The following is a children's story I wrote in 2005. It is a feel-good, down memory lane type story to show the positive aspects of family life lived out in both country and suburban settings.
"Spunky Dunky's Day"
Word Count: 1798
Duncan VanDurme lived in the busy village of Geneseo, New York, with his father, mother, and older brother, Ryan. Duncan was a pudgy, red-haired boy, all of about eight years old. He liked to explore and visit his nine year old cousin, Billy, on a farm in the nearby town of Groveland.
Duncan had earned the nickname, “Spunky Dunky” after his cousin, Billy, dared him to climb a rope ladder to the second story hayloft to get the red Frisbee that had landed there. The nickname stuck although most everybody called him, “Dunky” for short.
One morning, Dunky was puttering in the kitchen, trying to open a box of pop tarts. What flavor do I want? He just loved the way the blueberry sauce melted and dripped onto the corners of his lips whenever bit into a warm tart. He was just getting ready to pop a couple of tarts into the toaster, when he heard his father, clearing his throat.
Laying the newspaper down on the table beside his plate, Mr. Van Durme grunted, “I guess it’s about that time.” Dunky didn’t have to ask. He knew what that time was, for his father said the same thing every morning after wiping his mouth with a napkin.
Mr. Van Durme stood up, squealing his chair across the floor. He was a tall, slender man who had to duck every time he passed the ceiling fan or a doorway. Dunky looked with wonder at his father, who wore a crisp, black suit. His dark red tie looked brighter red against a white, button-down shirt. Shiny black shoes peaked out from under stiff, scratchy pant legs held up by a thick leather belt with a brass buckle.
“Goodbye, son. You be good for your mother today. No getting into trouble, you hear?” Mr. VanDurme leaned over and patted his son on the shoulder. Dunky took a deep sniff of his dad’s cologne and thought about what it would be like to be big and important like his dad. There was something magical about his dad that Dunky just couldn’t figure out.
“Where are you going, Dad?” He wished he could go along.
“Son, I'm off to work. I have a lot of people to help today. Today is a very busy day, son, but I will be home this evening and we will do something together then, ok?”
Duncan hoped it would be playing a new video game. “Bye Dad.”
Mr. VanDurme said “Goodbye” and headed toward the back door.
Just then, Dunky heard a clicking noise on the kitchen floor. Mother’s high heels made a sound almost like music: Tip-tap, Tip-tap, Tip-tap. “Goodbye, Dear.” Dunky saw his mother lean in to kiss his father.
“ Yuk!” He rolled his eyes in disgust.
Mom smiled as the door closed behind Mr. VanDurme. Then she looked at her watch and sighed a deep breath. “Dunky, Honey, I know you boys have the day off from school but I have some appointments in the back office today which I just can’t cancel. The other real estate agents are coming for their paychecks and I have to write up a purchase offer for Mrs. Schmidt. It seems I’m running a bit late today and will have to skip breakfast.” She looked at her watch again and frowned.
Dunky looked at the breakfast table. He saw his father’s half-eaten toast and his big brother’s bowl of cereal which was all gone but a puddle of milk that still sat in the bottom. He could hear the pounding of a basketball as it bounced on the blacktop in the parking lot behind his house. Dunky knew that meant that his brother, Ryan, had already eaten and was playing ball with his ten year old friends from school. Dunky looked back at the table where he saw his own, half-opened pop-tarts, still waiting to be toasted.
“When will you be back, Mom?” he asked, as if she were going on a long journey. Dunky adored his mom. She was pretty, at least he and dad thought so. Today, she wore a brown and white dress with pointy-toe high heeled shoes. From her shoulder hung a neat, black leather bag which bumped in and out as she walked.
“Oh, I’ll only be gone an hour or so Dunky, and I’ll be right out back. If you need something, Ryan can come and get me. Be good though, Duncan!” She always called him Duncan when she meant business. He had better be good.
Mother stepped past him toward the mirror by the back door and pulled out a shiny tube of pink lipstick. Smoothing her lips with a pucker, she swooped down and kissed Dunky’s forehead and then held his chin in her hands. “Did you hear me?”
“Yes, Mom, I’ll be good.”
The door clicked behind her and Dunky ran to the window to watch his mother walk to the back real estate office. He could see his brother playing there and wished he could play ball too. He pressed his face in against the picture window in the kitchen, feeling the cool glass against his skin.
It wasn’t that Ryan and his friends minded having Dunky play basketball with them. It’s just that Dunky was too short and pudgy so he couldn’t make a basket no matter how hard he tried!
If I can't play ball with Ryan, I wish I could be back at Billy's house. He had spent the weekend at his cousin's farm. They always had fun, whether it was playing with the barnyard animals or creating their own adventures. They would go fishing in the creek behind Billy’s house, or tie a rope to a tree and swing out across the creek and try not to fall in the mud. Often they would fall in the mud anyway, but Dunky didn’t mind. He would just start a mud fight. The boys would come out looking like mummies.
Then there was the time when they buried a G. I. Joe doll in a plastic tub under the willow tree on Groveland Hill Road. They had a funeral for the poor soldier who died in a battle during the Civil War. Billy was the pall-bearer and Dunky pretended to be the grave digger. Then they buried beside him, a hidden treasure made up of trinkets found around the barn. There was always an adventure with Billy.
Dunky heard a noise in the living room. "MEOW!"
We don’t have a cat! he thought.
What in the world? Dunky wondered out loud. He jumped up from the window seat and raced toward the living room. Sure enough, he saw a cat, a dog and three kittens, chasing each other around the living room. They were knocking over lamps and trash cans, strewing tissues everywhere, and last but not least, they left claw marks all over mother’s nice curtains.
What in the world am I going to do? How did these animals get here anyway? They must have snuck in from Billy’s dad’s truck last night. But how did they get inside without anyone noticing? Mother will be so upset.
Just then, two goats came down the stairs from the bedroom. One had Dunky’s half eaten sock and the other had his father's nice dress shoe. Oh no! What am I going to do? I must get these animals out of here before my mother comes back. He wrestled the goat up and down a couple of steps. " Let go. Let go, you dumb goat!" He yanked and yanked until he fell on his backside finding the shoe in hand. "There! Now get away from my dad's stuff!" Billy yelled in desperation but then stopped himself for fear that his mother might hear him and come running from the back office.
Not long afterward, he heard clicking on the kitchen floor again. Mother! he thought, but then froze in his steps. The clicking wasn’t like the music of mother’s heels.
Dunky picked up the shoe he had managed to wrangle away from the goat and tip-toed out to the kitchen. He could use the shoe as a weapon if he needed to. When he arrived in the kitchen, he could not believe his eyes. There on his kitchen table were two chickens! They were fighting over the pop tarts Dunky had left there.
“Hey, get away from those pop tarts. They’re mine!” he shouted, but it was too late. The chickens had crumbled them all over the place.
“Cluck, Cluck.” They ripped into the other package and flew all around the room, spilling crumbs across the whole kitchen floor!
Poor Dunky! His mother would be so angry when she saw the mess and all the animals in the house. Dunky herded the animals by snapping a striped kitchen towel at them until he had corralled them into the laundry room. He shut the door and then leaned his back against it to catch his breath.
At least now I can call Billy and have his father come and get them before Mother finds out. Dunky then planned to ask Billy to help him clean it up while Billy's father kept Mom busy in the back office by talking her ear off about the previous weekend. He didn't know if this plan would work. He wrinkled his brow. Dunky wanted to cry but just bit his lower lip.
“Duncan! Duncan! Wake up. I need you to help me clean the kitchen.” His mother’s voice sounded far away. “Oh Dunky, you didn’t eat your pop tarts. I guess you WERE tired after visiting Billy this past weekend.”
With that, Dunky sat straight up! He looked around him to the living room to find everything as neat as could be. He looked in the laundry room and found it empty. He ran back to the kitchen and found his pop tarts right where he had left them.
It had all been a dream. There were no animals at all and no mess except for the breakfast dishes in the kitchen. Dunky was so excited, he jumped up and down like a beach ball, and grinned ear to ear while he rushed over to his mother's side.
“Sure, mom! I’ll help you clean the kitchen.”
His mom gave him a puzzled look, but Dunky just smiled and dug in to the stack of dishes. When the last dish had been put into the cupboard and the towels hung back on the stove front, he took a paper towel and wiped the smudges off the window where his face had pressed against the glass when he had fallen asleep and found himself in such a crazy, beautiful dream that he decided to keep as his own secret adventure.