“What did you see, Ricky?” she asked in a gentle voice. Ricky glanced back, thought he saw movement and screeched as he once again clutched her so tightly that she had trouble breathing.
“Over at the creek area?” she asked now, trying to clear up what had happened. Ricky’s only response was a vigorous nod as he kept his face buried in the front of her dress.
It was … big and … long. It looked so … so mean. I was so … so scared.” Ricky started crying in earnest, holding his mother as close as he could.
“Ricky, Honey, didn’t you see the sign? Why did you go down there anyway?” she knelt in front of him, her hands cupping his shoulders to reassure him that she was there. Golden hair fell into Ricky’s eyes when he glanced up at her, and he brushed them away when they started tickling his nose.
“I saw the … saw the sign, M—Mom. But I don’t know … I couldn’t tell what it said.” The wetness she’d just swabbed off his face with a Kleenex was quickly replaced with more as he shed still more tears.
“Ricky, are you telling me you can’t read that sign out there?” Ricky’s mother looked dumbfounded by this, and could only gape at him as Ricky shook his head to indicate that “no” he couldn’t read. “How have you gotten all the way to fourth grade if you can’t read?” Ricky’s mother sounded rather upset, and Ricky had a feeling he knew why.
“No wonder you don’t have books in your room.” Her statement was said in a quiet tone. She then drew him to her in a tight embrace as she spoke again, tears nearly choking her words.
“Ricky, we’ll remedy this right away.” She held him close for a few instances, until Ricky began to protest the length of the hug. She then pushed him away, gripped his shoulders once again, looked him directly in the eyes and said:
“That’s where snakes live. We can’t control where they are, or what they do. But that long creature you saw must have been one of the more territorial ones.” She paused, watching his wide eyes for a moment before saying more. I’m sorry about your ball, though.” Ricky’s head came up and he stared at her in some surprise.
Ricky and his mom practiced everyday with learning how to read.
“Mom, I am having trouble. How do you say this word?” Ricky pointed to the word in a book they were reading.
“Ricky, sound it out. Baet…”
“Baet. Bat. Mom, I can read!” Ricky exclaimed.
After that Ricky knew never to go into the ravine again.
Thanks again to Kendra LaLonde for participating in our “Reading Rocks” writing contest and for allowing us to publish her story on the blog.