The Brass Bell — Chapter 1
The Brass Bell
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Chapter 1: Rotten Luck
The score was tied and Felix and his friends were looking to claim the winning goal.
“Open!” Hector gasped, making a breakaway. “Pass it to me!”
Felix planted his foot in the grass and kicked the green and blue sphere toward his teammate. The ball went airborne and all the players stood still, holding their breaths.
Felix could only watch as the ball seemed to grow wings and fly through the air. It sailed right over Hector, over the goal and even over the tall fence that towered behind the soccer field.
“Great shot,” his teammates growled sarcastically. Everyone headed off the field. They all knew the wall rule: Anything hit, kicked or thrown over the 6-foot wooden wall is lost forever.
Felix found himself all alone, still kneeling in the same spot where he had launched the ball.
“It’s not fair, abuelita,” Felix later told his grandmother. “Why do I always have such rotten luck?”
“Now, nieto,” she began, sliding a plate of fresh corn tortillas across the table. “You know about the curse of our family.”
Felix was always interested in Grandma’s stories. He was even willing to put up with helping her cook, because cooking time usually meant story time.
“Yes,” Felix answered, adding beans and rice to the tortillas and rolling them into burritos. “But Grandma, why does the curse always have to fall on me? Nobody else in our family has bad luck.”
“Felix, have I told you the story about where that cursed thing came from?” she asked, reaching out and touching the small brass bell Felix wore on a string.
“Tell me again!” Felix begged.
“Many years ago, my great-great-grandparents went through some rough times. They had no money or food, just a skinny goat. One evening, a mysterious old woman came to their home and tied that brass bell around the neck of their goat. She said the bell must stay on the goat, or bad things would come to the family. Afterward, the goat produced enough milk that they were able to feed themselves and sell the extra.
“But late one night, my greedy uncle snuck into the barn and took the bell from the goat. He tied it around the neck of the goose, hoping to get more eggs,” Grandma continued.
“When he went out to check on the goose the next morning, he found the goat had died. He told his parents what he had done and begged their forgiveness. Ever since, our family has had to pay for his mistake!”
Felix had heard the goat story for years, but had a hard time believing that this little trinket had cursed their family for generations.
“Felix! You’ve only rolled one burrito! No more stories for you,” Grandma teased.
“Sorry,” Felix said. “I just haven’t had such a great day. I’m going to the attic until dinner.”
The attic was Felix’s quiet place. In a house full of brothers, sisters and cousins, he had very little privacy. He spotted an old, dusty box of books in the corner and selected a leather-bound one called “Coronado and the Golden Cities.” Felix loved books about conquistadors. He immediately cracked open the cover to start reading.
The next day at school, Felix was still thinking about what he had read.
“One of these days, I’m going exploring!” he told his friend, Karol. Karol usually kept quiet in class, but Felix didn’t have anyone else to talk to because most of the soccer team was still mad at him.
“Where would you go?” Karol asked.
“I’ve been reading a story about an explorer named Coronado,” Felix said. “Did you know that Coronado explored the land right around here?”
“Hey, that’s freaky!” Hector joined the conversation, uninvited as usual. “I wonder if our town, Corona, is named after him?”
“Anyway,” Felix continued, “Coronado was looking for the seven lost cities of gold.”
“I know of a mysterious golden city not too far away,” Hector said, trying to sound serious. “Not many know of its secret treasure, but this knowledge has been passed down for generations in my family. I suppose I could be persuaded to share this information, with two fellow explorers.”
Hector glanced over to see if Karol and Felix were listening. They both just looked at each other.
“All right, then, it’s settled!” Hector announced, after the pair continued to stand in silence. “We’ll meet here at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning!”
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Written by Cathy Sewell and illustrated by Blaise Sewell of The Curriculum Closet