Betty Jane Hegerat's Running Toward Home

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

Dinny the Dinosaur at the Calgary Zoo, as he once was. (Photo: City of Vancouver Archives)

Dinny the Dinosaur at the Calgary Zoo, as he once was. (Photo: City of Vancouver Archives)

Corey Brinkman is running away from home, again. For a twelve-year-old boy on his seventh foster family, the notion of home is confusing. This time, he bolts at the Calgary Zoo. The zoo gates close, it’s dark and Corey’s alone. He doesn’t know why he runs but sometimes running is the only thing he can do. On this cold spring night, he’s caged up on St. George’s Island like the zoo animals, scared but oddly at home. As the night wears on, he makes his way to the giant cement brontosaurus at the southern edge of the park. His most recent foster mom told him Dinny hadn’t always been fenced in. In her day, you could climb the dinosaur, or at least try until someone caught you. But Corey is too chicken. Or is he? Sizing up the brontosaurus, he feels a surge of confidence.

 

The dinosaur’s back was a cinch. Corey stood on the tip of the tail and, like a tightrope walker, made his way up the long curve until he was directly over the hind legs. His head felt like it was floating in front of him, lifting off his shoulders and disconnecting his thoughts from the heavy weight of his feet. He had a clear view across the river to dark houses. Look over his left shoulder, past shrubs and trees, and there were the black conservatory windows. Glance over his right shoulder, through lacy leaves, and there was the dark path leading to the tiger’s small world. But best of all, from where he stood steady and tall on the hump of Dinny’s back, he could see two security guards floodlit against the back wall of their office. They leaned there, smoking and staring across the park at Dinny. And he knew that they couldn’t see him. At last, he was invisible.

 

Betty Jane Hegerat, Running Toward Home (NeWest Press, 2006)