Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Valley (08/10/06)
TITLE: Are We There Yet?
By Michael DiCarlo
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“Getting closer,” I said. A mile into an uphill hike, little Bill and I were close to the summit.
“My feet hurt.”
“We’re almost there,” I said.
“Dad, I’m thirsty.”
I stopped and handed him a water bottle.
“But I want soda,” he said and continued uphill.
“There’s soda at the top,” I said.
“And apple juice?”
“You can have that too.”
“Dad, I want a cheeseburger,” he said, turning to look at me.
“There are cheeseburgers at the top,” I said, and winked.
Little Bill stopped and turned around. A perplexed look overcame his round eight-year old face.
“Dad, do you have all of that in your backpack?”
I adjusted my pack. “No, son, I don’t.”
“Then how…” he started.
“Don’t worry. Everything you want is at the top of the mountain.”
Little Bill kept on walking, apparently doubtful of how his old dad was going to live up to such a promise. We walked in silence for the last half mile up the moderate grade.
“We’re here!” Little Bill said, spotting the jutting rocks of the summit. He sprinted toward them. The father in me almost screamed “STOP!” but I knew my son had enough sense not to walk close to the edge.
“What do you think?” I said as we looked out on the valley below us.
“I see our car!”
“We walked all the up from there! Now look over here,” I said, pointing. “We live just beyond that road.”
“I think I see our house!”
I smiled. Although not far away, our house wasn’t visible from here, but I wasn’t about to discourage little Bill’s enthusiasm.
“So where’s the soda and cheeseburgers?” Obviously his attention for scenic mountain views was wearing thin.
“Wait right here,” I said. I put down the backpack and walked about fifty feet into the woods. A cooler of cold sodas and apple juice sat just where I’d left it the day before. I had also packed it with burgers, cheese, and buns all of which I’d planned to prepare using the small grate I’d stashed nearby. I had also collected and assembled a campfire, requiring nothing more than a match. Steadying the grate on the rocks surrounding the wood, I lit the fire and placed two patties. I grabbed a soda and a carton of apple juice and walked out of the woods.
“Which would you like first?” I asked.
My son took the apple juice carton and spiked the straw through its small opening. He took a long draw and then popped the top of the can of soda.
“Where did you get these?” He said.
“This way,” I said.
Clinging to his beverages, little Bill followed me toward the grill.
“What’s that smell, dad?”
A fearful thought occurred. Had I cleared the ground well enough to avoid any fire danger?
“What smell?” Each step toward the grill brought us closer to the aroma of sizzling burgers. A flame crackled underneath, cooking them to perfection.
“You said you were hungry”
“Yeah! I’m starving!”
“Then let’s eat,” I said, pulling out slices of American cheese, his favorite, and placing them on the burgers. I pulled out the buns and another soda. Once the cheese had melted, I pulled the burgers from the flame, placed them on the buns, and handed one to little Bill. He took a bite and wiped a smear of orange and grease from his face.
“This is awesome, dad!”
I smiled, and took a bite. We sat in silence devouring our lunch. After a few minutes we made our way back to the overlook.
“I brought you here to teach you about heaven, son.”
“Do they have cheeseburgers there, dad?”
“God gives us everything we could ever dream of, and much more.”
I pointed down to the valley. “Always remember that no matter how tough life down there is, and no matter how hard the climb, God promises to reward us up in heaven.”
Little Bill finished his apple juice and a smile broke out across his face. He nudged toward me on the rock, and for a moment I recalled the first time I held him in my arms.
“I love you, dad.”
A tear swelled up in my eye. I wiped it away and said a quick prayer of thanks while gazing at little Bill.
“I love you too, son. I love you too.”
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