Lou Piccolo is a writer and freelance editor of children’s fiction. She believes there's a special type of magic in storytelling, especially in children's fiction, which is why she chose to work with words. She comes from South Africa, but lives in the French Alps with her two children and partner. "Pirate Creek" is in Short Circuit #04, Short Édition's quarterly review.

Image of Short Circuit - Short Circuit #04

Lake Tahoe, July 1st, 2018

Hello Benjamin,

I'm Erin. You don't know me, but I know a little bit about you. I found your library card in my bedroom in this cabin. Here's what I know about you:
Your name: Benjamin Talbot
Your birthday: September 5th, 2007
You: Red hair, glasses and freckles.
Where you sleep in the cabin: In the same bedroom as I do because it's the only room with a single bed.
We're the same age! My birthday is on June 28th, 2007 and I've just turned eleven. My dad and I often come to Lake Tahoe during the school holidays and on weekends. The cabin belongs to my father's boss, Joe Talbot. Is he your dad?
We've been coming here since I was five because my dad loves fishing. He says it helps him to forget. He spends a lot of time alone in the middle of the lake, fishing and forgetting. I don't mind because I love swimming in the creek in the forest. I pretend I'm on a deserted island and the creek is the only fresh water I have. There are huge tadpoles there sometimes. They're gross but also kind of cool. Have you been to the creek? Even though I love it here, I get bored sometimes. I wish I had someone to play with when dad's fishing. Who do you play with?
I'm leaving this letter under "our pillow" and I hope you get it. I wonder what you'll do when you lie down and hear crinkling under your head. I hope it surprises you – I love surprises!
Write back to me and leave your letter under the red, breakfast bowl with daisies on it. That's the one I use.
I hope to hear from you, Benjamin-who-likes-reading.


Lake Tahoe, July 4th, 2018

Hi Erin!

We arrived here this morning. You must have left last night, probably so your dad could get back to work.
I know something about you too – I remember my parents talking about the car accident your family had when you were little. But, I suppose you don't want to talk about that?
Yes, I'm Joe's son. I'm still ten and I also love the creek. Mom lets me take a sandwich with a bottle of water and stay there all day. I pretend I'm a pirate who's come to a deserted island to find hidden treasure. Sometimes enemy pirates make me walk the plank – the big log that's fallen across the far end of the creek – but I always escape by swinging away to the opposite bank on the rope Dad hung over the water.
The letter under the pillow did surprise me. I thought I'd squashed a bug when I lay down! I hate bugs. I also don't like surprises, but I did like your letter.
We're at the cabin for a week in July and then for two more weeks at the beginning of August. When are you coming back? Leave me a photo so I know what you look like too. Put it under the flat rock by the creek – the one that looks like a giant pancake. The pirates will never think of looking for it there!
Yo ho ho!

Pirate Ben

Pirate Creek, July 16th, 2018

Hi Pirate Ben,
I'm writing to you from Pirate Creek. I'm sitting on Pancake Rock and there's a duck with a shiny green head in the water staring at me. It's freaking me out. It keeps swimming my way when I jump into the creek. I've decided that it's a sea monster and I'm a rich lady who's been kidnapped by a pirate – that's you – and left on the island. I can't escape because the sea monster will eat me. I have to wait for you to bring me food. Don't wait too long because I'll die if I don't eat soon. I like pizza, by the way. Just saying.
I don't mind talking about the car accident, but I can't remember much. I miss my mom though. Sometimes I forget what she looks like, but then Dad shows me a picture and I can't believe I didn't remember. I look like her. I've got mad curly hair and green eyes. My mom's curls were swirly down her back but mine stick up straight on my head like Medusa's snake hair. We're reading a book about Medusa at school this year, are you? Anyway, I don't have a photo of myself here, so I'll just leave you this letter.
We're at the cabin for two weeks, so we're leaving just before you arrive. Maybe our families can stay together for a few days? That way we can play at Pirate Creek together.
When you write back, leave your letter in the tree next to the fallen log. You know the one that's good for climbing? There's a hole in the trunk three branches up.

P.S: I don't feel so lonely here anymore. It feels like you're here with me now!

Pirate Creek August 1st, 2018

Ahoy Erin!

I can't bring you pizza – I'm a pirate and they're supposed to be nasty. I'll bring you some vegetables instead.
I've seen the sea monster. It now has a lot of smaller sea monsters who have shiny green heads too. I didn't want them to eat me either, so I made myself a leaf boat to sail across the creek. I took some bark and put mud on it. You know the mud that squishes between your toes when you wade into the water? It's gooey and thick and perfect for gluing a stick onto the bark so that my boat has a mast. Pirates always have treasure they can hide on islands, so I put a lot of pebbles as gold coins onto the leaf boat and sailed it across the creek. It went all the way to the fallen log. The sea monsters looked at it sailing past and didn't even try to stop it. Pirate Ben 1, Sea Monsters 0!
After that, I made six leaf boats and raced them across the creek. I made one of them for you and called it Medusa, because of your mad hair. Mine won once but then it kept sinking. Yours lasted all afternoon. It also won most of the races. So, now you have a boat you can use to escape the island!
I asked my parents if you and your dad could visit us for the weekend and they said it was a good idea. That's why you received this letter at home instead of in the hole of the Climbing Tree. By the way, I climbed the tree to look for the hole and my mom almost killed me when she saw me in the branches. She wouldn't let me go back to the creek for a day. That's your fault! Just kidding.
So, I'll be seeing you in just eleven days. This is so cool!

P.S. I'm really looking forward to seeing the snakes on your head.

My bedroom, August 5th, 2018

Ahoy there matey,

I've just read your letter and my dad says we can go! Actually, my dad already knew but he didn't tell me because he wanted to surprise me. He knows how much I love surprises. I can't wait! It's going to be so much fun. I'm sure my dad will be happy to have company while fishing.I looked on the Internet this afternoon to see how to build a dam. Let's do that on the weekend. We can put rocks down at the far end of the creek, where the water comes in, and make a giant waterfall. Then we can take the leaf boats and let them race down the river and over the falls. The pirate boat that goes over without sinking gets the hidden treasure at the creek. Are you in?
Yo ho ho! See you soon on the high seas, Captain Ben!

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