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I Finished What I started

Story ID:3940
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Fort Lee Nj USA
Year:1970
Person:Life
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I Finished What I Started

“Come on, Mike!” My older brother yelled at me. “Hold it still!”

“I am, Vic!” I screamed back. “I’m holding it steady as I can, but your hammer
just missed my finger.”

“You’re such a sissy!”

“Am not! You just don’t know how to hammer.”

“Just hold the nail, Mike; we’re almost done.”

“Don’t hit my finger!”

“Do you want a go-cart or not?”

“Yeah! But I won’t be able to use it if you break my finger.”

“But I will be able to.” He sneered.

“I want to ride it too!”

“Not if I bust your finger!”

“That’s what I mean! You don’t want me to ride our go-cart. I’m going to tell
Mum!”

“Stop being a sissy.”

“I’m not a sissy!”

“Then hold the nail!”

“I am!”

Vic swung: I jumped; the nail fell to the ground. “Mike! What are you doing?”

“Saving my finger.”

“Sissy!”

“Butt face!”

Several days later, our cart was ready. We painted it with a half full can of grey
paint – something we found in the cellar. Four old lawnmower wheels, spiked into 2X4
axles supported it. The front axle was fastened to the frame by one spike, so it would
swivel when we pulled on the ropes we’d nailed to each end. Next to one of the rear
wheels, we nailed a length of lathe. We could pull on one end and force the other end of
the lathe against the wheel to act as a brake.

We rolled our contraption to the top of the hill that led to Grandmum’s house.
“I go first!” Vic said.

“No!” I whined. “You said I could go first!”

“Did not!”

“You did too! I’ll tell Mum!”

“Tell Mum! I’m going first!” He leaped onto the wooden seat and grabbed the
steering ropes. “Push!” he yelled.

I pushed. He rolled down the hill, pulling on the ropes to steer straight, but still
snaked out of control. Before he crashed into a telephone pole, a wheel popped off. Our
rickety cart ground to a halt. I tried not to laugh but failed. “Shut up!” Vic yelled.

“No!”

“Sissy!”

We dragged it home with plans to improve it, but it sat forgotten by the corner of
the house. Our young minds moved to other things.

######

“Let’s build a camp!” Chris said.

“Cool!” Craig agreed.

“Yeah! We can build it in the woods on Hart’s point.” Wade chimed in.

“We can find lumber on the shore.” I said. “And I can borrow my Dad’s
handsaw.”

“I’ll get my Dad’s hammer.” Jimmy said.

“I have a can of crooked nails!” Justin added. “We can straighten them out.”

“We’ll build a cool camp.” Wade smiled.

“No girls allowed!” I added.

“No girls!” Wade agreed. “They’re a pain.”

We found four trees that grew at the corners of a 5x5 foot cleared area and used
them as the corner beams of our camp. In two days, we found enough wood to put
together the floor and slap together two walls. Monday came. Another school week
began. The following Saturday, our young minds drifted to other adventures. The
forgotten camp was left to rot in the woods.


######


I was a kid then. Now I’m a grandpa. For the most part, those days of immaturity
are long behind me. I've learned the value of finishing what I start and to take the time to
do the job right.

My brother and I wasted our time and effort. If we’d kept going, we would have had a great cart to roll down the hill to Grandmum’s. If my friends and I had focused on our camp – our goal – we would have had a fantastic place to gather and tell ghost stories or
seek shelter during our war games.

After the first page of this story was written, another idea popped into my head. I
researched that idea and left this story unfinished. Like the camp, it was left to rot in the
woods of my mind. When it dawned on me what I'd done, I returned to my task, and
completed it.

I finished what I started.

Michael T. Smith