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He threw with all his might, but the third stone came skipping back.
“I can do better!” Elizabeth taunted. She picked up a large flat stone and tossed it over the rippling water. One, two, three, four. It skipped along the water at a brisk pace, stopping near the other side of the wide creek.
“No fair! You cheated!” screeched the boy.
“I’m gonna tell Billy on you!” the boy whined.
“Oh no you won’t! If you go tell Bill, ya know wha’s gonna happen don’ ya? He’s gonn’ beat you!” Elizabeth smirked. She knew that was her brother’s worst fear.
“For what? I didn’t do nothin’ and you know it!”
“I dunno. But when does he ever have a reason?”
“Aw psha, you’re just tryin’ t’ scare me.” And with that the boy sprinted towards the cabin, tripping along the rocks as he went.
When he reached the small cabin, the boy stopped and bent over to catch his breath. Huffing and puffing, he leaned against the tall oak tree that stood outside the cabin. When the boy was younger, he had always wanted to build a tree house there, but there was never anyone around to help him do it. He was sitting against the tree surrounded by dead leaves when Billy emerged from the house.
“What you doin’ there boy?” Billy demanded as he approached the tree. Billy was dragging his feet, holding a bottle of scotch in one hand and a hunting knife in the other. They had just harvested some delicious red apples from the local orchard, and Billy had been cutting one when he heard heavy footsteps outside. He hated when the kids made noise.
The boy recognized the look in his step-father’s eyes and immediately regretted his decision to run back to the house without Elizabeth. They were alone, and Billy looked like he wanted trouble. With Elizabeth’s warning echoing in his head, the boy jumped up, at attention, just as Billy liked him to be.
“No-nothing, Bill. I ain’t up to nothing,” the boy stammered. He saw the knife in Billy’s left hand and did not like the way Billy jabbed at the air with each word.
“Oh really?” Jab. Jab.
“I was just down by the creek wit’ Lizzie. We was skippin’ stones.”
“Skippin’ stones, eh? What about the firewood I asked you to chop earlier? Did ya do that too?”
The boy quickly realized his mistake. He had completely forgotten. They needed that firewood for that night. It was starting to get colder and without a fire they would surely freeze. “I uh… I was uh… I was just about to do that,” the boy attempted to assure Bill.
“Oh yeah? You just thought it was a good idea to muck around with your sister first?” Billy sneered.
“Well… I figured there would be plenty of time… I can still do it now, right?”
Billy laughed. Not a normal laugh though. A sinister laugh. A laugh that was meant to hide the hatred deep in his heart for these kids. The kids he never wanted. As he stumbled away, he grabbed the ax from the side of the house. “Ya know what boy? I guess I’ll just have to do it myself. I do everythin’ around here anyway.”
“I do it e’ry other day…” the boy muttered to himself. But evidently he was not quiet enough, for Billy quickly spun around glaring at the boy.
“Boy, I gotta say, you are one big piece o’ work…” Billy said as he positioned a log on the long chopping table. Billy grimaced and raised his arm. The boy shut his ears in anticipation of the loud thud emanating from the ax smacking the table, but it never came.
The blood was still running down the tree trunk when Elizabeth came running back from the creek.