Carly was woken up by the sound of her phone that Saturday. Se stretched in her bed happily. It looked like a sunny day. She could probably go for a hike, see if she could come across any interesting gems or fossils…
Then of course, the text that had woken her up was probably one of her friends asking her to meet. She grinned. The fact she had enough friends not to know for certain which one wanted her attention made her feel so content.
She jumped out of bed, ready to seize the day.
She grabbed her phone from the desk. Odd… It wasn’t a number she had saved or recognised.
Prepare for Newcrest’s finest scavenger hunt! The text read. Rare collectibles at stake! Head to frog heaven behind your house for first clue…
Her lips curled into a smile. She did tell Jarret that the only thing missing from the group being perfect was a bit of collecting, but she didn’t realise he’d take that as a challenge. Not that the text sounded particularly like something Jarret would say…
Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember mentioning frog heaven to him either… but surely she must have.
Frog heaven was her nickname for a log behind her house that almost always guaranteed a find. Usually, they were just plain dirt frogs though. Quantity over quality, it seemed.
She reached inside the log. To her surprise, an eggplant whirl frog hopped onto the palm of her hand.
“Hey little one,” Carly greeted the frog. “You’re a rare one! Are you lost?”
She ran back to the house to find the frog a new home, and swiftly returned. The clue still had to be in the log.
It was. Just a short note: Follow the ribbits.
Ok, so she just had to make her way to the next frog hot spot. And the one after that. Sounded easy enough.
The frog clue took her further than she initially expected. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever strayed that far in her previous gathering efforts.
In fact, when she reached the last log, she wasn’t even too sure if she was still in Newcrest.
Roses are red, violets are blue,
I’m no poet, but daisies are the next clue…
(See what I did there?)
((I know you’ll say I’ve messed up the rhythm.))
She laughed. This was definitely not Jarret. But surely it couldn’t be…
She decided to occupy her mind by the search for daisies instead.
She found some. Were they the right ones? She wasn’t sure – it wasn’t exactly like daisies were uncommon flowers…
Her phone beeped. A new text.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
She could spot a bin by the water front, but did this person really expect her to rummage through it?
Another text arrived.
Don’t worry, it’s right on top.
Ok, here goes nothing, Carly said to herself when she lifted the lid of the bin.
The sender didn’t lie. There was a book right at the very top, protected from the rest of the bin’s contents by a thick cloth.
They even thought of not getting the book dirty, Carly thought. She was impressed.
She examined the book. No way!
It was her favourite book, Dust to Dust. That on its own wasn’t a huge deal. Naturally she owned a copy already.
But this particular copy was signed. How did this person get that? The author, Alexander Rosebrook, had passed away years ago. Getting a signed copy must have been nearly impossible!
She sat down with the book, first just to examine and appreciate the signature, but then to also look for the next clue…
It fell right down to her feet. A map.
This was so cool, Carly thought. Not that she knew of anybody else who would consider this cool apart from herself. But that was what was so puzzling about this whole scavenger hunt…
The map was depicting a trail of fossils that she was to follow to reach the final destination. The trail ends with the beginning, the map said.
She wondered what would be at the end. A really rare crystal, perhaps?
She reached the final fossil. It was marked as Hilariously Tiny T-Rex Arms on the map.
It wasn’t a particularly uncommon find. But it was the very first fossil she’d ever discovered, back when she first started her collection.
There was only one person she knew could remember that; because when she described the T-Rex arms to him as hilariously tiny, he seemed to find it, well, hilarious.
It appeared she had reached the end of the hunt.
She walked to the boy on the bench slowly.
“Ralph?” She looked at him quizzically.
“Hey Lottie,” he smiled slightly, looking almost nervous. “I hope you’re not too disappointed it’s just me.”
“I’m… I’m all sorts of things right now.” She admitted. “Why did you do this, Ralph?”
“I figured you’d find it fun.” He shrugged, as if the answer was obvious.
“Yeah but… that’s exactly it. It’s something I enjoy. Organising a scavenger hunt for a silly nerd isn’t exactly your idea of a fun Saturday, though, is it?”
“My idea of a fun Saturday is seeing your excitement when you come across a rare rock. Or the way your face lights up when you’ve just solved a puzzle. The look of determined concentration you have just before you do.”
Carly was flustered.
“Admittedly, my puzzles are not really all that challenging for you,” Ralph lightened the mood. “It took me ages to plan this.”
“I can imagine,” Carly nodded. “But Ralph… how did you even know these things in the first place? That I was still missing an eggplant whirl frog. What my favourite book is. That the first fossil I found were the T-Rex arms…”
“Hilariously tiny T-Rex arms,” he corrected her. She let out a soft laugh.
“I know because you’ve told me. I just… paid attention.” He explained.
“But you never pay attention!” Carly exclaimed. “I tried explaining how binary operations work to you several times, and you never took it in!”
“Well, yeah, I don’t pay attention to algebra,” Ralph laughed.
He grew serious again. “I pay attention to you. I always pay attention to you.”
The way he said it gave Carly butterflies. She noticed his hand seemed to have found hers. She didn’t push it away. She placed her palm on his.
She laughed nervously. “I guess you actually have me wrapped around your fingers now,” she nodded towards their hands.
“Nah,” he shook his head. “I’m pretty sure it’s the other way around.”
And then he kissed her. Kissed her!
She didn’t want it to end. She sighed when his lips parted hers.
He stood up. “Come on, let’s see if we can find any more of those treasures, shall we?” He suggested.
“Aye aye, captain!” Carly jumped up on her feet.
They ran for a little while, both grinning from ear to ear.
Ralph suddenly stopped in his tracks: “Oh, hang on, I think I spotted a really rare gem!”
“Really?” Carly got excited. “Where is it?”