Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the ACTION and/or ADVENTURE Genre (11/13/14)
- TITLE: Tell Me A story Granddad
By Pauline Carruthers
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I never wanted to go to that place. But Lenny had an uncanny knack of challenging my boyhood instinct to be as reckless as he was. I remember my mother’s voice that morning as she handed me a backpack lunch.
“Back by teatime and no further than the edge of the woods.”
Disobeying my mother had dire consequences, as I had discovered on numerous occasions since Lenny had moved into our neighbourhood. She could cut steel with her tongue and leave bare legs stinging.
We ran down the narrow lane at the back of our house, sneaking a short cut through the farmyard, where mud clung to shoes like sticky brown glue. Back in the lane, Lenny ripped off a hawthorn branch and swiped it across my arm, laughing, urging me on. I panted across the field after him.
On the edge of the woods I hesitated, afraid of the tangled tree branches that blotted out the sun like long eerie arms waiting to grab unsuspecting trespassers Lenny disappeared into a dense clump of dark green fern and I could hear my mother’s warning voice. But Lenny’s voice was louder, more insistent. And at that moment, closer. We crept through the woods like stalkers, intermittent bursts of sunlight piercing the trees, shapeless shadows dancing amongst mottled leaves. A rifle crack shattered the silence. I tripped, grazing my knees on the stony path. Lenny laughed, assuring me it was poachers after rabbits.
“Why didn’t you just run home granddad? I would have.”
Jack loved exciting stories and hung onto every word. I wondered if he was too young to hear this story and hesitated, tucking his duvet closer around him. He didn’t seem to mind the silence and after a while I realised he was sleeping. I thought of my own welcoming bed, but the memories raced on.
By the time we were through the woods the sun had given way to dull grey clouds hanging in the air like wet washing. Triumphantly I told Lenny that we should go home before it rained. He gave me one of his head on one side, cynical smiles, daring me to follow him across the open countryside. Before long we were there, but silver lined storm clouds were gathering, sailing across the sky like darkly painted boats on a restless sea.
The sight of the quarry edge made my heart thump like a hammer in my chest. Stories of boys lost forever in the measureless depths of the quarry water skimmed through my mind. Quivering with excitement Lenny grabbed me, forcing me to peer over the edge. To a young boy it seemed a long way to the bottom and the unnerving quietness unsettled me. I wanted nothing more than to be safely home with my mother.
Tufted grass and dried up shrubs growing between rocks and rubble covered the steep quarry sides and we could see the black fathomless water lurking menacingly below. My heart raced with fear, whilst Lenny’s eyes gleamed with uncontained, reckless excitement at the atmospheric tension that seemed to bring to life all the stories I had related to him about the quarry. It’s slimy depths not giving back what it had taken. Suddenly Lenny had slipped over the edge onto a precarious jutting rock a couple of feet below. I yelled at him to climb back, but he was already sliding further down, scattering loose stones and rubble, withered branches snatching at his clothes. Terror gripped me. I could only lie trembling, watching in horror as he reached the bottom, sliding, as if in slow motion, into the murky depths. There was no splash, no sound, just the sight of darkness closing over Lenny.
Terrified shrieks echoed in the empty space around me and I suddenly realised they were mine. Frantic thoughts and fear; helpless confusion, sobs. What would I tell Lenny’s mother? When I eventually dared to lift my head, there was Lenny, climbing recklessly, grasping at grassy clumps, kicking at loose rocks. I dragged him up over the edge, pale and terrified, teeth chattering with cold, sodden clothes clinging to his skinny body. His shaky words etched on my heart forever.
“Wow. That was some adventure.”
Later he had looked at me with scorn and said that the quarry water wasn’t even deep enough to drown a rabbit.
Jack was still sleeping soundly as I got up from his bed and crept quietly from the room.
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