Today is a big day for Nicholas. He is 10 years old, and his family is taking their first trip to the Jersey shore. They live in Brooklyn, and usually spend their free time in Coney Island. However, his uncle recently bought a car and wanted to explore. His family heard of a shore town that had a gigantic boardwalk for all the tourists and gorgeous, pristine beaches. Nicholas didn’t really want to go to yet another boardwalk, with the crowds and children running wildly about, but he didn’t have a choice in the matter.
You see, Nicholas was a peculiar child. Instead of hanging out all day like the neighborhood kids, Nicholas preferred reading quietly in his room. Places with too many sounds, lights, and smells bothered him to the point of exhaustion. The first time he was in Coney Island, he found the nearest dark corner and hid for most of the day. His parents socialized him as best as they could, but generally accepted him as he was. But in Russia, all of the schoolmasters wanted to send him away to an institution like the other “weird” and “special” kids. Nicholas’s uncle Ivan advised his sister Sveta to move to the US to avoid this. Now, Nicholas and his parents live next to his uncle’s family in Sheepshead Bay.
At the crack of dawn, the family loaded up in the big station wagon and headed out of Brooklyn. Along with Nicholas’s mom, Sveta, came his Uncle Ivan and Aunt Katya, and his cousins Ivan Junior and Yuri. The children sat in the cab while the parents happily chatted away up front. While Yuri and Ivan played amongst themselves, Nicholas watched the scenery from the back window. Pretty soon the car entered New Jersey; after the Raritan River Bridge, the highway was lined with nothing but green trees and farms. This was the family’s first jaunt out of Brooklyn, and Nicholas wasn’t quite used to this much greenery. But the vast amount of trees and fields mesmerized him. He was having fun counting the farm animals and studying the vast amount of green trees.
Finally, after driving an hour through this seemingly infinite wilderness of green trees and farmland, the family reached a shore town called Seaside Heights. The family drove through the store laden streets and left the big station wagon in the maze of city parking. Once on the boardwalk, the family was astonished by the sheer length of the endless sand. Nicholas was more impressed with the drive; to him, entering NJ felt like this brave new world, where people can spread out as much as they like. He’d heard that people here had homes with almost a hectare of land! Land was such a commodity in Brooklyn, and whatever free space that was available had to be shared with the neighborhood kids.
The boardwalk seemed much larger than the boardwalk of Coney Island, and there was a greater selection of food and games. Zeppolis, ice cream and burgers, plus scores of stands lined with bottles waiting to be knocked down. Plus, this place had giant roller coasters on Casino Pier, as well as Lucky Leo’s, which contained the largest game stands and biggest prizes. The family decided to spend the day near Lucky Leos. When Nicholas walked in, he was overwhelmed by the cacophony of stand workers pitching their games to the crowds of rowdy tourists. Just as in Coney Island, Nicholas found an obscure corner, and tried to hide. What he didn’t realize was that this corner’s wood was not particularly sturdy. [Want to read the rest? This story went beyond the 600 word limit of the contest. I liked the story enough to make it a winner despite technically being disqualifiable, but I also can’t post all 1,200 words. Read the rest of The Town that Fun Built on Regina’s site here.]