A/N: This is the first chapter of a children's book, something along the vein of Narnia and Harry Potter or something like that.. Just to let you know it's not the general type of fiction you normally see here.
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A Change of Plans and Mr. Chuckles
The Shaw children were undecided about their summer vacation. Grace and Jacob had always looked forward to the three months away from the droning buzz of teachers, the boring sameness of multiplication tables, and the constant smell of chalk dust, but this summer things were going to be different. Their parents had won a contest, and would be spending a month back packing in some place called the Moors. Jacob being the quick witted 7 year old that he was, said ďWell then the Moor the merrier, so we should all go!Ē Mr. and Mrs. Shaw had other ideas, much to Grace and Jacobís dismay.
You see earlier in the year, Mrs. Shaw had received a letter from a favorite uncle that she hadnít seen or spoken to in years. Uncle Gerard had been living far away, probably somewhere near the mysterious Moors, and hadnít seen either Grace or Jacob since they were very small children. Mrs. Shaw had laughed when she remembered little Jacob, pulling Uncle Gerardís beard so hard that it brought tears to his eyes. Uncle Gerardís letter suggested that the family come to visit him that summer at his big house in Tennessee
The children were excited as their mother told them tales of in the creek that ran behind the house when she was a girl and wandering through the woods all day, with a thermos of Kool Aid and peanut butter sandwiches in a back pack so that she didnít even have to go back to the house for lunch. She even promised the children that after she and Mr. Shaw returned from their vacation, she would help them build forts and campsites from stones and fallen limbs and take them swimming in the creek until they were as brown as little Indians.
Jacob thought all this sounded very interesting, because he loved adventure of any kind. He was a small boy, with a crooked smile and dark brown hair that he could never seem to keep out of his curious blue eyes. He was the apple of his motherís eye, quick to laugh, always telling one outrageous story or another about spacemen, or monsters under the bed. She knew he loved stories so much that if he didnít have a good book handy, he would just make one up himself.
Then there were his pockets. They were always full of something, rocks, strange colored sand, marbles, frogs and sometimes lizards. His parents had gotten used to Jacobís love of small creatures. In fact, he hadnít scared his mother in quite a long time by pulling some slithering, squirming, hopping or croaking thing from deep within in his dirty pants pockets. The last time she had gotten a good scare was the time he had pulled a waspís nest the size of a deck of cards from his shirt pocket and thrust if forward smiling saying. ďLook what I found in the garage Mom, isnít it cool?Ē She swept it out of his hand quickly and hugged him tight.
ďItís a wonder you didnít get stung. You scared me to death!Ē
Jacob just smiled that crooked smile of his and shrugged his slight shoulders, spreading his hands as he stepped away from his relieved mother.
ďAww, Mom I wouldnít put it in my pocket if there was any bugs left in it, donít be silly.Ē
That was one of Jacobís favorite things to say to grown ups, because they were so silly. They worried too much and made it hard to have fun sometimes. He knew that his parents loved him, and didnít want him to hurt himself, but some things he just had to pick up, and touch. If he didnít look at things very closely, and was afraid of everything he had never seen before, how could he ever find out how things worked. It was boring to be too careful, and grownups were often times so careful it made him want to laugh.
Jacob loved to make his parents and his friends from the second grade laugh and always managed to find adventure and mischief in the most unusual places. His sister Grace couldnít be more different than her little brother.
Grace was tall for her age, with long legs that always seemed to be scraped and bruised from her collisions with the edges of doors, tables, and any unfortunate piece of furniture that crossed her path. She had a head full of unruly hair the color of a new penny, and green eyes the color of lake water. Grace was a serious child, who took her studies very seriously, and always did her homework as soon as she got home. She liked to read instead of watching cartoons on Saturday mornings with Jacob, and her bookshelf was filled with stories of princesses and witches, dragons and talking animals. Before Jacob learned how to read she would read stories to him when he couldnít sleep after they had been tucked into bed. He didnít have any trouble sleeping anymore, and although she would never admit it to him, she missed those late night story sessions.
Grace loved her brother very much, in fact she wished she could be more like him, he was always making people laugh and he wasnít afraid of anything, not even snakes or climbing the tallest of trees. Grace didnít think she was very brave at all. She was always bumping into things and tripping over her feet. She had tried ballet and tap lessons, and she could never quite get the hang of the steps for all of the falling down and laughing children. Grace hated to be laughed at. She wished she could be more like Jacob who always had something smart to say when other children made fun of him. So Grace rarely played with children her own age, preferring to play with Jacob and his friends who quite literally looked up to her. But most of the time, she kept to herself and let the characters in her books keep her company.
Mr. Shaw had begun to worry that Grace didnít have many friends her own age, and having gone through a similar awkward stage himself he had searched for something to make her feel more sure of herself, and where she was less likely to be the target of other kids cruelty. He had mentioned the possibility of enrolling her in a karate class once they got back from their vacation. Grace had smiled her very pretty smile that always reminded him of her mother in earlier times, and said.
ďIf you think itís a good idea Iíll give it a try Daddy, but I donít think Iíd be very good at something like that. Iím pretty clumsy if you hadnít noticedĒ. she said quietly waving a hand toward her scraped up shins.
Mr. Shaw bent down on one knee and took his little girlís hands in his, squeezing them gently. He smiled one of those patient smiles that all fathers who have little girls who are growing up faster than their daddies expected should practice every day before going to work.
ďHoney, I want you to listen to me very closely. You can do anything you put your mind to, if you are willing to try and be patient. I know that the other children say mean things some times, but we have to be better people and remember that they donít understand how much those things hurt us. So if you want to take karate lessons, we will get you signed up as soon as we get back from picking you kids up at Uncle Gerardís. Just remember when you feel like you canít do something that your mother and I always believe in you.Ē
Grace simply smiled her perfect smile, ran a long fingered hand through her curly copper hair and ran upstairs to read.
ďWhatever you say daddy, it might be fun!Ē
His daughter never ceased to confuse him. Mr. Shaw had decided that the reason that it was happening more and more often was because she was becoming more and more like her mother every day. Grace was becoming a young woman, and it is understood that boys may understand girls, but men may certainly never fully understand women. This unspoken rule was the reason for Mr. Shawís confusion.
The first week of summer seemed to fly by as the family prepared for their separate vacations. Mr. Shaw had made all of the arrangements with the airline, and the neighbors were going to dog sit Mr. Chuckles, Jacobís three-year old German Shepard. Uncle Gerard had been called and was eagerly awaiting their arrival. Bags were packed and loaded into the trunk of the car, the childrenís rooms were cleaned and the lawn mowed. All was in readiness for the vacation to begin the next morning when Jacob crept into his parentsí room long after they had both fallen asleep.
Jacob leaned over his mother, and shook her by the shoulder gently. He didnít want to wake his father who was always seemed to have a hard time falling asleep. It took a few shakes before his motherís light snoring stopped and she slowly opened her eyes. After realizing who it was that had woke her and that he didnít seem to be hurt or frightened, Ms. Shaw sat up, rubbed the sleep from her eyes and said.
ďJacob why arenít you asleep? Are you sick, do you have a fever?Ē as she placed a hand on his forehead, which was cool to the touch.
ďNo Mom, Iím not sick, but I wanted to know why we canít take Mr. Chuckles with us to Uncle Gerardís? What if he gets sick, gets hurt in a fight with a neighborhood dog, or gets hit by a car? We wonít be here to take care of him!Ē Jacob was getting more and more upset with each word and his mother could see that he was truly worried about his constant companion. She sighed and put a hand on his small shoulder.
ďI tell you what honey, if you go back to sleep and can wait until morning, Iíll give you the number and you can call Uncle Gerard and ask him if Mr. Chuckles can come along, but it has to wait until morning and you have to go straight back to bed.Ē
ďOk Mom.Ē Jacob said with a sheepish smile, running a hand through his messed hair. ďIím sorry I woke you up, I just got worried about Mr. Chuckles and couldnít sleep. Donít tell Dad okay?Ē
ďI wonít tell your father, Iíll make it seem like it was all my idea. Now run off to bed, you need your sleep, tomorrow is going to be a busy day.Ē Ms. Shaw said, hiding a yawn behind her hand.
Jacob padded quietly down the hall, careful not to make any noise so as not to disturb Mr. Chuckles who was sleeping beside his door. He bent down to run a hand over the sleeping dogís back and scratch behind his ears.
ďThatís a good boy!Ē he whispered as he slipped into his room. He crept between his blankets and settled in to sleep. He smiled, knowing that his mother would make sure his best friend would be spending the whole summer at his side.
Smile if you're stupid,
laugh if you understand.