It was Friday. School was out. That meant I could drop my book satchel on the bed an not think about it until Sunday. The sun welcomed all first graders out of doors when unencumbered with school duties. I ran outside to say thank you to that warm bright ball in the sky.
I was invited to the twins' to search for four leaf clovers so I began to meander in that direction. My eye caught a small honey bee lifting from one blossom in the grass lining the road. I followed him as he settled, crawled all over the half domed flower then buzzed upward and over to the next. I watched his legs grow fatter with each new batch of pollen. Halfway to the twins' house he rose slowly, rolled in the air then lazily buzzed in a straight line past me. I watched him until he disappeared, then resumed my ambling on.
The twins were already in their front yard combing through the patches of clover.
"Look Rickey! I found two already," Jan shouted. Her attention went back to the tiny green leaves.
"Did you look over here yet?" I asked dropping to my knees.
"Yeah. We're almost finished up. Not much we haven't covered."
I dropped to my hands scrutinizing the tiny grouping of clovers with three leaves.
"You missed this one!" I shouted. I snapped it at the base then held it high for them to see.
"Doggone it. How'd I miss that?" Jill was frowning.
"I got one! That makes three for me."
Jill began to look little harder.
"There! You musta missed this one too." I added it to my four leaf clover holder hand.
"Oh, fooey!" Jill was getting impatient. "You only just got here and found two."
"You gotta look real close." I was holding mine up so she could see them.
She stuck her tongue out at me.
While we crawled through the green there was shouting and laughing from behind the house.
"What's happening in back?" I was losing interest in four leaf clovers. It sounded like someone was having a lot of fun back there.
"Tommy finished digging his hole. They're playing in it."
"Can we go see. I don't think we're going to find anymore. You can have these if you want them." I was holding them toward Jill who smiled and took them.
"Yes, I do. Thanks, Rickey."
We got up and ran to the back of the house. As we rounded the corner I saw Clyde jump high then disappear. There was a loud splork. I ran faster.
"Wow, that's deep." I stood on the edge of a hole that was over Clyde's head. The twins and I could have lain along the edge in a line without touching the corners.
"Boy when you said Tommy was digging a hole you weren't kiddin."
Clyde looked up from the bottom. "Hey, nef. Whatchoo doin'? Playing with the girls."
"Yeah, we were huntin' four leaf..."
"Don't care. You want to play with the big boys?"
Tommy, Clyde and two of their friends were all looking up at me. They were up to their waists in mud.
"What I gotta do?" I said hesitantly.
He was slogging his way through the golden brown mud at the bottom of the pit.
"Well, we've been jumping into the mud to see who can go deepest. I just made it to my waist. Want to try?"
He and his friends were smiling up at me.
"It's kinda deep Clyde. How would I get out?"
"Oh, we got that knotted rope in the corner there. It's attached to the clothesline pole. You just grab on and haul yourself up."
"I don't know. Looks like you get all muddy. Mom won't like that. She's coming to pick me up for the weekend."
"That's the whole point. Getting muddy. We can just hose it off. It's fun."
"How deep's the mud?"
"It only comes up to my waist. See?"
The twins were looking at me, egging me on.
"You sure it's safe?"
"Would I be doing this if it wasn't? It's fun. Try it."
"I don't know..."
"Yeah, knew you'd chicken out. That's OK. Go on and play with the girls." He snickered joined by the others.
"It's kinda deep."
"You sure I'll be OK?"
"I'm right here, nef. Ever steered you wrong?"
"Never mind. I'm right here now."
Tommy and the other boys were climbing out of the hole.
"Need some help, Rickey?" Tommy asked.
"NO!" I yelled. Creeping to the edge I looked down into the oozing brown that held Clyde to his waist.
"Lemme take my shoes off." Untying them I put them behind me and stood up. My toes were on the very edge.
"Jump! Jump! JUMP!" I was surrounded by Clyde's friends and the twins yelling, "JUMP!"
I closed my eyes and jumped into the air. For a split second I was airborne.
Then I was up to my shoulders in the ooze at the bottom of the pit. Spitting mud I looked around. Clyde was gone. I tried to turn but the mud was thick and I wasn't able to move without tremendous force. I was the only one in the bottom of this huge mud hole. I looked up to see dark walls of dirt. The sky was framed above by grass fringed cliffs of dirt. No one was there. It was quiet. I tried to move again. The mud bubbled up into my mouth.
"Pfft! Pfft! Hey where is everybody?!"
I struggled to get to the rope hanging in the corner. It was like the dream where you just can't move. The panic began to settle in. I started to scream through tears. Still nobody looked over the edge.
"HELP!" My screams got louder. Finally The twins' mother came to the edge and looked over.
"Oh my gosh! How'd you get down there?"
"I..sob, sob..I.. jumped."
"What kind of foolishness is this? Get out of there right now."
"Who put you up to this?"
"Where is he?"
"I don't know. T..T...they disappeared."
"I'll see about that." And she left.
"Wait!! Don't leave me!"
I struggled to reach the rope. I couldn't move. The mud was less fluid.
"Help! I can't move! The mud's dryin'!"
Clyde poked his head over the side.
"Why'd you have to go and tell. We were coming back."
"You w...w...weren't th..there and the mud's dryin' and I can't move."
"Get that boy outta there this minute!" said Tommy's mother.
Clyde jumped in up to his waist. He grabbed the rope holding it out to me. I grabbed hold of the last knot. he walked toward the corner dragging me along. The suction sounds of mud being left behind were loud as my body was pulled slowly upward.
"I think you won the contest. Up to your shoulders. Pretty good, nef."
"Yeah, but you weren't there when I hit bottom. You weren't at the top either. I thought you left me."
"You're my nef, nef." He climbed out and began to pull me to the top as I clung to the rope.
He was right about one thing. The hosing down was fun. He wasn't right about it being OK with my mother though.