Don’t you think being a kid is kind of nice? Just getting to live life and enjoy it? The world just seems so much wider as a child; it’s so full of wonder. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve come to realize that kids are so impulsive; humans in general are. They just go after whatever they want and don’t think about the consequences. We’re all chasing money, or sex, or just something tasty to stuff our faces with. Yes, something tasty. A nice cookie.
Okay, enough of my ramblings; I just want to have this all written down. I just need for it to be physically recorded somewhere. My name is Kyle. I’m 26 years old, and I’m currently teaching kids at the local elementary school I used to go to myself when I was a kid. I live in one of the thousands of “small towns” of America. Y’know, a “heart of the country” type place. You might think that I’m kind of wasting the best years of my life out where nothing’s happening, but I really don’t care that much. Constantly enjoying the flashiest thing every second just ain’t something I’ve ever really cared much for. I prefer to just take things for the way they are and enjoy life. I honestly wish more people were kinda like me.
But I’m not writing some damn biography here either. Let me just start things where they start. I was in Fourth grade, spending every day sitting in the same grimy desks that I’m watching kids sit in today. I got pretty nice grades; nothing special, but I was okay. I played kickball outside the school in the little playground on the edge of the woods, always getting picked near the end ‘cause I wasn't any master of kickball. Nevertheless, I still liked spending the long summer afternoons out there playing kickball. We didn't care about nothing except having a great time, and that’s what we did. I tell you, sometimes it almost got trance like, listening to the kickball bouncing on the grass and hearing Carson yell out the kinds stupid things that would have all of us laughing out there.
Carson was kind of a little shit, but I really don’t like talking bad about the kid. He was one of those loud, untamable class clowns who got all of the boys howling and all of the girls rolling their eyes with passive scorn. He hung around with me a great deal, even though he kind of did that with everybody, and it just so happened that I was one of the few kids whose parents coughed him up a Super Nintendo. I’m sure that had nothing to do with him asking to come home with me every other day. Even though I let him play my games with his grimy little hands almost every night, he still cared about me, and I knew I’d always see him playing kickball the next day. The kids always picked him as one of the first guys out on the kickball field even though he wasn't a real all-star or anything; he was just funny. Kids are weird little shits like that.
So my picturesque, small town kickball summer was. Remember how I said that our kickball diamond was right by the woods? Yeah, I usually cut through the woods on my way to the lot after breakfast and a few cartoons. The woods were real calming and quiet. We didn’t have any bears or anything; just a few poison ivy plants, but I knew how to keep an eye out for those. What I was worried about in the forest, however, was this rickety old house. No roads to it or nothing, made a hundred percent out of pieces of old, shitty aluminum and wood. It always had this odd sign up on the door, reading “MRS. COOKIEDOUGH” in really obnoxious, faded wording that looked like it got ripped from an abandoned circus. I have no idea what the hell happened to Mr. Cookiedough, but I’m not sure I want to find out. There was this really eerie old photo hung up inside the house, but you could see it from inside the gaping window. All of these little kids sitting around eating cookies. No “Mrs. Cookiedough” anywhere in sight; just a bunch of grainy, black-and-white little munchkins having some kind of cookie picnic.
The weirdest thing about the place wasn’t any of that, though. On the porch, where you could see inside to the beat up old photo, there was always a little table set up outside with a cookie on it. Not even an old mildewy cookie or anything, a fresh chocolate chip cookie right out on the porch with a nice view of the woods. I never really wanted to eat that thing too much, but it did look tasty. I sometimes just stood at the house for a second, with no one around, before clearing my head and running over to the kickball diamond. The place made you kind of forget about everything, even if it was a little on the creepy side after the sun went down. Whenever I went back through the forest at night, I ran past the old place. It was one of those places that’s interesting during the day, but creepy as all hell when you’re alone there at night. I’m sure everyone knows a couple of places like that.
So the boys and I kept playing our beloved kickball, all with Carson leading the way. One day, a nice clear homerun shot out into the woods, and my boy Carson kicked it, of all people. We got two runs on that pitch, which put us right at the twenty points we’d all agreed upon was the score limit. Another victory for Carson and the boys. The homerun shot right out into the woods, and we all cheered up until we agreed that it was a nice spot to stop for the day. I took my usual trek into the woods, with Carson choosing to follow me. It made sense for him to do it today; it was his goddamn ball.
Once we got the ball, Carson asked me yet again to come over to my house and my Nintendo. Normally when he came over, he’d stop by his own house first and show up at my place half an hour later. But since he had to get his ball, he just decided to go along with me. God, I can still hear him saying “My parent’s won’t mind if I go over to your place Kyle they’ll know I’m okay,” all like one run-on sentence. I didn’t care too much, so I let him come with me through the woods. Then we got to old Mrs. Cookiedough’s place.
God, I wish we'd gone through another part of the woods. Carson, being the curious little cat he was, went up to the place and naturally saw the cookie before anything else. I told him not to eat that cookie, but he just kept eyeing it out there in the darkness.
“Come on, Kyle. Whatever old lady lives out here just left it out for us.”
I didn’t want to eat that shit; this place was giving me the creeps. Because the dark blue sky was about to get really dark really fast, I just wanted to get the hell away from there. I just told Carson that I’d be heading home and that my place was just over that way (which was pretty stupid anyway, because it’s real easy for someone to get lost in there until they know their way around.) I ran off before I could see Carson eating that damn cookie. I just didn't like thinking about it.
When I got home, I waited. I waited in that room for hours. Carson never showed up. Damn, did I feel like he gave me the cold shoulder. I didn’t want to think about what might’ve happened with that cookie, but I knew other things could've happened. Carson probably went home anyway. He just does what he wants; that’s why he wanted to eat the stupid thing so bad anyway.
The next morning, I ate some of the usual cereal my mom set out for me and watched TV for a little longer than I normally did. I was still a little bitter over Carson brushing me off like he did, and I was in no rush to be picked third to last at that damn kickball diamond anyway. After watching a few minutes more of TV only to discover that no good cartoons came on after my usual departing time, I just shrugged and went back to the woods.
I came back to Mrs. Cookiedough’s house, which only brought back a few bitter memories of last night. I went over to the stupid little plate and table and yeah, it was empty. I was momentarily annoyed at Carson, until I saw something else.
I could tell you about how I freaked out when I saw this, or how afterwards I ran to the kickball diamond and half the guys freaked out and the other half calling me a tongue-biting little liar. I could tell you about how there was a look into the history area and a police investigation and how both of them were equally useless in the long run until the place got demolished. I could tell you about all of that, but I’ll tell you what I saw and we’ll leave it at that.
I walked over to the window and saw that beat up old painting, only to find a nice photo of Carson enjoying a picnic, with a cookie in his hand and a kickball at his feet.