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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Spring (as in the season) (11/28/05)

TITLE: Come Next Spring


His name was Murphy, not his given name, but his surname and that's why he was called Murph. He was an inner-city kid, the kind who grew up both tough and street smart, educated by the knowledge that you "do unto him before he does unto you." So, on that sunny morning when the school bus pulled away from the curb, Murph was a passenger. Any excuse to get out of classes, even if it meant riding to a place that was as foreign to a city kid as oil is to water. One young, eager social worker had determined that a day at the lake, with a fishing pole in hand, would do wonders for the psyche of someone like Murph. And so the street smart kid played along, oblivious to the incessant noises of the other students, and refusing to show any emotion as the bus headed for its destination.

Bill and his black lab, Queenie, came upon the youngster on the shore by the lake. The dog spotted him first and ran fast ahead, greeting Murph with all the energy that a large retriever could muster. Repressing a surge of fear, the boy jumped back from the dog while a small sunfish swung from the end of his fishing pole. Bill apologized for Queenie's eagerness while Murph grunted something and turned away, trying unsuccessfully to remove the fish from the hook.

"Here, let me help you with that.", Bill offered as he saw the young boy struggling. Murph gave in reluctantly and handed the pole to him without making eye contact. Quickly, Bill unhooked the half dead fish and threw it back into the lake.

Murph screamed and started yelling, "What's the matter with ya? Are ya nuts" Look what ya did! Ya threw my fish back in the lake."

Bill realized that he had made a drastic wrong assumption. The boy continued yelling, spurting out emotional words about the fish being the first one he ever caught and how he wanted to bring it back to the city to show the other guys. Bill was devastated by the problem he had created.

Queenie, mesmerized by the half dead fish floundering in the lake, watched it surface and submerge, time and again, and begged her master to give her permission to retrieve it. Without hesitation, Bill ran over to the dog and gave the command, "Go fetch!"

The spirited animal entered the lake with one thing on her mind and swam ahead looking for signs of the fish to resurface, when she saw her prey and captured it in her mouth. SLhe then came ashore and Bill gratefully took the fish from her while she shook her body vehemently, sending showers of cold water over both her master and the boy. Murph, caught up in the excitement, forgot all about the rules of the street as he dropped to lhis knees and threw his arms around the shoulders of the wet animal. She in turn licked his face clean, letting her saliva and dog breath fill him with a warm rush of unfamiliar emotion that completely knocked him off guard.

As Bill examined the fish to see how the retriever had mouthed it, he exclaimed disappointedly, "Oh, Queenie, you left teeth marks on it."

Murph, quickly grabbed the fish fearing that this new dilemma would cause Bill to throw it back into the lake. To correct the dog's mistake Murph muttered, "Ah gee, mista, it ain't nottin'. The fish ain't bleedin'!

Bill smiled and the boy stuffed the fish into his jacket and headed for the bus that was ready to make its return trip to the city. Upon entering it, Murph sought out the harried social worker and inquired, "Hey, when are we comin' back here again?"

"Why, Murph, I guess it'll be next spring!"

The boy turned and found a seat that faced a window where he could see the man and the black dog walking away, as he allowed only one tear to run down his face.

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This article has been read 856 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Brandi Roberts12/07/05
Awwww a sweet story! Some tightening needed in grammar, but otherwise I really enjoyed this (I have my own "city kid")
Jan Ackerson 12/07/05
Good job!
Naomi Deutekom12/07/05
Very enjoyable. I once took my dog to a session with a teenage client and the effects were amazing. Good job.
Marilyn Schnepp 12/14/05
Oh, Lucille! I loved your story! How did I miss it, I'll never know! I read so many each week! It was really a delightful and great story...and kept my interest to the end. AND, you made the top 30 List - Congratulations! You've been such an encouragement to me, I'm sorry I was late with my comments to you! Keep up the good work! God bless!
Barbara Thompson Young06/09/07
Lucille, you are a prolific writer. I love the title. I wanted the story to continue, as though it were not yet finished. I found myself wanting to read more about "Murph". I'm glad to find your writing at Faith Writers!