Ch. 13: It’ll be our Secret
- Ch. 1: I’ll go in if you go in.
- Ch. 2: Like a cat’s eye at night. But it wasn’t night … and it wasn’t a cat.
- Ch. 3: Into the The Heart of Parkness
- Ch. 4: Do we stay or do we go?
- Ch. 5: Just Give In
- Ch. 6: Do we dare dig ourselves even deeper?
- Ch. 7: Who do you listen to?
- Ch. 8: Lu Goes First: Aliens, Farting, and Pepper!
- Ch. 9: Li Goes Deep: A Maze, Spiders, and Pepper
- Ch. 10: Last In, First Out?
- Ch. 11: Fright at the End of the Tunnel
- Ch. 12: Hi honey, I’m home!
- Ch. 13: It’ll be our Secret
Do we tell or do we go?
I slid as quickly and quietly as I could, and I caught up with Lu around the first bend. I tried to slow myself down, but still I crashed into him, and he let out a quick “Ow!” I was going to remind him to be quiet when we were both immediately quiet. I was listening for other voices. They seemed to have stopped, but they quickly came back. I’m sure, OK, not that sure, that the voices were more excited or elevated or at least talking about us. They were talking about what they were going to do to us. OK, so I wasn’t sure of any of that, but we did hear the voices.
Lu’s foot was stuck in a small crevice in the side of the tunnel. Without talking further, I pulled his foot back and out. Still holding onto him, I gave him a friendly push, and we were again double bobsledding down.
A soft light around another bend and I recognized the bottom of this tunnel. We slid out not terribly gracefully and were practically on top of Li.
“Where’s Pepper?” I asked as quietly as I could.
Li pointed behind me, and not unlike a poster for a movie about a courageous German Shepherd, Pepper was poised and proud atop a mound of dirt and grass and brush above the tunnel exit. But once he saw us, he bounded down and around and was on top of us, licking and wriggling with delight.
I pointed back up into the tunnel and then cupped my hand to my ear to listen but also to signal the boys to listen. We heard nothing. But we only had to be patient for a few seconds to hear the distant mutterings of those who were now in the cave. It didn’t sound like they were coming closer. Maybe they stopped at the candle. I put my finger to my lips and then motioned with my hand to get the boys moving. They didn’t need much encouragement.
This time, we put the leash on Pepper, and we walked down and out of the park and onto the sidewalk. Li was the first to speak.
“Do you think someone lives in the caves?” he asked.
“Maybe,” I said. “But I don’t know if I really want to know.”
“That was a close call,” Lu said. I think he had just learned the term ‘close call’ in the baseball team he had recently joined.
“Yeah,” I said, letting out another big breath of relief. “I don’t think I wanted to get to know those guys up by the candle.”
“Yeah,” Li said.
“Me either,” Lu said.
We walked another few houses on our way home. I remembered that I was a parent and they were my kids. I stopped and motioned for them to stop. We sat on a small brick planter.
“Are you both OK?” I asked. Not to be overly dramatic and hug and squeeze them, I only held their hands. We made a small circle with our six arms.
They shrugged and mumbled, “Yeah,” and “Uh-huh.” I didn’t press further, but thought this wouldn’t be the last discussion of our adventures under Kite Hill.
“Hey, I don’t think we should tell anyone about the tunnels,” I said. I didn’t really have a reason, but it was just what came to mind. “It will be our secret, OK?”
“Can we tell mom?” Li asked.
“Yes, we can tell mom, but that’s it, OK? Let’s just have this be our secret. Can you guys do that?”
They unconvincingly shrugged and nodded and bobbled their heads.
“I can’t wait to tell mom everything!” Lu said, excited, and I knew our evening—and many future evenings to come—would be full of talk of candles, aliens, farting, Pepper, and caves. That would be just fine by me.