Aggie Day Porter loved cake. Every normal Kid loves cake and Aggie was born on Normal Road – 606 Normal Road, in a little stucco house with a little front yard that had a lemon tree and a blow-up pool. Birds sang in the Spring, she had a kitten named Poo and her big sister Rhea would ride them on her bike to the Lucky Market for Moon Pies and Fritos after school.
Their back yard tucked into a thicket of wild raspberry vines that crept down to a muddy river that ran alongside the Santa Fe Railroad tracks. They were gnarled old vines so dense and dark and riddled with thorns and “coyotes and snakes that will eat you if you don’t fall in the river first!” their Mom warned, forbidding them to go in there.
But they were hung with fat berries sweetened by the sun and at night the sisters could hear them call “Eat me.” through their open bedroom window. Late one summer night five-year-old Aggie heeded that call. She slipped out the window, padded barefoot across the dewey grass to the edge of the thicket and looked in. Moonlit berries, glowing like scarlet jewels, hung just out of reach inside the tangle of thorny vines.
Aggie found a ragged opening near to the ground and wriggled her way in. Stretching her arm out as far as she could, she picked a berry and ate it. Elated by its nectar, she followed the berries deep into the thicket, eating every one she could reach. The deeper she went, the darker it got as the thickening tangle blocked all the light from the moon. She could smell the river’s sludge now, and hear its low sounds. But the berries were heavenly, so she forged on. Bigger thorns tore at her nightgown, trying to grab her. As she pulled away, she lost her balance and fell, tumbling down toward the river. The vines rolled around her, finally growing taut and stopping her at the water’s edge. The shore’s slime lapped at her feet; wet worms and slugs explored her toes. Though it tickled and made her giggle, she was tired and scratched and full and wanted to go home. She looked around. She couldn’t see the way out. Lost and tangled and alone in the damp prickly dark, she started to wonder what critters were hiding there, waiting to eat her.
She looked up, and found a little patch of starry sky. She’d been taught that God lived up there so she prayed, “Please God, I want to go home.”
Out of the nearby dark came a tiny voice: “Stay where you are, your sister will find you.”
“OK.” Aggie whispered back then laid her head down on the ground. Just before she closed her eyes she saw a spider with a double crooked leg wobbling along a vine, coming toward her.
“I’ll stay with you until she comes.” the spider with the tiny voice said.
“Thank you.” Aggie answered and opened her hand. The spider crawled onto her palm and lay down. Comforted by the company, Aggie went to sleep. She didn’t dream.