It was August in a hot, hot summer. A walk-in-bare-feet-all-day kind of summer and swim-to-the-wharf-at-the-lake-and-bake kind of summer. That’s where we were, camping at the lake. We swam and got dusty, made stick-houses with the younger ones, and swam and got dusty all over again. Nights were fun too, with smoky fires, junk food and adults drinking beer and stuff.
This night, the younger ones went to bed and us older ones were still up. Even with the heat, a fire was lit. More marshmallows and wieners made their way through our stomachs and places beyond I don’t even want to imagine. Weary from the heat but not tired we thought of something to do.
“Let’s play hide and seek!” someone said. Boundaries were made – to the road, around the campsite and to the lakeshore. There were six of us: Willie, Duane, Cherise – who could make neat things out of all kinds of stuff, Robert – he was short, Bonita and me. Robert was It. He found a spot to count to 100.
“Count slow!” we yelled. I saw Willie run across the campsite. He didn’t really have long arms like everybody said he did and I even watched a while to make sure. Off he went into the dusk. I wished I had long hair like Bonita. Her hair was blond. My hair used to get so tangled when it was long that it was “better off short”, at least that’s what my mom used to say. I watched Bonita go up towards the road. I didn’t see where Cherise went but I knew I better bolt before Robert was done counting.
Me and Duane went in opposite directions, him towards the lake and me around the trailer and campers. I almost tripped once and then went back towards the lake where some trees grew. Duane was already at the bottom of a nice – I think maple – and we both had the same idea.
“Sixty-five, sixty-six, sixty-seven…” Wow, I sure didn’t count that fast! I walked around the tree trying to find a starter branch, tripped on a root, then scrambled up the tree – not that far actually. I didn’t think Robert would see me in the dark and I barely had any time left.
“Ninety-one, ninety-two, ninety-three…”Then I heard something else. Did everyone hear it? It was so faint at first. I listened even harder. What the…?
“Mom, Calvin’s puking and it’s all over the bed.”
I was the mom and Calvin was four and I climbed back down that tree and went to our trailer. Everyone must have heard my wail because what we had for supper that night was spaghetti. Poor little Calvin, wasn’t even crying and didn’t seem to know he had puked all over the bed. I cleaned him up, rolled everything into a huge ball and threw it outside ‘til morning. Climbing out after the vomit-covered ball of sheets, no one seemed primed to play anymore. We even tried joking around and even that wasn’t so good. My tree and me parted ways, maybe forever.
Wait until I show this story to Calvin. He’ll either feel really bad or be really pis – – d. Wanna bet? How much?
This is an honest-to-God true story. Cross my heart and hope to die (I would NEVER say that now. Whoever made that up anyway?) Names have been changed to protect the silly adults.
Christine Goyer-Swift finds expression through writing and dance, and inspiration through long walks and solitude. “Writing is a window into my life, recording, witnessing and continually emerging.