When Summer Comes Around

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“School’s out! FREEDOM!” Kids were screaming. This is what it’s like on the last day of school. All the 7th graders were pouring out of the science room, and they were all screaming and laughing. My ears were throbbing, and I was about ready to scratch someone! This happens every year, and pretty much every day. But every day it’s not as bad as this; today the students are ten times louder and ten times more excited, because it was the last day of school. All the kids were going downtown, to the pool, and really anywhere but school.

I was glad they were leaving! Every day at about the same time, an enormous group of kids come and try to pick up my brother and me. They just didn’t understand that we didn’t like being held by them. They squeezed us, and I almost always got choked! We always ran away from their gigantic hands, yet they still tried to grab us.

I should probably tell you who we are. My name is Jewel and I am a pet gerbil Actually, I am Mr. Marcks’ pet gerbil. I am four months old, and so is my brother, Michael. So the annoying kids were all running out of the classrooms; screaming and laughing.
. . .
“All right, I know your ears are hurting, and you’re tired, so we’ll go home.” Mr. Marcks took us out of our cages, and put us into our balls, on the ground. I looked into the cage that’s always below us, and I saw something that would scare the living daylights out of a baby gerbil. They were the eyes of a snake. Ooooh! He has always frightened me. Before the kids were permitted to hold us; they would hold the snake, and the snake’s red eyes would always be staring right at us. It looked like it was going to eat us alive! Back to the story, I was looking at the frightening snake, and all of a sudden he lunged for me, and of course, I jumped back. But he was in a glass cage, so he couldn’t get me! Phew!

“All right Jewel and Michael, let’s go home. Actually you two deserve to go exploring throughout the school. Let’s go!” He led us into the hallways, and my brother rolled one way, and I rolled another way. Mr. Marcks got my brother and brought him back over to me. “You both have to go the same way! Sillies!” My brother and I started to walk down the hallway. I went into the math room, and my brother went into the Communication Arts room. I decided I didn’t want my brother to get punished, so I followed him. I liked the Comm. Arts room. I found out that the “owner” of the room was Mrs. Nowicki. She’s a nice lady; she wasn’t like the kids who tried to grab us. She just let us play around the room; she also didn’t stick her face up against our cages. So we were in Mrs. Nowicki’s room, and then the lid of my brother’s ball popped off, and he made a run for it!

“Michael get back here!” Mr. Marcks yelled. Michael scurried under the desks, under the computer, and finally out the door. ‘No! Michael come back! You might get killed!’ I thought, as if he could hear my thoughts. Of course, Mr. Marcks and Mrs. Nowicki chased my brother.

. . .
After what seemed like forever, but was only five minutes, Mr. Marcks and Mrs. Nowicki returned with my squirming brother in Mr. Marcks’ hand. “Michael you know not to do that, unless we’re alone!” I told my brother. “If you try to escape, when the humans are around, you are going to get caught! Don’t you remember me telling you that? Gosh! I’m younger than you and I am still smarter than you!”
“Yes I remember. It’s just that I thought that that might be the last time we are able to escape…for a while.” Michael told me. “Sorry! I’ll try not to do that again!”

“Thank you! Now, this summer, we have to be very good. Be extra nice to Mr. Marcks, and try not to run away. At least not until we get back to school. Deal?”

“Sure, deal. But the first chance we get to escape, I’m taking it! OK?”


“…..Fine!”
. . .
We were finally back at Mr. Marcks’ house. For the whole summer!

“Welcome back Jewel and Michael! Let’s go to your bedrooms. You remember where they are, right?”

‘Of course we do!’ I thought!

Mr. Marcks carried us to our bedroom. We finally got there-it was on the second floor, the last door on the right. It’s a gerbil’s dream room. There was just about every toy a gerbil could want. But the best part was the Giant Ball. It was a giant ball for us to roll in. We could barely make it budge. It was about one foot tall and one foot wide, and it was our favorite colors: blue, green, pink, and yellow! Well, I guess that’s enough about our bedroom.

My brother and I scrambled around the room. Mr. Marcks shut the door and made sure there were no little holes for us to climb through. Then after his inspection, he walked out of the room.

“Wow! This feels so good! I can finally run! This is awesome!” Michael hollered.

“I know! I haven’t felt this good for a long time!” I hollered back to him. We ran around the room and nibbled on the paper towel rolls, and then we headed off to bed. Both of us had our own bed. Mine, of course, was yellow and pink. My brother’s was blue-a sky blue bed. These were our dream beds.

. . .
The next morning I awoke to find that my brother was nowhere to be seen. I searched for him, and finally I found him sniffing around in a corner.

“What are you doing, Michael?” I asked him. At the sound of my voice, Michael jumped and jerked his head back.

“Don’t do that to me! You know I get scared easily! …What do you want?” He sound very…very…very irritated, like I had said something awful to him.

“Why are you so irritated? What did I do to you?”

“Oh, you haven’t done anything! I’ve just been trying to find a way to escape, but there’s no hope! There are no tiny holes I can climb into!”

“You promised that you wouldn’t try to escape!”

“No, I said that I wouldn’t try to escape! Oh wait…I am trying to escape! Sorry!”

“That’s OK! Just try not to escape.”

“Fine; then let’s at least play a game. We should play hide and seek! You be the seeker!”

“Fine, one…two…three…four…five…six…seven…”

“Jewel, come here!”

“What, where are you?”

“I’m over here!”

I went over to Michael and saw that he was looking through a hole in the wall. “What are you doing, Michael? Why did you break a hole in the wall?”

“I didn’t! It was just here! I came over and found it!” Michael saw the look on my face, and he said “Honest!”

“….All right, I believe you! Now, we’ll just see where it leads, OK?”

“OK!”
. . .
“We have been looking for hours!”

“No, it’s only been maybe five minutes! You are so impatient!” We kept crawling through the hole. “Ouch! Michael stop pulling me!”

“Stop pulling me!”

“I’m not pulling you!” I looked down and I saw two large cat eyes. I could even see her kittens. And you know what that means right? We were their breakfast! “Run Michael! Run!” We both started running, and then I saw yet another cat beneath us. “Run faster! Run! They’re going to eat us!” We ran so fast that we tripped and fell through a hole, right into the cat’s hand…I mean paw. “Claw, Michael, claw; it will not eat us!”

“I’m not going to eat you! I’m trying to rescue you!”
“Rescue us? Rescue us from whom?”

“Rescue you from Mr. Marcks’ new pets: the Cats. They just came here yesterday, and they’re mean. They even scare us away! When Mr. Marcks found you gone, he sent the Cats out to “bring” you back. But you know what that means, right? They were planning to eat you!”

“…Well, what do we do now?”

“Climb onto my back, and I will take you to safety.” Michael and I climbed onto the cat’s back. The cat started running in some direction. “By the way, my name’s Lucky. What are your names?”

“I’m Michael, and this is my sister, Jewel. …Do you have any kittens?”

“Yes, I do! I’m actually taking you to them right now.”

“And you’re sure they won’t eat us?”

“Yes, they’re good about knowing what’s food and what’s company! Here we are!” We stopped at a little broken-down shack. Lucky stopped running and slowed to a walk.

. . .
“OK, here we are! These are my kittens.” Lucky called her kittens out, and then she introduced us to them. “This is Marie, Nicky, Chantal, and Brutus. Kids, this is Michael and Jewel. Please be nice to them; we are hiding them from the Cats. So no eating them, all right?” All the kittens nodded their heads. I should probably tell you what each of them looked like. Well Marie was black and white and very small, Nicky was brown with black stripes, Chantal was an all white kitten, and Brutus was an all black kitten. “Now, what do you two usually sleep on at night?”

“Um, we have beds.”

“Well we don’t have any real beds, but will some hay work?”

“I guess that will work. Are you sure we will be safe here? I mean, do the Cats know where you live?”

“Well they did know where we used to live, but we moved so they wouldn’t be able to torment us. So you should be safe.”

“OK good!” Yawn! “Man I’m beat! Do you mind if we just go to bed right now?”

“No that’s all right. Marie, why don’t you show them where their beds are.”

“All right Mummy!” Marie hopped up and said, “You can climb on my back if you want to; it’ll probably be easier than running.” We jumped onto her tiny back. It was tough to hold on, but we managed. “Here we are. Your beds are right there.” She pointed at a mound of hay. “I hope it will do; I’m sorry we couldn’t do better.”

“Oh, that’s all right. We had to sleep on something harder than hay before, and it wasn’t bad at all, so this should be all right. Thank you” Michael said.

“You’re welcome. Now I’m going to go get some food for you guys; you must be starving!” And with that she left the room.

“Wow! Where are we? I don’t even remember how we got here!” Michael said.

“All I know is that even though Lucky and her kittens say they’re going to rescue us, we should be careful of them and watch them closely. You never know-the kittens could forget we’re guests and try to eat us!” I said anxiously to Michael.

“Yeah, I think you’re right. We’d better not go too close to them, but we still shouldn’t go too far away from them.” Michael said.

“You know what? I just thought of something.” I said.
“What?”

“We don’t know who ‘the Cats’ are, and for all we know Lucky and her kittens could be ‘the Cats.’ You know?” I asked Michael.

“You’re right! Man now I don’t want to totally trust them right now.” Michael remarked looking anxiously at the doorway. “Come to think of it, after you said that, I don’t think I want to stay with these cats. They might actually try to eat us. I think we should try to get away as soon as possible. Don’t you think so?”

“I don’t know; they seemed very nice though. They might actually be trying to save us after all. But if we were to run away, how would we get away without them knowing?”

“I don’t know; we’re so small that we could probably crawl into some small space, and hopefully they will forget we were even here. What do you think?”

“That might actually work! But we should at least stay for a little bit, don’t you think? I mean because they might think we’re rude for getting rescued and then running away from them. We’ll go tomorrow, sometime. Here they come; just act nice around them.” Just then Lucky, Marie, Nicky, Chantal, and Brutus came into the room.

“Here’s some corn, bread, cheese, and grape juice. You like that stuff right? That’s all we could find.” Lucky announced.

“That’s great; we haven’t had that stuff in a long time. Thank you!”

“You’re welcome. In the morning we are going to be gone. We have to go find lots more food, and we are also going to go back to the house to see if the Cats are still looking for you.” After Lucky said that, all the cats left the room.

“So since they’re going to be gone, we can run away then. Isn’t it perfect?” I asked Michael.

“I guess so, but if they’re going back to the house then they might tell the Cats that we’re here. Or if they are the Cats, then they might get more cats to help them hunt us down or something like that. But I guess we could try; I mean how hard could it be?” And after Michael said that, we got into bed and fell asleep.

. . .
The next morning I woke up and I immediately spotted something spying on us in the window. It looked like a cat, but I wasn’t sure. “Michael…Michael…Michael!!!!” Michael lifted his head, “Michael get up; I think something is spying on us in the window. We have to go see who it is.”
“What? Huh? Oh, yeah let’s go!” We got up and started to walk out the door when…BAM! A big, hairy, mean creature tumbled across the wooded floor, coming straight at us.

“What is that?” I screamed to Michael.

“I think it’s a…it’s a…oh my gosh! It’s a dog! Run, Jewel, Run!” We both started running and before we knew it, the dog was on top of us.

“I’ve got you now! Ooooh! Won’t Momma be proud? You’re our food now!” The dog took us in his mouth and carried us away in the opposite direction from where he came.
. . .

“Momma look what I’ve got!” He held his mouth high in the air, so the mother could see. “Isn’t it great? I thought you should be the one who could kill them, since you’re the mom. Here you go.” He dropped us into the mom’s paws. Just then, who should be coming to the rescue but Lucky and her kittens?

“Let go of them! They’re ours! Give them back!” Not even waiting for an answer, Marie jumped onto the mom’s back. “Marie, no! Get off her! She will hurt you if she gets you!” Lucky jumped onto the mom and grabbed Marie. She threw Marie away and said, “Go, run! Find somewhere to hide!” I jumped onto Marie’s back, and while we were riding away I could just see Lucky getting slashed in the face. I didn’t have the courage to tell the kittens until we got to a safe place.

When we finally got there I told them, “Kittens, I saw your mother get slashed, so we don’t know if she’s ok. She might be ok. She might have just gotten a scratch, but hopefully she’s fine.” After I said that, we all heard rustling behind us. “Get under that table kittens and hide!” All of us hid under the table. I looked out to see who it was and it was…it was Lucky! “Come on kittens your mom is back!” All of us jumped out and hugged Lucky.

“Are you all right, Lucky?” Michael asked her.

“Yes I’m fine dear. Thank you. I just have a few cuts and scrapes, but I should be good. Now why don’t we get some food. You guys must be starving.” And then we all went and got food.

I always remembered getting enough food to eat, enough fluids to drink, and enough sleep. And that’s how we lived our lives from then on.





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