Puddle Jumpers

©2010 by S.A. Hussey
Not to be posted or reprinted without permission of the author.

“Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day.” It was a lilting song the two young girl’s half sang-half chanted as they skipped through the wet field by the elementary school. A slight mist fell but their mother’s dressed them in red and yellow knee-high puddle boots and matching rain jackets as if they almost expected the young girls to get caught in a downpour. The girls giggled as they held hands and merrily continued their sing-song that is until they came to the fence that separated the school from the woods. Both girls stopped.

“What do ya think?” Amy asked smiling mischievously at her friend. “You want to go check it out?”

Lily stared into the dark woods and her stomach did nervous little flip flops at the thought of going in there. It was against the rules, everybody knew that. Bad things happened in there. Children would go in but never came out. At least that’s what Marty the fifth grader had told them when Amy asked why no one ever played in there. Marty was the bravest boy she knew and even he didn’t go in there. She looked at her friend Amy and shook her head no. “I’m not going in there. You know what happens and besides it’s against the rules.”

“Rules schmooze. I don’t believe what they say anyways. It’s just a story the grown-ups told kids to ruin our fun,” Amy said as she climbed over the fence. “Come with me. We’ll just go check it out. We won’t go near it or anything.”

“Amy come on…get back over here, if anyone sees you we’ll get in big trouble.” She watched as Amy started tromping into the woods. “Amy. Please,” she pleaded as she looked around to see if anyone saw her go in.

“You know what Lily, you’re a chicken. Bwak bwak.”

“Am not. I just…I just,” she stopped and looked down at her feet. The tears were welling up inside. Everyone made fun of her and now her one and only friend was too. Perhaps she should just go with Amy, prove to her and everyone that she wasn’t a chicken. Maybe Amy was right. Adults were always making stuff up to keep them from having fun. She looked at her friend leaning against the tree. Amy was new to the area and she liked her. They were bestest friends and didn’t bestest friends do everything together. “Hold up, I’ll go with you.”

~ ~ ~

The woods weren’t that big. It was just an area on a small hill covered with trees. The place they were looking for was located just at the incline of the hill, about a five minute walk from the fence they had just climbed over. Lily hoped they wouldn’t find it; that it was just like Amy said, ‘a made up story’. But when they reached the area where the hill started Lily stopped short and her mouth dropped open. No, the story couldn’t possibly be true.

“Amy let’s go back now.” The pancakes and bacon she had for breakfast were churning in her nervous stomach. She tugged on Amy’s jacket and gave her a pleading look. “Please. Let’s go back.”

“In a minute, I want to check this thing out.” Amy walked towards the hill’s incline but her eyes were fixed on the ground ahead of her. “It’s not much to look at. I expected it to be bigger.”

“Come on…let’s go.” Her stomach really hurt now. Why did she come with her, Lily wondered? Oh yeah-bestest friends. They were going to be in serious trouble. “I’m leaving.”

“So leave then you big baby.” Amy retorted.

Lily was afraid, part of her wanted to stay for her friend but the other half…she swallowed hard as she looked at the glistening black spot on the ground. If she left now she could make it back to school and no one would be the wiser. If Amy wanted to make fun of her like the rest of them did, then let her. She wasn’t about to become another name added to the list of missing children. “I’m leaving,” she said again. Amy didn’t even answer her; she was too busy staring at the spot. When she watched her friend pick up the small rock, she turned and ran. It was a cowardly thing to do but her nervousness got the best of her stomach. She was going to throw up and she didn’t want to do that in front of her friend.

Amy stared hypnotically at the spot. She was fascinated. How could something so small do what everyone said it did? With a quick toss, the rock she had just held in her hand, landed in the middle of the spot. Small ripples danced across its dark surface. The rock protruded out of the inky blackness. Breaking a branch off a nearby tree she moved in closer to the spot. Crouched low, she moved the branch over the black liquid then up and down. A smile crept over her face then she laughed. Stupid kids and their made-up stories, it’s just a puddle. Idiots, wait til she told Lily it was just a dumb story. A puddle, she thought giggling. It’s going to eat me. Yeah right.

It was big enough for her to stand in if she wanted to, and judging by the protruding rock she threw on it – the water would only come up to her ankles. So how would it eat her? What did Marty say? Oh yeah ‘that all the kids jumped over it and the spot ate them’. Ok Marty, I’ll prove you wrong, she thought backing up a foot. It’s a stupid puddle. How’s it going to do that? She ran and jumped over it. Turning around she snickered. Marty is so dumb. Running again she jumped over it and landed on the other side. Yep the story is lame, just what she thought. Ok one more puddle jump and then it’s off to school. She took two steps then turned around and ran without thinking. Had she stopped before running she would’ve seen that the puddle had grown much bigger and the protruding rock she had thrown earlier had now disappeared – like she did when she landed in the middle of the inky blackness just as the puddle came alive and swallowed her whole.

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