Chapter 1: The Stranger
Spenser kicked a stone as he exited the school building, his shoulders low beneath the weight of the teacher’s announcement. He had to read an entire book by Friday and do a book report on it. He had never read an entire book before, and he didn’t want to start now. He wanted to go home and play his new computer game. It had zombies and ninjas, every boy’s dream, but he knew his mother would never let him play when she found out about this homework. She would make him sit at the kitchen table and read, so she could watch him while she prepared dinner.
His mother always made him sit at the table to do homework, and he hated it. The chair wasn’t comfortable, and under her watchful eye, he wasn’t allowed to rush through assignments. Plus, he could usually hear the low hum of the television as his little sister, Kayleigh, and his brother, Jackson, watched Paw Patrol or Sofia the First. That only made his punishment feel worse. Sometimes he hated being the oldest.
He kicked another rock, sending it scuttling down the path. It landed in front of a pair of black boots. Spenser raised his copper-colored head to see a man dressed all in black standing a few feet in front of him. His skin was pale, making his dark garments look even more like night. On his head perched a tall black cowboy hat.
Spenser looked to the left and right, clutching the straps of his backpack tighter. He had read about cowboys but never seen one in real life. There weren’t many in Washington state. His mother, who was from Texas, spoke of them occasionally, but even she said there weren’t as many as there used to be.
“Why you looking so glum little pardner?” the man drawled. His accent was heavy, and his words were slow.
Spenser wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers, but his curiosity got the best of him. “I have to read a book and do a report on it by Friday, and I don’t like reading.”
“Well, that is a mighty big problem,” the man agreed, tipping his hat. “Maybe you just ain’t found the right book yet.”
“What do you mean?” Spenser asked, narrowing his eyes at the man.
“Books can be full of amazing stories. Once you find one you like, I’ll bet you’ll be hooked for life pardner. Here, I got something that might help.” He reached into the pocket of his black duster and pulled something out. It was small enough to fit in his hand.
Unable to help himself, Spenser took another step closer. His blue eyes widened as he waited for the man to open his hand.
The man’s fingers uncurled one at a time to showcase . . .
“A rock?” Spenser’s nose wrinkled in disgust. He had been hoping for something cooler than a rock.
“Not just any rock, son. This is a wishing stone. You jest hold it while you read and see what happens, but I must warn you to be careful of your thoughts. For sometimes, when you hold this stone, magical things happen.”
Spenser looked again at the stone. Though nearly completely white, it still looked just like an ordinary rock to him. He took the rock, expecting nothing, but a cool sensation tickled up his arms. He glanced up quickly at the man, who merely smiled and nodded, as if they now shared a secret.
“Jest remember to hold that while you read,” the man said. He tipped his hat one more time and then walked away.
Spenser was left holding the rock and wondering about the man. He didn’t believe that anything special would happen when he held the rock, but the tingle that had gone up his arms was strange. It was fading now, but he could still feel a small remnant of the chill. He supposed it couldn’t hurt to try. After tucking the rock in his front pocket, Spenser continued to his house.
Be sure to look for this book in Amazon soon.
Lorana Hoopes is a Christian author who focuses on children’s book and adult inspirational books with a touch of romance.Her books are available at Amazon.