Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: OVERSEAS VACATION (08/13/15)
TITLE: Bridges and Towers and Trees, Oh My!
By Deborah Engle
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The lure of the swing had its way, and Owen mindlessly began twirling around. “My Uncle Ben's here. He just came back from England and he stopped to see us on his way home.”
“Why did he go to England?”
“It was a vacation. I think he went to see London Bridge. Did you know that was a real bridge?” Lifting his feet off the ground, Owen laid his head back and watched the leaves, branches and sky above him become a kaleidoscope, as the twisted ropes scurried to right themselves, spinning him around and around.
Donny waited until the swing was still, then asked,“We got bridges all over the place here. How come he wanted to see that one? ”
”I guess 'cause he likes bridges. That's why he's an 'arkiteck'. Uncle Ben said that a few years ago, the mayor of London drove a flock of sheep across that bridge.”
Donny looked closely at his friend. “How did he drive sheep?”
“I don't know. I saw a rodeo on TV once, and little cowboy kids rode some sheep. Maybe when they grow up, they're allowed to do that on this bridge. Maybe cars aren't allowed. Maybe it's just for riding sheep.”
Both boys fell silent as they thought about the strange bridge.
“And he went to see my daddy's Uncle Ben, 'cause he's his uncle, too.”
“That's funny. You have an Uncle Ben, and your daddy and uncle have one, too?”
“Yep. But their Uncle Ben is real old now.”
“Owen, I don't see his car? Didn't he drive?”
“No. Mommy said when you cross the big pond, you can't drive, you have to fly.” Owen's forehead wrinkled as he thought about that. “But there's a really big pond at the park and I can ride my bike around that.”
“Maybe your uncle can't ride a bike.”
Donny sat down on the grass. “I got a book from the library about knights and castles. That story was in England. Does your daddy's Uncle Ben live in a castle?”
“I don't think so, but maybe in a tower. Uncle Ben showed Daddy a picture and said it was the Tower of Big Ben.” Owen climbed out of the tire swing and sat on the ground with Donny.
“Is your old Uncle Ben big?”
“Maybe. Uncle Ben and Daddy are real tall. Uncle Ben always calls Daddy 'Tall Tom', and Daddy calls him 'Big Ben'.”
Both boys got quiet for a minute. Donny pulled up a handful of grass and sifted it through his fingers, then turned his head to look at his friend. “How come you're not inside with everyone else?”
“Oh, they're all talking about someone named Jeannie Ollogy. I don't know her. She might be my aunt, though, 'cause Uncle Ben had some pictures that Daddy's Uncle Ben gave him. He said they were all our aunt's Esther's.”
“Who's your aunt's Esther?”
Owens confusion was clear in the expression on his face. “I guess she's my cousin, but the pictures look really old – even older than Daddy's Grammy looks.”
Donny shook his head. “Wow. No wonder you were out here thinkin'.”
“And that's not all. Uncle Ben says we have a Family tree.” Owen looked above at the only tree in his yard. “I think that must be in England, though, 'cause we only have this oak tree.”
“We have a Maple tree and a Cherry tree, but I don't know what a Family tree looks like. Do you?”
“Nope. I asked Uncle Ben and he said it has all our family members in it. So I think they must live in a tree house … except for Daddy's Uncle Ben, I guess.” Owen picked up a small twig from the grass and broke it into little pieces, then flicked them away with his finger.
“And wait 'til you hear this … one of them is named Marmaduke!”
“Marmaduke? Like the dog in the comic strip?”
“Maybe. That's the only Marmaduke I know of. Maybe there's a dog tree house in that tree, too.”
After peering up at the branches over his head, Donny said with wonder, “That must be a big tree, huh?”
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