School's out, finally. It's been a long day, but you have so much to do that just thinking about it hurts your head. You want a chance to relax. Exiting the building, you make your way over to the line of buses awaiting the mass exodus of students. Since you didn't have anyone to talk with on the way, you manage to make it to your bus before it gets too crowded. -[[Get on the bus|Ride]] -[[Walk past the bus|Setout]]You step up, greet the bus driver, and settle down in the usual spot. A few minutes later, the vehicle is full of noise and motion from all the kids unwinding after a long day of class. You don't mind at all; you're so used to the noisiness by now that the turmoil relaxes you more than silence ever would. You close your eyes and listen in on the random conversations. The bus sets off, letting you feel its movement as it flows over hills, pulls you into its turns, jerks you with every stop. You reach your destination and step off the bus, walking the short distance [[to your house|Home]].Without a second thought, you weave your way between the line of buses and head towards the nearby junior high school building. The wind brushing against your neck serves as a nice reprieve from the sun bearing down on you. As you head forward, you consider making a detour. You know that the playground behind the building is adjacent to some houses; between those houses is a very convenient, heavy-foliage alleyway that leads off to a cul-de-sac. It's a nice shortcut to the road leading to your neighborhood. In contrast, the road leading out of the school is very sparse and open. The houses are all on the other side of the road, and it takes a lot longer, given that you're going out of your way to head across the parking lot down by the road to take the corner. -[[Take the shortcut|CulDeSac]] -[[Make a detour|Motorcade]]It took a while, but you can finally drop your bag and slink down in the comfy chair. Your mother notices this readily, welcomes you back home, and makes a point to remind you of chores left undone. You turn your head just enough to be able to rest your chin on the chair's arm. From this position, you can easily respond in the affirmative while drawing the pity you need to be left in piece for a little while. The trip back home was nice, but you still have work to do, even aside from the chores. You bring your head forward so it slumps ahead of you, feeling uncomfortable enough to help you propel yourself out of the chair. As you take your bag to your room, you pass by a window and peer outside. You think to yourself, today was a pretty good day. ENDThe sun's far too bright today for that kind of expedition. You turn the usual way to head behind the school. The blacktop is glaring back up at you, but the shade of the alleyway will be well worth it. You pass by the baseball field on the other side of the playground. You've never seen anyone play there. The whole place is right next to a small woodland area, so you suppose it'd be overrun with weeds if it wasn't in use. As it stands, the field faces toward the school, with a large hill on the far end behind the bleachers. If you could get around the fence, you could imagine yourself lying back on that hill, nestled in the grass, with nothing between you and the clear blue sky. You've never tried, of course; it's school property or something. You make it to the alleyway. As usual, the trees from the woods reach out over the concrete walkway, over the opposite fence into a person's backyard. Every so often, you hear some frantic rustling coming from the trees or further in the woods. All you hear today is the song of several birds in the distance. Your pace slows down as you relax in the shade of the canopy. You notice the wildflowers dotting the forest edge and the cracks of the concrete walkway as your feet brush past them. Soon, you emerge from the alleyway into the cul-de-sac. You don't know which classmates live here, but from the well-kept yards and the cacophony of every dog you pass, you suppose that most of the occupants have children who go to the school, or are otherwise affiliated with that school. All the houses look vaguely similar, but the individual differences poke through, sometimes brazenly. You see some fences of various woods, shapes, and sizes. Some of the houses extend up higher or further away from the road than their neighbors. There isn't a house on this block that isn't painted with a combination of some tints and shades of brown, white, and blue. You make it out to the end of the road and [[turn right|Traffic]].You turn to pass in front of the school, striking out diagonally to reach the side of the road. As your distance from the school increases, your perceptual field increases as well; it feels like you're stranded in the middle of the parking lot with civilization impossibly far away. Of course, you've only been walking for a few minutes. But that was all it took for you to feel detached from everything around you. It's awesome. It's fearsome. You look behind you to see the students piling into the buses. You think the buses are more spacious than they look from the outside. When you reach the side of the road, you're struck by how much distance you'll have to cover just to reach that street corner. Then again, the distance has always been the same, or very similar; you've just been unable to see it directly from the usual path. The dry grass crackles under your feet. Sunlight gets into your right eye, prompting you to hold your hand over that side of your face. Before too long, the buses have departed from the parking lot. One by one, they travel onto the road, one turning left, one turning right, two right, three. You don't look back to watch. Instead, you pay attention to each bus that drives past you. You almost recognize some faces through the tinted windows, but you can't know for sure. You imagine each bus is fairly loud within, but the drone of the engine and wheels keeps secure any sound that might leak forth from the passengers. Some of these buses drive straight ahead, while others turn down your road. The orderliness of it all strikes you. Your mind drifts to your school schedule, then to your daily schedule, then to your life. Your right eye stings; your arm got tired. Lazily, you lay your arm over the side of your head, such that your elbow is between the sun and your face. You clear the distance to the corner and [[turn left|Perspective]].The street stretches out before you, trailing off a long way ahead of you. This segment of your journey will end when you reach the large downward slope that marks the halfway point between the cul-de-sac exit and the turn into your subdivision. The sun is majorly blocked by the mass of trees on either side of the street; so long as you stay underneath them, you'll be in the shade. Cars are coming by more frequently out here. The five-way intersection at the end of the road tends to get more regular traffic than the road leading to the school block. You have to regularly dart from one side of the road to the other to make way for incoming drivers. Sometimes, you judge that drivers are going to pass by you from ahead and behind at the same time, forcing you to get off the road. It's annoying, but it keeps your shoes in better condition in the long run. The houses you pass become more messy and more constricted. Their designs seem to become more divergent the further you walk down the road. You start wondering at the history of each house you encounter. Perhaps this brick house was built long ago by commission for a family looking to be in a safe environment. Maybe this more ornate house became the pet project of some widow who took pleasure in beautifying and expanding it. Oh, you bet this small place was built nearby and shipped here on the back of a semi. You run out of houses by the time you reach the [[halfway point|Rural]].The road goes uphill at an angle preventing you from seeing too far ahead. You still have a long way to go. Sweat begins to run down your forehead. Your legs become gradually more tense. You've yet to make it to the end of the cul-de-sac, the end point of the shortcut, but it feels like it's so far away. Houses start coming into view. Their yards are large and sparse, like the lawn in front of the schools; the difference is that they're not immaculate, with some tool or ball or large branch in front of every home. The gravel driveways dip erratically. By this point, you've decided it'd be safer to stick to the left side of the road than to stay in the grass along the side. Every so often, a car passes your right side and pulls into some driveway in the distance. As you approach, you can see every step the driver takes, every item removed from the back seat, every child or animal bursting forth to run around the parent or owner. Before you reach them, the occupants retreat to their homes. The sun seems to try to use every parked car to glare into your eyes. You pass a hump in the road, allowing you now to see quite far down the street. You can see the end of the cul-de-sac you usually exit out from. More than that, you can see what leads up to that exit. The large trees that are usually always overhead are now arrayed before you. Each trunk takes up its own cramped territory on either side of the road, yet their branches intertwine almost to the point of connecting trees above the road. The wind blows, and the whole mass of leaves shudders. Each moment creates a new orientation of branch, leaf, and light. You can take in the whole symphony of the woods from this unusual vantage point. Soon, you make it underneath the trees, at the [[end of the cul-de-sac|Traffic]].As you walk downhill, the view behind you rapidly gets cut off. It's as if this stretch of road leading to your neighborhood is cut off from the other half you just walked down. This makes it more difficult to judge when cars are approaching you from behind, especially at the beginning of this section. You feel compelled to get off the road more often here, though often the sides of the road here are not welcoming to passersby. For instance, on your left, is a small farm owned by the couple in the house ahead. The growing stalks extend almost to the pavement, giving you much less room to walk. That isn't even taking into account the fresh mud, unsettled from the farmer's actions in his field. You always wondered why this couple chose to set up a farm here. There are much more spacious plots to the west, and the majority of the land you usually drive by on the outskirts of town is littered with crops. Of course, you have never met this couple before, so you have no way of knowing. Further down the road, on your right, you pass by the horse pen. A few inhabitants have been let out of the barn today, left to wander their acre in peace. They're certainly used to the traffic by now; one of them even seems to like to stick close enough to the road. You think he's close enough that you'd be able to touch him. -[[Touch the horse|Animal]] -[[Go on your way|Relocation]]You cross the road carefully, settling yourself in a good spot in the shrubs along that side of the road. Of course, the owners of this pen don't care much about what's growing outside the pen, so the foliage around the thing is dense. Regardless, you gingerly step your way toward the horse. It doesn't seem to mind. You get as close to the fence as comfortable. The thick wire that extends from your ankles to your neck are contrasted by the older barbed wire lining the top edge. You notice some yellow material encasing the parts of the wire near the fence posts. You suspect the wire may be electrified to a degree, but you certainly do not want to test the theory. So now you are at arm's length from this horse, afraid to try to touch it. This animal is not the prettiest you've seen. Its mane is somewhat muddy, coarse, and matted to its neck. Its brown-black coat covers a rather hefty frame, though you don't know what's healthy for horses. As you notice the flies swarming around its ears and tail, your nose is struck by an unfortunately-familiar stench of manure. Its eyes are clear and dark, except for some white splotch that doesn't feel like it belongs. Yet the moment the creature approaches you still holds some air of awe. It finds a convenient gap between barbs and roughly bends its neck over the fence. You orient yourself toward the horse and lay a hand on the side of its face. You feel some stray saliva on your palm. Gross. You stay like this for a few moments, letting the experience sink in. You know this animal is dumb, and after a lack of interaction it pulls back behind the fence and goes away. You wipe your hand on the back of your pants to wipe off the errant spit, content to finish your walk. This rare event takes up your mind the rest of the way back. Without incident, you reach your home and [[step inside|Home]].You decide to ignore that impulse and continue your walk home. The horses are not too far from the entrance to your neighborhood; in fact, you can already see the large sign welcoming people to "Greenleaf Manor." The words are set in a smooth marble, surrounded by a bed of rocks with a small array of spotlights ready to shine upon the text at night. There's so much wrong with that sign to you, the least of which involves the lack of trees or large houses in the area. A lot of the subdivision is surrounded by forest, but otherwise much of the area is clear-cut and empty. As you head down your street, you can see a hint of your new home in the distance. It was build for your family a few years back, designed to accommodate an extended family. Strangers often visit to help care for your infirm and elderly family. You had to leave your house, and they had to leave theirs, to come to this sterile building. You know no one in the family likes it, but everyone who has the capacity to acknowledge your need for this house has done so. You hope that you'll be able to move somewhere more comfortable in the future, maybe after graduation. It doesn't take long to finish the final stretch of your trek. Good thing too, since your legs are aching and the relatively-small houses allowed the sun to assault you one last time. You stride over your driveway and [[go through the front door|Home]].