This is a work of fiction.
“What are we doing now?” Freckles asked.
“Let’s all go for a hike.”
“I need a nap,” Sammy said. “Can I stay here?”
“Yes, but are you sure you don’t want to come with us?”
“I can’t have a nap if I’m hiking, can I?”
“No, but it might be fun, and you’ll probably wake up before we get back.”
“I don’t care.”
I was going to need to start working on his manners, but I needed to do some thinking about that first.
“We’ll be back by 5:15.” I took out my map and pointed. “We’ll be on this trail, so if you want to come and find us, you could.”
We had a great time hiking, and Curly helped Lydia over some of the steeper parts of the trail.
When we got back to camp, Sammy wasn’t at the picnic table or walking around. I knew he couldn’t be in the van as I kept it locked when I wasn’t there, so I asked Frechkles to go and wake him up for dinner.
He came back frowning.
“He’s not there.”
At first, I thought Freckles was just having some fun, but when I went to have a look for myself, Sammy wasn’t there. I checked the other tent just in case, but he wasn’t there either.
“Maybe he went looking for us,” Freckles said. Curly nodded.
“But we would have seen him,” I said.
“Not if he took a shortcut or got lost,” Curly said. “Do you want me to go look for him?”
“Yes, please.” I made sure he had my number and that both our phones had a signal and enough battery power, and then he left.
An hour later, Curly came back, without Sammy. Freckles was starving, but it seemed wrong to eat without Sammy, so I decided to wait a little bit longer. I also decided that if he wasn’t back by eight, I’d call the police.
I was just about to give up and make dinner to prevent Freckles from “dying,” when Sammy sauntered into camp, carrying a huge paper bag, with a self-satisfied look on his face.
“Sammy, where on God’s green earth have you been?”
He glanced at his watch and said, “Oh, sorry, but I got dinner.”
“What did you get for dinner?” He handed me the bag, and I opened it. It was full of burgers, fries, and somewhere near the bottom, I saw a dreary salad. There were also paper cups.
“So we don’t have to wash any dishes tonight,” he said.
Without a word, I walked over and tossed the whole thing directly into the trash.
All four kids yelled, “Grandma!” Lydia, Freckles, and Curly looked stunned, and Sammy appeared to be outraged.
“Why’d you do that?” he demanded.
“Because, A, I don’t want to eat that junk, and B, there isn’t a McDonald’s within walking distance of this place, so how’d you get there?”
“I got a ride.”
“A mom and her kids.”
“Did they invite you to McDonald’s?”
“They were talking about going to McDonald’s. I asked their mom if she could give me a lift. When we got there I . . . told her I forgot my wallet at camp and she bought me all the stuff you threw away. Kind of rude, don’t you think?” Freckles nodded.
“Do you know her name?”
“Yeah. Emily Foster. She’s camping but they got a cabin with water and stuff.”
“Thank you. Everybody, please get into the van.”
“I’m hungry,” Freckles said.
“I’ll find something for you in the van.” They all followed me and I handed Freckles a banana.
“It’s a banana.”
“But that’s fruit!”
“I know. You can eat it quicly and then we can go.” I handed one to Lydia, who began to peel it. Freckles just stood there. “The sooner you eat that, the sooner we can have actual dinner.”
“It’s so gross,” he said. “I’d rather starve.”
“Okay, well, make up your mind please. We have to go.” He put the banana back and sat down, grumbling about how hungry he was.
“Where are we going?” Sammy said, as I pulled out of the camp site.
“To look for Mrs. Foster and her kids.”
I drove to the area where there were cabins. I parked.
“Why are we stopping?” Sammy said. “She’s not here.”
“We’re going to walk around and look for her rather than driving. If the rest of you want to wait here, that’s okay.” Curly and Freckles said they’d wait, but Lydia wanted to come with us.
We’d been walking for five minutes when we came to a cabin with a young woman and two kids sitting on the porch. The woman looked up, saw Sammy, and smiled.
“Good evening,” I said, “I’m Lydia. Are you Mrs. Foster?”
“Sure am, and please, call me Emily. This is my daughter, Sienna, who’s nine, and this is my son, Berkeley, who’s four.”
“Nice to meet you.” I smiled at them all. “This is Sammy, my grandson, and Lydia, my granddaughter.”
“Oh, how cute. Are you named after your grandma?” Lydia didn’t respond.
I changed the subject.
“Thank you for taking Sammy to McDonald’s.”
“Oh, you’re welcome.” She looked a little bit worried. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you and let you know I was giving him a ride. I asked, but he said you didn’t have a cell phone.”
I looked at Sammy, who appeared to be very uncomfortable.
“Well,” I said, deciding not to tear a strip off of him in front of them, “how about you, Sienna, and Berkeley come for dinner tomorrow evening.”
“Are you sure?”
“Absolutely. What’s everyone’s favorite food?”
“Oh, we like most things,” she said, “but Berkeley’s allergic to soy.”
“Thank you. What time is good for you? Also, is there anybody else with you? They’re invited as well.”
A shadow passed over her face, and she said, “No, it’s just me and these two bundles of energy.”
“Bundles of joy, right Mom?” Sienna said. “That’s what Alicia’s mom’s new baby is supposed to be.”
“Yes, bundles of joy,” Emily and I said in unison, and we burst out laughing. We agreed on two the next afternoon, I made sure Emily knew where our camp site was, and then we waved goodbye.
We walked back to the van, and I told Freckles and Curly about the plans for the next day as I drove back to camp.
“Grandma,” Freckles said, as I parked, “I’m really hungry now.”
“I know you are, and Lydia and Curly probaby are too. Let’s have sandwiches.”
Sammy had already eaten, but he managed to inhale a ham and cheese.
“Whose turn is it?” Freckles asked.
“Yours,” Sammy said.
“That’s true, but it’s too late,” I said.
“So we can all go to bed now?” Freckles asked.
“You, Curly, and Lydia can, but I’d like Sammy to do the dishes.”
“But I did them at lunch.”
“Yes, you did, and Freckles can do them at breakfast.”
“That’s not fair. It’s not my turn.”
“We’re a team, so we help each other out,” I said. “I made sandwiches because it was late, and Freckles and Lydia need to go to bed. I could ask Curly to help, but he spent an hour searching for you when you’d gone off to McDonald’s without telling anybody. So please come and help me with the dishes and then you can go to bed.”
He waited while I filled up the washtub.
I said, “Sammy, you know perfectly well that I have a phone.”
“Yeah but you wouldn’t have let me go.”
“You lied to her, and that’s wrong. There aren’t too many dishes and I’d like you to both wash and dry. It doesn’t pay to lie, and I mean that literally; I’m not going to pay you for the extra work.”
Part 7 will be posted on Sunday, August 30.