A Wild Goose Chase
Noelle gazed out the window to see only fields and occasional livestock. The view from the car window was not exciting. They had been driving for four hours and that’s all she had seen. Noelle’s parents were sending her to spend the summer with her grandparents. They owned a relatively large farm in the middle of nowhere. The fifteen-year-old was going to “correct her foolish and reckless behavior,” as her parents so lovingly put it. She only skipped class a few times and forgot to do homework once in a while. But her parents wouldn’t accept anything less than perfect from their daughter. Besides their similar brown eyes and dark hair, Noelle firmly believed she was not similar to her parents whatsoever. The empty fields slowly lulled Noelle to sleep. After what felt like only an instant, her mother was shaking her to wake up. “We’re here! Wake up!” Her mother demanded. Noelle frowned as she collected her baggage from the empty seat beside her.
“I’m coming,” Noelle muttered, “I’ll be inside in a minute.” Mrs. Hale sighed and crossed her arms. Noelle knew she meant business so she hurried inside the farmhouse.
“Noelle, sweetheart! It’s so nice to see you!” A small woman rushed to hug her granddaughter.
“Hey Grandma, nice to see you too. Where’s Grandpa?” Noelle asked, yawning afterwards.
“In the barn, I’ll take your bags up to your room.” Grandma said with a smile. Noelle coughed out a quick “thanks,” and a goodbye to her parents and hurried out to the barn. She avoided a few mud puddles and pulled on the giant wooden door.
“Oh, hello Noelle! I didn’t think you would be here yet! I was just finishing up this new table for the house.” Her grandfather hugged Noelle as she noticed the workbench and all of the tools.
“This is pretty cool, Gramps. Can I help?” He nodded a yes and Noelle grabbed some nails and a hammer.
“All finished! Thanks for helping me with that. Your grandmother will be thrilled!” Grandpa exclaimed. Noelle tried to hide her smile. They carried the newly made table inside and showed Grandma. She gave both of the workers giant hugs. The rest of the night flew by. The large dinner Grandma prepared was eaten quickly and then Noelle got ready for bed.
The next day, Noelle stayed in her room all day. It was rainy and she found out there was no cell service at the farm. She finally decided to find something downstairs to entertain herself. She pulled on a pair of jeans and a warm sweatshirt.
“There you are! Can you do me a favor and feed the chickens for me?” Grandma smiled at Noelle and handed her a bucket of feed.
“Fine, whatever.” Noelle pulled on an extra pair of Grandpa’s rain boots and waddled through thick mud to the chicken coop. She opened the rusty gate and called out to the chickens. One chicken in particular seemed awfully hungry and started aggressively flapping its wings. Noelle eyed it carefully and tried to throw a handful of feed at it to make it stop flapping. It pecked at a small bit of feed and then started clucking.
“What do you want? I’m just trying to feed you!” Noelle passed out some feed to the other chickens as she observed the evil one making its way towards her. “Hey! Back away!” Noelle grew cautious as the chicken came close. It suddenly jumped up and clucked furiously. Noelle dropped the bucket of feed and ran into the house as fast as she could. The chicken followed, sprinting as fast as it could. “Grandma, help!” Noelle yelled, and she climbed on top of the kitchen counter. Grandma rushed down the stairs and into the kitchen. Once she realized what was going on, she chucked. “There’s an evil chicken trying to eat me or something, and you’re laughing?” Noelle raised an eyebrow as her grandmother continued laughing.
“Oh, Noelle, Woodstock just likes to be fed straight from your hand!” Noelle glared at the chicken.
“Are you joking? All of that running because you have a picky chicken?” Grandma nodded with a smile before she noticed the mud that was tracked into the house from the chase.
“Wow, this sure is a mess.” Grandma sighed and grabbed a mop from a nearby closet.
“No, Grandma, I’ll get it.” Noelle reached for the mop.
“Don’t worry about it. Could you just bring Woodstock back to the coop?” Grandma replied with a smile.
“Sure. Come on, troublemaker.” Noelle pointed to the door, and surprisingly, the chicken obeyed. He led the girl back to the coop, where she repaid him with a handful of feed. He clucked happily and Noelle took the empty bucket back to the house. They spent the rest of the day watching movies and playing board games.
The next morning it was still raining, but less than the previous days. Noelle quickly got dressed and brushed her teeth. She dashed down the stairs to see her grandparents making breakfast.
“Can I feed the chickens again?” Noelle asked. A small smile appeared on her face when her grandmother said she could.
“Sure, but why would you want to?”
“It was kind of fun yesterday, and there’s not much to do around this old farm.” Noelle played it off as annoyance but inside she felt the opposite. She grabbed the bucket, tugged a pair of rain boots onto her feet and pulled on a jacket. She darted through the rain and mud to get to the coop. “Hey, chickens, I’m back!” Noelle passed out handfuls of feed to each of the chickens and finally held her hand out for Woodstock. The chickens were practically identical so she just bent down and waited for the picky chicken to come to her. He rushed over and gobbled down his breakfast.
It didn’t take long for Noelle to feed the chickens so she decided to go on a small adventure around the farm. She put up her hood so she wouldn’t get wet. The curious girl walked from the coop to the barn, to the stables, and through the fields. Soon the rain stopped and the sky cleared. She pushed her hood off and took a deep breath. The smell of the fresh, wet nature filled her nose. She stood in the field for a couple of minutes, just enjoying the free empty space. There was nothing like this in Columbus, that was for sure.
“Boo!” An unfamiliar voice yelled and Noelle tumbled over, screaming. She immediately got up and met a pair of green eyes.
“Why would you do that? Are you really that dumb, scaring girls you don’t know?” Noelle almost had smoke coming from her ears. The boy looked taken aback, the smirk on his face disappeared fast.
“I’m sorry, I thought it was funny. I didn’t mean for you to fall or anything-” He stated, but was interrupted.
“Forget it, I have to go.” Noelle had no interest in talking to the random boy so she turned on her heel and started trudging back through the mud.
“Wait, come back! I really didn’t mean for that to happen. Can we start over?” Noelle looked over her shoulder to see the green-eyed boy with a guilty expression on his face, so she turned around.
“Fine, whatever.” Noelle rolled her eyes and debated turning around again.
“I’m Harry. I live nearby on a farm next door. And I’m really sorry.”
“Ok, well I’m Noelle. I’m here on my grandparents farm for the summer. What are you doing in my grandfather’s field?” The girl lifted an eyebrow as Harry chuckled.
“Actually, this is my family’s field. What are you doing in my field?” He lifted an eyebrow to mimic the girl and Noelle’s face grew redder every second she didn’t answer. “Just kidding, it’s fine, take a joke. Nice to meet you, Noelle.” Harry put out his hand for a shake and Noelle gave it a firm shake.
“I’ve gotta go. My grandmother is probably looking for me.” Harry waved to Noelle before she turned around and jogged back to the farmhouse.
“Where have you been?” Grandpa and Grandma were waiting at the door for Noelle to come back.
“I’m sorry, there was this weird boy, Henry or something, and he scared me-” Noelle stammered before her grandpa chimed in.
“Oh, Harry, he’s a sweet boy. Sometimes he helps me in my workshop.”
“He’s not as sweet as you think he is.” Noelle mumbled, making it only audible to herself.
The next few weeks were boiling hot and sunny. Noelle started spending more time with Harry and they became closer every day. Occasionally they would help Grandma cook or Grandpa in his workshop. Despite having fun, Noelle knew what edged closer and closer every moment. Going home to Columbus, going to school, and everything returning back to normal. Except she knew normal was going to be different after her summer at the farm.
On one particularly hot day, Noelle and Harry decided to go to a nearby lake to swim. It was close enough to walk to. As Noelle was searching for a beach towel, the doorbell rang. She opened it, expecting to see Harry, but instead seeing her parents.
“What are you guys doing here?” Noelle’s eyes widened.
“To get you, obviously.” Her father explained.
“What? No! I have 2 weeks left!” Noelle didn’t want to leave and could feel herself getting upset.
“Get your bags, Noelle. We’re leaving in five minutes.” Her mother rolled her eyes and Noelle rushed upstairs. She threw her clothes back into her suitcase and her backpack. She messily made the bed and grabbed her belongings. Noelle dropped her luggage off by the front door and ran to give her grandparents a hug.
“I’m going to miss you two so much.” Noelle tried not to cry but a single tear slipped out.
“We will see you soon, dear. We’ll make sure of it. If you run fast enough you could catch him on his way over here. We can buy some time.” Her grandfather told her, whispering the last part. Noelle knew exactly who he was talking about. She said her goodbyes and rushed out the back door. All of a sudden, it started to rain what felt like buckets at a time, but Noelle didn’t notice. Her legs felt weightless as she bolted until she saw Harry only yards away.
“Harry! I have to go. My parents came early. I’m sorry.” Noelle had to leave the only true friend she had in years. He pulled her into a tight hug as she let a few more tears roll down her cheeks. “I’m going to miss you. But I’ll come back soon, I promise.”
“Goodbye, Noelle.” Harry gave the crying girl one more hug as his eyes began to water. They both turned around and went their separate ways. When she got back to the farmhouse she grabbed her luggage without a word. She put it in the backseat of the car and sat down beside it, slamming the door.
“Noelle, talk to us! It’s been two weeks. You have to get over it! Why are you being so disrespectful?” Mr. Hale didn’t understand why his daughter wouldn’t talk to him.
“Because you and Mom don’t care about me! I was doing great at the farm, and then you had to show up, weeks earlier than you said you would! Because I was actually having fun, and because I had people that cared about me! You don’t think of me as your daughter, only as a failure. And I hate it.” Noelle could feel her face getting red and she started to sob.
“I don't know what to say. I'm sorry.” Her father seemed sincere. He put his arms out and Noelle sank into them.
“I swear, I’ll work on it. And I don’t think you’re a failure at all.” Noelle stayed silent as her father kept her in a hug for what felt like hours.
Noelle’s relationship with her parents slowly got better, and her bad behavior slowly turned into responsible habits. No more skipping class, instead she started to show up early. And she got a penpal, Harry. She also occasionally wrote to her grandparents.
“Noelle, we have some news.” Noelle’s mother said with a smile.
“What is it?” Noelle asked, only partially listening.
“Your father and I have decided to let you visit your grandparents for two months next summer. We’ll miss you, but we know how much fun you had there.” Noelle immediately ran to hug her parents. She couldn’t wait for the next summer.
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