Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Cousin(s) (05/22/08)
- TITLE: Cuzin Princess
By Shirley McClay
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Nonchalantly, yet very gently, she kissed him… and squinted at her reflection in his shiny eyeball.
“See. He didn’t change.” She shrugged her slender shoulders at her older cousin.
“Well, that doesn’t mean you aren’t a princess… just means he ain’t the right toad!” Tommy winked at her. “We’ll try again next time I find one.”
Jessie snorted her disgust and flipped her long brown ponytail over her shoulder. “Didja get warts?”
Carl’s eyes widened and he studied Jean’s face with intense interest, searching for cool toad warts.
“Dummy… you don’t get warts from toads.” Tommy glared at his little sister.
Jessie stuck out her tongue. “A toad turning into a prince is dumb.”
The others ignored her. They trekked up to the garden and released the un-princed toad under a watermelon leaf.
Their next stop was the hayloft.
The four of them sat in the hay-hole, dangling their legs over the shoat pen. “I dare you to jump.”
“You first.” Jean wasn’t crazy about Tommy’s idea.
Tommy looked down the hole again. “Let’s throw a bale down first.”
“That’s wasting hay and too hard when you land. What about these broken bales?” Jean didn’t mind kissing toads, but jumping that far made her tummy tickle.
Tommy forked down loose hay… then more... and still more.
“Ok... that’s good.” Jean was able to sit on the edge of the hole, dangle her legs, and just reach the top of the haystack… if she stretched her toes. “Now, who goes first?”
They looked at each other, deliberating.
“Carl, you’re the littlest. You should go first.” Jean gave her four-year-old brother the bossy-sister look.
“Cause if you can do it, then we know it’s safe for the rest of us!”
Carl looked at Jean skeptically, but couldn’t refute her logic.
He perched on the edge... but wavered. Jean helped him through his hesitation with a strong nudge. Carl landed on the top of the pile and slid down the side, scattering hay, dust, and terrified shoats in his wake.
Since he wasn’t injured, the cousins decided it was safe and spent the next hour jumping on the hay. The shoats squealed and raced in circles every time someone dropped from their ceiling. Eventually the pile was only a couple feet deep and several feet wide and the shoats huddled in the corner, exhausted and traumatized.
The cousins stared at the pile, knowing their fun would reap consequences. To Jean, the best course of action was a new adventure. “Grandpa brought a dead snake.”
Jean was the kind of girl to chase her cousins with critters… so the two younger cousins chose to remain in the hayloft.
Tommy pulled a piece of hay out of Jean’s blond flyaway hair and grinned. “Poisonous?”
They found it in the back of Grandpa’s truck. Tommy held it up. “Taller than even me!”
“I have an idea.” Jean’s eyes sparkled blue like her daddy’s.
An hour later they hid in the bushes while Tommy’s mom unloaded groceries at his home next door. They watched… hearts pounding… as she stepped onto the porch. A scream froze their hearts and set the dog to barking. Between the scream, the crash of groceries, and the frantic dog inside the house, Tom and Jean decided not to make their presence known. They crawled out to peek around the door at the result of their scheme.
Eggs oozed on the cement, a container of cottage cheese was cracked and bleeding white onto a brown shoe, a loaf of bread hung across the back of a porch chair. The pickle jar had smashed into a million pieces and the juice splashed all over Tommy’s mom. She stood statue-like, staring at the snake.
The dead snake was coiled beautifully between the porch door and the house door. Its head rested the coils, the beady eyes seemed to glint with humor even as egg yoke pooled around him.
The cousins crept away.
No one ever suspected the little princess. In fact, her prankster daddy got blamed for the snake episode and no one was ever the wiser. Till now.
Authors note: A Shoat is a newly weaned piglet. And.. ahem... based on a true story... (cough, cough)
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