A story of a small boy who only takes what he needs
|As Lucy and Peter ambled down the shoreline from the pier, water lapped at their ankles. A slight breeze blew Lucy’s peppered hair across her forehead. Peter brushed it away and pulled her toward him. She glowed, even with the overcast skies.
“Look, a boy,” Lucy pulled away from Peter and peered over his shoulder. The boy, dressed in torn blue jean shorts and a dirty striped shirt was headed, with purpose, in the direction of the couple. Peter turned.
“Well, Lad,” he laughed, “goin’ fishin’ are ya?”
“Yessir,” was the answer. The boy kept on with his simple pole, almost passing the elderly couple.
“Honey,” Lucy started out after him. “Are you hungry? We have some sandwiches in the picnic basket over by the pier there.” The boy’s small frame suggested he rarely ate.
“Yess ma’am.” He looked away. “But I shouldn’t.”
“Nonsense!” Peter put an arm around the boy’s shoulder and ushered him toward where the couple had left their lunch. “You’ll eat with us. Then maybe you can show me how to catch some fish in this lake, Eh?”
“I can sure show you how to catch stuff, Sir,” the boy perked up. “I only take what I need. I can teach you to do the same.”
“Well, now. I think that’s the best we can do, ain’t it?” Peter opened the picnic basket. “We catch what we need and leave the rest for those that need it, eh, Boy? Been doing it for years. Glad to see the younger generations still understand conservation.”
“Yessir, conservation.” The last word came foreign from the boy’s tongue.
“You seem such a sweet boy.” Lucy unfolded the picnic blanket and set it on the dirt as Peter unloaded the basket. “What’s your name?”
“I can’t tell strangers my name.” The boy looked at the ground.
“Of course not, Honey,” Lucy offered. “I’m Lucy, and this is Pete. Where are your parents?”
“Parents?” He looked up into her eyes, confused.
“Yes, Dear. Your parents. Certainly you have parents.”
“Don’t badger the boy, Lucy.” Peter’s voice echoed over the lake.
“Well, Peter. Certainly the lad has parents. I don’t want them to be worrying about him.” Lucy set out paper plates.
“Oh, no one will worry Ma’am. My parents are the lake and the fog. They always know where I am. They know why I am here, and they are happy with me.”
Lucy tousled his red hair. “Of course they are happy with you, Lad. I just don’t want to get you in trouble – with us being strangers and all.”
“You’re not strangers anymore,” the boy shrugged his shoulders, holding his hands out, palms up. “You are Lucy and Peter!” His smile was more endearing to the couple than even his small frame.
Peter laughed heartily, “That’s a good little man!” He patted the boy on the back. “What’s your preference, Lad? Ham or Turkey?”
“You pick,” the boy’s smile curled up as he eyed the couple. He ran off to the water’s edge.
“Lad! Lad, come back!” Lucy ran after the boy, who marched into the water. He vanished in the fog. Lucy was sure the water where she last saw him was over his head.
“Peter! Peter, come quick!” Lucy trudged after the boy as quickly as her arthritic joints would allow.
Peter looked up to see the fog rolling in from the lake. It enveloped the shoreline like a curtain falling after a play. Peter felt blind. He heard Lucy’s scream cut short. He flailed, tying to stand, but his legs were concrete. The fog attacked him like a million tiny needles. His eyes swelled shut. Through the darkness and deafening fog, Peter heard a small boy’s voice.
“I only take what I need.”
“Hey, Tamara. It’s an old man!” Peter heard as he opened his eyes and regained control of his body. He blinked hard at the young couple who rushed toward him.
“Get out! Get out!” He wailed. “He takes what he needs. He needed Lucy… for what I don’t know. But he took her! He could take you, too! Run!”
“Michael, let’s go.” Tamara clawed at his arm. “He’s crazy! Let’s just get out of here.”
“We have to help him,” Michael struggled to free his arm. The fog moved forward on the crest of a wave, like a freight train going downhill.
“You have to run!” Peter screamed as the needles pierced his skin again.
Word Count: 740