A Boy,   Chapter One

A Boy, Chapter One

A Story by RoughWaterJohn

A summer of discovery

Mark woke as the sun lit his room, dreams swirling to bits of flotsam, churning away on the river of the night just past. Knights, swords, dank dark rivers filled with creatures to discover and cold pools to explore, guns to shoot and Indians to chase, and eventually befriend, for such was his way. All twisted and turned together, fading as the sun brightened his room. His eyes remained closed as the bright light created swirls of their own, bright reds, greens and blues in the darkness behind the drawn shades of his eyes. Dawn eddied just beyond his eyelids. Mark smiled without thinking, the smile quickly moving to a grin for the sheer joy of being a twelve year old boy, still twisted in cool sheets, as the sun warmed his skin and called to him with a voice he thought everyone heard.

 When he could stand the suspense no further, he opened his eyes with a crescendo of life, surprised he didn’t hear the crack of thunder, or the brilliant boom of fireworks, so sudden was the change. Mark looked around his room in wonder, for that was how he saw life. Everything he gazed upon was comfortable, familiar, yet wondrous. Bright blue walls, faded on the side opposite the window, baseball trophies, electronic toys and consoles discarded on every available surface, as many dismantled as whole, a large blue globe of earth, bright as a jewel in the new sun, dust motes swirling like stars in the warm morning rays. Three large bookcases overflowed with friends from his youth. He loved them as much today as when he was a young boy. Jungles, Knights, spaceships, chivalry and villainy, stories of boys and men as heroes, more often the former than the latter.

 ‘Summer’, the word breathing slowly from his mind. ‘Summer starts today’ he thought, then reached down and threw the covers from his legs. They had talked, those last few weeks of school. Whispered conversations in class, boisterous and laughing explosions at lunch with Anthony, James and Carl. They were going to meet this morning in the forest by the pond. Mark was athletic, excelling at every sport he tried. He had no enemies, no mean feat when you’re twelve years old. He had an energy and a spirit that crossed cliques and classes. He was kind in a way that did not draw the enmity of the older boys or bullies. Mark was a hurricane of life, drawing in all those around him with the power of his energy and enthusiasm. He was popular, as much because he didn’t notice it, as by his genuine enthusiasm for life. He spun through school, capturing the hearts of teachers and students alike, all seeking the calm at the center of this maelstrom of childhood.

 Mark dressed quickly, it didn’t take long to pull on a pair of ragged shorts after all, then dashed down the stairs to grab something to eat before heading to the forest. ‘I need to take some food with me’ he thought, as he ran barefoot down the carpeted stairs. He was surprised to find Mom already up, cooking pancakes in a skillet. He had planned to grab a banana or a muffin, but the smell brought him to the table.

“Are those for me?” he asked, grinning.

“No,” she said, “they’re for Dad, you know that.” She turned back to the pan to hide her smile.

“How can I fight dragons if I can’t have any pancakes? The Templar’s had pancakes every morning, I read about it in school.”

Glenna exploded with laughter before she could catch herself, then turned and smiled. “And who made their pancakes?” she asked.

“Their Moms” he said, a laugh bursting from him despite his best efforts. “I only need two, the rest you can give to Dad”.

Glenna looked down at the two pancakes browning nicely in the skillet. “OK, just two, the rest are for Dad”.

 Mark was not the first to arrive, the second helping of two more pancakes had delayed him. James and Carl were in his inner circle, but Anthony was his twin it seemed. Anthony didn’t have his prowess in sports, or the same effect on others, but the two were inseparable. Anthony was tall and lithe, already growing passed his years. Mark was muscular, yet to see his growth spurt, tanned and fair haired, where Anthony was dark and lanky. Mark was surprised to see Tracey there. She had not been invited, but she had been showing up quite a lot recently. She wasn’t a boy, but she played hard, didn’t cry at minor injuries, and ‘truth be told,’ Mark thought, ‘she’s bolder than everyone except Anthony.’ Carl and James shouted hello’s, Anthony came up and punched him in the shoulder, smiling. When you’re twelve, physical force can be a sign of affection, though neither boy saw that deep, or realized the truth of that statement.

 Tracey surprised him, as much as herself, by smiling and stepping close. She chided him for being late, then reached out and slowly, unconsciously, put her hand on his right arm, rubbing it with unnoticed affection. Mark was too surprised to react, Tracey didn’t realize what she was doing. She looked down at his arm, seeing the deeply tanned skin, the fine hair on his arm, invisible until the sun hit it. Tracey thought it was like the pelt of a wild beast, glowing golden against his skin in the light of morning. She stroked it without thinking, just as she stroked her cat, her hand warming with the friction of what she didn’t realize was a caress. There was a look in her eyes, an openness, a longing she didn’t admit and Mark, for all his insight, never noticed. When she realized what she was doing, she pulled back, looking up quickly and glancing around to see if anyone had caught her in this moment of unconscious action. She was surprised, but not shocked, to see Anthony looking at Mark with the same longing and affection. She could picture Anthony stroking the golden pelt of Mark’s arm as she had, realizing then, that even he didn’t know what he was letting show in his eyes. Mark was just as oblivious to Anthony as he was to her. She punched Mark in the shoulder, then moved back to safety behind the boys, pondering what she had seen, done and thought.

 Mark dropped the bag of food he had been holding in his left hand, then started off towards the pond. The long grass was light with the dew of morning, his bare footsteps leaving dark green imprints, revealing a path that others would follow. Though the sun was up and warming his tanned skin, he shivered from the cold dew that clung to his bare feet. The others dropped their packs and followed in his deep emerald footsteps, unconsciously trying to step where he had stepped. Anthony, as always, was first behind his leader. Reaching the pond, Mark never stopped his momentum, diving quick and deep into the placid waters. He came up sputtering, laughing, his ragged shorts revealing a white patch of untanned skin above his waistband. He pulled his shorts up a bit, then whooped out with a warriors cry. The others smiled, knowing today would be an Indian adventure.

© 2012 RoughWaterJohn

Author's Note

This is a story in four chapters. If there is any interest after this first chapter, I can start posting the others. Thanks for taking the time to read and review.

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Added on October 18, 2012
Last Updated on October 18, 2012
Tags: youth, kids, summer, 12, olympics, school, pond, forest, games



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