Diane Helentjaris
19 min readJan 8

A short story of adventure in a small town

“Medusa” by Rex Whistler, 1926. Compliments of Wikimedia Commons

“What’re we gonna do, Niko?” Nine-year-old Chris glanced down at his brother as the two trudged home from the school bus stop.

Eight-year-old Niko’s hazel eyes met Chris’s brown ones. The boys looked like two cookies from the same cutter but decorated with different icing. Nearly the same size, definitely the same sturdy shape, only their coloring varied. Chris had his father’s black, curly hair and dark eyes. Nick’s hair was light brown and wavy and his eyes, hazel in a half-hearted nod to their mother’s blondness.

“Daddy’s birthday is next week. We ain’t got no money. Never do. What can we give him?” said Chris. He kicked a small stone into the ditch running alongside the gravel road. The white rubber toes of his black high-tops bore the scuffs of many such boyish actions.

“I ‘spect we can make him something. Like we did last year. Whittle another bird or maybe a horse. He’d like that,” said Niko.

“But we already did that plenty of times. I want to buy him a gift. Maybe a book. They got a lot of books in town. McCrory’s store must have one about those heroes and gods and goddesses he likes to talk about. He’s only got his Greek Bible and that English book about Greek history, and he reads most every night after dinner. Must get sick of reading the Bible all the time.”

“Well, I don’t know about that, Chris. Daddy told me the Bible helps him when times are hard. I asked him once why he didn’t go to church with Momma. Said those hillbilly holy rollers weren’t for him. He was Orthodox — whatever that means — and there just wasn’t one of his churches within a hundred miles, so he’d read his Bible on his own and pray and think holy thoughts. But you got a point there. A book would be a good present. Let me think.”

They walked on in companionable silence. Winter had ended and even the fickle early spring was gone, yet hot weather was yet to come. With no need for jackets, the boys’ arms swung free, Niko’s striped red and white tee shirt blazed in the sun like a spotlight. Dressed in a faded beige and green checked shirt, Chris blended in with the woodsy setting.

Up ahead, a white clapboard farmhouse squatted in a small clearing atop its own hillock. A sea of tree-covered hills, green with…

Diane Helentjaris

Writer with a love of the overlooked. Author of the new historical fiction novel The Indenture of Ivy O’Neill,