“Why are you still inside?” Corey’s mother asked. “You always like to play in the puddles when it rains.” Corey sat on the window seat, watching the last of the rain drip-drip-drip off the roof. “I always play in the puddles with Lissa,” he said. “But we had a fight yesterday.”
“She named her new kitten Mannington. I told her that was a dumb name for a cat.”
“Did you tell her you were sorry?”
Corey stuck his chin out stubbornly. “I’m not sorry,” he said. “It is a dumb name.”
Mother smiled and said, “Do you remember the name you gave the goldfish we had last year?”
Corey remembered that he had named the timid little goldfish Shark, just to be funny. “I guess it was kind of a dumb name, too,” he admitted. “I think I’ll go outside now.”
Corey spattered a few puddles with his rubber boots. He swish-swished through the water running down the gutter.
“Puddles aren’t any fun alone,” he mumbled. “There’s nobody to splash with or to help me throw big rocks in the puddles.”
He started slowly back home. He didn’t kick through the puddles. He didn’t even jump over them. He walked around them with regular, un-rainy-day steps.
In front of his house the rainwater ran along the curb like a little river. He watched the leaves scooting along like tiny boats toward Lissa’s house.
Lissa was outside playing by herself too. I know what I’ll do, Corey thought, racing into his house. In a few minutes he came back with a cardboard boat that he had made out of an old cereal box.
He launched his boat into the gutter, then hid behind a tree to watch. Bump … dip … spin. It was a rough ride, but his craft was seaworthy.
Lissa squealed happily when she saw the boat. She reached down and plucked it from the water. Then she looked up and saw Corey peeking out from behind the tree. She waved and called to him.
When he got close to her, he said, “I think Mannington is a fine name for your cat. I’m sorry I made fun of it.”
“Thanks, Corey, for telling me that.” She smiled at him and handed him the boat. “Come on—let’s see who can find the biggest puddle to splash in.”