Friday, January 29, 2010

Chapter XV. Consequences


C2004 By Gracie Prior


Butch reached Mary first. He knew that the water would be freezing. Mary reached out to grab the rail and he was able to pull her up and out of the pond. She was soaking wet from above her waist down. Together they got past the cement outcropping and onto the bank of the pond. Butch took his jacket off and wrapped Mary in it. He whistled at the line of skaters. Terry was coming toward them already. Jimmy was walking carefully on his skates across the ice to meet them.

"We saw you, Mary," Jimmy said. "We saw you go down. "Are you all right?"

"No, I'm freezing," Mary said.

"All we can do is get her home as quickly as possible," Butch said. So the four of them walked to where their shoes were and changed. Terry took Mary's skates. Butch and Terry tried to carry her.

"Put me down. I'm not a baby," she said. "Let's just go fast." So they walked briskly to Mary's house. Along the way, the boys shared jackets so Butch wouldn't be too cold.

As they approached Mary's house, Butch saw Mary's dad come out to meet them. "We're in for it now," Butch said under his breath. Mary was hurried inside. The boys were invited in.

"Will you fellows wait here while I look after Mary? I'd like to talk to you," the dad said.

The boys rolled their eyes at each other. There were no seats in the hall so they stood. Mary and her dad went upstairs.

* * *

Butch and the boys could hear doors slamming and water running. Mary's mom came down and was wringing her hands. "Hello boys," she said and went to a linen closet and took out two fluffy white towels. She hurried back upstairs and Mary's dad came down.

He looked at them and said, "Mary is getting a hot bath. Thank you for bringing her home. He handed the coat to Jimmy. "I just got a bit of the story but her mom can help better than I can upstairs. Will you fill me in on the details?"

Butch moved uncomfortably from one foot to the other. "Well," Butch started, "I was just going to the curbside for a short cut, to join the crack the whip. Mary was behind me..."

"Just a minute." Mr. Brewster said. "Come in here won't you and be comfortable." He led them to the kitchen, poured some milk and they sat down. "Now try again."

Butch again told the story of how Mary went to the cement outcropping, he didn't know why. "Then she fell in ," he finished.

"That's all I know," Jimmy said. "I was learning to skate when I saw her go in ."

"I was coming around the corner of the line when I saw her," Terry said. "We're awful sorry. Maybe we shouldn't have gone today."

"No, most of the ice was just fine. Mary disobeyed her mother, and now you boys have to go home early, and you are freezing. "I'll give you a ride home."

"No, that's O.K.," Terry said. "We live real close."

"I know. You are the Scribers or something, aren't you?"

"Yes, the Scribblers, Sir," Jimmy said.

"Well, it's nice to finally meet you. Which one of you is Butch?"

"I am," Butch said.

"Well, it looks like your neighbor, Mrs. Frumpstead has been doing some gossip about you and Mary and the clubhouse. What is it you do in there?"

Butch scratched his head, sipped his milk and said, "We write stories, plays, and act out scenes, and sometimes play board games. Stuff like that."

"And that's all yo do?"

"What else is there to do in there? We like writing and we write. Oh, I forgot something." Butch blushed a bit. "We read, too. And sometimes," he said, thinking about his mom,"we run around the clubhouse, for exercise. That's about it."

Jimmy and Terry smiled and nodded.

"Guys, I don't like busybodies. As long as you read and write and the other things, we'll get along just fine. It was nice to meet all of you. Which one is Jimmy?"

"I am, Sir."

"You like knights and castles?"

"Yes, very much."

"Terry," said Mr. Brewster looking right at him. "You are an athlete."

Terry smiled.

"I wasn't worried," Mr. Brewster said. "As far as I'm concerned, Mary has three excellent friends." A door slammed upstairs. "I'll go check on her. You are free to go. And thanks again."

The boys walked down the path to their homes. "That turned out better than I thought," Terry said. "Her parents sure ask a lot of questions."

"Mary must talk about us a lot," Jimmy said.

"Let's just get home, and Jimmy, gimme my coat," Butch said. He felt grumpy. He wondered why his parents never asked about his friends or tried to get to know them.

(Next time - more grief for Mary)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chapter XIV Ice Skating



C 2004 By Gracie Prior

Mary was so excited because her main present from her parents was figure skates. She loved the smell of white leather and the pretty red and black houndstooth checked lining, and most of all, the shiny silver blades. Jimmy got skates for Christmas, too, and Butch and Terry already had hockey skates. They were all going to walk the cold mile to the pond and skate till dinner. Mary wished she had one of those velvet short skating skirts her friend Britta had, buy she cheerfully put on her wool slacks and red sweater. One fancy touch she liked was a white fur earmuff headband. It would be warm and not mess up her hair. She grabbed her skates that were tied together and threw them over her shoulder.

"Mary," Mom called from upstairs. "if you are going skating, be sure to stay away from the far edge of the pond where there is a curb. The ice might be thin there. Go on and off by the shallow end."

"All right, Mom, I will. Good bye," Mary called.

Mary started walking to Jimmy, Butch and Terry's houses. She stopped on Jimmy's porch and called to him. He emerged with bright blue wool pants and a sweater with a reindeer embroidered on it. "Jimmy, hi! I see you have your new skates. Are you ready to go?"

"All set, Snow Princess. You look like Snow White in that."

"Thank you, Jimmy. How nice." Mary and Jimmy walked on to Butch's house. Butch came running out with his skates over his shoulder.

"Let's hurry and get Terry so we'll have more time to skate. I can't wait to get started."

Terry met them and the four winter snowbirds walked over and around puddles and slush and on to Crystal Pond. When they got there, all four sat and laced up their skates. Mary had skated before, but it seemed to be all new to Jimmy. Mary helped him with the laces. Butch and Terry took the lead out onto the ice. Then Jimmy got onto the pond and stood with his legs bowing in and out. Mary waited to make sure he would get the hang of things. He moved out onto the smoother ice and skated a few feet. He did not fall. He looked back at Mary. "See," he said, "Nothing to it." He slipped when he turned his head back and landed on his rump. Mary suppressed a laugh. He got up none the worse except now he had a large wet spot on his pants. Mary came alongside him and held his hand. They skated for awhile and Jimmy said, "You go on Mary, I need to practice a little. Then come back and I'll show you how good I'm doing."

Mary smiled and took off looking for Butch, Terry or Britta. She saw all three of them playing crack the whip. Butch was on the end of a long line of skaters. Mary skated quickly to catch up. With huge effort, she moved up by Butch and grabbed his hand. He looked at her and then the whole line lurched and the last two people were thrown off the whip. Butch and Mary were alone, hand in hand. They were going to catch up when Butch skated off to the curb. "I'm going to take a short cut and reach them on the other end."

Mary started to follow and then remembered what her mother had said. She skated away and looked at the group. They were on the other side of the pond now. She didn't follow Butch, but she was near a place where cement jutted out into the pond and there were rails on top. She was almost there. She thought she could just reach it and climb out and join Butch. As she went to reach out, she glanced at Butch. He was calling something. Sounded like, "Look out, Mary." She heard it but she was so close. Then there was a crack and Mary fell into the cold water below.

(Next time, come back and see what happens to poor Mary. Will she be rescued? What a mess.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chapter XIII. From the Heart


C2004 By Gracie Prior


The Scribblers in Havenword sat wrapped in blankets to keep warm. Each one had a little Christmas present in front of him. Mary was excited because she knew Terry was buying for her and she hoped for jewelry. They were only allowed to spend fifty cents on the gift, still a lot could be found with good searching. Mary's gift was for Jimmy. She bought him a poster of a knight to put in his room that she had found in a bookstore. She smiled because her present was the biggest. The gift in front of Terry was small, maybe something pretty for me, she thought.

"How are we going to do this?" Jimmy asked. "We don't all want to go at once, do we?"

"Let's roll the dice; the high man goes first. Then we'll roll again, and again."

"Good idea, Mary," Butch got up and rummaged in a Yahtze game on the shelf and got a dice. "I'll go first, then we'll go in a circle."

Butch got the highest number, so Jimmy handed him his gift. It was wrapped in tissue paper. Butch unwrapped it and found a hand-carved dog. "It didn't cost fifty cents, but I made it myself. You like it?"

Butch fingered the wood and looked it over. "This is very good, Jimmy. I didn't know you could carve."

"My grandpa showed me how. I've been working on it since I got your name."

The next roll of the dice was for Terry. Butch handed him a long package. It was a bow and arrows. "Wow," Terry said. "I've always wanted to try this. We can use it in our plays, too."

Jimmy was next so Mary handed him the large package. Her mom had it wrapped and it looked very nice. As Jimmy was pulling the papers off, he could see right away the knight's armor and sword. He finished unwrapping and held it up. "For my room. Thank you, Fair Damsel. It will go great next to my castle pictures."

Mary was pleased that Jimmy liked her gift. Terry handed her the gift he bought as if it were special. She opened it and saw...Authors, Authors cards. She was so disappointed she didn't know what to say. Finally she said cheerfully, "Terry, how nice. Louisa Mae Alcott is in here and Dickens and all my favorites. Thank you."

"You're welcome. I knew you loved to read. We can play this in here. Some day I hope to read all the books on those cards. Just to say I did it," he said smiling.

Mary took the cards and held them close. She was touched that Terry had put so much thought into his gift. The present didn't shout, "you're special" the way she wanted it to, but it quietly said, "I notice who you are."

(Next time: a fun winter tale for the Scribblers. See you then, Nancy)

(My thanks to all of you who helped me get these lovely paragraphs in here. The big spaces came when I tried to put in my picture, oops, but I'm happy with the results.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Chapter XII. Tumbling and Turning

C 2004 By Gracie Prior
(Terry has had such problems lately. Let's see if something good may be on the way.)
Terry sat in a tan brocade wing chair with little doilies on the arms, waiting to talk to his dad. He looked up at the swirls in the ceiling. The pattern started in the center in circles and moving around the room, the swirls moved out to their corners. Terry thought paintbrushes had made this pattern, but Mom said it was the plaster that did it. After a time, Terry's dad came slowly into the living room and sat down.
"I didn't hear you last night," Terry said. "Are you doing better?"
Terry's dad rubbed his knees and said, "It wasn't too bad. Didn't have to get up. Maybe that medicine is helping."
"That would be great Dad. I've been thinking. Do you...I mean is there something I can do for you, to make you feel better? Am I too loud, or in the way, or anything?"
Terry's dad smoothed his long black hair back and smiled. "Why Terry, you act like a stranger. Why would you bother me? Your noise doesn't bother me. I've had too many kids for that." He sat thinking. "What can you do? Well, your mom's taking care of me and your brother is helping too, so there isn't much to do. I'll be all right. Just do the best you can in school, so I don't have to worry about you. Is there anything new at school?"
Terry thought for a moment. "Oh, the gym teacher, Mrs. Osgood, wants me to be on a new tumbling team she's starting. We'd practice every night for awhile after school and then she would take us traveling. We'd get out of school. You know how I can turn a cartwheel and do a handspring, and stand on my head? She's working with people like that. But I told her no, I couldn't."
"What would you do a fool thing like that for? I'd have given my consent. Go and tell her you'll do it. You'd like to get out of school wouldn't you? Say, you're not hooked on that neighbor girl, Mary isn't it? You wouldn't do this to be in class with her? You and your friends have gotten awfully chummy with her."
"Awe, Dad." Terry felt himself blush all the way to his forehead. "Dad, really. Mary is just a friend. No, I said no because, well, if you guys need me, I want to be here. Not running around somewhere."
Terry's dad wiped his face with his hands. He coughed. It was not a deep cough. He put his hand out as if to wait. Terry, I want yo to do the tumbling thing. If you want to do it, it would make me proud. Very proud. I'll even come and see you."
Terry walked over to his dad and put his arm around his shoulders and messed up his long hair. He was taking a chance, here, but Dad was smiling and he needed some giggles. "Thanks Dad, I'll tell Mrs. Osgood tomorrow I changed my mind. She'll let me back in. I'm the best on the team."
Terry's dad smoothed his hair back. "Better watch it, Buddy, you're getting pretty cocky." Then he gave him the thumbs up sign and it looked to Terry like he mouthed the word. "Good."
(Next time, presents reveal a lot about the Scribblers.)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chapter XI. Havenword

C 2004 By Gracie Prior
( Welcome back to Fridays. Last time, the Scribblers were beginning to enjoy their new clubhouse, Havenword.)
The Scribblers, first and foremost writers, all have journals or diaries. Terry writes in his:
Dr. Quentin,
It's me, Terry, again. I know it's been a long time since I've put anything down in here, but I have been so busy. Butch had us working on his clubhouse night and day it seemed. Then, Dad has been feeling awful. He coughs almost every night and keeps us up. Not that I care, but it must hurt. The doctor, not you my dear Dr. Quentin, said he needed rest and gave him some medicine. He says his lungs are going, whatever that means, and that's all he can do. Dad just looks so sorry, like he feels it's his fault he's sick. Well, maybe it is, sort of. The doctor said he smoked too much and now his lungs are shot. Who would think? So Dad quit smoking, too. I just want to hug him and make it better, but I can't. See Doc , I'm just a kid, and kids can't do anything. Not one blessed thing. Oops, Mom better not see that. She won't. You're a secret I keep hidden under my bed. Hope you don't mind, Old Man. Well I have to go. I get to go to the store for Mom and get some bread and milk. She's letting me buy bubble gum, but I don't care about that. I just want to do something. Doesn't anybody get it? I am a member of this family, too. And I"m just stuck. Always, Terry
Terry get back from the store in time to catch the Scribblers at the new clubhouse. Havenword was such a wonderful place. Just the four of them could hide out and do their writing, acting, journals, and sharing secrets. Mary had decided they should do as Butch joked and run around the house every day they were meeting. It felt good to get up and they could say they exercised, and it was sort of a private joke. They always came back to the clubhouse refreshed and giggling. It seemed to improve their brains too, because after getting settled again, they came up with great ideas.
Terry lay back on a new canvas lawn chair in the corner. Along one side of the room, Butch and his dad had built bookshelves. Now all their plays could be stored in file boxes. Mary, Butch, and Jimmy sat in straight school chairs at a small table. They were adding to the short one-act play. It was called A Chosen Generation. Mary and Jimmy were just ready to go through a final run with the new additions. Mary's character, Congruent, meets a boy, Aaron, in the desert. He has a lame horse. She skillfully helps shod him and they discover that they are on the same dangerous journey to save the world. After false identities, arguing, and hurried preparations, they mount the horse and head out on The Quest. That is the extent of the play.
"And so, Aaron and Congruent head off toward that bright and shining object in the mountains," Butch reads as narrator. "Good job you two. It's short, but exciting. We'll add one of our old plays we did before you came, Mary, and call it a two-fer. And we'll charge less. Let's all get gung-ho for selling tickets like last time. Mary, can you get your mom to helps us again?"
"Sure, I think so. But I'd like some help. You guys need to go door to door and get people excited. Let's go ask some businesses in town if they will sponsor us. Maybe we could get programs and put adds in for them. My mom, can help with that, too. She's got connections."
"Really?" Butch asked. "You guys just got here."
"She works fast." Mary answered.
"Say, Mary, what does your dad do?"
"Not much, I'm sorry to say, he's a preacher."
"Mary," Jimmy said frowning at her.
"Sorry, I mean he does a lot. We just don't see him much because he's always out."
"Terry, you haven't said much," Butch said looking in the corner.
"Nope, I haven't."
(Next time: Terry gets involved in a new opportunity.)