“Watch out for bears,” Auntie cautioned.
“REALLY?” The young boy looked around frantically.
“Yes, they like blueberries as much as we do.”
It was hard to imagine they did, but Auntie knew her way around the woods. Plus, the boy was only seven years old. What he knew about bears you could put in one of his aunt’s sewing thimbles and still have room left over. A lot of room.
“Okay,” he said, frowning in worry at her words, his voice a low whisper.
The deep pine forest now came alive with a sinister feel, but he dutifully bent to his task. He picked a berry and put it in his bucket. Then he scanned the woods looking for bears. He didn’t see any which was good, but he was still frightened. He swatted mosquitoes while he kept a sharp lookout. The coast appeared clear so he bent down and picked another blueberry. He held it carefully as he looked around again. He didn’t see any bears, but he was still feeling nervous. He glanced at the plump berry in his hand. It looked tasty. His stomach rumbled. In the next instant, he popped it in his mouth. Oh boy, did it ever taste good! Savoring the juicy sweetness he picked another berry but didn’t put it in his bucket. He held it in his hand. The security of holding it made him feel better. Less scared. Especially after he ate the berry which he did. He had a thought. Maybe by eating the blueberries, I’m helping to keep the bears away. It seemed like a good idea to him. So he ate another one. And another. And another one. And another. The more he picked and ate, the less worried he became.
Soon he forgot all about the bears.
He and his aunt picked blueberries for the rest of the afternoon. He never saw a bear. He didn’t have many berries in his bucket either. Auntie didn’t mind. At least that’s what she told him. “You’re a hard worker,” she said. “That’s the important thing.”
It made him feel good she felt that way toward him. He smiled as they walked hand in hand through the woods toward where her car was parked. Not only had it been fun picking blueberries, but they tasted good as well. He’d done his part when it came to that, picking and eating them like he had. For sure he had helped keep the bears away. Of that he was certain.
DEC 2019 / DEC 2022 AUTHOR OF THE MONTH at Spillwords.com
Jim lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared online in CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Nailpolish Stories, Ariel Chart, Potato Soup Journal, Literary Yard, Spillwords, The Drabble and World of Myth Magazine, and in print publications: A Million Ways, Mused Literary Journal, Gleam Flash Fiction Anthology #2, The Best of CafeLit8, Nativity Anthology by Bridge House Publishing and Gold Dust Magazine. You can also check out his blog - theviewfromlonglake at WordPress.