Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Summer (the season)( 07/09/09)
By Shirley McClay
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The tip of his cane pole dipped and he snatched it up with a jerk. The hook set and he swung the fish over his shoulder. It landed on a rock with a wet “swack.” Beth scooped it up with a finger under its gill. “Nice trout, Josh. Biggest one today.”
Josh twisted another worm onto the hook and swung the line out. The worm landed with a plop and sank next to a submerged log. He jammed the pole into a hole he’d dug and leaned back against a maple tree.
Beth sat next to him, her knees tucked under her chin and arms wrapped around her legs. Her green calico skirt matched the moss she dug her toes into. “I heard what they said, Josh. They’s the ones that’re dumb.”
“I guess they be right, Beth. It’s all just nonsense.” Josh’s brothers were nearly full-growed and liked to make fun of him since he was only just fourteen. He should keep his ideas to himself from now on.
“I didn’t hear all what ya tole ‘em. Tell me, Joshy.” Beth’s big green eyes promised kindness and he relaxed a bit.
“It was jus’ so hot and the wind picked up and whooshed through the winders. I thought how nice it be if there were a contraption that blew cool air through the house on hot days.“
She brushed the tip of one braid across her lips. “Maybe someday you’ll make one, Josh.”
“You don’t think it’s dumb?” Josh picked up a stick and ran his thumbnail down the thin bark.
“Nope.” Her braids bounced as she shook her head. They were nearly the same color as Mr Lipkin’s Irish Setters. “I like it even better than your idea to have running water right in the house!” Beth picked a dandelion and sniffed it. “You have amazin’ ideas, Josh. Ain’t nothin’ dumb about ‘em.”
He stripped a piece of bark off and tossed it into the water. “Not sure how to do it. Maybe usin’ air from the ice house or sumthin’.”
She nodded solemnly. “Or the well, maybe?”
Beth had been his friend since they were born, seemed like. Josh grinned and shifted closer to her. “I had another idea, Beth.” He looked back over his shoulder at their families. They were all busy chatting or playing a ball game in the field. “How’s bout heating the house with the sun in the wintertime. It sure is hot enough in the summer and it ain’t like the sun disappears come cold weather.”
“It’s still there, alrighty. I know if it’s possible to do... you’d find a way Josh.” She dropped her eyes to her bare toes and her lashes brushed her cheeks. Josh had never noticed how long they were before.
“I don’t know how to do it… but it shore seems like it must be possible somehow.” He frowned in frustration and snapped the stick.
A mosquito landed on Beth’s arm and she smacked it. “Don’t suppose you could figure a way to rid the world of skeeters, Josh?”
Josh busted into a laugh. “Now that would make me rich, wouldn’t it?”
“I s’pose summer wouldn’t be summer without ‘em.” A blush stained her face. She didn’t blush high on her cheekbones like Josh’s sister. She got kinda blotchy. In fact, Josh couldn’t remember seeing her blush before. Maybe he’d embarrassed her by laughing.
“I think maybe we could find a way to at least keep ‘em off us. Other than eatin’ raw onions or garlic.”
Beth giggled. “They keep ever’thing away, don’t they.”
Josh noticed Beth didn’t smell like onions or garlic. More like flowers and mint. He eyed her in a new way. Huh… she was downright purty. Why hadn’t he ever noticed before? “Happy Birthday, Beth. Fourteen… same as me agin.” Josh’s brother was seventeen and getting married… only three years away for them. He shook his head to clear it. Now where'd that thought come from?
Beth closed her eyes and smiled. “I love having my birthday in the summer. Seems magical, somehow.” A butterfly lit softly on her hair.
“Yup, magical.” Josh whispered.
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