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The Innocence of Summer: Chapter 1

Three boys meet a new friend while fishing and together they make a mysterious discovery.

By Austin Blessing-Nelson (Blessing)Published 10 months ago 10 min read
The Innocence of Summer: Chapter 1
Photo by Thomas Griesbeck on Unsplash

"Wait for me!" Paul yelled, trying to get his companions to slow down.

"Hurry up!" Brad teasingly shouted back to his younger brother.

"Hey, it's not easy running with these fishing poles and your tackle box," Paul whined, "Why do I have to carry them all again?"

"I told you if you wanted to come with us, you had to carry our stuff," Brad sternly replied. Brad didn't hate Paul by any means, but rather found him annoying in the stereotypical way that older siblings view younger siblings that they are forced to spend time with.

Brad's best friend Ralph chimed in. "Besides," he said, "it's not much further to the pond."

"Ok," Paul said acceptingly, "But can you two at least help me carry this stuff home?"

"Maybe," Brad said, "But come on and hurry up, we don't want all the fish t0 get away!" He was acting tough, but he knew he would likely have to help his brother carry the stuff home. Partially because he was nice, and partially because he didn’t want his mom to see that he made Paul carry everything. He would definitely get punished for that, or at least scolded.

Paul nodded in agreement and acceptance before running as fast as his ten-year-old legs could carry him in order to catch up to his companions, who were both twelve.

The three boys were on their way to a large pond somewhat close to their homes. Well, more accurately it was probably a small lake, but everyone called it a pond. This was a spot where these boys, and most the other children in the neighborhood, would often go to swim, fish, catch frogs, and, in the winter, ice skate and play hockey. Families would also go there to have picnics.

After a few more minutes of walking, the boys arrived at the pond, pleased to find that they were the only ones there.

"See," boasted Ralph, "I told you that if we came early enough we would beat all the other kids and the picnicking families with annoying small children!"

"We better get a ton of fish to make up for me getting up at 7 on a Saturday!" Brad replied in that tone that kids of this age use when they want to sound tough.

"Oh what, do you need your beauty sleep?" teased Ralph.

"Oh shut up!" Brad snapped back.

"On second thought, someone as ugly as you probably needs all the beauty sleep they can get."

Brad clenched his fists and growled at Ralph, who responded by sticking his tongue out.

Paul, full of the inexplicable energy that kids have, said "Knock it off you two! Let's fish." He used a tone that was designed to convey authority, but which just came off as whiny due to his age and high-pitched voice.

Brad shot an annoyed look at Paul, slightly upset that his younger brother was trying to tell him what to do. But, recognizing that Paul was right, he said, "You're right, we don't want to waste time! If we wait too long on a nice day like this, half the neighborhood will show up!"

"Good point," Ralph said, "Paul, let me help you with those poles."

"No," Paul said trying to act like he didn't need help to impress the older boys, "I got them." Paul, struggling slightly, managed to walk the rods and tackle box over to the pond-side picnic table and hoist them onto it. He deposited them onto the table breathing a sigh of relief.

“Ok,” Ralph said, “let’s get the rods ready and get fishing!” He was getting antsy and was ready to fish.

“Here let me help you,” said Brad as he ran over to help Ralph get the rods ready.

Paul chimed in, “Hey, I want to help too!”

Brad, out of sight of Paul, rolled his eyes slightly, before handing Paul a little bucket and a garden trowel. “Sure! Can you go find us some worms?”

Paul excitedly nodded and grabbed the tools from his brother.

“There’s some good dirt over there,” Brad added while pointing to a nearby spot by some bushes. “You should be able to find plenty of worms.”

Paul eagerly ran off to complete his task. Paul quickly reached the spot and plopped down in the dirt to get to work. He began scooping up shovelfuls of dirt and picking out the worms and dropping them in the bucket. As he worked, he could hear the sounds of his companions chatting and joking amongst themselves. Before long, he had placed about thirty good sized worms in the bucket. “This should be enough to start,” Paul said to himself as he started to stand up. As he started to walk back towards Brad and Ralph, he noticed someone walking down the hill towards them. The person looked to be a girl around Paul’s age. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt, and was carrying a tackle box and a fishing pole.

Paul ran back to his companions and put the bucket on the ground next to the table. Ralph glanced into the bucket and said, “Nice job!”

Paul motioned with his head towards the direction of the girl. They all turned to look at her. Even though they knew almost every kid in the area, they did not recognize her. Before long, the girl got within thirty feet of the boys. While still walking towards them, she happily exclaimed, “Hey, I didn’t expect anyone else to be down here so early! Do you mind if I join you? I promise not to catch all the fish.”

The boys, particularly the older two, were not super excited to have to fish alongside someone else, especially a girl. But they knew there wasn’t much they could do. It was a public pond after all, and they didn’t want her to go crying to her parents and get them in trouble.

After a few moments, Ralph broke the silence. “Umm sure, I guess. By the way, are you new around here? I don’t think I’ve seen you around the neighborhood before”

“Oh ya,” the girl responded, “where are my manners? I’m Anna, I’m eleven, and my parents and I just moved into that house last week.” She pointed to a house up the road a short distance. “What are your names?”

“I’m Ralph.”

“I’m Brad, and this is my brother.”

“I’m Paul, nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you all!” Anna replied in a very friendly tone, “Do y’all fish here often?”

Brad, still leery of Anna, responded, “Yes, we do. Do you fish a lot?”

“All the time! My dad taught me how when I was only four,” she said cheerfully. “I’m an only child so he takes me fishing and to sports games all the time! He says when I’m a bit older he will take me duck hunting, too.”

Paul exclaimed, “Wow, that’s so cool! Not many girls around here like to fish. You should hang out with us more! ”

Ralph and Brad both discreetly shot Paul annoyed looks. They thought Anna was friendly enough, but she also seemed a little weird. Paul seemed to like her though.

“Definitely!” Anna replied, “But for now, let’s do some fishin’.”

The older boys nodded in agreeance. The four children then finished getting their rods ready. The boys even lent Anna a worm. A few moments later, they were all ready to begin fishing and together they all walked towards the dock. It was an older wooden dock that was kept decently maintained, but that definitely showed the fact that it had been here for many years. It was sturdy enough, but the paint was fading and chipping and some of the boards were splintering a little. The water looked cool and refreshing. Maybe after fishing, they would go swimming.

“Ok,” Ralph excitedly said, “let’s see who can catch a fish first!”

“Oh it’s definitely going to be me!” Boasted Brad.

“Nuh-uh, I will win!” Said Paul.

“I guarantee I will catch a fish before any of you boys!” Said Anna.

“You are all on!” Said Ralph as he casted his line. The others followed suit and casted their lines as well.

The group idly chatted about sports, life, and fishing while they fished. After about half an hour with no one having any luck, there finally came a tug at Paul’s line.

“Hey,” the youngest of the group excitedly exclaimed, “I think I got something!” Paul began quickly but carefully reeling in his line while the others cheered him on, with slight hints of jealousy in their voices. After a few moments, Paul pulled up a decent sized Bluegill.

“Nice catch!” Said Anna.

“Good job!” Said Brad congratulating his brother, “I can’t believe you got one first though.”

“Not bad,” said Ralph, “but my first one will be twice that size!”

“Thank you!” Said Paul as he started getting the fish off the hook, “And nuh-uh, I bet this is the largest one today!”

“We will see about that!” Said Brad. Brad definitely wanted to best his brother.

Paul didn’t say anything in reply, rather he just smiled as he released the fish back into the pond. He was having a fun time with Brad, Ralph, and their new friend. The four went back to fishing.

“I bet I catch the next one!” Exclaimed Anna.

“Nope, it’s my turn,” replied Brad.

“No way, next two are mine!” Said Ralph.

“Maybe I will be the only one to catch anything today,” said Paul.

“There better be more fish out today!” Said Ralph.

“I agree, but I’m catching them all!” Replied Paul.

“Hey, don’t get cocky,” laughed Brad.

The children went back to fishing. Over the next couple of hours, they had a little bit of success and each caught a single fish, but the fish were relative quiet. As the sun continued to rise in the sky, Paul was glancing out at the pond preparing to cast his line once more. Suddenly, something caught his eye and made him pause. He squinted to get a better look.

“Hey, what’s that?” Paul exclaimed. As he said this, he pointed to a slightly shiny object at the bottom of the pond. It was towards the middle of the pond, and was just barely visible through the water. In fact, the only reason it could be seen was the light was shining just right. But even so, without luck, he would have never noticed it.

“What’s what?” Questioned Ralph.

“I see a shiny object at the bottom of the pond.”

The others turned their attention from fishing to stare at where Paul was pointing.

“I don’t see anything,” said Ralph.

“Me either,” said Brad, “I think you’re seeing things.”

“I think I see it too!” Exclaimed Anna.

“See! I told you,” Paul said.

“Well, in that case, Paul, why don’t you go get it?” Brad dared.

“Why don’t you get it?” Paul chimed back.

“You spotted it, you get it,” Brad retorted.

“Besides, we don’t know where it is,” added Ralph.

“Come on Paul, you can do it,” said Anna reassuringly.

Paul, succumbing both to peer pressure and his own curiosity to know what the strange object was, removed his shirt and set it down on the dock. He took off his shoes, and then removed his socks and placed them in his shoes. Now wearing only his gym shorts, he sat on the edge of and carefully lowered himself into the water.

The water was colder than the air, but after taking a moment to adjust, Paul found it refreshing. He paddled himself to the middle of the pond to roughly where he thought the object was. Once he reached the spot he thought it was at, he took a deep breath and dove down. He quickly swam approximately ten feet straight down. On his way down, he spotted many of the fish that had been eluding them that morning.

He began circling the area looking for the object. Fortunately, the water was pretty clear and visibility was good. After a few moments, Paul spotted the object, which appeared to be mostly buried under the dirt with only a large corner visible. It was truly a miracle that he was able to spot it. Paul quickly worked on uncovering it, but soon ran out of breath and returned to the surface empty handed. He barely broke the surface of the water when Brad shouted, “Did you find it?”

Paul, trying to catch his breath, shouted, “Yes, but it’s buried. I’m going back down to get it.” Paul took a deep breath and dove back down. He quickly relocated the object and hurriedly uncovered it. Before long, he had uncovered a medium sized metal lock box. He tried to lift it, but it was too heavy for him to carry while swimming. He let go of the box and swam back up.

Once back on the surface he took a moment to catch his breath then yelled, “Hey Ralph, I got it out of the mud but it’s too heavy to get up alone. Can you come help?”

At first Ralph was reluctant, but he was curious to know what this mysterious thing was. “This better not just be a trick to make me swim!” Yelled Ralph as he removed his shirt and shoes and jumped in. He quickly reached Paul and said, “Ok, where is it?”

“Follow me,” replied the younger boy as he dove down with Ralph following close behind. They quickly found the box, and with a bit of a struggle, got it to the surface and then carried it to shore. Once they reached the dock, the swimmers, with some effort, passed the box to the two kids on the dock. Once his hands were free, Ralph climbed back onto the dock and then reached down to help Paul back up too.

Back on shore, it became clear from the rust that this lock box was quite old and had been underwater for some time. Brad tried opening it, but quickly discovered that it was either locked, rusted shut, or both.

“I wonder what’s inside?” Anna curiously pondered.

“I don’t know,” replied Brad, “but I plan to open it and find out!”


About the Creator

Austin Blessing-Nelson (Blessing)

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  • C.S LEWIS10 months ago

    great job Join my friends and read what I have just prepared for you I am sure you will like it

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