As many of the other English 10 students know, one of our big texts this year is our Personal Narrative. Inspired from our summer reading of The Glass Castle, we had to create an excerpt of our life, writing in our own voice. As uncomfortable and informal as it seems, this ‘day in the field’ details my flashback to my 11-year old self. This was the first time I lost my dog and the conflict I experienced.
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There was a day in my life that I don’t speak about. I don’t tell friends, I don’t tell family, I don’t tell anyone. Mostly because I’m too embarrassed that it even happened.
I had to walk to the dog. Again. Crazy, right? I walked Annie twice yesterday and since I was the only one up in the morning, I had to walk my eager beagle-hound mutt puppy. Great. Anyways, you could see these weak rays of sunlight through the fog. What really annoyed me was the dew, though. Just to let you know, I really don’t like dew. It’s like when you get your socks wet; you know when you’re too lazy to head out of the house in actual shoes, so you wear slippers and the morning dew attacks your feet? Everyone can agree that the most uncomfortable feeling in the world is wet socks. My gosh.
The familiar tang of pine and sap was in the air from the forest that surrounded the field. I thought it was pretty peaceful. I mean, the sound of birds always managed to make me fell calm. When the cars rolled past, the distant rumbling from the road near my house sent birds basically shooting out of the tree tops. The cold air went straight through my thin clothing, stinging my skin. I had underestimated the browning trees and dying plants outside. I didn’t think it would have been so cold outside, it was the beginning of Autumn! The dampness from the air had turned the ground into a swamp. I detested foggy mornings, the dew always made my clothes damp and clingy, and the air felt sticky. That didn’t really help my bad mood.
I had really long black hair at the time, which meant that it was very easy to become slicked down and heavy when the air was wet like it was now. 11-year old me wanted to cut it shorter but my mom wouldn’t let me. Looking back on it now, I realize that she was right. Younger me would have definitely looked pretty bad. I had just wanted to fit in. Sadly, nothing usually works out for me, so I didn’t belong with that crowd. That super cool 6th grade crowd. You know what I mean? I guess that’s why I adored Annie so much. All a dog does is provide affection; they never judge you, they never hate you. I was glad to have her in my life.
Anyways, I jumped as my dog tugged on the leash. It hurt; the air bit at my bare hands. It felt like a dull knife scraping quickly over your palm. I glared at Annie. When she yelped again, I got somewhat annoyed, so I let go of the leash because I was unable to keep up. I stopped, expecting to watch her run in circles. That’s what she usually did: run around the field like a madman, or maddog in this case, and tire herself out.
Suddenly, a loud crack of the leash sent me staggering back. I had no idea what had just happened; time slowed down as a long black tail disappeared over a mound in the field. This left me frozen in the soggy grass. I’m not kidding. She had never done this before. After a brief moment, my eyes widened, and I shot off after her, my heart was literally thumping in my ears. Although the stretch of field was deserted except for the occasional hopping of grasshoppers, I felt my ears and cheeks flood with red, embarrassed that I wasn’t able to control Annie. Scattered trees hid a rundown playground with broken slides and tarred swings. And let me tell you, those swings smelled. Like really smelled. They stunk with that nasty burning rubber stench that made you gag. My childhood playground had been vandalized by a group of teens, or at least that was the story spread through the neighborhood. I suppose this is the other reason why I didn’t like people very much at the time? People were jerks, it’s as simple as that.
I saw the rabbit’s super fluffy cloud of a tail as it and my dog raced into the forest. The thicket quickly swallowed their figures and left me breathless. I felt tears threatening to fall as I stumbled deeper into the bushes. I was kinda freaking out a bit. I mean, nothing too intense, just some heavy breathing, you know? The twisted trees and bushes stopped me from catching up to my dog. And up ahead, I could barely see her long legs bounding through the leaves. That stupid dog never learned. Why did I think letting go of a hunting dog puppy was a good idea? Silver specks of trash littered the forest floor, the glare from wrappers flickering through the plants. I couldn’t tell where my dog was; she had just vanished. My breath caught as I thought about my father’s gaze, the silent disappointment in his eyes if I returned home without my puppy. A wave of guilt basically drowned me as I thought of my dad thinking that he had made a mistake in trusting me. I worked for years building up his trust, I wasn’t going to throw it away.
After minutes of pushing through the bushes and vines, I came upon the same large stream that ran behind my house. My puppy couldn’t have jumped the stream, it was too wide for her to cross. One time, my friends and I had tried to jump that stream by my house. Yeah, it didn’t work. I remember I had cut my knee on a snapped tree root or something. After that, my friends continued to jump while I climbed up onto the steep opposite bank and watched them continuously fail. It was pretty funny.
I stopped and considered the possible places my dog could have wandered off to. Could she have doubled-back? Did she fall down somewhere? It was useless, I would have seen her if she had gone either way. I lost her, I lost my puppy, I lost my best friend. My chest closed as I walked back to the field. You could now see all edges of the field; the rising sun had evaporated off all of the dew and fog. The forest framed the meadow and the dark leaves contrasted the bright field, making the grass glow. I walked solemnly back to the browned steps of my house. Sitting down, I anxiously stared at the small tree line that hid the field from my neighborhood, the throaty howls of my neighbors’ hounds in the distance. At that moment, I hated them. The dogs, I mean. They were this constant taunting noise in the back of my head. They just wouldn’t shut up.
I was only partially anxious. The other side of me was calm. That side of me didn’t really understand getting stressed. I mean, like even now, 15-year old me hasn’t been anxious for about much stuff. I would be one of the only kids who wouldn’t feel the pressure of a test or exam. You would’ve laughed at me for not caring about that stuff. I guess I just didn’t feel pressure of finding my dog anymore. She wanted to run off, so she would learn. I always had that ‘giving up’ mindset after a while. But I’ve gotten better at it since I moved.
After what seemed like hours, I finally saw a small shape racing across the field, its tail streaming out behind it. As the shape grew closer, I felt my breathing ease. My dog’s wagging tail whipped my face as she barreled into me. You know that feeling when a dog’s super thick tail smacks you in the face? That was pretty frustrating. She’s dumb and all but most puppies are like that. I was just so glad that she returned.
“How could you do that to me?” I whispered in her ear as I hugged her. Her fur was covered in dirt and twigs, and I sighed at the thought of having to give her a bath as we walked inside.
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In my personal narrative “The Field”, I explored characterization through narration and conflict. By using a first-person point of view, I allowed readers to understand the situation. Phrases like “just to let you know”, “my gosh”, and “I mean” make me relatable because it’s narrated in everyday speech; this is how I would speak when telling a story. This resonates with readers because this is how most of them would have talked when socializing with a friend. Utilizing voice and conflict allow readers to learn how I handle and react to situations.
Narration or point of view is one of the biggest ways to demonstrate a character’s personality. This falls into the S.T.E.A.L category, my inner dialogue and actions revealing a timid character. For example, the phrases “…just wanted to fit in…”, “I didn’t belong with that crowd”, and “people are jerks…” illustrates my younger self as introverted. By introducing my introverted side, I can not only relate with readers but also highlight why I loved my dog and felt a connection with her; my identity helped support the idea of desperately wanting to find my dog. Moreover, by including the hook “there was a day in my life that I don’t speak about”, I further characterized my younger self as someone who wanted to maintain a public reputation, avoiding confrontation from embarrassing flashbacks.
To help readers understand both the inner and external conflict I experienced, I utilized literary techniques like personification (“a wave of guilt basically drowned me…”’), and hyperboles (“after what seemed like hours…” and “time slowed down…”). This resonates with readers because they can understand the feeling of anxiousness waiting for something or how problems make time run on forever. Through the use of point of view and conflict, I revealed an introverted and timid younger self.