The Lake

The Lake 1 Calvin stood at the edge of the lake, gazing at its glassy surface. It was one of those August days, humid and still. Calvin felt sticky and hot and bored. The early morning air was already thick with a dampness that seemed to rise off the water. Tiny insects swarmed over the lake, creating a haze. So this was the wonderful countryside. Calvin was ready to go scream. 2 “You’ll love living by the lake!” Calvin’s mother had said enthusiastically. “I spent all my summers there as a child. There’s so much to explore.” 3 Calvin’s mother was a writer. She had raised her only son in the city but longed to return to the cottage on the lake. Calvin’s father had found a teaching job in the area. Country life seemed to be perfect for his parents. But Calvin desperately wanted to go home—his home, in the city. He missed the basketball court where he and his friends had shot hoops after school. He missed his bustling public school, where he had gone since kindergarten. He even missed the crowded subways and the buses that lumbered along the street like elephants. 4 “You’ll feel better when school starts,” his father assured him. “That’s when you’ll make some new friends, and then you’ll like living here.” 5 “Right now, you should be getting to know the lake,” his mother advised. 6 What was there to know? Calvin figured. It was just water. It hardly even moved, unlike the Hudson River, with its churning boats. It wasn’t the ocean, with its whipping waves. It was just a little lake— no big deal. 7 Calvin knelt down by the water. The earth under his knees was soft and crumbly where the weeds ended. He peered into the lake, but its dull green skin seemed solid. A humming arose from somewhere. What was that sound, anyway? 8 “Hi,” said a voice. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. 9 Calvin glanced over his shoulder. A boy stood there, a fishing rod in one tanned hand and a pail in the other. The boy, who was thin and wiry and blond, had a healing scrape on one knee. When he came closer, Calvin could see that they were exactly the same height. Except for his plaid shirt, cut off at the elbows, he would have fit right into Calvin’s gang of pals. 10 “Come down to fish?” he asked Calvin. “Fishing’s good around here.” 11 “What can you catch?” Calvin asked him. 12 “Perch, or trout, if you’re lucky.” He removed a small container from his pocket and fastened something orange to the hook at the rod’s end. “Bait,” he explained. Calvin guessed the boy could tell that he didn’t know much about fishing. He didn’t seem to mind explaining, though. 13 “See, you got to know which kind of bait a fish likes. The trout seem to like cheese. Now, watch me cast.” The boy expertly flicked his wrist, and his line shot out into the water. 14 “Hey, cool!” Calvin watched every move the boy made. When the ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only. line went taut, the boy rapidly turned the small handle on the rod and reeled in a smallish striped fish. 15 “Perch,” he commented. He unhooked the flopping fish and slid it into his pail. “Like to have a try?” 16 He handed the rod to Calvin and began coaching him. Fishing was harder than the boy, whose name turned out to be Johnny, had made it seem. It was not easy to get the knack of casting, but after a few tries, Calvin got better at it. The sun was high in the sky when they rested the reel against a tree and ate the apples and sandwiches Calvin’s mother had packed for his picnic lunch. Johnny was easy to talk to. Calvin found himself telling all about life in the city. Johnny seemed to find it all pretty interesting; he sat with his head cocked to one side, his gray eyes thoughtful. 17 At last, Calvin’s new friend stood up and pointed in the direction of the dusty road. “I need to go home now. See you tomorrow? I’ll bring some more bait. Worms are good, too, you know.” 18 Calvin watched Johnny stride down the road, fishing rod over one shoulder, bucket sloshing. When he disappeared from sight, Calvin turned back to gaze into the lake. Then he got down on his knees and started searching for worms. ™ © Advanced Assessment Systems/LinkIt! Duplication is restricted to licensees only.

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