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The Gates
by Cassie Memmer
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The Gates

“I won’t tell you again, Son, clean your room!” shouted Chazz’s father in a threatening

Chazz ran out of the house, slamming the door behind him. “I can’t wait ‘till I grow up,”
he mumbled. “Nobody will tell me what to do. I’ll be my own boss then.”

Stomping down the walk, a new thought occurred to him, “Hey, I can be my own boss
now. I’ll run away!” so down the street he ran, laughing all the way. “I don’t have to do
what others say, I’ll only do just what I want!”

After running and walking a good long way, Chazz came upon an area he was
unfamiliar with. The road came to an end and before him stood two gates. “No one to
tell me which way to go,” he smugly said aloud. I’ll pick the gate I want.”

One gate was small and the grass had grown tall around it. It hardly looked big enough
for him to squeeze through and the latches were rusted, looking like it hadn’t been
opened in a long time.

The other gate was big and wide. It shined like chrome and was large enough for two
or three cars to go through. The grass was all trampled and the hinges looked well
oiled. “This must be the way to go,” thought Chazz. “It seems to be the gate everyone
else has been using.”

Chazz pulled on the large, heavy gate and was surprised how effortlessly it opened.
Pleased with himself, he walked through, pulling the gate closed behind him.

The wide road was curvy. After a few curves, Chazz started seeing many people.
Some looked sad and lost while others looked mean and scary. He approached a man
wearing a navy blue, double-breasted business suit who was sitting on the curb of the
wide street. “Excuse me, Sir, can...” Chazz started when the man hissed, “Get away
from me!”

Frightened, Chazz ran from the man. “Where am I?” he wondered. “Nothing looks
familiar.” He walked on and the curvy road began to narrow.

“There’s an old woman, maybe she can tell me where I am.” He went toward the
woman and saw that she held a plate of his favorite cookies. “Chocolate chip! Ummm!
I sure am hungry, maybe she’ll give me some,” he thought. Chazz looked at the
strange look in her eyes and her crooked smile and said, “Excuse me, ma’am...

“Hello, sonny,” she interrupted, “would you like a cookie? They’re fresh out of the

“Thanks!” But as Chazz reached for one, the old woman smacked his hand, laughed,
and threw the cookies to the ground! Chazz took off running. Behind him he heard her
terrible cackling. “What kind of place is this?”

The road narrowed more and Chazz slowed down. Ahead he saw kids about his own
age. He walked up to them and grinned. “Hi!” They eyed him up and down, snickered,
and kept talking amongst themselves.

“Hey, guys, can you help me? I’m lost and getting hungry.”

They laughed at him, and to the tune of Ring Around the Rosie sang, “I’m my own boss
now, I can do what I want to,” again and again, till he fled from them. He heard them
giggling as he ran.

The road became a narrow path where sticker bushes and snarly vines had grown over
it. Chazz found it hard to walk. The vines became so thick, he tripped and fell. The
stickers tore his clothes and scratched him every time he tried to move. He lay there,
bleeding and crying. “I shouldn’t have run away from home. I should’ve obeyed Dad
and cleaned my room. That would’ve been easier than this!”

Deciding to go back home, Chazz painfully picked himself up out of the vines and
stickers and started back the way he came. He ran past the giggling kids, past the old
woman who held out a fresh plate of cookies, and past the mean man sitting on the
curb. He ran back all the way to the big wide gate which before had opened easily.
Now, rusted and in disrepair, he couldn’t budge it. He pulled and tugged, but it barely
moved. “The road to home is on the other side,” he kept reminding himself, and he
yanked some more. It finally opened just enough for him to squeeze through.

Hungry, tired, scratched, and sore, Chazz looked at the forest around him. Terrified, he
realized the road to home was gone! “How can a road just disappear?”

Chazz turned around. There was only the two gates before him. The tiny one and the
big one he’d just come from. “I can’t go back in that horrible place,” he cried. “I’m sorry
I ran away. I wish you were, Mom and Dad, to help me.”

Chazz saw he had no choice. There was nothing to do but go through the tiny narrow
gate. He pulled some of the grass away and tried to open the little gate. It was stuck
but he kept trying. Tugging with all his weight he finally got the small gate opened
enough to press through. He began walking again, tears running down his cheeks,
wondering how he would ever get home.

The little path was straight and narrow, with no stickers or vines to scratch or snare him.
He trudged along and the path seemed to get wider. Pretty flowers bloomed on each
side of the path.

The more he walked the more the path got wider. Ahead he saw a man whistling a
happy tune. Chazz started to ask the smiling man where he was, but before he could
say anything, the man said, “Welcome, welcome, son. You are headed in the right

Surprised, Chazz said, “Thank you, sir.”

The widening path soon became a road. Chazz saw a woman who held a plate of fruit.
Remembering the lady with the cookies, he was afraid to go near her. The woman
said, “Here, dear, have a piece of fruit.”

Looking into her friendly eyes, Chazz could see this lady was different. He picked an
apple and took a big bite.

“Go on, dear,” she the fruit lady said, “you are going the right way.”

Chazz walked on and wondered how the man and woman knew he was going the right
way. He wanted to go home, but he didn’t know how to get there.

The road widened more and Chazz saw several children ahead who were singing. He
approached them and said, “Hi... I’m lost... I ran away from home ‘cause I didn’t want
to clean my room. I wanted to be my own boss, but I ended up in a scary place, I was
sure wrong and just want to go home, can you help me?”

The children sang, “You’re on your way home, you’ve been forgiven, hurry, hurry, you’re
almost there.” They smiled at him and he walked on, bewildered at their song.

Houses began to appear on each side of the road. Chazz walked and pondered what
he had learned. “I’m not smart or wise enough to be on my own yet. Obeying Dad
would’ve saved me a lot of grief. Mom and Dad love me and take good care of me. I
should have trusted them, I know they want what’s best for me. I wonder if Dad will
forgive me.”

Chazz walked some more, and suddenly things began to look familiar. “Hey,” he
thought, “this is the street I live on!” He started running and soon recognized his
neighbor’s house. “This is my block!” he shouted. “There’s my house!”

Chazz’s father stood waiting in the front yard with his arms opened wide. Chazz ran
straight to the loving safety of his father’s arms. “I’m home, I’m home! he cried. “I’m
sorry I didn’t clean my room. I’m sorry I ran away. Oh, forgive me, Dad!”

“Yes, Chazz” said his father, as he hugged him. “I love you and I forgive you.
Welcome home, son!”

Cassie Memmer © May 1987

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