A Strange Day in July

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The sizzling asphalt was beginning to melt in the afternoon sun. It was the hottest time of year, so Tom and his sister went on a stroll. He recently turned thirteen, and his parents granted him with more responsibilities; especially regarding his sister. They expected him to babysit Wendy more often, without pay, spend a lot of time with her, and even help her with her second grade math homework.
“Where are we walking?” asked Wendy.
“I’m not sure yet. Would you like to go skip some rocks?” There was a glistening stream about one mile from their cottage in Butterforks, Wisconsin.
“But we always do that.”
“Wendy, you love skipping rocks, remember? We both love to.”
“Oh yeah! Let’s go to the stream,” she said, always agreeing with her brother.
On their way there, Wendy caught a glimpse of shadow. It clearly had four legs, a fairly smooth back, and a head too big for its body. “Hey, look at that, Tom!” she said, pointing at it. “It looks like a monkey and snail!”
“How is that even possible? Besides, I don’t see anything out there. Stop letting your imagination goes berserk.”
“You didn’t even look!” she yelled and started chasing after what she saw. Tom was forced to keep up with her because he was in charge. He knew that if he lost track of her, he would be stuck inside doing chores for the remainder of his life. Since she was always loaded up with energy, he couldn’t keep up.
“Wendy! Slow down and get back here right now!”
She was too distracted by the silhouette moving steadily from one tree to the next to even answer him. She wouldn’t give up either, because she was too curious to discover what kind of creature was out there. Tom started gaining speed on Wendy, still trying to convince her to come back before it got dark.
“Wendy! Please stop running! We’ve been gone over two hours now, so the sun’s going to set soon. I don’t want to get lost in the dark and I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be lost in the woods either!” Wendy was scared of the dark, so of course she finally stopped. But, because she stopped so suddenly, and Tom was right behind her, he crashed into her back.
“Ouch?” Wendy said, hinting for an apology.
“Well, why did you choose to stop so soon this time I asked, and not any other time?” he said. She stood there, pointing. Right in front of them was a stream, but not the one they were looking for. What the-, Tom thought, I’ve never even seen this stream before. Where does it lead to and where did it come from? And where the heck are we? It was a mucky one; surrounded by invasive weeds and buzzing mosquitoes.

“Where did it go? Where did it go?” Wendy kept repeating, as she lost track of the shadow.
“Is that stupid shadow all you care about?”
“Where did it go?”
“Wendy! C’mon, we’re lost. You’ve got to help me find the way back.”
“Well, what’s in it for m-” Splash. They looked in the stream, only to see that same shadow.
“What is that?” Tom said, finally believing Wendy. It was the oddest looking thing that either of them had ever lay eyes on. They couldn’t figure out what it was; just a blackish, medium size, smooth animal. “That is too big to be a monkey, and way too small for a snail,” said Tom.
“That’s why it’s both!”
“Wendy, that’s not even possible. You’re so stupid.”
“No you are! You’re a dumb butt, Tom. Mom even said so when you weren’t home one day.”
“I doubt that. I’m just saying that it isn’t possible to be a mix between a monkey and a snail.”
“Why is that not possible? It obviously is, because it’s right there. Right there in the muddy water. I saw it with my own two eyes.”

It was starting to get darker by the minute, and Tom was already sick of the pointless argument. Being the older and more responsible child, he said it was time to head back home. They chose to follow the murky water, hoping it would lead them to the stream they were initially looking for. That way, they could find their way to their cottage.

“Are we there yet?”
“No, Wendy, we aren’t. Does it look like we are?” Tom was frustrated with her. He couldn’t stop thinking about how much trouble he would be in if they didn’t get home before it was pitch black.
Eventually, the waters connected and they were at the sparkling stream again. Beneath them was a pile of rocks. Not just any rocks, though. They were the most perfect-shaped rocks to skip that Tom had ever seen: smooth, thin, and completely flat on one side. He couldn’t resist but to pick up the three of the best-looking ones.
“I thought we had to get home,” Wendy said.
“We will get home; just give me a few minutes. We came here to skip rocks, so that’s what I’m going to do. The first one skipped once, followed by an obnoxious grumbling noise. “Are you hungry, Wendy?”
“No, that was your stomach!”
“No, it definitely wasn’t. It was yours.” They both heard the noise again, but this time they found out it was coming from the water. The encountered the shadow, once again, and it was swimming around now.
“Tom, do you think it’s following us because we followed it? Do you think it’s mad at us and wants to eat us?”
“No, I do not think it’s following us. Don’t worry about it. And it is definitely not going to eat us.” Tom tossed the second stone in, hoping to scare it away. Instead, the rock clunked on top of the figure, making it come to the surface of the water for its first appearance. “Is it just me, or does it have a black shell?”
“I think I noticed that too, but I’m not sure,” said Wendy.
It’s probably just a turtle, Tom thought to himself, so why are we still worrying about it? He decided to skip the third stone, but with strategy this time. He purposely made it stay close to him, so he could get a better look. When it came out of the water again, they both fell to their hands and knees and burst into laughter.
“Why were we scared of that? It’s a turtle! And he just happens to have a black shell. He has a smooth back like a snail, and is on the larger side, like a monkey I guess, but I can’t believe I thought it was either of those!”
“Wendy, I wasn’t scared. You were the one who thought that it was going to eat you!”
“Well, it seemed like it moved really fast! But I guess I was wrong. Maybe these woods just freak me out a bit.”
“Yeah, maybe.” And with that, the two of them said their goodbyes to the turtle and followed the stream home until they arrived safely.
“Just on time for dinner, kids. I thought you would be back a bit earlier, but oh well. How was the walk?” said their mom.





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