The Vale

The Vale

Written by Jsimmons17 on 16 Oct 2018 23:22.

When Cole's life is uprooted by the delivery of a child, he ends up on this whirlwind adventure to answer the ultimate question: where do babies come from?

The sun was only just rising over the neighborhood of Sunvale but Cole was already wide awake. The spokes of his bike's wheels rattled and clicked softly as he pedaled down the narrow, familiar streets, lined with streetcar tracks for the trains that came every day picking up and dropping off the residents. A large canvas bag filled with the day's newspapers hung from his shoulder, and as he pedaled, he threw them expertly into each yard, landing the papers in the same spot that he always did. Mr. Delecatassen liked his to wake him up in the morning, so Cole managed to hurl the paper far enough to ring the doorbell and land on Mr. D's doormat so he wouldnt have to walk across the dewy grass in his slippers to reach the paper. A few houses down from Delecatassen was Mr. Childers, who had a dog. Mr. Childers' dog was a large, furry creature with deep set eyes that were impossible to see under the mass of grey and white fur on its head. Cole didnt know how it knew where the newspaper was, but no matter where he threw it into Mr. Childers' yard, the dog was ready, catching the paper in its sharp teeth before it even touched the ground. Cole enjoyed his paper route. He'd been delivering newspapers every morning in his town since he was 9 years old. Now, at 17, he knew it would be his last summer delivering papers before he had to hand the bag and the bike to a younger boy, and work in the giant factory on the edge of town. He wasnt exactly sure what they made in the factory. Maybe everything, since it was the only one around, and it was as big as a mountain, jettisoning black smoke into the grey sky every single day.
The sun still hung low beneath a layer of thick clouds as Cole reached his own street, his canvas bag empty, and his stomach growling for breakfast. All the houses in Sunvale looked the same, two story, grey roofed with white wooden siding and a single tree in center of the front yard, but he didnt need to look at the numbers above each front door to know which one was his. He knew instinctively, and rode across the grass to the front door, leaving the bike on the porch, and opening the front door to find his father in the kitchen, making a breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs.
"Bike in the shed, Cole." He said without even looking up. "You know the rules." Cole groaned and moved back to the front door.
"Not like anybody is going to look this early in the morning."
"Go." Cole's father said, and Cole did as he was told, walking the bike around the side of the house to the matching white sided, grey roofed shed in the back corner. Inside were various lawn-care tools, a hand-pushed lawnmower, a rake for leaves and dry grass, some work gloves and a spade and trowel, for tending the raised garden boxes Dad tended in the backyard. They were growing tomatoes and peas this summer, and Cole snagged some of the latter off the vine before he shoved his bike into the shed, opening the shells and popping the tiny, round beans into his mouth, crunching their fresh, earthy taste between his teeth. Chucking the peapods into a compost bin, he walked back around to the front of the house and opened the door again. By now, Cole's brothers Michael and Charlie were already sitting down at breakfast while Dad served them their plates. Again, without a glance at his eldest son, he pointed at the kitchen sink, piled high with cookware. Cole glanced down at his hands, ink and dirt smudging them a little, and he obeyed without a word.
Finally, he could have breakfast. He sat down and helped himself to bacon and eggs as he listened to his brothers squabble softly over something trivial as usualy.
"I'm the oldest, so why does he get the bacon first?" Michael complained.
"How come Michael gets three pieces?" Charlie whined.
Cole was the oldest, at 17 years old last May, while Charlie was the youngest. He had been delivered 9 years ago in August, and his birthday was coming up at the end of the summer. Cole chewed on his bacon thoughtfully. At 9 years old, you had to get a summer job. Some of Cole's fellow classmates also had paper routes. Some of them did yardwork, which varied during the seasons; mowing the lawns of the neighborhood once a week in summer, raking leaves in autumn, shoveling snow in winter. Maybe Charlie could take over his paper route, since Michael already had a job. Michael took care of many of the neighborhood's pets while their owners were working at the factory. He fed them, walked them, even washed them when they got dirty. Cole didnt understand it, but Michael seemed to love it.
The clock in the hall rang 8:00 and the small family looked up at it.
"That time already?" Dad muttered. "Up you get, boys. Time for school, the tram will be here any moment."

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