Summer Camp, pt. 6

This chapter was written by Pegasus143/MakPlays. For more of her great stories, see https://makplays.wordpress.com/.

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“Let’s go and find some waterfalls!” Gerald exclaimed, marching off in the direction that he thought they were in.

Waikika ran behind him with a smile on her face. She knew that she wanted to be the first one to find a waterfall even though it wasn’t supposed to be a competition. She also had an idea for how to find one first.

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Once they reached the hill that sat near the camp, she veered off towards some tall grass instead of following the trail like Gerald was. Plants needed water, and what better way to find some than following their green leaves to some… right? Then all she would have to do was follow the water upstream until she came to a waterfall.

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Behind them, Cadence was struggling to keep up with her older sister’s pace, though Joel and the other kids were still a bit behind her yet.

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It turned out that the trail led directly to the waterfall… which meant that Gerald got there first. Waikika’s strategy did eventually lead her there, though she was disappointed when she came around the bend to find that Gerald’s smiling face was already there.

Cadence walked up to them, tired from running. “Wow,” she said when she saw the waterfall. Waikika and Gerald turned and really looked at it. Then Waikika realized that this shouldn’t be a competition- anything as beautiful as this waterfall was something that everyone deserved to feel good about seeing, whether they got there first or not.

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Hahon ran ahead to try to find the next waterfall.

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It was a bit farther from the last one, and he was about to give up when he came to the edge of a field and saw it on the other side.

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When he turned around, he saw that Blake and Gerald weren’t too far behind him, so he waited a couple minutes for them to catch up.

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The three of them stopped just before the spot where grass turned to dirt and sand so that they wouldn’t accidentally trample the wildflowers that were growing there.

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Hahon loved the way that the rocks added extra ripples that slowly faded away as the river rushed on.

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Cadence noticed that the boys had found another waterfall, so she and Waikika started running to catch up with them.

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When she reached them, the boys were telling jokes. “Why did the chicken cross the waterfall?” Gerald asked.

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“Uhh… to get to the other side?” Hahon answered, which was met with chuckles from Blake and Cadence.

“You’re too good at this,” Gerald replied, though the gleam in his eyes showed that he meant it as a joke.

Waikika already had an idea of where the next waterfall was and wanted to start heading in that direction. “Do any of you guys want to come with me to find the next waterfall?” she asked.

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Cadence and Gerald volunteered to come with, so the three of them started running.

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When they finally reached the waterfall, they yelled to Blake and Hahon, who found a much shorter path to get to the waterfall.

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“I have an idea! Let’s go get our toes wet!” Cadence said, heading closer to the water before taking her shoes and socks off and rolling up her jeans.

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This stretch of the river was a lot shallower, so they were easily able to wade across it, though Waikika didn’t want to once she saw how green it was.

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While they were wading, Hahon whispered to Cadence about another place where he was pretty sure that there was a waterfall. “You go ahead to make sure that it’s actually there, okay?” he said, and she nodded in agreement. After quickly putting her shoes back on and putting her socks in her back pocket, she set off in search of the final waterfall.

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When she reached the edge of the hill that Hahon had described to her, she found it: the biggest waterfall that she had ever seen in real life. “I found it!” she called out, and the rest of the kids came running. None of them really knew what to say because it was so magnificent.

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“I’m glad that I’ve got a smart big brother like you,” Cadence said as she and Hahon hugged.

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Wonder 19

Mae

1901

“What if they don’t like me?” Charlie asked.

“Of course they’ll like you!” I said. “They’re your grandparents!”

“But I’ve never had grandparents before,” Charlie answered.

1902

Paolo surprised us a few days ago by telling us that his parents had sold their furniture store, retired, bought a little cabin on the island, and moved in!

They wanted to be part of their grandson’s life.

Paolo told us all of this apologetically, as if it was an imposition. But I told him it was an honor. Charlie is lucky to have grandparents.

I called his school and arranged for him to take Friday off so he could go with Paolo to the island to meet them.

“I get to ride a ferry, right Mae?” he asked.

1903

“Sure thing,” I replied.

“So even if they don’t like me, it’ll be worth it to ride the ferry.”

“Son,” I said, “when have you ever met anyone who hasn’t liked you? You’re friendly, polite, and enthusiastic. You are a very likable person.”

Charlie thought for a few moments.

1904

“Well,” he said at last, “sometimes other people don’t like me at first. But usually, after we’ve talked and cracked a few jokes, they like me at last.”

1905

“There you go!” I said.

“Plus, I bet if I’m really useful and helpful, even a grumpy avozinha would like me.”

1906

“I don’t think your grandma will be grumpy,” I said. “She used to be an opera singer!”

“I’ll practice being useful anyway,” Charlie said, and before his dad came to pick him up, he washed all the dishes, even the ones we left outside the night before.

1907

With him gone, the day seemed to drag on forever, and I was so eager to ask him about his grandparents and his visit when he returned at the end of the day.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“Ok,” he said. “Avozinha is sort of just like Pai if he were old and had a long pony-tail.”

1908

“And is she nice, your avozinha?”

“Oh, yeah. She sang for me. It’s the sort of song that makes you feel happy and also really sad at the same time.”

1909

“Puccini?” I asked.

“I think so,” Charlie said.

“And your vovô ?”

“He’s cute. He wears a hat. Even inside. And his eyes are like a gnome’s.”

“You mean squinty?”

“No,” Charlie answered. “Twinkly.”

1910

“What did you do?” I asked.

“I played their piano. It’s about the size of a boat, a fishing boat. It makes really loud noises but also really soft ones, too. I played that song I’m working on for the violin.”

1911

“Did you eat?” I asked.

“Of course!” Charlie said. “When it was time to eat, Avozinha sang a song that was about ‘refeição está pronta,’ and so we ate.”

1912

“Who ate more, you or Pai?”

Pai left by then,” Charlie said.

“What?” I was shocked. “You mean Pai left you there all by yourself?”

Charlie explained that Paolo took him there, introduced him to his parents, and then took the next ferry back. Since Charlie obviously had such a good time, it was hard for me to stay mad, but this certainly wasn’t what I’d expected.

1913

“But you were OK there by yourself?” I asked.

“I wasn’t by myself,” Charlie said. “I was with Vovô  and Avozinha, silly!”

1914

“Well, as long as you had a good time,” I said.

“I had so much fun,” said Charlie.

1915

“And when it was time for the last ferry, I got to run down to the dock all by myself!” Charlie said.

1916

“Your grandma and grandpa didn’t go with you?” I asked.

“Naw,” said Charlie. “Avozinha was doing the dishes, and Vovô was taking a nap.”

1917

“What was the best part of the day for you?” I asked Charlie.

“Taking the ferry back,” he said. “The captain let me ride up with him, and I even got to blow the horn! What was the best part of the day for you?”

“When you got back home, safe and sound,” I said.

1918

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Wonder 14

Charlie

I had a big adventure today. Mom said I could go to the park, all by myself.

First I had to pass the phone test.

What do you press in an emergency? Star Red.

What do you press to call or text home? Star Green.

When do you press Star Red? Whenthereisdangertolifelimborproperty.

Is it an emergency if a squirrel runs in front of a car? It is, but not to the emergency people. Only to the squirrel, to us, and maybe to other friendly people. So if that happens, you can ask other friendly people to help, but you don’t press Star Red.

When do you press Star Green? Any time you feel like it ’cause it’s home! You can press Star Green if a squirrel runs in front of a car because we’re friendly people and we care about that. And I would press Star Green then because Mae and Tia Berry would for reals know what to do.

So, Mae gave me money for the train, and I got on the train that said W. S. Park, for Windenburg Super Park, but when I got off, it was a different park.

It was a park I’d never seen before.

I saw this gardener guy. He had a big smile. So I asked him, “Hey, what would you do if a squirrel ran in front of a car?”

1401

“First I’d yell to try to get the squirrel to stop,” he said. “Then I’d wave to try to get the driver to stop or swerve. Then, if I had to, I’d jump out into the street! But don’t you do that, OK?”

That’s how I knew this was a good guy, because he cared about the squirrels. So I asked him, “Where am I?”

“Why, you’re in Willow Springs Park!” he said. “Don’t you live around here?”

He was surprised when I told him I lived in Windenburg.

This girl came over. “My grandma lives in Windenburg,” she said. “It’s very far away.”

So that’s why the train ride was so long!

1402

“Oh, good luck getting home,” said this mustache-guy. “The last train to Windenburg left ten minutes ago.”

I thought that was pretty cool! I mean, isn’t that how all adventures start? I figured I could sleep in an old log over that I saw over in the distance. I’d make a fort and sleep there all night, and then I’d even get to miss school the next day!

“Lucky for you I’m headed that way,” said the gardener. “I spend Sunday afternoons in the Windenburg Park, so as soon as I finish up here, I’ll give you a lift back to your park.”

I guess I’ll have to sleep in a log another day.

1403

It was fun riding in the gardener’s truck. It was all bumpy and he put on loud music and we rolled down the windows and sang at the top of our lungs about Genghis Khan.

When we got to the Windenburg Super Park, he made sure I had train fare for home and that I knew where the train stop was and that I knew when the train was coming and how to find out what time it was, and then he got to work picking radishes and I saw Max from school.

I was a little worried to see Max at first. He was on the kickball team that lost and he was the one that made Pierce cry for calling him a crybaby loser.

But when I told Max about my adventure, he said it was really cool.

1404

He’s got a low voice like a toad down in the gravel, and he croaked, “Alors!  I have never been to Willow Springs! You just won King of Adventure!”

“Ta da!” I shouted.

1405

“I tell you what,” he said. “We’ll form a gang. Park Raiders! We’ll go to all the parks and eat all the hot dogs and tofu dogs and grilled fruit and hamburgers and veggie burgers! Raiders of the Lost Park!”

Oh, man! I think me and Max are gonna be great friends.

1406

Getting home was so boring: six-thirty the train came and I got on and I found my money and I paid it and I got home and I got off on the right stop. But along the way, we saw a squirrel run out into a street and everybody rolled down their window and said “Run, little squirrel!” and so the squirrel stopped and gave that puzzled squirrel look and then it ran right up into this big giant tree so we all clapped and everybody got home safe and sound.

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Wonder 13

Mae

1302

Saturday morning. I was so glad to have our boy at home and not off at school all day. He came up to me while I was playing chess and asked me to read him a story.

We wandered over to a bench in the Commons, and I pulled out one of the books I’d written.

“This is a story about my dad,” I told him.

“Did you live with your dad when you were a kid?” he asked.

“Yes, Berry and I both did. But this story is about when he was a boy, before he met my mom. Before he was my dad. It’s called ‘Crab-pot Willie.”

Charlie closed his eyes, and I began the story.

1303

“Early every Saturday morning, Willie rowed his dinghy out to the fishing boats in the bay.

“‘Got any fish-heads for me?’ he called, and the fishermen hoisted down buckets of fish heads.”

“Fish heads?” Charlie asked.

1304

“Willie said thanks and rowed out to a small blue and yellow buoy bobbing in the middle of the cove. Attached to the buoy was a line, and Willie pulled and pulled. Sometimes it was so much work, for seaweed would get tangled up in the line and to the wire box that was attached at the other end, and Willie would need to use all his strength to pull the wire box out of the water and hoist it into his rowboat. This wire box was the crab pot, and into it, Willie would pour some of the fish-heads, then down it goes!  Back to the bottom of the bay. And off Willie rowed to the next blue and yellow buoy bouncing in the cove.”

“What do you do with crab pots?” Charlie asked.

1305

“You catch crabs!” I said.

“For eating?” Charlie asked.

“Sure, or for selling. That’s what my dad did.”

I read the rest of the story, which told of a frightening day when a storm brewed up while my dad was out in the bay checking the crab pots. The story had a happy ending, though, for my dad was brave, like he always was, and he had such a good harvest that the family had money to buy brand new shoes for every family member that winter.

They even had enough left over to buy a pair of new shoes for Charlotte, their neighbor.

“When Willie and his family, and Charlotte, got home from Sears, each one wearing their new shoes on their feet, Charlotte said, ‘Willie, we’ll call these shoes Willie-shoes, and every squeak of the sole will be to thank you.'”

“‘Naw,’ said Willie. ‘Don’t thank me. Thank the crabs. And the restaurant chefs that bought them. And the fishermen who gave me the fish heads. And the fish whose heads they gave me. And don’t forget the machines that stitched the shoes, and the workers that packed them in boxes! There’s a whole world goes into our wearing these new shoes on our feet!'”

1306

“I wish I could do something helpful for our family,” said Charlie, “like my grandpa Willie did for his.”

I thought for a moment about what Charlie could do.

1307

“You know,” I said, “there is something that would be a big help! The other day, I had to put our groceries on the tab, because we didn’t have enough money to pay for them, but Berry sold some paintings to the gallery, so now we do have money! You could take some money to the store and pay our bill with Mr. Fennis.”

“Could I really?” Charlie asked.

“Sure,” I replied. “If you feel brave enough. It’s a big job, for you’d need to go all the way through the tunnel where the lower courtyard shops are. But it would be a big help, for me, for Berry, and for Mr. Fennis, too, who wants his money, surely!”

“I can do it,” Charlie said.

I gave him the bills to pay our tab and watched him run down the hill towards the lower courtyard.

1308

Once he passed through that tunnel, he’d be out of earshot. I thought for a moment about all the adventures my dad had, even as a little boy of Charlie’s age. Times were different then, and Frank and Sylvia, my paternal grandparents, trusted the wide world to make a place for a small boy. They trusted, too, in my dad’s resilience, strength, and ingenuity.

1309

I walked home, calculating how long it would take Charlie to make it to the store, how long he’d likely spend window shopping, talking to Mr. Fennis, and meeting new people.

He should be home in half-an-hour, I figured.

Thirty minutes passed, and each minute after, I worried. If he wasn’t home within the hour, Berry and I would head out and fetch him. But we had to give him that time. He needed to be able to have an adventure and to complete that task on his own.

After forty-two minutes, I saw Paolo and Charlie walking towards home. They were deep in conversation. Charlie looked so serious. Somethings, I guess, a boy saves up to talk about with his dad.

1310

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