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The only day that tops the last day of school is the first day of summer. I was so excited when I awoke that I nearly bolted downstairs without changing clothes. I rummaged around my room looking for my favorite green t-shirt with a frog face on it. Then I pulled up my orange, brown and white checker-plaid shorts and began to move toward the door again, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed something move under the pile of clothes in my open closet.

My mom consistently hounded me about my closet. You see I used it more as a laundry hamper than a closet. There was only one shirt hung up. It was a bright yellow perfectly brand-spanking new shirt with stars and a rainbow on it that my parents had purchased at some cheap store in the Greenville Mall. I never wore it all school year. Beside it were a dozen empty hangers.

My eyes caught movement in the pile to the left again. My heart skipped a beat. What is that? I thought. It seemed really large. I hoped it was too large to be a spider. A chill shivered up my spine at the thought of a big, ugly, hairy spider with beady red eyes focusing on me. I looked around the room for something to move the clothes from a distance. A baseball bat would work…maybe a hockey stick.

In the far corner of the room between the window and my bed sat the large glass case for my pet frog, Sampson. The lid was ajar just enough for the slippery guy to escape.

“Sampson.” I said with a sigh of relief. Reaching into the closet I moved the pile to find my plump brownish-green frog. He leapt into my hands. Ironically, he did have red beady eyes. “Hey, buddy. What you doing out of your case? You need to be careful. I could have squashed you with a baseball bat.” I petted him as I placed him back into the glass case and closed the lid.

Then I dashed downstairs.

Our home was pretty modest. Two bedrooms upstairs: mine and my parents. On the ground floor, a living room, small den, bathroom and the kitchen. Our kitchen was pretty small. The dining table took up much of the room, and it wasn’t that large. It only seated four.

While I ate breakfast, my parents gave me a present.

“Here you go, Phillip. We are so proud of you!” My mom beamed. “I can’t believe you are going into high school already. Then she wrapped her arms around me causing me to spill milk and cereal onto the table. Worse yet… she started to cry.

“Mom.” I struggled to free myself. “Mom. It’s not like I’m leaving.”

“Alright, honey.” My father interjected. “Leave the poor kid alone.” My father always seemed to understand when my mom was being too…mom-like I guess is the best way to describe it. He just smiled at me and went back to work on his laptop computer. He wasn’t home very much. He worked long hours in an office outside Greenville. I usually only saw him on the weekends.

“So.” My mom exhaled deeply as she tried to compose herself. “Open your gift, Phillip.” She was excited. My father even stopped typing on his computer to watch.

The box was rectangular in shape and wrapped in a purple paper. My mom had long thought that purple was my favorite color…it’s blue. I think she might be color blind, because when she gave me the yellow shirt up in my closet last summer I recall her claiming it was white.

I began to pull back the wrapping paper and notice it was a shoebox. I started to get excited. I had been asking for new shoes for nearly the entire school year. The ones I had now were so tight that my toes were nearly permanently curled up from getting crammed into them everyday. I started to open the box with enthusiasm. Inside was a pair of dark blue sketchers.

“Oh, wow!” I jumped from my seat. “Thank you, Mom!” I gave her the biggest hug. Then ran to my father on the other side of the table. “Thanks,” I said. He gave me a one-armed hug with a slight pat on the back. That was pretty good for him. My father wasn’t the most affectionate man.

My father quickly changed the subject. “So what are your big plans for the first day of summer?”

“Whizzy and I are gonna play baseball, ride bikes and maybe go swimming.” A rush of excitement came over me as I again realized that it was summer vacation.

While I changed into my new dark blue sketchers, my dad looked outside.

“It’s not looking very good to the west. We’re going to get some rain, Phillip.”

I had a sinking feeling like letting the air out of a balloon. Leaning back in the chair I gave a sigh. “Well. I guess we can play some video games.”

“I’ll give you a ride, Phillip,” My mom added.

I slid into the backseat of our dirty black car and buckled up. The engine roared and we started off.

Whizzy lived a couple blocks from me. My mom turned left onto Orange Avenue and headed up the road. I sat impatiently. The rain clouds moved in quickly. We hadn’t even reached Scarlet Lane, the next block up, when the rain began to pelt our car. By the time we reached the next block, Golden Lane, it was all out pouring.

I watched the rain as it ran down the window. It split into two separate streams about halfway down. In the distance, outside the window was Umber Forest. As we approached Burgundy Drive, where Whizzy lived, something emerged from the treetops. It was huge. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it seemed to be following us.

“That can’t be,” I said aloud.

“What was that, Phillip?”

“Oh. Nothing, Mom.” I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Looking out the window and through the rain I wasn’t able to locate the flying object in the treetops again.

We turned right onto Burgundy Drive and headed to the Whizzenmog’s. This was the place where the wealthy families of Greenville lived. The homes were all recently built and beautiful. I’ll admit I dreamed of living in one of these houses. They were three times the size of ours, but still didn’t compare to Whizzy’s.

At the end of Burgundy Drive was the oldest house in Greenville. Whizzy told me that the house was older than Umber Forest. I am not sure if I believe him though. It was certainly old, and monstrous. I actually mean that it looks like a monster. When you drive up to it at night and the lights are on upstairs the house appears like it has two large eyes staring you down while you approach. It’s was very unsettling the first time I came over. I wouldn’t even spend the night until we were in 6th grade.  They had a half circle driveway at the end of Burgundy Drive.

When we got to the front doors it was raining so hard I struggled to open the car door against the wind.

“Have a good time, Phillip. Call me when you’re ready to come home.”

“Thanks, Mom!” I yelled as I dashed away. I am not sure if I would have been drier had I walked, but I certainly splashed enough water onto myself that I definitely wouldn’t have been any wetter.

A large wooden canopy hung over the front doors. Two heavy wooden doors like you might see on a castle from the middle ages, with a large circular metal handle on each stood before me. I grabbed the handle on the right and banged it against the door. It was heavy. The house spanned out a great distance on either side from where I stood. I could barely make out the edges of the house against the rain.

Finally, the door creaked and then opened. My heart was already beating quickly due to my anticipation, but when the door opened and Rachel Whizzenmog was standing there, I almost fainted. She was glowing. Her hair pulled back in a ponytail showed her graceful neck.

Rachel was obviously not thrilled to see me. “Whizzy!” she yelled up the staircase directly behind her.  Well not directly behind her…it was about ten feet behind her. “Whizzy, Phillip is here!” She yelled again. “Are you coming in or not?” She snapped and then walked away from the door.

I was mesmerized. Move! Step inside! I yelled at myself. My legs just wouldn’t work.

Whizzy came bounding down the stairs skipping three at a time. “Phillip, get in here.” He wasn’t the most patient person. It must run in the family. “You are soaking wet.” He exclaimed.

“Yeah! I didn’t bring an umbrella.”

Whizzy just laughed. “Cool shoes.”

We had to change our plans because of the rain, but Whizzy didn’t mind. He loved video games particularly a game called “Wizards and Sorcerers.” We played…correction, he played and I sat and watched after he destroyed my wizard five minutes after we started. Whizzy continued on against beasts, demons and sorcerers for nearly two hours before ending in a fiery blaze of glory. He threw the controller to the ground and yelled, “Darn it! I can never get past this part.”

I just shrugged my shoulders, because I hadn’t ever made it past the first battle.

Whizzy’s room was huge. It was bigger than my living room at home. He had posters hung covering nearly every last inch of the walls. I don’t think his bed would even fit in my entire room. That is why we always played at his house…, which I didn’t mind because he had the most awesome basement on the planet.

“What now?” Whizzy said with anger still in his voice. He picked up a red rubber ball and tossed it against a “Transformers” poster. It sped back to him, but he caught it easily. He continued to bounce it directly off “Megatron’s” head while we talked.

I really wanted to play baseball. I had been waiting all school year for summer…mainly for that reason. From Whizzy’s bedroom window I could see the Umber Forest. Remembering the image in the treetops, I began searching to find any motion. A black winged silhouette raced past the window. I jumped backward and tripped over a chair falling down on my butt. My chest felt like someone had just pulled my heart out.

“Phillip!” Whizzy yelled as the red rubber ball smacked into his face knocking him and his chair over. He fell on his back, legs in the air. “Ouch.” Whizzy rolled over and stood up quickly hoping no one would notice he had fallen. “Ah, what the heck are you doing, Phillip?”

Whizzy had a red mark on his forehead. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. He looked pretty upset, and I could tell he was blaming me for his injury. His eyes burned with the Whizzenmog fury. He had never fought with me, but I had seen those eyes directly before every altercation he had ever been in. He raised his arms in the air as if saying… “explain!”

“Something just flew past your window, and it was huge.”

Whizzy pushed his face against the glass. “I don’t see anything. You must be imagining.”

He turned around to face me and the shape reappeared. I could feel my breath escape me. The expression I must have shown Whizzy had to prove that I was witnessing the image again.

He whirled back around, but the image had vanished again. “Stop foolin’ round, Phillip. Come on; let’s go to the basement.” Before I could even respond Whizzy dashed past me and left the room. I heard him call me from down the hallway again.

I stood up and slowly walked toward the door. Before I left I had to look one last time. Nothing there. I exhaled deeply. I was glad. AH! Suddenly the thing was back. Just outside the window hovering. It was an eagle. It was very large. Bigger than the window…and that is saying something, because the windows in this house were twice the size of mine. It shrieked at me.

“What do you want?” I yelled out of fear.

“For you to come to the basement,” Whizzy sarcastically replied from the bottom of the staircase.

I looked away from the window for a split second, but when I glanced back the eagle was gone.

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