“Can you reach it?” Eight-year-old Larry Lynch craned his neck to try to see his friend Bobby Belden, high up in the venerable maple tree. His twin, Terry, was posted a few feet down the trail to watch for any Bob-Whites who might be exercising the Wheeler horses on this crisp October afternoon.

“Almost.” Bobby’s voice was fainter as he continued to climb. The three boys were determined to fetch an empty bird’s nest for their classroom show and tell. Bobby insisted the nest high up in this maple tree would be the best one in their class. However, after tearing his jacket on a tree branch the previous week, he’d been strictly forbidden to climb the trees in the Wheeler preserve.

“We just won’t say anything about how we got the nest,” Bobby had explained. “No one will know. This will be the best show-and-tell project in the class; no one else will have something this good.”

It hadn’t been an easy task to boost Bobby high enough to reach the lowest branch, but by knotting their jackets together, the trio had been able to fashion a kind of rope to assist him after the twins had formed a sort of human table for him to climb on. None of them had thought too much about how Bobby would get down from the branch, which was about six feet off the ground.

“Got it!” Bobby’s voice held a triumphant note, and Larry saw that he was starting to back his way down.

“Incoming!” Terry gave the warning in a loud whisper, but it was too late for them to hide what they were doing. Dan Mangan was approaching them by the trail on foot, holding an armful of schoolbooks.

“What’s up, guys?” he asked.

“Oh, just out on a hike,” Larry said, trying to look as if he and Terry just happened to be taking a walk in the woods alone. He hoped his face didn’t have guilt written all over it. Terry looked up into the tree, and Larry couldn’t keep his own eyes from straying upward.

“All right, where’s Bobby?” Dan shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I know you two aren’t out here without him.” Just then, a crack sounded above their heads. Dan dropped his books and pushed the smaller boys to the side, just as Bobby shouted “Oof!” and then “Yikes!”

Larry squeezed his eyes shut as sounds of whooshing, thumping, more branches cracking, and a few more “oofs” heralded Bobby’s descent. He didn’t want to see his friend splattered on the ground. A rain of yellow and orange leaves and small twigs fell, hitting his face and head. Terry grabbed his arm with a vise-like strength.

A nearby thump seemed to make the ground vibrate, and Larry opened his eyes. Dan was on the ground, with Bobby on top of him. Both of them lay still.

“Are they dead?” Terry asked, looking as scared as Larry felt.

Larry didn’t know what to say. He was afraid to take a closer look. Then Bobby opened his eyes.

“Got it!” he said triumphantly, waving the nest. It seemed to be mostly intact.

A groan from Dan took their attention from the nest. “Dan! Are you okay?” Bobby asked.

Dan didn’t move. His face was white. “Go find Regan or Mr. Maypenny,” he ground out. “I think my arm is broken.”

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Author’s Notes

568 words

Inspired by prompt 26, “Can you reach it?” from the January prompt challenge; submitted as an entry for Unfinished Trixie Business, CWE #20, to meet requirements for CWE #25 .

Many thanks to Trish, who did a great edit in spite of having a full plate.

I do hope someone will decide to finish this one—I'd like to find out what happens!

Thank you for reading!

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. All other material on these pages copyright 2010-2030 by MaryN/Dianafan. All images from Pixabay and used in accordance with usage rights; manipulated by Mary N in Photoshop. Graphics copyright by Mary N 2022.

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