My Time in Chesterville, Chapter 3: The Secret Waterfall
Read the third installment of MeTV's first original fiction story. Catch up on chapters 1 and 2 if you haven't already!
My Time in Chesterville is a new MeTV original fiction serial told in the style of classic periodicals. Each week, a new chapter reveals more of the story created by author June Halbrook. Follow along as hilarious septuagenarian Dot Haywood reconnects with her teenage grandson, Ben, through stories of her smalltown childhood. She recounts charming mishaps, village oddballs, and, of course, young love, all with her trademark wit and unfiltered style. Like any good storyteller, Dot blurs the line between fact and fiction - but never fails to entertain!
"I’m so full."
Ben sat back in his chair, satisfied.
"I can’t believe you made a pot roast just for us, Mom," Janet said. "Ben, what you just ate was only for very special occasions when I was growing up." She stacked the empty plates and brought them over to the sink.
"I remember we had it after…," Ben said, hesitating, "Grandpa's funeral."
"It was Harold's favorite," Dot recalled, smiling. "That’s probably the last time I made it. I wanted to see if I still could! And having my daughter and grandson over for a nice Sunday dinner isn’t a special occasion?"
Janet rejoined Ben and Dot at the table. "Thanks, Mom. It was delicious," she said. "Can your Grandma help some more with your semester project while we’re here?" Janet looked at Ben.
"Uh, well, I don’t think I'm gonna do painting anymore," Ben hesitantly replied. "It’s just not my thing. I'll figure something else out."
"You better figure it out quick, the semester's going by fast!" Janet cautioned. "So, what exactly did you two do the last time he was here?"
"Well," Dot replied, "I told him a little bit about my painting process, probably scared him out of it. Then we had dinner…"
"I found an old camera," Ben interjected.
"That’s right, and I told a story about growing up in Chesterville," Dot said.
"I like the story you told the other day better," Ben said.
"Ben called when he was home sick. Can you believe that?" Dot said, feigning astonishment.
"Wow," Janet said.
"I was gonna tell you more about that kid, Clyde," Dot said. "But you fell asleep. He was my first kiss.”
"Oh, I bet there’s a story there!" Ben exclaimed.
Dot shrugged, but her face gave her away. Janet wasn’t quite sure what was happening but she loved to see the two of them getting along so well.
"Let's see what I can remember," Dot said, leaning back in her chair.
"Just before seventh grade, when I was twelve years old, I thought I was in love. It was the summer of 1961."
"First, I should tell you about Theo Bowit. That's not his real name but it's what everybody called him. He was a little kooky. 'Theo Bowit' just came from how he said his signature catchphrase, 'Think about it!' but he never corrected anyone. He liked everyone calling him 'Theo' so we kept doing it."
"Theo worked all kinds of odd jobs around town. Sometimes he was a cook, sometimes he was a carpenter. Used to sing whenever he got the chance, too, except those chances were kept to a minimum. He was what polite folks call 'stone-cold tone-deaf.'"
"That summer of ’61 he was working at the Sumser farm. Have I told you about Willie Sumser?"
"Nope," Ben said.
"Willie was a friend of mine and Bobbi-Ann's. Sorta the third musketeer. I don't know when it happened, exactly, but by junior high we were all good friends. Willie lived on a farm outside Chesterville. He had seven older brothers. He was also the biggest goofball I ever knew. I don't think he meant to be outgoing that's just the only way anyone would notice him in a family like that."
"So, one day, Willie, Bobbi-Ann and me were helping, or mostly just watching, Theo repair an old tractor. Listening to Theo was a bit of a pastime for us because you never knew what he would say next."
"That day he told us about Lonely Falls, a secret waterfall outside town that few people knew about. We were intrigued, mostly because we didn't know where exactly the water would fall from. Except for a few hills, Chesterville was flat as a pancake. But Theo was adamant that if we followed the small path into the woods at the end of Geers Mill Road, we'd find a creek. And if we walked along the creek we would hit a ravine. This ravine, he said, can't be seen unless your right up close to it. But if you carefully climb down into the ravine, the water from the creek above falls into a beautiful, crystal clear pool before continuing on its way."
"We were more than a little skeptical. Theo said Lonely Falls got its name because the only people who came across it were jilted lovers forced to leave town. Quite ironic considering what would transpire in front of the waterfall a little while later."
Ben and Janet shared an awkward glance.
"We decided to see Lonely Falls for ourselves, but not before we pooled our pocket money and stocked up on provisions from Brauman's for the journey. It was there that we met up with Clyde. I had seen him a couple times that summer, here and there. He was visiting from the city again, helping his grandfather with the store. It was the first time he'd been back to Chesterville in a couple of years. He was 13 now and looked different than when I last saw him. I think I must've, too. He heard about our expedition and decided to join us."
"We hid our bikes in the woods at the end of Geers Mill Road and looked for the path Theo mentioned. There was nothing but dense forest. We thought our excursion was over before it even started when Clyde found an opening in the trees. It wasn't much but it was something. Had we been even just a little older, we probably wouldn't have walked headlong into an unknown forest late in the afternoon based on the word of someone who was, at best, completely unreliable. But then we wouldn't have discovered that Theo was right. Mostly."
"After a few hours of walking aimlessly through the woods we happened upon a small ravine. The sun was setting but we hardly noticed. We haphazardly made our way down the steep slope. Willie pretended to fall which caused him to lose his balance and actually fall. Bobbi-Ann ran down after him, half scared, half amused. Clyde and I helped each other descend without incident, unless you count him putting his arms around me for a second, which certainly made my heart race."
Janet cleared her throat nervously. Ben laughed.
"Night had completely enveloped the forest now, the moon shining through the trees above us. We walked in silence, wondering how we'd make it back in the dark," Dot said. "Then we heard it. The unmistakable sound of falling water. Well, it was hardly more than a small trickle but it was something."
"There was a splash. Willie stepped in a puddle. Technically, it was the pool. A steady, if somewhat slight, stream of water glinted in the moonlight as it flowed down the side of the ravine. There was water falling down, but calling it a waterfall was an overstatement.”
"Nevertheless, we were impressed. We knew there was a good chance we wouldn't find anything so even this was a welcome surprise. As Willie splashed Bobbi-Ann, getting himself wet more than her, Clyde and I stared up at the moon. He mumbled something. I leaned over but before I could ask what he said, he turned to me and our lips met. It lasted forever and less than a second. We stared at each other then laughed. Clyde was embarrassed. But before he could say anything, I kissed him — on purpose this time. Lonely Falls certainly wasn’t that night."
"I don't remember finding our way back to our bikes in the dark. All I recall is holding Clyde's hand the whole way. I saw Clyde as much as I could the rest of that summer but he had to leave only a couple weeks after the waterfall. He came back to Chesterville one or two more times, but it was never like those two weeks of summer before seventh grade."
Dot looked at her captivated audience. Janet broke the silence.
"Well, it's a little weird hearing about your mom’s first kiss but that is a pretty good story."
"They've all been good," said Ben. "I think other people would love it. I know what to do for my semester project now. Grandma, can I record your stories?"