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A Simpler Time

The only thing I'm going to say about this next piece is that kids should play outside more, like I did when I was a kid.

We spent two weeks gathering supplies to build our raft. After our parents would go to sleep, we would sneak into the garbage and withdraw empty milk-jugs and two-liter soda bottles and store them in our secret stash behind a bright blue tarp, our makeshift fort, strung up between fence poles into a sort of lean-to in the backyard. When a stiff wind would come in from the valley, it would blow up and down in the air and make thick, thunderous sounds that scared the neighbor’s children in the middle of the night, but we didn’t care, we were teenagers now.

Once we’d collected an entire garbage bag full of plastic bottles and jugs, we set out to the dollar store with our saved up pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to purchase six-dollars worth of duct tape and various odds and ends, lengths of rope and the like. Then we raced back home on our bicycles and got to work.

The body of the raft would be an old, hollow door that my dad had put on the side-yard during our last remodeling effort and hadn’t yet had time to take to the city dump. It was deep chestnut in color with a wood grain printed on what seemed to be Formica or balsa-wood, though we couldn’t tell the difference, either way it was perfect for our vessel. We went to task taping all of the bottles shut, airtight, and arranged them on the bottom of the door, taping them in long, neat rows like corn in a field. Then we added another row of bottles and jugs beneath that, leaving us with a solid eight to twelve inches of flotation device below the wooden door.

“Do you really think this’ll float?” Jared asked me, as though somehow I was the ringleader, even though it was his idea all those many days ago.

To continue reading, please purchase this short story for the Kindle. It appears as part of the collection of short stories "A Simpler Time: Six Mostly True Stories"

For those without a Kindle, it's available via .pdf by clicking the link below.


Anonymous said…
This is a nice story and recalled to me my own childhood. Kids are great! What incredible adventures they have. Thank you.
Secily said…
Loved it! Reminded me of my youth...not all stream-seekers are boys, ya know. ;) Have you listened to my song Ohio? The verse "all I had was a stream that flooded in the summer" kept repeating in my head as I read this. Good story Bryan.
Anna Russell said…
I really enjoyed this Bryan, it was so evocotive of childhood. I could just picture everything.
Unknown said…
I'm glad you guys all felt like... you know... childhood roaring back.

This is something I tried pulling,
but we never really got the raft to hold the weight of the both of us.

And Anna, I'm glad you liked it even though Johnny Depp wasn't in it.
mo.stoneskin said…
It's fascinating to read of the raft, and the making of.

I grew up in a house whose garden backed on to a common. Me and my pals used to stage vast battles (20+ kids), there were swords, bows, quarterstaffs, crossbows, the lot.

We used to mess around in the pond, but one day we decided to plan an epic water battle on a nearby lake.

We saved up all the empty plastic milk bottles for (looking back) what must have been 6 months, building a floatable base for a raft.

Sadly, while we did ride the raft in the duck pond we never staged the water battle on the lake, especially as we only had one raft!
Thystle_Blum said…
I found several grammatical errors, and you seem to like using 5$words. It's good to let people know through your work that you are an intelligent and artful author. You should however, remember that every newspaper in the United States is written at a third grade reading level. There are several reasons for this. First: It leaves your work open for a very wide age range. Second: It makes you have to pull out the thesaurus less often yourself. Third: Most Americans can't read above a third grade level. Aside from those minor particulars, I found your story to be quite enjoyable. It lends a feeling of nostalgia and wonderment to ordinary circumstances. That is a skill that far too few authors try to hone. I don't know if you have been published professionally, but I think that you should definitely give it a go if you haven't.
Unknown said…

Thanks for the feedback. I agree, my grammar's not perfect and since this is an effort I undertake myself, I usually spend time revising it every time I find myself back here. (Unless kind readers point out the most glaring problems for me, which helps a lot.)

As far as $5 words, I agree with you, but I like them so much. I really do... I just wish I could get more people to like them as much as I do.

I have published a little bit here and there, but my main professional writing experience is as a screenwriter. So publishing these isn't always at the top of my list, though I've repeatedly been told it should be.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope the grammar and $5 don't keep you from return visits!

Unknown said…
And I didn't actually pull out the thesaurus for this one. I promise!
Carbonated Love said…
loved it. i'm so glad i found your blog.

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