Posts : 8723
Join date : 2013-08-24
|Subject: Stalk Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:57 am|| |
Time for the August challenge, and it's your chance to give us all your best take on the prompt
That can be the supporting part of a plant, someone or something creeping up, hunting, or a gait; not to mention any other take your clever minds can come up with.
Don't forget to comment on last month's stories before moving on to August, as comments are the only thanks our writers get.
Posts : 834
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 45
|Subject: Re: Stalk Mon Aug 31, 2020 9:18 pm|| |
A robin sang its sweet song on the morn of a bright, late summer’s day. Not yet too hot, its warbling added to nature’s chorus—the chatter of squirrels darting to and fro, the croak of frogs on lily pads in the pond nearby, a soft breeze rustling leaves dry from too little rain.
Into this tableau appeared two young boys, approaching with a slow and quiet tiptoe so as not to disturb. Growing up in a country setting, the natural education taught by their elders included silence so as not to scatter game. However, being too young for gun handling just yet, their weapons of choice this day were the slingshots in their back pockets. The taller boy put out an arm to slow the advance of the second, then took careful aim and let a rock fly. The robin beat the missile and flew away, unscathed.
Jed, the younger of the two, spoke, his eyes wide. “Han, you cursed!”
Han muttered, “Sorry.”
“But you ain’t supposed to!” Jed insisted.
“I said I was sorry, didn’t I? Besides, we’re playing grown-ups and no one’ll know unless you go telling.”
Feeling accused, the younger boy scrunched up his nose. “I don’t tattle!”
“I know. Just making sure.” Han reached into his pocket and scowled. “Damn, that was my last rock.”
Jed checked his pockets as well. “Me too.”
The quietude of their stalking gone, they scoured the ground for pebbles to fit the slings, choosing and discarding several. Their pockets filled, they set out yet again.
Jed frowned. “Where are we goin’? There’s frogs and squirrels right here.”
Han shook his head. “We’re scaring them all away so we’ll have to find another place.” He thought a moment. “Let’s try that grove of trees down by the railroad tracks the other side of the hill. Should be lots of squirrels there and they make easier targets.”
The younger boy sighed but acquiesced. “Okay.”
A half hour later, their destination in sight, Han once again jutted out an arm to halt their advance. He pointed ahead and brought a finger to his lips to order silence. As he had suspected, a colony of squirrels tended to their tasks of gathering black walnuts in preparation for winter storage. Stock-still, the boys watched as the furry creatures gnawed at the fuzzy green shells to reveal the prizes inside. Leading by tiptoe, Han reached into his pocket and prepared a rock dead center of the sling. Taking careful aim at a squirrel on the ground busy at its industry, Han shot it just as a whistle shrilled in the distance. The squirrel pricked its ears and scattered into the trees along with the rest, the dropped walnut skittering as Han’s missile found its target.
The older boy stamped a foot in disgust. “Damn! I woulda hit it!”
Jed shrugged. “It was kinda close.”
Han could not believe his cousin’s uncertainty. “Kinda close? I’m telling ya, I woulda hit it!”
“Maybe, but we’da had better luck with fishin’, like I wanted to.”
“We always go fishing, and it was my turn to pick,” Han shot back with a glare.
Jed saw the look. “We always do what you wanna do,” he replied quietly and turned to walk away.
Han shouted at him, “You don’t have to be a baby!”
Jed yelled back over his shoulder. “I ain’t a baby!”
“You’re acting like one!”
“No, I ain’t! You’re bein’ all bossy!”
Han would have none of it. He shouted back, “I’m older and supposed to be watching out for you! It’s just that if anything happened to ya, your pa would have my hide!”
Jed ignored this last salvo and kept walking.
Han watched him. This was not the way it was supposed to be. After all, they were supposed to be having fun on this beautiful day, one of the last before school started. Then the drudgery of school work and chores would fill their time, and it would be fun only on Saturday and maybe Sunday after church. Yes, Jed had wanted to go fishing, but Han was at an age where he wanted to do the things his elders did but was still considered too young, so playing at grown-up pursuits was the best he could do right now. And being able to teach his younger cousin also gave him opportunity to show off a little. Of course, making a contribution to the family’s dinner table would, he thought, show his pa just how grown up he was. Jed reasoned they accomplished that with fishing, but Han’s arguments won out, as they seemed to do most of the time. Jed looked up to him, sure, but perhaps he had gone too far. Finally, he ran after the younger boy.
“Jed, wait up!”
Jed did not reply or slow down, but Han’s longer legs had him caught up in a short time. He went ahead to stop Jed in his tracks.
Jed spoke with some authority. “Get outta my way before I slug ya.”
Han laughed. “No you won’t. I always win when we wrestle.”
Jed shrugged. “I’ll beat ya when I’m bigger.” He went around Han and continued his trek.
The older boy again got ahead and both stopped. “You wanna wrestle now?”
“Uh uh.” Jed started walking again.
Han was puzzled. Always able to sway Jed and make him laugh, his mind raced. How could he broker this to both their satisfaction? Brightening, he got ahead once more.
“Jed, wanna watch the train? You always like doing that.”
The younger boy thought a moment and a small smile broke his lips. “Okay.”
They ran back from whence they had come and seated themselves a safe distance from the tracks. The whistle shrilled louder and the chugging closed in on them. A hulk of a locomotive bore down and whizzed right past them. Two passenger cars and a caboose followed in its wake. Just as fast as it had come, it was gone, hurtling down the tracks to its next destination.
Jed frowned. “I’m goin’ home.” With that, he got up and started walking, not waiting for Han.
As before, Han ran to catch up. “What’s the matter now? We saw the train.”
Jed answered without breaking stride. “It was the wrong one.”
Han’s incredulity showed in his voice. “What do you mean, the wrong one? It was a train.”
Jed stopped and looked Han in the eye, his frustration on full display. “It didn’t have all the freight cars. They’re fun. The short ones ain’t.” He paused for a second. “I wanted to have fun and I’m not so I’m goin’ home and help my ma.”
Han smirked. “That’s no fun, either. All she’ll do is boss you around and you’re complaining I’m bossy.”
“But she’s a grown-up and you ain’t.” Jed broke eye contact with Han and went on.
The older boy stood, stunned. His younger cousin always looked up to him, rarely ever challenging him, always content to do whatever Han wanted. Or, at least, it seemed that way to Han. But Han was the elder, so shouldn’t it be that way? They were both aware the carefree days of summer were growing short, and Jed disliked school starting up more than Han, although both were bright and did well in their studies. It was just hard getting back into the grind of study and chores, chores and study, with but two days off—one of which meant dressing in Sunday best for church services, so really only one, and even that day had chores to be done.
Han watched after Jed. He did not like feeling rejected, but who did? Hmm, how to fix this?
He called as he ran to catch up, “Jed, do you wanna go fishing?”
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything. ~ Wyatt Earp