Friday Fiction - "Phoebe and Hector"

Here's a winter scene from my novel
"A Home for Phoebe"
(soon to be published)

"Phoebe and Hector"

One day, Phoebe was doing her chore of cleaning out the chicken coop. She raked the droppings out the small hatch and spread clean straw on the floor. She tiptoed to reach an egg at the back of the nest box when a heart-stopping screech blasted behind her. It was Hector! She swatted him with her hand.

“Hector! You’re going to be the death of me! I nearly broke the egg!”

“Hey, when you’re done here, do you want to go sledding on Fleming’s Hill?”

“Did Maseppa say I could go?”

“I didn’t see Maseppa, but Granny said you could as soon as we sweep the snow off the porch.”

It didn’t take them long to clear the porch, and they were off with a long wooden toboggan trailing behind them. It was a beautiful day. The sky was as blue as could be and the snow sparkled in the bright sunshine. They whooshed down the long hill on the snow-packed road.

“If we had a bunch of people on this toboggan, I’ll bet we could coast all the way to Hoags Corner!” exclaimed Hector.

The winter sun hung low over the treetops as they walked back. Hector held a branch for Phoebe to walk under, but then gave a tug and a huge shower of snow fell on her head and down her neck.

“Hector, you wicked boy!” Phoebe hollered and chased him with a measly handful of wet snow.

“Hey, you want to see something funny? Come with me.” He led her over the ridge to where the hill fell steeply down to the road. He rolled a snowball and then let it go. It rolled faster and faster, bigger and bigger until it crashed on to the road beneath them. They both shouted with glee and rolled a few more.

“Hey, I’ve got another idea. I’ll climb a tree and you get a ball ready. I’ll tell you when someone is coming, and we’ll surprise them.”

Phoebe wasn’t too sure about it, but figured that snow wouldn’t hurt anyone. A cold wind blew down the valley and swayed the trees. Blobs of wet snow spattered around her and down her neck. She pulled her muffler over her face as she waited for Hector to give the signal. She hoped it didn’t take too long.

“There’s someone coming! They’re coming around the Jenson’s barn now.”

He quickly climbed down to see the big surprise. Her snowball was bigger than all the others had been. Phoebe hesitated with a fleeting doubt before she helped Hector shove it over the edge. The ball tumbled and bounced and grew gigantic by the time it hit the road, right in front of the trotting horse. It whinnied and reared. The driver fought for control and turned his face toward them. Phoebe caught his eye and knew he saw her. It was Old Man Schillinger! Hector crashed away through the underbrush.

In horror and shame, she trudged home. She was furious at Hector for talking her into his crazy plans. She was also afraid to go back. Granny and Maseppa always seemed to know when something was wrong. As she neared the house, she saw a horse and buggy in the dooryard. She knew she was in trouble now.

“Phoebe, Mister Schillinger says you rolled a big snowball down on his horse. Is that true?” Granny’s unseeing eyes had a way of looking right through you.

“Yes, Ma’am, but-”

Granny interrupted, “I think you owe him an apology, Phoebe.”

“Sorry, Sir. I won’t do it again.”

Mister Shillinger shook his finger at her. “Well, I should hope not! The way children behave today!” He slammed the door behind him.

“Granny, it wasn’t just me. Hector showed me how to do it.”

“I expected so, and the next time he comes around, I’ll give him a talking to. As for you . . . You don’t have to do everything that anyone suggests. You should have a little common sense! In the book of Psalms, it says, ‘Blessed is the man that walketh not in the way of sinners’.”

Maseppa's face was dark and serious. “Go upstairs, Phoebe. Granny and I talk and decide right punishment.”

Phoebe hated Hector. She stomped up the stairs, chilly and dark in the evening shadows. I don’t want to see him ever again. She flopped on the bed and sunk down into the feather mattress. He thinks he’s so funny. Well, I don’t think he’s funny. Cinnamon leaped up next to her and began purring. If he comes around to play, I’ll just tell him to go away . . . maybe. She rubbed Cinnamon’s back as the cat snuggled close. I wish Beth Van Buren lived closer! She rolled over on the pillow and let her tears roll down her cheeks.

Twilight lingered as long as it could, but it eventually surrendered to the long night. Phoebe daren’t go downstairs to fetch a candle from the chimney shelf. Wrapping a blanket around her shoulders, she sat on the top of the black stairway. She heard could hear Granny's and Maseppa’s voices, but they were talking so low, she couldn’t hear the words.

It was Hector’s fault . . . I reckon it was evil, scaring the horse like that . . . even though it was fun making those big balls splat all over the road.

She heard footsteps and scurried back to her bed. She could tell it was Maseppa. Her steps were always as soft as the wind in the pine trees. Maseppa’s sad face was illuminated by the candle in her hand. The shame of disappointing her filled Phoebe’s eyes with tears.

“Phoebe, tomorrow you take pie to Mister Schillinger and not play with Hector for one week. Granny will teach you words from Bible about not listening to the Devil when he wants you to do wrong.”

Maseppa sat on the bed and gave her a thick slice of bread slathered with apple butter. “You not have supper.”

“Thank you.” Phoebe took a bite. “Maseppa, sometimes it’s hard to know when something is wrong until after it is done.”

“I know.” Maseppa pushed the stray curl from Phoebe’s forehead. “You need to think up the trail before you take steps. You understand?”

“I think so. I’m sorry that I made you sad.”

Maseppa tucked the quilt around her. “Mino ya win, ikwesins.”

“What does that mean, Maseppa?”

“It mean for you to be good, little girl.”

(based on a true incident)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hold this book!



Related Posts with Thumbnails