This story was submitted for Scholastic’s Magazine in early 2014. It’s a miracle that I even found it. After rummaging through my files I found two more stories that will be added to my A-Z Short Story Collection. This is the first one.
By: Katya Szewczuk
Wilbur Wilfred always dreamt about winning the frog-catching contest. He practiced in Labrador Lake with an old net and a plastic bucket. On his eighth birthday his big brother Lawrence bought him a big, fancy net the experts used.
Wilbur’s two best friends, the Harvey twins, Jet and Samson, were in awe with the net.
“Cool,” Samson said as he swung the net, “Just like the pro’s!”
The boys rode their rusty bicycles to Labrador Lake to try out the net. Wilbur jumped into the swampy waters and swung it. Bugs buzzed round his ears, and sweat dripped from his forehead. Determined, he watched the rippling waters.
Just then, a fat, warty frog leapt into the air and scared Wilbur out of his wits. He fell in the water and lost his specs.
He heard laughter from behind him. When he put his specs back on his nose he noticed three, big boys with eyes nasty as snakes staring at him.
“Looks like Loser’s Lake to me,” the biggest boy said.
Wilbur stood up and shook the dirty water from his hair.
“What’re you doing here Linus?” he asked.
“Practicing for the big frog-catching contest. What else, dork?”
“Stop picking on Wilbur,” said Jet.
“Yeah,” said Samson, “He’s got the best net around.”
Linus looked at the net and snorted.
“That’s nothing but an amateur’s net. Check out mine.”
Wilbur squinted and stared at the net Linus held behind his back. It was big, golden and made awesome sounds when he swung it in the air.
“The Catch-It 2000!” shouted Wilbur nervously.
“Wilbur’s still the best frog-catcher in the world,” said Samson.
“We’ll see about that,” Linus said, his lips curling into a wicked grin.
When Linus and his gang left Labrador Lake, Wilbur practiced with the twins. He promised he wouldn’t let Linus’s bullying stop him from entering the contest and held his head high.
On the day of the contest, hundreds of boys and girls lined up at Labrador Lake readying their nets. Wilbur tied a bandana around his head to push back his messy, orange hair. He pulled on a life jacket and asked Lawrence to help tie the strings tight.
He looked at his competition and saw the twins bumping nets. He laughed. He was glad they entered the contest. Though when he looked to his right, he saw twenty kids crowded around Linus and his Catch-It 2000.
He joined the rest of the kids at the edge of the pond and waited for the announcer to blow his shiny, silver whistle.
When the whistle was blown, the kids dove into Labrador Lake. Wilbur tripped before he joined them and dropped his net.
“Oh no!” cried Jet, “You okay Wilbur?”
Wilbur stood up and wiped the mud from his shorts.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he said.
He watched as Linus caught his first frog.
“You don’t look fine.”
“Yeah, you were looking forward to this all summer.”
“But Linus has the Catch-It 2000. How can I beat that?”
The twins grumbled.
“Man, you caught frogs better than Linus when you had that broken net.”
“You beat him all the time when we held those contests.”
Wilbur thought. He looked at his net and smiled.
“You’re right,” he said, “Come on guys, let’s go catch some frogs.”
Wilbur ran into the lake and swung his net. He captured two slimy frogs and laughed hard. He grabbed one and showed it off to the twins. They cheered.
* * *
One hour passed and when the announcer blew the whistle the kids handed in their buckets of frogs and waited for the judges to count them. The twins caught four frogs, Linus had ten and Wilbur had nine. He came in second place.
“Sorry, man,” said Jet.
“We’d thought you’d win for sure.”
Wilbur shook his head.
“All that matters is that I had fun.”
He stared at his silver medal and smiled. He ran over to Linus and said:
“What do you want, dork?”
Wilbur rummaged through his pockets and pulled out a button that said ‘Frog Boys’ on it.
“What’s that?” Linus asked.
“Do you want to join our club?”
Linus’s friends laughed at Wilbur, but he stopped them. He looked at the gold medal that dangled on his neck and handed it to Wilbur.
“You deserve it.”
“You won fair and square. It’s just a medal.”
He shook hands with Linus and grabbed a jumpy frog.
“We’re Frog Brothers now,” he said.
The boys jumped into Labrador Lake and caught frogs for fun.