line, all my problems would be gone. Both my parents would be awaiting me, I could be homeschooled again, everything I valued would be within reach. My life would be back to normal again. I could behold it. I could see it so clearly etched in my mind that I knew I could not turn back. I sent that horse galloping and galloping towards the tree line, without even pausing to think about what I was getting myself into.
Had I been thinking straight, this never would have happened. I never would have left the “historical tour on horseback” field trip. But I did. And I didn’t have an ounce of regret. I was still so sure that I would reach the tree line, so sure that if I did, everything would be impeccable.
I rode day and night, with no food or water, for so long I lost track of time. Yet the tree line never got any nearer. Never.
My absurd impulsiveness finally stopped when the horse collapsed from exhaustion, and sent me sprawling on the dew-covered grass. Determined as I was to reach the tree line, I staggered to my feet and tried to run, but I could only make it a few steps before collapsing myself. I hit my head on something hard, and in the moment between consciousness and unconsciousness, I remembered.
In that split second, I recalled so many of the times that my dad and I had had fun. Walking through the forest, the shining green canopy of trees overhead, learning the scientific names of all the mushrooms and plants. Going down the tallest slide at the water park. Jumping into the swimming hole in the river, the water sparkling like diamonds. Legions of memories swam in my mind. Then everything went dark.
* * *
I woke up to the sound of people shouting. Somebody was pulling on my leg. My eyes flew open, and I saw a crowd of people surrounding me. My class was there. Lots of unfamiliar people were there. Even an ambulance was present. My mom was there as well. So they had noticed.
I was told that I had hit my head on a rock and that I had passed out.
My throat was so dry I couldn’t speak. But I looked into my mother’s eyes, and she got the message: get me out of here. She had to carry me to the car because I was so weak I couldn’t stand up.
Sitting in her navy blue Toyota, I realized I had not achieved anything. All I had done was made my mom think she would lose me, too. I had done it all for nothing. To this day, I am still a loose thread.