A Puddling Mystery – Contest Entry

A bit late to the CONTEST party – but I still feel bound to have fun with Susanna Leonard Hill’s 400-word or less Fourth Of July Secret Mystery Contest!

And the prizes, you ask?  KA-CHING! Check ’em out. And the other entries too.

If you’re looking for the doodle prompt for July 5th – click HERE



Gus was dragged from his home. His mother insisted he’d have fun. “You love fireworks. We can watch the whole show from the Wilson’s porch.”

It would not be fun. The Wilsons didn’t even have kids. “You’re right, Gus, but I bet there will be other families and plenty of kids.”

Ugh. Kids he didn’t know. It would be boring, boring, boring.

In the Wilson’s front yard some people were playing croquet. Adults. “See, I told you it would be fun, Gus.” No it wasn’t. Croquet was boring, boring, boring.

There were hamburgers, but no chips. At least he could have a soda. Not so bad. But when he and Mom walked out back with their plates he only saw grown-ups. Everywhere.

Gus went inside to wash ketchup off his hands and SHLOOSH he slipped on a puddle. There was water all over! Was that confetti on the floor? Peeking down the hall he saw more puddles. “Huh?” With nothing else to do, he followed them.

By the time he got to the kitchen the water drops had disappeared. But there were footprints, muddy and moist. Someone offered him an ice cream sandwich, his favorite, but now he really needed to see where the prints led.

He looked down the narrow cellar stairs: carpeted – no prints. And it was completely dark. Gus could have gone down there, but luckily there was another door off the kitchen to investigate first.

That door led directly out front, where the croquet set had been abandoned. He found more colored bits in the grass, and the grass was moist. But now there was no chance of tracing prints. Gus was about to give up when – WHACK! Water ran down his leg and colored bits of balloon were stuck to his skin!

“Yo, sorry! I was aiming for Billy!” said a girl he recognized from his bus stop. “You okay? Wannna help? Or were you busy looking for something?”

“Yeah. I mean, no. I mean, I think that mystery’s been solved.”

She said, “Good.” And offered him half of the balloons she was carrying in the sag of her skirt.

Just then Gus’ mom came out the kitchen door. “There you are. Hey, if you’re still bored, we could leave.”

“No! I mean, Mom, it’s a party! You’ll have fun!”

He turned to the girl. “Now, let’s get ’em!”

45 thoughts on “A Puddling Mystery – Contest Entry

  1. Oh my gosh, Julie! This is over-the-top terrific! I love the voice…so true to how a kid would feel when he had to accompany his mom to a party where he wouldn’t know ANYONE. And the tension that built as he followed the clues. And especially his last comment at the end…PERFECT 4th of July story! I love it.:) And I love your illustration…you are GOOD!


  2. Wow! Fantastic story Julie!!! Gus is SO believable as a kid character, the mystery is great, the details wonderful, and I LOVE your illustration! I loved that little bit where he could have gone into the dark basement but luckily there was another option first! I’m so glad you entered! Great job 🙂


  3. Your Gus should have gotten together with my Abby…kids needing some kid company…LOL! Water balloon fights are perfect fun for a hot summer’s day; glad Gus found someone to play with. 🙂


  4. Wonderful story! I think water balloons would make the most boring party exciting. (We went to a fourth of July party – there weren’t any kids, but thankfully, my boys still enjoy adults…as long as the adults aren’t us :))


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