Tom narrowed his eyes. “You’ll never catch me.” He spun and leaped off the rock, his feet bicycling as he fell. The air whooshed out of his lungs as he hit the stony ledge below him. He rolled with the impact and was on his feet in an instant.
If he had any chance of surviving this adventure, he had to run. He dashed around a boulder and then clambered up a little rise, sprinting over another large stone. He skidded to a stop as he reached the edge. Below him, the surf pounded against the stony cliffs. He smiled and searched behind him to see if anyone was following.
“Come on, Dad!” he hollered.
Gordon strolled not far behind. He smiled. “Time to hurry?”
“Yeah!” And just like that, Tom was off again. Now he chased an imaginary beast, some sort of dinomonstrosity. This place was so much more fun than anything back home!
Gordon chuckled, watching his little boy dash among the rocks. Kendra would have a fit if she saw their son in such “danger” on the rocks, but Gordon shrugged. Sure, maybe the kid would fall. Maybe he’d get a broken leg. A boy’s got to have adventures, though. The risk here was slight, anyway.
He crouched down, trying to see the rocks the way Tom did. He tried to remember all the stories he told himself about this shoreline. It just wasn’t the same as an adult. The magic was gone. Oh, and the air was thinner. At least, it sure didn’t fill up his lungs the way it used to! He stood up, shaking his head. All the wonder seemed so much smaller now that he was an adult.
Tom saw endless possibilities, though. Pirates and treasure and bad guys and good guys and epic struggles that shattered the land around them. It was amazing what a pile of boulders strewn along the shore could do for a boy.
He snuck up on his dad. “Pew!” he shouted. “I got you!”
“No you didn’t!” Gordon yelled, slipping into the game. “I have my force shield on!” Well, maybe there was some imagination in him yet.
“Pew! Pew!” Tom backpedaled, shooting his fingers at Gordon.
The adult ducked and wove through the air. “I’ll get you yet, Jetpack Jack!”
Tom put his hands on his hips. “Dad! I’m not Jetpack Jack! I’m Hero Jones!”
“Oh. Of course. I’m sorry I could ever mix you up.”
“Tricked you! Pew!”
Gordon grabbed his stomach and dropped to one knee. Ow. Maybe he should be more careful. His knee didn’t like that. “Oh! You got me!” He lowered himself onto the boulder, cradling his stomach. “Now I’ll never get my revenge!”
“Dad, it’s just a game. Come on! Get up! We have to go!” And Tom dashed away again.
OK, maybe Gordon didn’t bring his own adventures anymore, but Tom had plenty to share. Maybe the rocks weren’t as mysterious as they used to be, but his son created mystery. And that was good enough.
Well, as long as his knee stopped throbbing. Note to self: don’t die when Tom shoots you.
They spent a few hours on the rocks, enjoying the surf, finding treasure, and fighting pirates. Finally Gordon looked at his watch. “Tom! We gotta get going. Your mom’s going to want us home in time for supper.”
Tom wrinkled his nose and roared.
“Sorry, little monster. Come on!” Gordon hauled himself up one last little cliff and ambled over a grassy lawn.
Tom followed. “Do we have to?”
“We can come back later. Come on. Get in your seat.” He opened the door to the rocket and watched Tom get the harness on. “You’re getting better at that!” He reached in and straightened one of the straps. “All right. Lift off in ten seconds, and home in an hour. You got your book ready?”
“Yeah, dad. Can we have adventures again sometime?”
“Anytime, son. Anytime.”
The rocket lifted off and made its way home.