I got the idea on Saturday when I was mucking about in the old shed with Dad, watching as he oiled up his cutters and clippers ready for harvest. Behind the ladder on the way up to the hayloft was these big old planks, just like I could strap them together and make me an old boat and then I could do it, really do it, like in the stories.
Monday after school I tried to sneak back up to the shed but Mum needed me to help her chop the wood, and after that I was too stuffed.
Wednesday I tried, but Dad saw me go and asked me what I was doing so I had to make up something different and then go and do it so I wouldnít be lying.
Thursday and Friday and Saturday it rained fit to bust.
Sunday was church and best clothes day.
Monday I got up there. I made a kind of curtain thing over the ladder so nobody could see where I was. The tractor was in front anyway, and I had to lay those old planks down to make my boat, so I was pretty well hid all right. The plum tree was outside and all the rain had got caught in Dadís buckets so I figured I was all set for a few afternoons of hard work.
I didnít know much about boats. Iíd seen them in the pictures in the books that Mum read me, and I knew they had a floor and sides and all, and a stick with a curtain on it, but I didnít need to go too far in mine, so I figured it didnít matter if that curtain was there or not. Out in the middle, that was all I needed to go to.
And then what with one thing and then another thing and then another and Mum and that wood chopping and Dad wanting to know what I was up to and school and all it took me weeks to get my boat the way I wanted it. When I did, though, I was so chuffed. It was just like the pictures, curtain and everything. One of the kids at school said boats had a name, which is a bit dumb because they canít talk, but I decided to call it after me. Tom.
Tom was a great boat. He had a good big floor for me to sit on with not too many gaps. The big ones I filled up with old newspapers. He had good sides and a cushion and a pole thing for me to push off the edge with. He was all ready for me to take up to the top dam and do it, like in the story.
Saturday was perfect. Dad was out in town at the market and Mum was inside making pies. I told her I was going out to play, which wasnít a lie, and then I pushed that old Tom boat all the way up to the gate that got me into the top paddock. He was heavy, that Tom, and when I got him all the way to the dam I remembered that Iíd left the gate open for the cows to get out but I was too stuffed to go back. I wouldnít be all that long anyway. Get into the boat. Push out into the middle. Step out. Walk on water like that bloke in the bible did. I was going to show God how much faith I had, and thatís why I needed my boat.
But before I could get to the middle I felt Tom going down, and I was going down, and then I got scared and couldnít find my faith any more, and Dad was going to teach me to swim next Summer except thatís why I had to keep out of the top paddock and now I remember and the water is green like Mumís peas and going over my eyesÖ
I saw him there in the water. Dad said after that he was an angel, that man in the water that held my head up even when I couldnít swim. He held my head up until those cows came to Mum in the kitchen and she followed my boat track up there and fished me out.
Dad gave me a hiding, and a quick swimming lesson. And now I know where God lives. He lives in our top paddock.
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