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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Summer (the season) (07/09/09)

TITLE: The Beginning of Summer
By Amy Stanbury


In a sleepy town, miles from the sea, a little girl dressed for the beach. Alone in Grandma’s bedroom, amongst the smells and stores of treasure, she was working. Her too large sandals smack-smacked on the wooden floorboards, as she moved between a large open drawer and an ancient suitcase. Silently and deep in thought she pulled out a silky dress, a beaded skirt, and a velveteen purse. She examined each carefully. Stopping before the full-length mirror and pulling at a large droopy straw hat, the small child lifted her chin, to peer at herself from under the brim. Satisfied, she continued to pack quietly. Her fingers folded each item neatly; a woolen picnic rug, a doll with flimsy legs and only one eye, a metal teapot. She closed the lid of the suitcase, again satisfied, deftly flipping the clasps shut.

They had arrived last night in the dark. Six hours away on a plane and six million miles away from a life in the city. A slow thaw had begun and each leg of the journey had lightened their load. Summer was coming.

Lugging the heavy case behind her, it slid smoothly onto the carpeted stairs. With a heavy bump, bump, bump she pulled her precious cargo down the eighteen steps to the bottom. Through the front door windows she could see the sky, bright white and glistening. The light poured in from the doorway, warming the beeswax varnish, filling the hall with brown, honey warmth. Stained glass blobs of red and blue chased each other on the floor.

The girl sat down on the bottom step. Her elbows rested on her knees, her face hidden, a sombrero siesta; waiting. The kitchen door opened.
“Eleanor? Are you there? You’ll have to close your eyes. It’s ready!”
An elderly lady appeared from the kitchen and walked to the stairwell.
“Are you ready sweetheart?”

Eleanor didn’t move, except to peep sideways from under her straw hat. She squinted her eyes and played out the scene like a movie on the backs of her eyelids. After a time, she opened one eye and then the other, looking from side to side; expectant and hopeful. She grinned widely and looked up into her grandmother’s face whose smile was full of fun. “Is it outside? Grandma?”
“Come with me. I’ll show you.”

Taking her grandmother’s hand they walked the small length of corridor to the back door of the house. Eleanor grabbed at the hem of the enormous sundress she was wearing, lifting it up as she walked. There, beside the door was a large bucket and a pink spade for digging. The little girl just stared at the gifts.

Leaving her suitcase behind in the hall, Eleanor picked up the bucket and spade like a crown and scepter, waving them in the air. She stepped outside, like a princess emerging from her royal carriage, into the glorious morning sun. Hitching up her skirts she ran into the garden that smelt of mint and earth. She saw her Grandpa, not far away, on his hands and knees in mounds of sand. Where the old frog pond had been there was now a big, smooth, creamy, beachy expanse, spreading out in front of her. It was the beginning of summer.

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This article has been read 335 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allen Stark07/16/09
Thanks for helping me relive the days when my teenager was a little girl who loved the simpler things in life.
Sherrie Coronas07/16/09
Nice details throughout. Well done!
diana kay07/18/09
So lovely. Gets my vote not that I have one! well done lovely descriptions and a great story.
Mildred Sheldon07/18/09
What a wonderful story. Takes me back to my childhood days when summer held such surprises. I just loved this story.
Rachel Phelps07/22/09
This story was crafted so perfectly for the point of view of the little girl. I work with children daily and could just hear some of my girls' voices in this. Beautifully realized idea!