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Cricket the Early Years Part 7
By
frogprince

Cricket the Early Years Part 7

Marcia and Naomi start at a new school. They make a new furry friend.

Christmas vacation started with unseasonably warm weather. Marcia and Naomi spent a lot of time together searching the woods. Their minds focused on vacation and forgot about school. Marcia showed Naomi where all the crickets lived. The girls followed the path in the woods to Sabrina's house. Sabrina joined them several times on the walks of discovery.

One day on one of their walks, the three girls came to the cricket area where Marcia stopped. She took a small cloth sack out of her backpack and untied the string that held it closed. Inside the sack were three small cricket cages. She took one and handed it to Sabrina, followed by Naomi. They each had a cage in their hands.

"Okay, it is time to capture a cricket to keep in your room as a token of good luck and long life," announced Marcia.

The girls giggled, as they chased and captured a cricket for their cages. Marcia caught the first, followed by Sabrina. Naomi, after a few tries, caught a big cricket. They held them up and compared them. Marcia was pleased and took the cages to put them back into the cloth bag and closed the drawstring. The girls set out on a path that led deeper into the woods.

The path wound around trees and huge rocks past some small caves. In the cloudy darkness, the sun reflected off the eyes that watched the girls approach. Not a sound escaped the girl's ears. Birds screamed at their approach, but quieted as they passed. The woods grew thicker and the path became overgrown with weeds and small berry bushes. The girls pushed on to a large clearing that was grassy and open to the sky.

In the middle of the clearing was a large flat granite rock. The girls sat on the rock and looked around. In several spots, the grass swirled around as it packed to the ground, as if something laid there. In one corner of the clearing, there was a tall outcropping of rocks. A cave there was dark and foreboding.

Suddenly movement startled the girls as a small white wolf pup bounded from the cave. Sabrina pulled her legs up onto the rock in fear, but Marcia and Naomi watched the pup. The pup approached the rock and sniffed the ground. It smelled a familiar smell, looked up at the girls and rolled on the ground. It got up and stood on its hind legs trying to join the girls. Marcia slowly got off the rock near the pup. She slowly walked to the pup and knelt to pet it.

Suddenly mom appeared trotting from the cave. She stopped, looked at the girls and lay cautiously in the grass nearby. She remembered Marcia from earlier times and knew there was no danger to her pup. Marcia put her hand down and the pup came over and licked her hand. Marcia giggled at the touch of the wolf pup's thick tongue. Marcia's friends watched from the safety of the rock.

The pup jumped up on Marcia and knocked her over playfully. Marcia laughed as the pup licked her face and tousled her hair. The mother wolf rose up and inched closer, ever watching them play together. She got close enough to Marcia that she could put her mouth on Marcia's arm if she threatened the pup. Marcia turned and moved her hand toward the mother. The pup followed Marcia's hand. When it got near the hand, mom moved to get between the pup and the hand.

Mom sat there and Marcia reached over and touched mom's winter fur. It was thick, wiry and clean. Mom looked at the hand and knew it would not hurt her. She lay down next to Marcia as the pup played around them. Marcia became an accepted visitor and friend to this small family. Marcia slowly stroked the mother wolf's fur and gained a love for the beautiful animal.

The wolf pup soon tired of playing near Marcia and her friends. As it wandered off, the wolf mom stood nuzzled Marcia's hand and walked off to follow her pup. She looked back at Marcia as if to bid her goodbye. Marcia felt a strong bond between the two wolves. In her mind, she wanted to find out more about wolves.

When the wolves were gone, Sabrina and Naomi jumped off the rock. They gathered around Marcia and looked at her with wonder in their eyes. They walked away slowly out of the woods toward Sabrina's house. They were quiet as they walked, listening to the sounds around them. It was getting on to sunset and the woods darkened fast. At the edge of the woods, Marcia and Naomi bid Sabrina goodbye, after giving her the cricket she caught. They turned and ran through the woods not stopping until they got to Marcia's house.

"Wow, that was some adventure today," uttered Naomi, when they entered the house. "How did you know you were safe with the mother wolf?"

"I don't know. I felt there was some kind of bond that connected us. I knew I was safe and Sabrina and you were too. I need to find out more about those wolves. Tomorrow we can go to the library and look up wolves in every book we can find," spoke Marcia quickly. "We need to keep this a secret. I feel there is danger if we tell anyone about the wolves."

The next day, as Marcia and Naomi poured over books on wolves, they gathered a lot of information. The two wolves in the woods were part of an endangered species. Being an endangered species made them protected from men hunting and killing them. Marcia breathed a sigh of relief when she read that. Naomi saw the deep breath and knew a heavy weight fell of Marcia's heart.

"The wolves we saw are part of the endangered species list and protected by law. No one can hunt or kill them," spoke Marcia softly, as she squeezed her friend's arm. "Let's go home."

The rest of their vacation went quickly. They spent a lot of time with the wolves playing in the big clearing. The week before they started at their new school, Marcia and Naomi shopped for new clothes and got their stuff ready. The excitement built, as the first day in a new school came. The normal feeling of dread was gone because the girls shared the experience. They felt sad about their other school. Starting in a new school without Sarah and her clique was enough to cheer them.

Marcia's mom drove them to school. Marcia and Naomi exited the car and walked up the short flight of stairs entering their new school. A few students watched curiously, as the duo went to the office. They entered the office, checked in with the vice principal and learned of their new classroom. One of the student volunteers met them and took them to their classroom. There were three fourth grade classes and Marcia feared that Naomi was in a different classroom. Marcia felt elated when they went to the same classroom.

The room was abuzz, when Marcia and Naomi entered. It quieted quickly, when the teacher clapped her hand. After introducing themselves to the class, they took seats beside each other in the middle back of the room. Marcia looked around and noticed that there were boys in the class. A short feeling of apprehension ran through her mind. She had never been in a class that contained boys.

Naomi looked around the class and noticed several familiar girls. She forgot who they were, but knew she saw them before somewhere. After a few minutes of thought, she remembered who they were. Several times when she visited Sarah, these girls were at her house. They were girls who lived in the same neighborhood where Sarah lived. Four girls turned in their seats and smiled in welcome to Naomi.

Marcia and Naomi felt welcome in their new class. The day started well and things looked good to the girls. The morning passed quickly with Marcia contributing to the nature part of class with her wolf knowledge. Naomi worked at the board on some math examples. The teacher made them feel welcome and made sure to compliment them on their knowledge.

Lunchtime arrived, the girls joined their classmates and walked to the lunchroom. Marcia's mom made lunch for the girls. They took their lunches and went to an empty table in the lunchroom. Soon, the four girls Naomi knew joined them. These girl's names were Kathy, Kelly, Erin and Melissa. They lived near Sarah and spent time with her.

They remembered Naomi from their visits with Sarah. Naomi knew they were at Sarah's but was not sure how they felt about her. As the girls caught up with Naomi, they looked at Marcia curious to know who she was.

When Naomi told them who she was, they said, "You are the famous cricket girl. Sarah was so upset about the Halloween party, but we loved the prank. It was so cool and got Sarah so angry that she stopped being a bully to us. Thank you."

"Instead of Marcia, can we call you Cricket?" Erin asked.

"Sure, that sounds cool," replied Marcia, "I like that very much."

Marcia and Naomi finished their lunches and continued with small talk with their new friends. They were not fans of Sarah. Several other girls and boys stopped at the table to meet the new girls. When lunchtime ended, Cricket and Naomi met many of their classmates and a new group of friends formed around them. It seemed that Sarah was not as popular with people as she thought. Cricket knew she was right not to be friends with Sarah.

"Sarah was a student here until part way through the third grade. There was a disturbance with another girl in her class. Sarah never returned after that. No one really missed her here," injected Melissa.

That was a total surprise to Marcia. Sarah seemed like a permanent fixture at the school she just left. It was hard to believe she was only there for half a term and the start of a new grade. Then, she remembered the statement made by the principal about her family's contributions. Now she knew why Sarah won the battle. Marcia breathed a sigh of relief to be away from Sarah and her family influence.

By the end of lunch, almost the whole lunchroom came by to welcome "The Cricket Girl" and her friend. It appeared Marcia was a true celebrity with this school. She felt so elated and never had a better welcome. It was a good time. By the end of the day, the school knew Cricket was a student there and she became a local hero.

When school ended for the day, Naomi and Marcia walked home and decided to go to the grove of wolves. As they approached, the mother wolf stood on the big rock in the middle. She barked at the girls in a warning manner. When the girls got closer, she growled in warning, but the girls continued to advance. As they walked around the rock, they saw the danger. Both girls stopped dead in place and looked ahead at the mouth of the cave.

Lying in the grass, partially obscured by a small rock at the mouth of the cave was another much larger wolf. The wolf pup danced around the large wolf pouncing on him and biting his ears. When he tired of the cavorting pup, he put out his paw and held the pup immobilized. The pup rolled under the paw and kicked back to escape.

The pup saw the girls approach and scampered toward them. The mother wolf sat on her haunches poised to strike if anything happened to endanger her pup. As the pup drew closer to the girls, the large wolf stood and slowly moved out from behind the rock. He watched the pup and the girls with wary eyes. The pup, bounding through the grass, reached the girls and jumped on their legs. The girls giggled and bent to greet the pup.

As the girls played with the pup, mom jumped off the rock and joined them. She played with the girls and nuzzled the pup to tease him. The pup ran in circles around the group, while the large wolf watched standing cautiously. The pup ran to the large wolf and tried to pull him to join the group. The mom wolf inserted herself between the two girls lying easily between them relaxed. The pup yipped and urged the large wolf to join them.

The large wolf warily walked reluctantly behind the pup. As he approached, he crouch walked ready to strike in the event of danger. The pup bounded back and forth between them. The closer he got to the group, mom stood ready to defend the girls. Eventually, he sat just at the fringe of this group. He grew more at ease and lowered himself to face the group, but cautious to spring into action.

Marcia slowly inched her way to the large wolf. Her approach was slow, but he watched her closely. He felt that she was not a threat to him or his family. Eventually, Marcia placed her hand out to the big wolf. He leaned his head forward and sniffed her hand. Satisfied that she was a familiar smell he lowered his head and allowed her to scratch behind his ears. As she scratched, he rested his head between his outstretched front legs.

Naomi played with the pup, but watched Marcia with the large male wolf. She decided the wolf was scary enough and she kept away from him. She liked the wolves and felt very comfortable sitting with them. She hugged the mom wolf, who lowered her head to Naomi's lap. The pup settled by mom curled in a little ball and fell asleep. The wolves relaxed and lay contented with the girls among them.

An hour later, the large male wolf raised his head quickly and jumped up growling. The mom sat up waking the pup. Marcia looked at Naomi confused because they sensed and heard nothing. The large wolf nudged Marcia to get up and pushed the pup and mom toward the cave. The mom and pup entered the cave followed by the big wolf. His eyes were the only thing visible from the entrance.

Suddenly, Marcia and Naomi heard voices of two boys as they tramped through the woods. The girls went toward the cave and hid away. The boys saw the clearing, but continued through the woods away from the clearing. The girls listened intently as the sounds retreated away from the clearing. The male wolf came to the front of the cave and sat next to Marcia watching the woods. Marcia reached down and rubbed his head and he leaned against her. When he relaxed, Marcia knew it was safe to leave. She grabbed Naomi's hand, bid goodbye to her pets and dragged Naomi out of the woods to her house.

Over the next three weeks, Marcia met more friends who were not fans of Sarah. Her circle of friends widened each day. One thing she did not notice was an eighth grade boy who watched her closely. He had a group of classmates he hung with at lunch, but he always sat to watch her. Her exploits against Sarah attracted him. She was a folk hero at the school, but he was not so sure.

So far, he did not see anything that made her so evil or devious. He hoped she might challenge him to a duel of pranks. This boy was the instigator of almost every prank that happened at school. He plotted everything but got other boys to execute the pranks and take the blame. He thought that the upcoming Valentine's Day festivities would be a good place to expose the challenge.

The school celebrated Valentine's Day with a special lunch and decorations all over the school. The students decorated the exteriors of their lockers. Cards appeared stuffed in lockers or passed in class. The upper classes exchanged cards openly, but lower classes kept things covert to prevent embarrassment. Marcia only gave a card to Naomi, but her locker filled with cards from all her new friends and admirers.

Marcia applied a big red heart on her locker door surrounded by smaller pink hearts. There were a few cupids near the top of the locker pointing their arrows at the large heart. It was plain and simple but elegant. Several of her friends added tied red or pink ribbons with hearts trailing down the long tendrils of the bows. Her locker became the focal point of a large exhibit of love and appreciation.

The night before Valentine's Day the door of Marcia's locker mysteriously opened and the inside of the locker filled with red rose petals and candy hearts. A huge unsigned card covered the contents in the locker too. The door closed carefully to not spill any of the contents, but it was time to decorate the outside. Fresh roses ringed the door with more candy hearts suspended from ribbons. Rose petals covered the floor in front of the locker.

Marcia awoke early on Valentine's Day hoping to get to school and prank out Naomi's locker. She got dressed and ate fast to get off to school. When she arrived, a crowd gathered near her locker and hid it from her view. A few teachers approached the locker and stayed back from it.

As Marcia approached, the crowd parted and let her pass through. She stopped at the edge of the rose petals on the floor. She looked down and could not believe that someone went to the expense of playing a prank on her. She looked at the locker and was afraid to get close to it.

Everyone stood watching Marcia. Her face went from surprise and pleasure to confusion and embarrassment. Who did this to her? Was it a joke or serious? Was this a prank? The one thing she knew was certain, Sarah was not part of it.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than storiesspace.com with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2012, 2013 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Cal Erickson, aka frogprince

Posted with permission at storiesspace.com

All other rights reserved.

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