The Treasured Rock
By Francis Allgood
Not too long ago, a little boy sat under a shady tree thinking about what fun he was going to have this summer. He was daydreaming about Whispering Pines Pond. The pond came about when the men quit mining for rock in the quarry about ten years ago. The pond is about two hundred feet deep and just as clear as a cool drink of water. Every year all the kids from town run down on the last day of school and dive in. The last one in is a big LOSER! It takes a lot of nerve to jump in because the temperature is only 65o.
"Bob!" called his friends. "Come on down, we're skipping stones!" Shaken from his daydream, Bob ran towards the pond. Jeremy, Myra, Bryan, Daniel, and John were all running around gathering up stones and skimming them across the water. The sky was beginning to grow dark behind the gray clouds. The reflections in the water took on a spooky appearance as the storm moved in. "Guys, let's get out of here!" cried Myra.
Thunder cracked and then the rain came pouring down. "Everyone to my house!" Bob cried out over the thunder. The kids knew to get away from the pond during a lightening storm. They raced down the well-worn path, under the old oak trees. The rain barely trickled down through the thicket of leaves. Then they cut through old man Benny Logan's house, picking up the pace because of his short temper. Finally they reached Bob's back porch. They threw off their shoes and socks, scampered through the kitchen, and ducked into the safety of the basement. Bob's mom hollered out, "Bob, is that you?" Her footsteps and Bob's twin brothers' sounded like a little army approaching. Bob's mom asked a million questions about school and such before she finally left to get the kids a snack.
"Well, we've only got three more weeks of school before summer! What are we going to do that first magnificent day?" Everyone fell silent. "Well?" Myra was a bit bossy with the rest of the guys. Everyone was thinking about the science project that was due. Of course, Myra had completed hers two weeks ago. "I think we should have a big picnic at the Whispering Pines Pond. We can each bring something different." Everyone agreed.
Bob's mom broke up the party and ushered the kids out through the front door. It had stopped raining and all the plants looked alive. Bob's twin brothers escaped and dashed in different directions. It was always a bit unpredictable at Bob's house. Bob's family finished dinner and he was just getting into his research on the life span of various amphibians when his little brother, Darren, burst into the room. He ran around grabbing Bob's papers and messing with his computer. When Bob finally got him under control, he had completely lost his concentration. School was almost out! He just had to concentrate on his schoolwork for a few more weeks.
Bob and his friends finally made it to summer. They brought a huge picnic to celebrate the first day of summer. The weather was perfect. Myra laid out a red checkered tablecloth and everyone contributed food. Jeremy brought a delicious honey baked ham and the others brought biscuits, cheese and crackers, juicy red apples, grapes, chocolate brownies, and a caramel cake. Myra decided the food would taste better if everyone went swimming first.
John and Bryan jumped up and ran for the pond. Everyone else was quick on their heels. Other kids were already playing in the water. Everyone was laughing and screaming and having so much fun! When they couldn't fight their hunger pangs any longer, they went back to eat the picnic. That's when Bob found the rock. He picked up the shining purple rock and gazed at its splendor. Bob could barely think about his lunch.
The kids had a wonderful day. Nobody seemed to notice that Bob had drifted off into his own world. After cleaning up the big picnic mess, the kids slowly walked home. By this time, everyone was in his own world. They agreed to get together tomorrow afternoon.
The next day, Myra called everyone on the phone to meet in Whispering Pines after they had done their chores. But Bob decided not to join in. He stayed home and thought about his treasure. It was the most beautiful rock he had ever seen. He was sure that his prize was very valuable. All day long he imagined the good fortune he would have in the future because he owned "the rock." He closed the curtains and got out his detective flashlight and shined it on the rock. Beams of rose-colored light flickered against the wall. The whole room came alive. All day Bob admired his treasure. The next day and the entire next week Bob could not think of anything but his rock. His mother began to have a difficult time getting Bob to finish his chores and get dressed for baseball practice. His friends began to wonder why he was ignoring them.
Bryan, who lived next door to Bob, began to hassle him. "Bob, don't you like us anymore?" Bob just shrugged it off. All he could think about was getting another fascinating rock for his treasure collection. Bob actually went with his friends to Whispering Pines several times. But each time, he spent the entire day looking for rocks. By the middle of summer, Bob had piled up over fifty rocks. His sock drawer was completely full of rocks and his mother was becoming aggravated. She was getting concerned that Bob was sulking in his room instead of playing in the sunshine with his old friends.
In the meantime, several new kids had joined the group. They got up games of kick ball, baseball, ghost in the graveyard, and many other activities. But Bob just retreated to his room with his treasures. He really lost interest in his friends. And his friends lost interest in him, too. Myra said, "A collection is one thing, but Bob has become completely obsessed with his rocks. Have you even had a conversation with him when he isn't talking about his treasures?" Bryan defended him by saying, "Bob is just going through a phase. This infatuation will wear off eventually and Bob will be back to normal." But Bryan really had his doubts. He thought Bob was almost worshipping this collection of his. And he had broken off contact with his friends. He decided that a true friend should really step in and talk to Bob. But it wasn't going to be easy.
Bryan got up his nerve and went to Bob's house. Bob said, "I don't really want to play today." But Bryan insisted, "Look, Bob, you've been hiding out in your room with your rocks. You've missed the first half of summer. We'll be going back to school soon and you haven't had any fun yet!" Well, that made Bob furious! "How do you know I haven't had any fun? I've collected some rare and unusual rocks. I've searched for them, cleaned them, sorted them, and rated them. I've never had such fun in my life!" Well, Bryan thought it was time to leave. "I'm sorry buddy. The rest of the gang has missed seeing you, that's all." Bryan sadly walked home. He felt like he really blew it with Bob. Maybe Bob was right. He'd just gotten real serious about rock collecting. But it did seem like he was going a little overboard.
The next day, everyone was at Whispering Pines. They were tossing a volleyball up in the air, playing a new game. Bob slipped up behind Myra and said, "Guess who?" Everyone turned around to see Bob. "What are you doing out in the sunshine?" Myra asked. "Well, Bryan talked some sense into me yesterday, but I didn't realize he was right until this morning. I'm going to postpone my rock collecting for the evenings and enjoy the rest of my summer days."
Everyone was glad to have Bob back.