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The Family Tradition
“Run!” Jackson yelled seeing the bird descending towards them. His chest burned as he struggled to run faster and farther, his feet matching the beat of his heart, until he heard the screams.
Looking back, he saw Gretchen flailing in the air. The bird’s talons tightly hooked around her overall straps. Her screams shot straight to his heart. “Jackson!” she cried. “Help me!” Her voice cracked between sobs.
Jackson watched in horror as the bird carried his best friend, slowly disappearing in the sky above him. Her screams softened, and her freckles faded out of vision as they rose higher.
His heart pounded in his chest as his mind raced trying to find a way to rescue his friend. If only he hadn’t shared this tradition with her, she would have been safe. He had dreamed of magic, but not at this price. Hearing her screams echo through the air, seeing her body swing all over, somehow the adventure of planting his magic rock seemed so insignificant.
The rock! The rock! He thought to himself. Quickly running, he skidded into the fresh dirt by the beanstalk stump, digging through until his container was found. Ripping it open, he scattered the pieces and ran, feeling the cold stone squeezed into his palm.
“Here, birdie birdie,” he yelled again, watching it circle above. The bird squawked and dove towards him.
“One, two, three,” he yelled, throwing the rock in a perfect arc. It skipped through the air, and bounced off the bird’s beak. Gretchen screamed as the bird dropped her. The ground shook with a thud as her body fell to the ground.
“Gretchen!” he yelled, running to her side, feeling the gravel and dirt bite into his knees as he slid into the ground. “Are you all right?” he asked urgently, moving a strand of hair out of her freckled face. Watching her still face for some response, he held her hands gently in his, and wept.
Her pale lips inched up in a smile, but her eyes remained closed.
The sun had long set by the time he felt the cool cobblestones under his feet, and the weight of the door underneath his fingertips. The door swung easily, and the warmth of his home rushed over him. The sweet aroma of his mother’s chocolate brownies hung in the air.
Jackson’s mother watched him enter, and stopped in her tracks.
“Jackson?” she asked. “Is everything all right? Did you enjoy planting your treasure?”
He stared at her, with guarded eyes, not knowing the words to even begin explaining.
“Did you open any other beans?” she accused at his silence. “I hope you remembered what I said. That some treasures are meant to stay buried.”
He stared back at her before walking away. “You have no idea,” he muttered under his breath, knowing the thin line between a blessing and a curse, and all about buried treasures.
-Copyright 2013 Kirstin Pulioff
"The Family Tradition," Twisted Tales