No. 588

Sally and Jack always played in the stream that ran through their neighbourhood. During the summer, the water was low, making access into the culvert that ran underneath the street possible.

Jack stood on the bank and threw a rock toward the tunnel. It disappeared with a splash into the deepest part of the stream. “Don’t go in there,” he told Sally. “That’s where the big crayfish is. I saw him last week. He could take your hand off if he got you.”

Sally looked at her hand, flexing her fingers experimentally. “He must be huge,” she said.

“For sure,” Jack agreed. “Even the older kids won’t go after him.”

“Afraid?” asked Sally.

“Aren’t you?” Jack replied.

Sally searched through the bushes on the bank beside the stream and found a large stick. “I bet I can catch him,” she declared.

Jack stepped away from the water as Sally went in up to her ankles. “What’s the matter?” she asked him. “Scared?”

“No.” said Jack, unconvincingly. “I’m giving you space.”

“Ha!” said Sally, as she disappeared into the dark passageway.

Jack was scared, and watched nervously for his friend. He heard splashing from the tunnel. “He’s got her,” he whispered to himself, and considered running home.

Moments later, Sally emerged, without her stick, but carrying a medium-sized crayfish. “Is this what they were worried about?” she said as she held the crustacean toward Jack.

“I thought it would be bigger,” said Jack, who had not moved closer to the water. “Much bigger.”

“Maybe the older kids didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Sally. “I looked around. There weren’t any other crayfish in there. I’m pretty sure this is the ‘monster’ one.”

“Good for us. I mean, you,” said Jack.

Sally had reached the land. She waved the crayfish at Jack. “Look out,” she teased, “I bet he could take your hand off!”