The Adventures of Little Finn: Boy Hero

Sugar Cubes and Seahorses (Part 2/5)

I'm not allowed to leave my room right now. When I got home, I accidentally made Mom cry, so now I'm stuck here, until Granny comes over. I'm not sure how exactly I started calling her Granny. I don't even know how grandparents are supposed to act. All of mine died before I was even born. I guess if they were alive today, they might act like her. I wonder if she even noticed. She didn't say anything about it. Oh well, I suppose anything is better than being called swamp monster.

I'm not really sure why Mom is upset. One minute she was asking me about my day and the next she was bawling. Then Dad saw, and before I knew it I was sentenced to life imprisonment. I know it's only been a couple of hours, but it's already felt like an eternity. There's nothing to do except count the cracks in the creaky floorboards.

Sluggishly, I throw my head onto my pillow and gaze up at the ceiling. Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm aboard a pirate ship, held captive, and left to wait in the brig. It helps pass the time at least. Nothing really puts the excitement in a timeout quite like swashbuckling pirates.

As I lay daydreaming, I can hear the echoes of a knocking at the front door. Sweet freedom, Granny is here. I never thought that I could be so excited to see someone I once believed to be a vicious swamp monster.

Quickly I break free of the brig, breeze past Dad and beat him to the front door. As I expect I find the little old woman with swampy green shawl waiting on the other side. "Granny!" I cheer.

She smiles back at me and gradually steps inside. Hurriedly I take hold of her arm and drag her away from my parents. I wait a moment for my parents to leave and then without hesitation I inform Granny of my unlawful captivity. Patiently, she listens and nods through my rant of how my parents have become insufferable tyrants.

When I've finished, Granny pauses for a moment to take in all that I've said. "What was it that you were talking about before your mother began to cry?" she asks.

"Nothing. All I did was, tell her how my day was," I exclaim.

"Well how was your day?" Granny asks. "Try to explain it just as you did to your mother."

At first, I hesitate. "You promise you won't cry, Granny?" She nods, so I continue. "Well today Gil Strotworth came to our class as a guest speaker. He had a couple of peacekeepers with him and he gave this amazing speech on what it's like to be a Victor. He explained how there is always this big welcome home celebration and he gets to live in the nice village and do whatever he wants all the time. Plus he's famous and everybody knows his name. So I told Mom that I want to be just like him when I grow up and she started sobbing."

"Oh," Granny mutters. Her face is serious as her eyes glance downward for a moment. It seems like she understands, but then she lets a smile return to her face. "It must have been just a misunderstanding Finnick. That's all. There's nothing to worry about."

I know she's not telling me everything. Grownups always avoid saying certain things around me, when it concerns the Hunger Games. I don't bother asking though. She said it's nothing to worry about anyway.

Granny changes the subject. "So did anything else exciting happen today?"

I think for moment, when I remember something important. "Tyler Rutters said he caught a real live seahorse. He said it was over seven feet tall too. I'm not sure if I believe him though. How do you tell the difference between a regular horse and a seahorse anyway?"

For a moment, Granny laughs. But then her eyes light up and she leans in close to whisper. "There's a trick to finding real seahorses. Do you want to know the secret?"

"Of course," I gasp.

"Okay, well it's a secret, so you mustn't go telling anyone." I nod and wait in anticipation before she continues. "The secret to catching a real live seahorse is sugar cubes."

"Sugar cubes?" I murmur.

"Yes," Granny answers. "Sprinkling sugar in the water will draw seahorses near, but the true test is to hold out a sugar cube in the palm of your hand. If the horse refuses, then he is a horse. If the horse eats the sugar cube, then he is a true seahorse."

I can't believe how simple it is. I thought seahorses were just make-believe. Now I find out that this whole time, I've been just a couple sugar cubes away from finding one for myself. In a hurry, I run to the kitchen and grab the jar, where mom keeps the sugar. "There are no cubes," I declare.

Thankfully Granny has a whole boxful in her bag. Carefully, she places a couple in my hand and says, "Remember Finnick, you don't just need sugar, but patience as well."

I place the cubes safely in my pocket, grab hold of the jar of sugar and rush through the backyard to the beach. At first, I just sprinkle a handful of sugar from the jar into the water. Then I wait a couple minutes as the cool water flows around my ankles.

No seahorses. Clearly the signal isn't strong enough, so I dump the rest of the jar into the waves. I pull the sugar cubes out of my pocket and hang on to them tightly. Immediately, I expect to get a glimpse of a seahorse bursting out of the water and galloping toward the shore, but there's still nothing. I stare intently at the open water, as the waves crash against my knees. There's not a single seahorse in sight. Maybe I didn't have enough sugar.

Suddenly, I hear the sound of galloping. Confused I look around, but there are still no horses in the water. It's getting closer and I'm still not sure where it's coming from. I wade out in the deeper water to get a better view, when I realize the sound is not coming from underneath the waves. It's coming from behind me.

Slowly I turn to face whatever approaches, and I can't believe my eyes. Riding atop a magnificent stallion is none other than Gil Strotworth himself. I don't know what to say. All I can do is stand there in awe of the legendary Victor and his trusty steed. Then I remember. I need to perform the test.

At once, I stretch out my arm and open my hand. "Oh no," I mumble. In all the excitement, I must have crushed the sugar cubes. I look down at the fine white powder with disappointment. Now how will I be able to test to see if this seahorse is legitimate or not?

Just as I begin to withdraw my hand I see the horse carefully trot closer. Then as soon as the horse is close enough to touch, its mouth opens, releasing a giant tongue, which mops up all the sugar in my hand. My eyes widen. Did that really happen? Did I really find a genuine seahorse? Shocked and amazed, I look up at Gil Strotworth, who then asks me the greatest question of my life.

"Would you like to go for a quick ride?"

Immediately I nod with excitement, and Gil lifts me up onto the back of the seahorse. Water splashes in every direction as we gallop through the crashing waves. Faster and faster we ride, until the shore begins to blur together. Eventually we turn from the shore and ride to my house, where Granny is waiting on the porch.

"Thanks for bringing him home Gil," Granny says with a smile.

Gil lifts me up and gently sets me back on the ground. "Anything for you, my dear. I wouldn't be standing here today without you," Gil replies with a wink before riding off to Victor's Village.

I remain standing perplexed and bewildered. "Granny, you know Gil Strotworth?" I ask.

"Of course," she responds. "Everyone does. He is famous after all."

End of Part 2