I can smell the Tamarisk tree next to my hole. It smells sweet, like a lime popsicle mixed with dirt. Near my head, its sticky green needles poke out from the pillow we made from the branches.
What’s that sound? Is that a bee? Or a big ol’ horsefly? The stinging kind? Uh oh. I hate bees. And flies. Bugs, in general. Especially when I’m stuck and can’t run away.
Where are they? Lolly and Steve? I can hear Mikey calling them somewhere behind me. I can’t see him. I look up at the sky, craning my neck backward. The shade from the Tamarisk is directly below its branches, so I am in the hot sun, completely. My scalp feels like it has griddle marks on it, like the pancakes Mom makes on Saturday morning.
I yell at the top of my lungs, “Lolly. LOLLY. Come get me out. NOW.
“Mikey, go get ‘em. I mean it. I’m getting’ too hot.”
I can’t hear him either, now. Or see him. Of course, there is no turning around. I am up to my waist, and then some, in this hole in the sand.
Lolly and Steve put me here. They dug the hole, put me in it, covered me up, then walked away. I mean, I wanted to try it – to see what it feels like- but I didn’t want to stay here.
I liked it at first. It felt like I was that blow-up Bozo the Clown doll with rocks on the bottom. You can punch it and punch it and it still keeps bouncing back up to standing. In this hole, I can move the top part of my body, back and forth, sideways, then just keep coming back to the middle. But I’m tired of doing that. And I’m hot.
My right leg itches. Is there a scorpion down here in the sand? Could it bite me and bite me, over and over, since I couldn’t get away? And how about snakes? We see the rattler holes all the time in the sand when we walk across the open lots on our way to the school bus stop. Are there snakes comin’ at me right now, slithering on their little highways under the sand?
“Lolly! I mean it. Come and get me out. Steve, I’m tellin’. GET. ME. OUT.”
I better not cry. I read somewhere that wastes the water in your body and I’m gonna’ need all of my water out here. Directly in the sun. In the desert. In July.
I sure wish I had a lime popsicle right now. I am getting really thirsty. And kinda hungry.
“Lolly Ann. Can you hear me? Come dig me out. I can’t pull my legs up.”
I start scratching at the sand right in front of my arms, but it fills back in as soon as I scoop it out. I notice a little lizard climbing up on the tamarisk stuffed pillow. It darts back into the sand right under the tree, just disappears. Right next to the tree, there’s the canteen we brought along. It was Daddy’s from the war and he lets Mikey play with it sometimes. I wish somebody would come and pour what’s left in there over my hot head. Where can they be?
“Mike. Go get them. Mikey? Come around here so I can see you. Make some noise so I know you are still there.”
He must have gone to find them. Lolly is going to be in hot water when Mom finds out she left Mike. He’s only 3. She’s 12 and supposed to watch him like a hawk. I hope he has gone into the house to tattle. Mom could be making him lunch and putting him down right now. Will she wonder where I am before I die out here?
“Lolly. Steve. Please, please, please come out from wherever you are.”
“Get me OUT OF HERE. Ollie- ollie –ox- in- free, I mean it.”
My leg really itches now. Does it sting? I can’t really tell. Probably. If it is a snake bite, I imagine the poison working its way toward my heart. They’ll probably find me out here with my tongue all purple and swollen, hanging out of my mouth….a look of pain on my face, like that picture of the martyr, Donatilla. She was scorched on a gridiron. Barbequed. Gruesome.
“Lolly. Stop persecuting me. I don’t want to die.”
I hear their giggles before I see them. Smack. A water balloon breaks on the back of my head. It hurts. Then I feel the water trickling down my neck, cooling me off. I try to look behind me.
“You are such a big baby, Donna Lee. Criminy. We only left you for a few minutes. Maybe 10. Well, only the time it took to fill up these water bombs. Why are you bawlin’?”
“Get me out of here. I have a snake bite. Really. I probably need the venom within the next few minutes or I’m gonna’ die.”
“You don’t have snake-bite, you doof. Okay, we’ll get you out. Stevie, help me here with this big baby. You pull while I scoop.”
Later, I put the prickly pillow in the afternoon shade of the Tamerisk, sit on it like little Miss Muffet, and lick my lime popsicle, slowly at first, then faster as it starts to melt. The sticky juice makes my hands and forearms neon green. I flick the popsicle stick into the sand hole and kick sand at it to cover it up. It lands straight up and looks like a little grave marker sticking out. R.I.P., all you lizards and snakes.
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