ONE Saturday morning Buzzy crawled into a hole and wouldn't come out. It wasn't a hole that went straight down. It was a sideways hole, dug in a riverbank near his house. It was really more of a cave than a hole. It had a very narrow entrance and was big enough for a little kid to crawl in. But it was too long for an adult to reach in and pull him out.
At the end of the entrance was a wider hole where he could sit, almost lie down or curl into a ball. He took some candles, a flashlight, a small portable TV, some books, a bottle of water, his sleeping bag, and three tuna fish sandwiches.
He left a note on the kitchen table for his Mom. ``Hi Mom,'' said the note. ``I'm in a big hole down by the river and I'm not coming out for a long time. I love you. Buzzy.''
It was cool in the hole. He sat there and turned on the TV. He watched Saturday morning cartoons for awhile and wondered when his mom would wake up and read the note. His Dad lived in another town. His mom sold houses all week. She always slept late on Saturday mornings and then they had breakfast together before she went out to sell more houses.
A half an hour later he heard his mom calling his name. She suddenly appeared in front of the hole, on her hands and knees. ``Buzzy, what on earth are you doing?'' she said. She was wearing her old yellow bathrobe and wool slippers chewed by Buzzy's dog, Fred. Buzzy knew she had run down to the river after she read the note.
``I found this hole and I'm staying here,'' said Buzzy. Fred suddenly appeared too and tried to get in the hole because he smelled the tunafish sandwiches. ``Fred, get away!'' yelled Buzzy, pushing him out.
``It's a great hole,'' said his mother, holding Fred, ``but what's wrong with our house?'' She looked loving, but worried.
``Nothing,'' said Buzzy.
He knew his mom was trying to understand. She always did. She always tried to help everybody including dogs, pregnant mothers, stray cats, injured birds, and people like Mr. Simzilson who lost his false teeth and wallet on the same day.
``Buzzy,'' she said, ``something is wrong, isn't it?''
Buzzy was quiet for a minute. ``No,'' he said softly, ``not with me. It's them, Mom. I don't want to grow into a teenager. I want to stay what I am, just like I am. Teenagers are stupid and loud. They swear, take drugs, and wear dumb clothes, and they drive fast. Who wants to be a teenager? Not me.''
Buzzy's mom stared into the hole. ``OK,'' she said, ``but why the hole?''
``If I stay in the dark,'' Buzzy said, ``I won't grow.''
``Who told you that?''
`` ... a teenager.''
``A guy on the street, by the high school.''
Buzzy's mom sighed. ``Not true,'' she said. ``Darkness is just a place with no light. It doesn't have anything to do with making you grow up or not grow up. Why do you believe a teenager if you don't want to be one?''
Buzzy shook his head. ``I don't care. I like it in here. I can feel myself staying the same. I won't be a teenager.''
His mom closed her left eye. She always did that when she was angry. ``Buzzy,'' she said, ``please come out so we can talk about this and I don't have to get down on my hands and knees.''
``Mom,'' said Buzzy, ``maybe you could bring a chair when you visit me next time.''
``Buzzy, come out of that hole this instant! You are not going to live in a hole and I am not going to bring a chair!'' Both of her blue eyes were shut tight. She was very angry.
``Mom, you're yelling at me and your eyes are closed. You tell me not to yell.''
Her eyes opened. ``I'm yelling because I can't believe this!''
``You tell me to think for myself,'' said Buzzy, ``and I'm thinking for myself.''
``Buzzy, you are not thinking for yourself at all, you are hiding in a hole. That's all you're doing.''
She stood up and walked away. Fred barked at Buzzy once and walked away. ``Mom?'' said Buzzy, and waited a few seconds. He crawled to the entrance and looked out carefully in the warm sun. He could see his mom and Fred walking quickly back to the house. He crawled back in the dark hole.
Well, he thought, so what if I'm hiding? It's for a good reason. I will never, ever turn into a teenager. He turned on the TV to Pee Wee Herman and took a bite out of a tuna sandwich.
Twenty minutes later he heard a sliding sound. Someone was coming along the riverbank, slipping and sliding. Just then Richie and Tug, his two best friends, jumped from the riverbank down in front of the hole.
``Hey,'' said Richie, sticking his head and shoulders all the way in, ``What a neat fort! TV all day long! And food!''
``How'd you know I was here?'' asked Buzzy.
``Your mom called my mom,'' said Tug. ``We're supposed to get you out of here. Why didn't you tell us you were digging this?''
``Go away, you guys,'' said Buzzy, ``This is private.''
Richie sat down in front of the hole. The sun was like a spotlight. He had his black Giants baseball cap on. ``Buzzy,'' he said, as if anybody knew it, ``the dark won't keep you small. It's what you eat.''
``Right,'' said Tug, plopping on his stomach in front of the hole. ``Food does it, not the dark.''
``If you eat small stuff, like small bowls of cereal,'' said Richie, ``then your body says, `Hey, this guy wants to stay short and cool.' You can eat three bowls of cereal each morning, but they have to be small bowls.''
``Right,'' said Tug, ``and never eat food that grows high up, like bananas or apples. All the basketball players eat high-up food like corn. You gotta eat low calorknees food, you know, low-down food close to the ground like potatoes or strawberries.''
``Calories, not calorknees,'' said Richie.
``Right,'' Tug, ``all the low down stuff. And never eat fish because your lips will do this,'' and he sucked in his cheeks to form guppy lips. ``And your eyes will bulge.''
Buzzy listened but didn't say anything. Richie had a teenage brother who drove an old pickup and cracked his knuckles. And Tug had a 15-year-old sister with red fingernails, white hair, and blue shoes.
Richie took off his cap and stared at it. Tug rolled over and looked at the blue sky and sun. ``I can smell the dump from here,'' he said. Nobody said anything for a long time. Finally Buzzy said, ``Do you guys want to be teenagers?''
Richie said, ``Not now,'' and Tug said, ``Right.''
``My brother's OK when he's with me,'' said Richie, ``but when his friends come over, they eat everything and belch.''
They rolled over again. ``My sister helps me with my homework, but she smells like bubble gum. She's not a jerk, she's just ... always clean.''
``What happens to them?'' asked Buzzy. ``Will it happen to us?''
``No way,'' Richie yelled. ``We're gruesome, fearsome, and awesome!!'' He thrust his fist in the air and laughed.
Tug said, ``My Dad says they aren't butterflies yet, just caterpillars.''
It wasn't too long before Richie and Tug got tired of talking with somebody in a dark hole, even if it was their best friend. ``I gotta mow the lawn,'' said Richie. ``Right,'' said Tug. They told Buzzy they would be back, and then they jumped up and raced to their bikes.
Buzzy sat there looking at the sunlight at the end of the silent hole. Well, he thought, maybe I should ... no. He closed his eyes, trying to see himself as a teenager. But he couldn't stop thinking about this day now, about all the things he could be doing if he wasn't sitting in a dark hole on a sunny day.
He stretched out along the entrance until his hand stuck out into the sunlight. He opened and closed his fist. The sun was warm and pleasant. He could hear all the noises of Saturday: lawn mowers, birds, kids yelling, dogs barking, and further down the river he could hear the putt-putt of a small motorboat.
What am I doing in this hole? he asked himself. What? He crawled into the sunlight, squinting and smiling. He stood up. ``Saturday,'' he said. ``Good old Saturday.''
The river sparkled. The grass was as green as a sweater. He climbed up the riverbank until he was near the open field next to his house. His eye caught something in the grass. He reached down. It was a caterpillar. Gently he put it on his finger and watched a dozen legs move its hairy brown body to his fingernail. There the caterpillar stopped and rose up. It moved its head in the air from side to side, wondering where to go next. ``Not in a hole,'' Buzzy whispered.
`Kidspace' is a place on The Home Forum pages where kids can find stories that will tickle imaginations, entertain with a tall tale, explain how things work, or describe a real-life event. These articles will appear once or twice a month, always on Tuesday.