Of ill-advised stunts and nosy sisters

By David WilliamsBy David Williams

 The two brothers ran as fast as they could through the new fallen snowflakes, the sound of their crunching boots mixing with laughter echoing through the woods. They were foot loose and fancy free, their mother’s warning a distance memory.
    “I know it is snowing outside. You boys can play in the snow but stay away from the creek.”
    It seemed like a logical enough request at the time, but the moment she departed for work, the boys were out the door. They made snow angels. One of them tried to write his name in the snow, only to run out of ink. What started out as a name instead ended up as a series of dots. The boys laughed about it as they made their way through the woods.
    Along the way, the boys ran into their friend Henry Ford. Henry was wearing his favorite hat. The boys were as inseparable as David and Edward. The boys made their way to the creek. They stood on the banks for a long time while a game of tug of war raged within them. They heard their mother’s warning and the ice calling. It was decided that a little ice skating wouldn’t hurt anybody. David was the first one to give in. The boys didn’t have ice skates – they were too poor – but what they lacked in material possessions they made up with imagination.
    David retreated as far back as he could and took a running start. He landed on the ice, stood as still as possible, and flew across the ice, screaming in laughter. Henry and Edward watched in amazement. Edward was next. He was David’s younger brother, and any trouble David got into, Edward got into as well. Although Edward’s steps were smaller, the fun was the same – until he wiped out. The ice was cold and hard. Edward wanted to cry, but once he recovered and heard the others laughing, he laughed as well.
    Last but not least was Henry, who wanted to out-skate David. Henry used greater distance for this purpose, taking long and lanky strides and jumping at the snow’s edge. Henry instantly realized that the stunt was harder than it looked. He was too tall and the ice too slippery – a bad combination. Henry regretted his long running start because now he had uncontrollable speed. Henry decided to stop fighting and allowed ice and gravity to have their way. The other boys laughed as Henry spun around like a top.
    David was the first to notice Henry’s head was spinning dangerously close to a piece of wood sticking out of the ice. His laughter stopped when Henry’s head hit the protruding branch. Henry’s body went limp as blood gushed from his forehead.  David slid to Henry’s side while Edward crawled. Edward started to cry for real this time.
    “David, what are we gonna do?” he managed to say between sobs.
    “Shhhh,” David said, looking at Henry’s lifeless body and then glancing farther upstream.
    “Edward, the only thing I can think of is that we take Henry upstream and drown him.” Edward cried harder.
    “No, we can’t drown Henry!”
    David recalled his mother’s warning. “Well, I can’t get a whipping for him!”
    Henry stirred and slowly opened his eyes. “David, you ain’t gonna drown me, are you?” he asked in a whisper. David bent down closer to his old friend.
    “I can’t get a whipping for you, Henry.”  Henry understood David’s dilemma. He too had been warned by his mom not to come to the creek.
    It was decided to put Henry out of his misery, but Edward would not let David do it, begging him to come up with another solution. An idea formed in the recesses of David’s mind. Henry was known for wearing his hat. Perhaps the hat could hide the head injury. The boys cleaned Henry’s wound with ice and snow. David took Henry’s hat and pulled it down over his left eye. They helped Henry walk back to the house.
    When they arrived home, their sister Susan was there to meet them. “Where have you guys been?” The brothers gave  a short answer, trying desperately to get away. They were nearly out of the room when she went there. “Henry, you sure are wearing that hat different. I’ve never seen you wear it like that before.”
    David saw it unfold before his eyes, just like he saw Henry’s head headed toward that protruding stick. A storm was coming! Susan walked over to the boys, and before they could say anything, pulled Henry’s hat off his head, revealing his wound.
    Susan let out a scream and ran to find their mom. That evening, the boys received a whipping. Birds flew from trees as their yells filled the night air. The boys went to bed following their punishment,
    “Edward?”
    “Yes, David?”
    “I told you we should have drowned him.”

 
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