"There," he said, observing his creation with the loving look a father gives a particularly deserving son. "It's finished."
Nobody was around to show his creation to, unfortunately. That was one of the pitfalls of being a hermit. Pepper had taken up the hermit lifestyle about two days ago, when his parents had given him a particularly stern talking to about the dangers of not brushing your teeth well enough.
Pepper had not held with any such nonsense as personal hygiene, so he'd run away to the Great Outdoors, which he'd heard very much about on TV, and planned to greet his future with open arms. Whatever was on the way could not be as bad as what he had already faced.
His stick-with-a-string, which he decided to call Larry, was the first of many brilliant inventions he would invent. "When I have invented everything there is to invent," Pepper said casually to Larry, as he now had someone to talk to, "I will write a book on the subject. It will be called 'Everything Ever', and it will be full of instructions on how to make things that you need. And I'll be a gazillionaire, and I'll buy a mansion the size of Alaska, and I'll never have to brush my teeth again because gazillionaires can pay for someone to do that for them."
Pepper looked at Larry sternly, as if daring the stick and string concoction to dispute these claims in any way. Knowing better than to bite the hand that fed him, or, in this case, wound him, Larry did not make any comment whatsoever regarding the plausibility of personal tooth brushers.
Pepper set Larry down on the ground. It was coming up on fall, Pepper could feel it in his bones. And also by the slight chill in the wind where once there was none. The ground would be freezing soon. Perhaps he'd picked a bad time to go hermit, as the approaching ill weather would make it difficult to plant and raise crops.
But Pepper didn't worry himself too much. His hand reached up to a small trinket he wore on a chain around his neck. It was what kept him lucky. He called it his Lucky Thing. He had found it years ago, digging in a particularly heinous sandbox. Pepper, now, he was a man who was used to a good sandbox. He could dig with the best of them, shovel or not, and craft some of the most startlingly beautiful sand structures, that would make even the most technical of architects weep with bliss. But that particular sandbox, on that particular day, had given him a bit of a run for his money.
For one thing, it was on The Other Side of Town. Now, Pepper knew better than to go to The Other Side of Town too often, he'd heard from his mother how it was a sticky place to end up. But he had been visiting a friend of his, and one thing led to another, and there they ended up.
For another thing, it was big. Not just big, like, "Hey, that sure is a big sandbox," but big, like, "Holy Spatula, the only thing I've ever seen bigger than that sandbox is the ocean!" Scaling such a mammoth pile of dirt was not for the faint of heart.
But Pepper had never been one to turn down a challenge, especially when his older brother was taunting him about being too much of a "baby" to approach the sandbox. Not that his brother was there on that particular day, but it didn't matter, Pepper had a very good imagination for things like taunting older brothers.
He stuck in one foot, barefoot, of course, the only way to enter a sandbox, and wiggled his toes around experimentally. It seemed sandy enough. Not too coarse, but not too fine, either. Just the right amount of larger pebbly bits to keep him interested. In went his other foot. And now he was knee-deep in the midst of sandbox adventure, no turning back now, it was forge on or be forged over. Normally, he wouldn't head into such a treacherous scenario without his trusty shovel, but that was back at home, along with the pack of gum he'd forgotten to bring, and as such, could not help him any. He was all on his own.
Pepper's friend, who had apparently deserted him for the much safer looking slide, had no shovel either. The kid didn't believe in such accessories. Oh, how that boy would regret the day he referred to a shovel as a mere "accessory"! Pepper knew that to conquer this beast without one would certainly be a tale to tell the grand kids. He dug his hands into the yielding grains, pushing, prodding, stacking, smooshing. No bucket, either. No bucket for molding. He would have to use his great skill of crafting to produce the towering turrets normally created by the shape of the bucket.
Stack! Smoosh! Stack! Pat! Smooth, poke, caress, and stack again, on and on it went until suddenly, his fingers closed around something that was not the consistency of normal sand. He gripped it, pulling it out of the dirt and holding it up to his face, forgetting momentarily the incomplete castle. Whatever he had discovered was shiny, green, and kind of misshaped, like a squashy mushroom or pickle or something. Like a warped piece of green glass that had been melted in the hot, molten core of the earth and spat back out like pig gristle by an uncaring demon. It mesmerized Pepper. He turned it over and over in his sand-coated hands, not caring one lick about the dirt caked beneath his fingernails as he examined his treasure.
It glinted in the sun. It seemed to show him everything he'd ever wanted. Somehow, without any proof, without any desire for proof, Pepper just Knew, this was something to be kept. Something to keep safe. Most certainly, this was something to keep hidden from everyone lest it fall into the wrong hands and be used for heinous evil.
Pepper tucked the Thing into his left pocket. There was no room in his right pocket, as he had already filled it with rocks from the playground.
Finding his Lucky Thing was one of Pepper's most vivid memories. Whether or not he finished his sandcastle that day, how and when the Lucky Thing ended up on a chain around his neck, these were less vivid memories, in fact, they were dull to the point of being non-existent. But they hardly mattered. All Pepper knew was that the day he'd found his Lucky Thing, his entire life had changed. He now had nothing to fear anymore. And as such, Pepper could conquer the world.
Full story at pepperadventure