Carly flicked her sticky bangs off her forehead as she peered across the landscape. The day was sweltering and the cornfield blurred through the waves of rippling heat. She let out a long sigh as her sister plopped onto the swing beside her.
"Whatcha' doin'?" asked Abby.
"Not much" sighed Carly, "but I'm thinkin' 'bout swingin' on the barn rope. Wanna' come?" Abby wasn't much for rope swingin' these days, but Carly hoped that this time might be different.
"Nah," said Abby. "I expect Jimmy'll be here soon, and I don't want to muss my clothes up."
Jimmy Rawlins had been comin' 'round a lot lately, and Abby was changin', or at least it seemed that way. She was more interested in weavin' ribbons through her caramel braids than playin' out in the barn.
"You wanna' go for a walk?" asked Carly.
"I suppose a walk wouldn' hurt nothin'," said Abby, rising off the swing. "Where to?"
"I don' know. Let's jus' head out along the road. Maybe we'll catch Pa comin' in from the fields."
The two girls set out side by side. "The fair's comin' up real soon," said Abby. "I'm thinkin' of enterin'."
"Really?" said Carly. "Whatcha gonna enter?"
"I was thinkin' 'bout enterin' an apple pie."
"That's a great idea! That last one you made was awful good. I bet you could win first prize," said Carly.
They were nearing the barn when they heard a whinny. "Oh, let's go check on Scooter. I wanna see how he's comin' along," said Carly.
"Okay," agreed Abby, and they turned toward the barn.
The smell of hay tickled their nostrils as their eyes adjusted to the darkness of the barn. They approached Scooter's stall. He was born in late winter when patches of snow still dotted the fields. Pa said he came too early and they weren't too sure whether he'd make it. He was small, but a real fighter and had come a long way. Carly especially enjoyed visiting him. She always kept a lump of sugar in her pocket just for him. This time was no different.
"Here Scooter," she said, unfolding her hand revealing a single sugar cube. Scooter trotted right over and scooped up the sweet morsel. Carly and Abby leaned over the fence, patting Scooter's nose.
Suddenly Scooter jumped as a mouse scurried along the top of the fence. "A mouse!" screeched Abby.
"Let's get 'em!" whooped Carly as she jumped off the fence and raced after the furry creature.
"Wait for me!" yelled Abby. She took off in hot pursuit forgetting about her pretty ribbons and crisply ironed dress.
The girls ran after the mouse that scurried out of the barn and headed straight for the grain silo. It slipped under the door just before Carly swung it open, her laughter bouncing off the metal walls. Abby got there just in time to block the only escape route. The mouse was trapped. Carly raced around in circles while Abby cheered her on, "Get 'em Carly!"
Seeing no other escape, the mouse climbed across the old wood beam leaning against the wall and disappeared. "Where'd he go?" panted Carly.
"I don' know. He jus' disappeared," said Abby.
The girls stood there panting. Suddenly Carly let out a shriek, pointing at Abby, "He's on your head! He's on your head!"
"Eeek!" screeched Abby. "Get 'im off! Get 'im off!" She flailed her arms left and right, screaming with terror as furry paws tangled themselves in her pretty blue ribbon. The mouse clung to her braid, squeaking in terror.
"Be still!" demanded Carly. "You're scarin' him." Abby finally stopped jumping, but continued to shake as Carly freed the critter and set him on the floor. The mouse zipped out the silo door as if a cat were on its tail.
Abby was a mess. She had so many hairs stickin' out that she looked like a rag doll after the dog got a hold of it. One braid was still in tact with its pretty blue ribbon, but the other one was a mangled mess that would take a good hour to brush out. Carly smiled and handed the shredded ribbon to her sister. Their eyes met, and Abby began a giggle which grew until both girls laughed with glee.
"Come on sis!" said Abby. "Let's go rope swingin'."
"Gladly!" said Carly as she linked arms with her sister and headed out the door. "Maybe things weren't so different after all," thought Carly.
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