I started gathering my travel kit. My toothbrush, my pocketknife, and the compass grandpa gave me for Christmas; all the coins in my piggy bank, and, of course, my Fisher Price camera, so I could send them pictures of my adventures at the Egyptian pyramids. It all fit snugly inside my lunch box.
My name is Nick, and I am from Plymouth, Minnesota. I am in the first grade. I like Miss Picket but sometimes during class I get a little bored. I like to look out the window at the playground, where the leaves lick at the sand and the colours of the wooden swing have faded. I like the feel of crisp air on my face. Do you know that I have eight running speeds? That's better than a Ferrari.
Miss Picket brought out a big colourful globe, and showed us all the different countries in the world. I had no idea that there were so many – I tried to count them, but I can't count that high. “I must go see all these places!” I said. Miss Picket laughed, and she said that it was a lovely dream. But dreams are what grownups call things that don't happen. I know because Mom always says, ”It was just a bad dream, honey, it's not real.” So that really upset me.
At dinner I told Mom and Dad that I wanted to become an explorer. There are lands entirely covered in ice, and others with trees a thousand years old, so big I could not climb them all the way to the top. Maybe I could have an elephant as a pet – or a zebra, or a big blue whale. I’d give them a name and they would answer it.
Mom said that there is a place called New Plymouth, somewhere on the other side of the world. But Dad told me that explorers only exist in the movies, and that faraway, exotic lands are just nice for a vacation. Or too dangerous to go and visit. I got really annoyed and I didn't even finish my flan. And, I love flan!
I decided to prove them all wrong. The next day, instead of going straight to school, I didn’t make a right at the end of Woodleigh Street. I made a left, towards the edge of town where the railroads meet the fields. Sometimes Dad takes me there on Sundays, and we walk along the tracks.
Once, we saw a dead squirrel that had been hit by a passing train. I wasn’t afraid at all. I looked up close at its bones and its fur turning green and fuzzy. I’m very brave. But now… I’ve never been here on my own before. I’m also getting a little hungry, and I didn’t think of bringing a snack. Plus, Mom said she was making flan again for lunch.