Gracie, the Green Sea Turtle, Chapter One
THIS IS THE CHILDREN’S BOOK I HAVE STARTED AND AM CURRENTLY WORKING ON. Let me know what you think! I would love some kind, constructive criticism from any writers out there, especially about verb tenses! Sometimes I wonder if I am confusing them?? Thanks.
On a beach in Florida, the sky is full of sunshine. Sam and Eddie, two boys who live close by in Sarasota, are building sand castles. They live within walking distance of the beach, and it is almost the 4th of July. Eddie is especially excited, because he loves the yearly fireworks. He and Sam like to sit on the beach once it is dark so they can watch the huge bursts of color fill the night sky. The local neighbors turn off all of their home and back porch lights so everyone can see the fireworks show better. People gather and bring cold cuts, chips, and drinks in their coolers and play. Some set up a volleyball net earlier in the day and play until dusk. Beach balls, surf boards, and buckets and shovels are scattered on the fine white sand. Coconut oil pervades the air along with the salty spray of the sea.
Eddie has short light brown hair, a thin build and lots of freckles. His smile is contagious when he is with others, especially his best friend, Sam. Sam’s blonde hair glistens in the sunlight, he is a husky guy, but flat-footed. He can run well even though it has taken him his whole life to learn how. When he was little, kids made fun of him until Eddie stood up for him against them all. He told them Samuel was born that way so they stopped eventually.
They are both ten years old and in the same class at school. They just finished fifth grade. Their favorite teacher is Mr. Scott, who teaches Science, their favorite class. The boys loved Science class the most in the Spring semester, because Mr. Scott taught them all about sea turtles. Even though they have lived by the ocean their whole lives, they have never seen one. Learning about them peaked their curiosity and desire to see one during the summer. So they decided they were going to spend as much time as possible at the beach this year.
Sam loved learning about these amazing creatures, because he goes out to the rivers and ponds close-by to hunt for small turtles with his dad. They hide in bushes and watch for them to come out to sit on the rocks and sun themselves. The kind they see the most is the common mud turtle. Sam has seen brown, black, and olive green ones, but he sees the brown ones the most.
One day he watched one crawl out of the pond up onto the river bank. He sneaked up on it very quietly and reached down to pick it up. As soon as he grabbed it, though, he smelled something very foul! He didn’t know that the turtles put out a very stinky secretion as their way of defending themselves against predators. He put it down right away and watched it go back in the water. He sat on the bank for a while longer until it surfaced again, but it only came up to sit on a rock in the water out of Sam’s reach. Even the stinky smell from the mud turtle didn’t keep him from going out most days to watch for them. It was something he and his dad enjoyed doing together.
“Sam!” Eddie’s voice pierced through Sam’s thoughts. “Where’d you go, buddy?”
“Oh, I was just thinking about that mud turtle I caught that time that let off that real stinky smell. That was so gross!”
“Yeah, I remember your dad telling me he was watching you and wishing he had a camera to get that funny look on your face on film!”
“Yeah, I bet he did. I can only imagine what I looked like!” Then Sam scrunched his face up, one eye closed and his tongue sticking out.
Eddie said, “You know what?
“What?” asked Sam.
“I want to see a real sea turtle! I loved learning about them in school.”
“Yeah, if we ever see a green sea turtle, you can name her Gracie after that girl you like! Gracie, the green sea turtle!” Then he gave Eddie a friendly punch in the arm.
Eddie said, “Or we could name her Gretchen after the girl you like!”
Eddie’s face turned as red as a beet as he grinned. Neither of them told anyone else they were already liking girls. That was the guy stuff they kept between themselves. They had a “code” about girls already, too. The code states that they couldn’t like the same girl at the same time. So if one of them liked someone, he had to tell the other to avoid this awkward situation. Also, when one of them didn’t like a girl any more, the other boy could not make any moves on her for at least two months after they broke up. It seemed to be working fine so far. During the summer, however, they were so busy playing out on the beach, surfing, and just hanging out together that they didn’t give much thought to girls.
Eddie said, “Yeah, well, I just hope we get to see a real sea turtle someday. Who cares what we name it? How can we even tell if it’s a boy or girl anyway?”
“I don’t think we can tell if it’s in the water! It would be so cool if one came up on the beach, but then for sure it would probably be a girl. She’d only be coming up here to get ready to make a nest to lay her eggs in.”
Eddie smiled big and said excitedly, “Why don’t we go look for turtle eggs right now? Want to?” He loved exploring and looking for things more than anything else, and Sam was always happy to follow along.
“Sure!” said Sam. “Remember we aren’t supposed to touch them, though, if we find any. Besides they may be buried too deep for us to see them anyway. I can’t believe people actually dig them up and take them!”
Eddie frowned, “Yeah, that’s not right. We have plenty of other kinds of eggs to eat. Why can’t people leave them alone?”
“What I can’t believe is that fishermen catch the grown turtles and kill them to use the scutes on their shells to make jewelry and stuff. What the heck did the sea turtles ever do to them?”
“Yeah. People can be so mean. It’s just that they want a way to make money, I guess. But it’s pretty cruel. Just think about it! A huge sea turtle is just swimming happily along and wham! Down comes the net over it. They probably get so scared!”
Sam grinned a little and said, “I wonder if sea turtles pee any kind of bad smelling stuff onto the fishermen who drag them up onto their boats?”
“I don’t know, but I sure hope so!” exclaimed Eddie. They locked eyes and both rolled in laughter making peeing sounds.
Then they stood up and brushed the sand off themselves. Sam said, “I’m hungry! Let’s go see what my mom brought to eat.”
“Okay. Race ya over there!” Eddie yelled as he took off running.
“Cheater! You didn’t say ‘on your mark, get ready, go!” Sam laughed as he tried to catch up. They ran together laughing all the way up the beach to where Sam’s mom was laying out a big blanket and getting food out of the ice chest.
She looked up and saw them barreling towards her. She smiled and said, “You boys must be hungry!”
They stopped suddenly, out of breath, and huffed out, “Yeah!” at the same time. Then they both said, “Jinx! You owe me a soda!” at the same time again. While they kept jinxing each other, Samuel’s mom just grinned shaking her head.
She said, “Okay, everything is here. Grab what you want. So what were you boys doing?”
Eddie replied, “Oh nothin’ much. We were just talking about wanting to see a real sea turtle! We learned about them in Science class this year.”
Sam interrupted with a giggle when his mom was just getting ready to say something, “Yeah, and we were trying to decide what to name it if is a girl!” But Eddie gave him a look that said ‘be quiet!’
Sam’s mom asked, “Why would you care if it’s a girl?”
“We wouldn’t. Eddie’s just joking around, Mom.”
“Well,” she said, “I know I sure would love to see one, too! And if it is a girl, I would name her…” she hesitated, “Gretchen!” Then she smiled and winked at them. The boys looked at each other thinking how strange that was. They wondered how she came up with that name!
Sam’s mom turned away from them and giggled to herself. She had known for quite some time how much Sam liked Gretchen. She thought they were cute together, too, but noticed they still seemed to feel a little awkward around each other.
TO BE CONTINUED……….
© Patsy H. Parker