Letters and Diary Fiction posted August 9, 2015

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Fossil hunting

Taken by Surprise--Part 2 of 9

by jpduck

Saturday, 22nd July, 1951
It’s been a very interesting day. The cliffs around here are famous for having lots of fossils. Sometimes you can find them just lying on the beach. So I thought I'd have a fossil hunting day. I’d brought a hammer with me to break open any promising looking rocks.
While I searched, I noticed a boy standing a little way down the beach. He seemed to be staring at me — it gave me the creeps. Then he walked up to me and asked me what I was doing. I told him about the fossils on this famous stretch of Jurassic Coast. He didn’t seem to have heard of it, but he knew a little about fossils.
“Can I help you search?” he asked.
“Of course. It’s not my private property.”
Well, blow me, in thirty seconds Jack had found a fossil — before I'd found anything. Very embarrassing. But he'd no idea what it was, so at least I was able to tell him it was only an ammonite.
He’s an odd kid. He seems very shy in a way, but I think he was trying to pretend he wasn’t. He’s a strange mixture of bossiness and simple friendliness. He has the fairest hair I’ve ever seen, and bright blue eyes. We actually got on quite well, really. He’s not bad for a boy. He’s the same age as me.
At lunch time, Jack’s mum walked over and asked if I would like to have lunch with them. I didn’t really know what to say. I said I’d have to ask my mum. When I did, she had a silly grin on her face "That's fine," she said, and winked at me. Aaaagh! She can be so soppy ...

Saturday, 22nd July, 1951
I was on the beach this morning, wondering what to do, when I spotted a girl searching for something on the ground at the foot of the cliff. I thought I might as well give her a hand, and asked her what she’d lost. She said she hadn’t lost anything; she was looking for fossils. Apparently there are lots of them on this part of the coast. I asked if she minded if I looked as well, and she said she couldn’t stop me. I told her my name and she said she was Ruth.
I found one almost straight away, before she'd found anything. I think she was a bit pissed off about that. The fossil was a swirly shell thing. Ruth told me what type it was, but I’ve forgotten it — something to do with ammonia, I think. I’m going to make a fossil collection; that will be super. The boys at school will be very jealous.
While we were searching, I looked across at Ruth, with her head down staring at the ground. Her hair looked extraordinary. It’s dead straight and reaches her shoulders. It’s the blackest black I’ve ever seen, and when she was leaning forward it completely covered every bit of her head. The sun was shining on it and was reflected off her hair so that she seemed like a blazing human candle. It made me shiver.
At lunch time Mum asked Ruth if she’d like to join in our picnic lunch. I wonder if Mum realises how embarrassing she can be. The odd thing is, Ruth went to ask her mother, who said it would be fine.
As it turned out, it was OK. Ruth fitted in very well; she was even nice to Celia, and she chatted to Mum and Dad and me as if she had known us for years. I think that’s jolly amazing. I think it’s called ‘poise’, or something? I know I couldn’t do that.



These are extracts from the diaries of two 12-year-old children who meet on a caravan holiday in Dorset, UK. It is fictionalised biography. The main characters are all real, with names changed. The broad outline of the holiday is also real.

The nine episodes will be posted on alternate Sundays, interleaved with further chapters from the novel, 'Time & Again'
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