This was my first creative writing assignment written specifically for early teens.
Abe looked anxiously for his Aunt Sue as the bus lurched to a stop. He’d boarded the plane in Sydney loaded with presents for his Aunt’s family, and carried with him Mum’s written instructions on how to get to his holiday destination. Mum had cried as she waved him through the departure gate. How embarrassing!
Abe was excited and scared. It was his first trip away from home by himself, and he suddenly felt grown up. He was almost twelve. Mum had been rather weepy since Dad left home months ago. She probably wanted to come on this holiday with him too, but had to work as they both needed the income.
“Your stop mate!” It was the driver who’d laughed when Abe thrust the written instructions into his hand at Brisbane airport. “Your first trip away from home?” he’d asked. Abe had nodded his head, feeling foolish.
Aunt Sue hugged him as he jumped off the bus. Abe looked around in embarrassment. Cousin Mal, a tall muscular fourteen-year old laughed at his embarrassment. Mal picked up the luggage and headed for the car, leaving Abe and Aunt Sue trailing behind.
“It’s nice here!” Abe exclaimed as the car weaved through rainforest encircled roads before entering a clearing by a wide river.
“Is this where you live?”
It was warm. A strong breeze bent the palm trees, and their branches waved him a friendly welcome. The house was a sprawling bungalow, well shaded, with all kinds of interesting things neatly stored under the awnings. He saw a boat and trailer, caravan, four canoes, surfboards and fishing lines of different sizes. Abe stared at all these treasures in wonder.
“Hey Mum! I’m taking Abe through the sand trails before lunch,” said Mal, and turning to Abe, “Let’s take the flying fleas.”
“Small motorcycles”, laughed Mal. “Have you ridden before?”
“Don’t have a licence!”
“We don’t take them on the road. Dad lets us ride on our property. Looks like I’ll have to teach you to ride.”
After some practice Abe was ready for the sand trails. Mal took it slow for a start, but became bored with the slow pace and sped off to the trail jumps. Unsuspecting, Abe tried to follow and took a fall at the first jump.
There was a burst of laughter. Looking up Abe saw two girls on horses watching him. Mal cruised back checking Abe’s bike for damage, then glanced at the girls.
“Hi Jo, Hi Trish! I didn’t expect to see you here so early!”
“We saw you arrive from town, and decided to come and see your city slicker cousin,” said Jo tossing her head. “Looks like you have a lot of teaching to do!” The girls kicked their horses into action and galloped off down the trail. “Seeya at the pit,” Trish called, speeding away.
“Who’re those toad heads,” Abe said, crossly dusting off and looking for scratches and bruises from the fall. “They don’t use saddles on their horses, how primitive!” Abe had felt uncertain on the trip up from Sydney, but it was worse to be humiliated here. The girls had seen him fall, and laughed at him. Calling him city slicker wasn’t friendly either.
“They’re neighbours. Our property line goes through this bushland, but we kids ride trails on either side. Our parents are close friends. Jo’s a good guy!”
Abe noticed Mal’s ears turning red when he mentioned Jo’s name. He smiled at this discovery and stored it away for future use, forgetting his humiliation. “Is Jo your girlfriend?”
“No, she’s just a good guy,” Mal said getting redder by the minute. “This arvo we’ll see them at the pit and I’ll introduce you to my other friends. You’ll like Barney.”
“What’s the pit, and who’s Barney? He sounds like that weird character in a kid’s video.”
The pit’s where we skateboard in town. Barney’s the greatest skateboarder and surfer. Actually he’s nicknamed after that TV character, big, muscular with a huge butt! Great to have when you fall off a skateboard!” They both laughed.
After lunch Aunt Sue bundled boys and skateboards into the van. Abe was looking forward to learning how to skateboard. He’d tried it once in Sydney, but skate boarding was restricted in many places there.
At the pit Jo and Trish were doing amazing things on their skateboards, and it was obvious who Barney was. He was huge! Barney cart wheeled through the air and cruised over to meet them as they unloaded skateboards.
“Is this the city slicker Jo has been telling us about? Seems you took a fall this morning? Welcome to the pit!”
Abe was horrified! “She told you?” He looked angrily in Jo’s direction and the skateboarders roared with laughter.
Mal introduced Abe to the group. They seemed friendly enough. While Abe was having a great time, it was obvious the group had skills he couldn’t match. During the holidays they introduced him to canoeing and surfboarding. Abe noticed they laughed at each other’s mistakes, and all accepted this with good humour. Teasing did not affect friendships with this group. Barney was most skilful at sporting activities and the group looked up to him.
Abe liked the group, but felt he wasn’t good enough to be part of their activities. Were they friendly with him for Mal’s sake? He wanted to feel accepted, and wished Jo had not told them about his humiliating accident. He decided to tolerate her, but only because Mal liked her. Trish was OK. She hadn’t joined in when the group laughed at him.
Abe had enjoyed living with a family for the holiday three weeks. When he thought of his missing Dad he felt sad, and Mum was alone in Sydney too. He knew she had worked hard to earn money so he could enjoy himself on this holiday while she worked through her vacation.
They were riding the trails on the flying fleas when the girls galloped down the trail to meet them.
“Wanna race?” asked Jo.
“Sure”, said Mal. “The river trail’s wide enough for us to test bikes against horses. Let’s see how strong your legs are without saddles.” He laughed in anticipation of the contest.
The pit gang were at the river fishing when they emerged from the bushland. Reeling in lines they crowded around jumping and shouting with excitement. Barney clapped metal container lids together to start the race. They were off to a good start! Mal and Jo were neck and neck, with Abe and Trish trailing just behind. Trish’s horse stumbled over a tree root and she went sailing into the river. The race came to a halt.
The tidal current was strong as Trish landed in the water, and laughter stopped abruptly as the current pulled her down toward the ocean.
“Why’s she not swimming to shore?” said Jo weakly. “She’s a good swimmer!”
Dropping his bike, Abe dived into the river. This was something he could do. His Mom had paid to have him taught by a professional swimming teacher, and he felt confident as he worked his way into the current swimming strongly in pursuit of Trish. As he suspected, she was out cold when he reached her, but luckily she was floating on her back. Grabbing her expertly as he had been taught in rescue exercises, he brought her to shore well down from the group. He could see them running toward him in the distance as he pulled Trish up the bank. She was beginning to revive. It seemed that there was nothing seriously wrong with her.
Jo reached them first. “Are you OK Trish?” Trish nodded weakly. Jo hugged Abe and kissed him firmly on the forehead. “Thanks!” she murmured softly.
“Stupid me!” Trish said as she got shakily to her feet. Everyone laughed.
The rest of the week was better than any of Abe’s wildest dreams. Trish wouldn’t let Abe out of her sight, and her parents gave him a going away party. The pit gang now looked at him with admiration. Jo could not say enough good things about his bravery and skill. When it came time for the bus to depart the city terminal they were all there to cheer him on his way.
But the greatest thrill was when Abe’s Mum met him at the airport in Sydney. Aunt Sue had already phoned and told her of Abe’s brave rescue act. Throwing her arms around him she said, “Abe I’ve always known you were special, but it is nice to know I’ve a man in the house to protect me again.”
“You can count on me Mum!” Abe said proudly.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2011 all rights reserved”