Ethan tapped his pencil incessantly on the desk and stared outside.
Mrs. Simmons cleared her throat and Ethan jumped. He stared up at her as she towered over him casting a shadow across his blank piece of paper. He wondered if it was normal for women to have nose hairs like his dad. Impulsively, he opened his mouth to ask, but Mrs. Simmons interrupted him.
“Ethan, this isn’t a difficult assignment. Just tell us what you did over summer vacation.”
Ethan decided to plead his case for a lighter sentence, “I didn’t do anything. Everyone went someplace cool. I got nothin’.” With his closing argument he motioned towards his blank paper as if it proved his point.
Mrs. Simmons squatted down beside him and lowered her voice.
Ethan couldn’t help but think she looked much better at this angle. Her nose hairs were barely noticeable, and she smelled nice too.
“The assignment isn’t, where did you go for summer vacation. Tell us what you did the months between fifth and sixth grade.”
“I played outside lots. That ain’t much of a story.”
“Isn’t,” Mrs. Simmons corrected. “Ethan, hon, I know you have an awesome imagination when you play. Try to put that pretend world of yours into words.”
Mrs. Simmons stood and ruffled Ethan’s hair as she left.
Ethan heaved an exasperated breath and the girl in front of him whirled around and glared. He stuck his tongue out to which she rolled her eyes.
“I’d rather be tromping in the woods behind my house,” he whispered to no one. Well, maybe to the cute little girl that rolled her eyes at him.
The eye-roller faced him and whispered, “Why don’t you write about that?”
Ethan looked up to make sure Mrs. Simmons didn’t see them. “How?”
“Just quit procrastinating and do it.”
“Pro what?” Ethan stared perplexed at her.
“Just write what you do when you tromp through the woods. What goes on in your mind when you play?”
“Ahem,” Mrs. Simmons made it known that she could hear them.
Ethan wrote big bold letters across the top of his paper: MY SUMMER. At least it wasn’t blank anymore. He closed his eyes and tried to remember his summer as if it were years ago. He wiggled his toes and wished they were free of their leather prison.
Eventually, Ethan did get a story written. When his turn came to read he stared at his paper and didn’t dare look up.
I had a summer job
Ethan wiped his sweaty hands on his new stiff jeans and longed for his ragged cut offs.
I worked construction all summer long just like my dad. I was building me a dream fort. I found the perfect place in our woods but I sure had to drag my supplies a long ways.
Mrs. Simons giggled and this boosted Ethan’s confidence.
I used some of my dad’s old tools that he said were mine now. I made a place in the woods to hide them and protect them from the rain. Dad says a smart man takes care of his tools.
I like to pretend I’m a trapper living in the mountains off the land. I set traps and found a good patch of wild huckleberries and ate blackberries, too. My fort has a real door and a window with shutters. Dad says I did real good work. Mom wants to make me curtains. I don’t understand why.
Once when I was passing by Mrs. Cook’s house she had an old chair on the sidewalk that had a sign on it that said FREE. I dragged and pushed it all the way to my fort.
My mom said the fort building kept me out of trouble. When she packed Dad’s lunch she would pack me one and put it in my knap-sack and make kool-aide for my canteen. I would check my traps on my way out to the fort and one day I caught a rabbit. I skinned him, cooked him over a fire and ate him.
“Ewww.” Moans escaped several of the girls, but Ethan glanced up and noticed the eye-rolling girl smiled.
He tasted awful, but it was fun anyways.
I have decided I like Mrs. Simmons, but I’d rather be barefoot, in cut-offs and working on my fort. THE END
Mrs. Simmons winked.
The eye-roller girl whispered, “Can I go see your fort after school?”
Ethan grinned. Ah, the perfect end to a perfect summer.
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