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JUST A LITTLE HIKE
by Richard L. Provencher
6/10/2008 / Short Stories
When Andre awoke he felt something special would happen today. It had nothing to do with baseball, especially since the summer season had not yet begun.
He knew it could not be a snowshoe hike, either. Actually, the snow had almost all melted.
He was such a silly boy, with an overactive imagination.
The sun streaming through his bedroom window promised a nice Spring day. He wondered what new adventures awaited him. Freckles danced and jiggled across his face. His morning smile was wide as the sky.
The phone rang.
"Andre!" His mother called. "Your buddy."
As quickly as a jackrabbit Andre fished on his jeans. Then he climbed into his socks and shoved feet into sneakers.
"Cool!" he shouted, pounding down the stairs. "Michael didn't forget to call."
"What's up hon?" his mother asked, still chewing on her piece of toast.
"Can't eat. We're going on a hike to Victoria Park. Michael says he has a surprise for me."
"Breakfast first, son."
"Mommm. I have to go."
"No! EAT first."
Andre didn't argue any further. Mom towered over him, like a Ninja warrior. "Okay, I give." She looked huge when she was angry. She could even battle a grizzly bear right now, he thought.
Mom's smile turned her into a friendly teddy bear once again. Andre ate his breakfast and scooted outside, then upstairs to his friend's apartment.
"Let's climb Victoria Park Falls," Michael said, an impish grin on his face.
Andre tried climbing the rocks once before. But, that was last year's hot summer when the water barely trickled over rocks.
After mom found out, she gave strict orders. "No more climbing."
"Let's not," Andre said. He wasn't a chicken, either.
"You coming or not?" Michael said, making it sound more like a dare. "At least, let's hang out in the park."
Both boys were nine years old and best friends. "Yeh, cool. Let's do it," Andre answered.
Last night's rain had left puddles in different spots. But the sun was drying them up quickly.
Can't get my new sneakers dirty, Andre thought. Mom would roast me if she found out where I was. She'd have a royal scream.
However, it didn't take long to get sneakers wet and muddy. The trail they followed was full of mucky ruts.
Victoria Park on the southerly edge of the town of Truro stretched far ahead. All 400 acres of playground area looked inviting. Andre and Michael had great fun climbing trees and scurrying down ravines.
They even walked their soggy sneakers through the creek.
"Hey look!" Andre yelled. "Someone lost a fishing bobber." He rolled up his pants and waded deeper into the water.
"Neato," Michael said. "Can I see it?" He grabbed it with a quick hand. "Can't catch me," he yelled back.
"Give it back!" Andre demanded.
"Catch me first," Michael said, heading across the playground to the woods.
Both boys played hide and seek for the next ten minutes. Finally Andre was able to lunge at Michael and pull him down.
"Ow. That hurt."
"Sorry," Andre said as he snatched back his red and white prize.
"No fair, you tripped me."
This part of the hike was getting boring. They continued on one of the hiking trails until they reached the Falls. Standing below the tumbling water, they noticed patches of snow still clinging to moist rocks.
"Ready to climb?" Michael asked.
"Not me," Andre answered. "Too much water coming down the rocks." Both boys stared as water foamed over the waterfall.
That didn't stop Michael from heading to the lower rocks. Andre hesitated, then followed, hoping to convince his friend to change his mind.
He watched quietly as Michael climbed higher. "Looks slippery," Andre said from below.
"Nah, don't be a little baby. Come on."
And Andre did, at least for the first few feet. Then his foot slipped and he landed seat first in the bottom pool of water. Being wet from the waist down was not funny. He decided this was enough for him, remembering mom's little talk.
"Giving up?" Michael asked.
"Nah. And you shouldn't climb any higher either. You might fall."
Later on Andre wished he hadn't said that, because Michael did climb some more. It was almost like he was answering a dare from his friend.
At first Michael's feet found good stepping stones. He was able to climb about fifteen feet up the side of the waterfall. Then he slipped and fell.
His arms flapped like a raven. Except, he wasn't one. Then his body tumbled along with the watery Falls heading below. His face grazed a few rocks on the way down.
Good thing there was a pool of water to break his fall.
At first Andre couldn't move. Then he was off like greased lightning. His wet sneakers sizzled like a runaway train. Andre waded into the water, grabbed his friend's arm and pulled him to shore.
Michael's face was red as if he had splashed paint on it.
"It's blood!" Andre screamed. "You're all bloody."
Luckily a neighbor was walking nearby. He rushed over to the boys after hearing their yelling.
It was a nightmare for Andre running behind his friend. The man carried the bleeding Michael over to his car then drove him to the Colchester Regional Hospital.
That night beside Michael's hospital bed, Andre watched his friend carefully. He had been so worried. Both mom's had hurried over to the hospital when they first received a phone call from the man.
Michael now lay quietly and tried to smile. One side of his face was badly swollen, as well as black and blue. Stitches crisscrossed his left cheek. And his eye was swollen shut.
"You look like a pirate," Andre said.
Michael gave his mother a crooked smile. He could barely move his lips to mumble, "I won't do that again."
Andre and his own mom were happy to hear Michael would be alright. However, the doctor said he had to remain overnight.
"Hey buddy." Michael said. "Get me a pop sickle."
"Cool," answered Andre. Now he knew his friend was going to be just fine.
* * *
Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.
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