Excerpt: It was a calm day in the forest. It was cool beneath the shade of the trees, making one wish he could stay there indefinitely. The sun shone, adding pleasant warmth to the air; not hot, not in the uncomfortable sense, but the kind of warmth that made one’s mind wander and tempted him to doze off.
Beyond the shade lay swampy land which rushed down to meet even swampier water. Mangroves stood like herons knee-deep in the muddy water, and little fishes swam amongst their roots while real herons snapped up the fishes, and alligators snapped up the herons. Then they would sink into the muddy shallows and became lost to the viewer, hidden by the dirt and silt, visible only by their small eyes peeking out, watching for more prey to come wandering along.
This was the kind of day it was when Silas Hickman’s sleepy peacefulness was interrupted by his father, Gary. “Silas!” he thundered.
Immediately, at the sound of his voice, all the little birds and rodents and even the small alligators fled the scene. Silas himself was on his feet in an instant, anticipating the worst. However, when his father exploded from the bushes, a grin was painted across his face.
“Enjoy your rest, Sleeping Beauty?”
“Yes, sir. I mean, no,” Silas stammered. “I mean…aw, shucks, I’m sorry, Pa.”
“Ah, don’t worry about it any,” Gary chuckled. “We need to get to work, though, if we’re going to get the job done!”
Silas was puzzled.
“Job, Pa?” he asked.
“Don’t you remember, son? We’re preparing for something…” Suddenly he remembered. “It’s the annual get-together, isn’t it, Pa?” Gary roared in with laughter and slapped his son on the back. It stung his skin and bruised his bones, but it was a sign of good will in his family.
“Ah, he remembers! Yes, son. Are you ready to unleash the renowned Hickman cooking skills?”
It was a calm day in the city. The sun’s dazzling rays reflected off the glass buildings with blinding splendor. Cars drove lazily on the roads of scalding pavement, most of them on their way home from work. Within the residential area of the city, emerald green lawns and quaint clapboard houses were bordered by lines of picket fences. Down the street, a group of boys played kickball. The younger children were knights of the yard, protecting the kingdom from the furry, wag-tailed dragons while the kings and queens sipped iced tea in their front-porch courts.
This was the kind of day it was when Hugo Hickman and his family packed up their station wagon and headed to the annual get-together.
Hugo’s son Jesse climbed into the driver’s seat and started the engine. He and his daughter Jessica took up the backseats as Rachael, his wife, claimed shotgun.
“Are you sure you want me driving, Dad?” Jesse asked as he backed the car out of the driveway. “I mean, this thing has been in the family since you were in college…”
“Jesse, if a college graduate such as yourself crashed this car on a day with perfect driving conditions such as today, it wouldn’t have been your fault,” his father told him. “Besides, it will be good practice for when you’re a bus driver or something.”
“At least we won’t be weaving through traffic on this trip,” Jessie chimed in.