Jesse

A novel by Corin Gillis Posted by Corin Gillis at 12:00 PM 6 comments

Chapter 1
“It’s a kind of cruel joke. If I know God, and I think I do, he is playing games with my head - for lack of other amusement. Maybe he’s made some kind of sadistic bet with Satan, and I’m the new Job. If I’m wrong, then tell me, if you can: why else would he make it so beautiful today? What other reason is there for a sky to be so perfectly blue? Furthermore, the sun is far too yellow for its own good, and the trees are too many shades of green. Every lake we pass by has a golden crescent beach, like some northern paradise, and every one of them is calling to me, tempting me to lay myself down on the sand, to let myself become part of the picture and for once, just to be happy. It is a terrible, terrible cruelty indeed.” Jesse lifted her eyes and her pen from the half-filled page to look through the dirty, rainstained window. The outside world rushed by at 100 kilometres an hour, leaving hardly enough time to say hello and goodbye to each scene. The bus was her prison. She sighed without realizing it. Usually she loved this trip north, which marked the beginning of every summer. It was all so familiar - the lakes, the trees, the rocks, everything - year after year of making this journey had planted them firmly in her memory. But never before had the sky been so crisp and clear. The clouds were more often thick and low, darkening the forest colour of the evergreens and only occasionally allowing the sun to peek through. Not today, though; she could feel the freshness and warmth of the day even from inside the air-conditioned bus. Once again she bent over the journal lying open on her knee. “Part of me is glad for the sun. It makes everything seem alive - even me. Almost. Oh, it is so hard.” Thoughtfully, she stared for a moment at the back of the seat in front of her, pen automatically tapping her lower lip, before continuing. “Why is it I’ve been given sunshine, this year, of all years? Any other summer I could have rejoiced in it so innocently. I would have loved it so much, then.” She really did want to enjoy this day, and this summer. She fought to push the cloud back, to some corner inside herself where it could be invisible, if only for a little while. That was something in itself, the wanting to be happy. It had been a long time. It must be something in the air, memories of carefree days spent on buses like this. “I will be happy,” she whispered under her breath, and leaned back into the seat she had woken up in just a little while ago. She tried to rest, to let the lines of concentration melt from her forehead, and to ease the tension in her muscles; but relaxation eluded her. Her body was cramped and her mind was full. There was nothing to do except turn again to

the window, and try to lose herself in the picture. Try not to think so much. Minutes later the bus turned into a familiar rest stop for breakfast. Taking her backpack along, Jesse followed the line of her fellow passengers anxious to stretch their legs, and looked around her. They were almost there. As she breathed in she knew she had been right about the air: it already smelled cleaner than it had at the last stop. It was a delicious smell, like mountains, trees, soil and rain. It was the purest smell in the world. After walking around a bit to work the knots out of her muscles, she automatically started to head toward the restaurant, then realized that she wasn’t hungry. She switched directions and aimed instead for the payphone at the opposite end of the building. She would phone her parents, even if it was a little early for a Sunday. It was always reassuring to hear their voices after a night spent driving farther and farther away from them. Leaving was the hardest part. She always cried. The call left her inexplicably weary. Whether it churned up a fresh longing for home or some other feeling, when she boarded the bus once again she found herself yawning. Soon her eyes closed, and she was home again. She saw her parents standing on the sidewalk in front of their house, in slippers, waving goodbye with their arms around each others’ waists. It was the first time her older sister had driven them north, and the front seat was loaded with sandwiches, bottles of frozen water and their combined comprehensive cd collection. Then it was night: she was walking home from choir practice at church, one foot after the other on the cement sidewalk, gazing at the millions of stars above that made her seem so small, and struck her as looking like little diamond pins stuck in a God-sized pin cushion. A gust of wind blew her hair back and she squeezed her eyes shut. She shivered, tucked one arm around herself and grasped at the top of her jean jacket where it was missing a button... She lurched forward suddenly. With a nervous, almost hunted look in her eyes she searched the bus for something... something. What was wrong? She looked all around her, but nothing unusual presented itself. The other passengers looked as unenthusiastic as ever, the bus driver was still humming to himself, and there were no other vehicles in sight. She must have been dreaming, but what about? No, she didn’t want to remember after all. She leaned back in her seat. It was 11:00 am when the bus pulled in to a Husky station on the highway. As she stood in the parking lot surrounded by her luggage, she realized just how deserted the place felt. There were no other buildings visible; although she knew there were houses nearby, they were hidden by bush. The only signs of life were the gas station and the highway, and one lone, red dirt road leading off it a few yards to the left. Little by little she brought her belongings to the side of that dirt road. Then she sat down on a suitcase, her guitar in her lap. She made a pretty picture sitting there, to the Husky patrons who cared to look. Her light brown hair, which usually hung neat and straight down to her shoulder blades, was blown crazily by the wind and dust. She was comfortable in loose jeans, runners and a t-shirt, a wide hemp bracelet on her right wrist her only ornament, and became almost a part of the landscape. Her fingers drummed expectantly on her guitar case, the only sign of impatience. She was almost there. Presently, a rusty station wagon turned onto the road off the highway and stopped. A

door opened, and after a few words the girl climbed in the back seat, lugging only the guitar in after her. As the tires rolled once again they kicked up clouds of dust behind them, covering the rest of her bags with a thin red film. Posted by Corin Gillis at 12:00 PM 0 comments

Chapter 2
Rocky Bay Bible Camp came after many bends in the dirt road, offering many chances for second-guesses. Jesse McDougall stepped out of the car slowly, and hesitated to close the door behind her, till she looked down at her feet and noticed that her white running shoes had already turned a light reddish brown. It brought a smile to her face, and the courage to step forward and take a good look around her. To her right was the bay, its shallowness betrayed by its muddy hue. She knew what the beach looked like although it was too low for her to see, and blocked by small staff cabins: the sand was red and there were bulrushes and reeds on either side, along with rocks and bits of driftwood. In front of her was a large green field and the pavilion, and beyond that a baseball diamond and volleyball court. Further back was a semi-circle of boys’ cabins, but they were concealed by trees, and to the left was a similar arrangement of girls’ cabins. In front of the girls’ cabin area, closer to Jesse and a little to her left, was the dining hall, with a well-worn path leading from the attached office up to where she stood. While she contemplated the path, Philippa Gordon and her father, Jesse’s driver, were unloading their trunk, presumably of Phil’s luggage. Returning to the present, Jesse took one of the bags and together they brought Phil’s things down to the pavilion until she could find out what cabin she was in. They chatted amiably as they walked, without getting into anything really important, and Jesse enjoyed Phil’s excitement and bubbly laughter. She was the same age as herself, a little shorter and a little rounder, with soft grey eyes that suggested friendliness. She had the lightest of light blond hair, presently pulled back in a little ponytail, and pale skin to match. She was a talker, and more importantly she was a hugger. They started back toward the office together when Phil’s father returned with Jesse’s bags. Then another car pulled up, and Phil ran over excitedly to welcome its occupants. Mr. Gordon unloaded Jesse’s things, which she left piled under a willow tree at the edge of the parking lot, and she ventured down toward the office alone. The office was an extension of the long yellow dining hall. The entire structure was raised up about six feet off the ground but was still lower than the parking area, and a pleasantly wooded path led down to it. After reaching the door, she stood looking at it for a while, trying to muster up the courage to open it. Before she was entirely resolved, it was opened from the inside, almost knocking her over. A tall blue-eyed blond with a funny face saw her just in time to avoid a collision. His eyes lit up in recognition as he exclaimed, “Hey Jesse! How’s it going?” and gave her a big bear-hug. The strength of his arms concerned her a little bit as they enveloped her, almost hurting her back the way her father used to. But she laughed it off for the moment, just glad to be welcomed. The funny-faced boy, Michael Brown, ushered her into the office, and she was happy she didn’t have to go in alone.

With a hand on her shoulder. or hospitality hostesses as they were now called.. it hovered on the edge of chaos.” She sat up straighter. she’s lying. he led her to his small office. Jesse thought.. but you’re the best qualified.. “She just wants to get out of it herself! I’m not getting tricked into doing her job. but interesting too because there were small changes every summer.. “We need to make photocopies of this to hand out at the staff meeting. “I know you love being in a cabin. her . “I need to talk to you. “I thought she was supposed to be head cabin leader again this year.. Good thing you got here early. At once Jesse felt in the way. who were responsible to the head cabin leaders. but Jesse could easily picture him as the freckled. The kitchen girls. and she was curious to know who was doing what this year. Michael Brown and Jesse McDougall. and so do I. I’m a cabin leader. “No. the maintenance foreman. No surprise there.. He was smiling calmly. the food services manager.” Jesse declared.” “I think we’re out of toner. “I thought you might like to look it over first. She stopped there. “She knew you could do the job. the head cook . The maintenance crew were under Jacob Stevens. Keeping the door halfway open. It was a flow chart.” Bob interrupted calmly.” “Who took the phone book off my desk?” “Does anybody know what toner is?” There were five or six people in the room already. It was familiar to her. who was under Bob Owen. I have complete confidence in that.. It was a little quieter in here.. suddenly realizing what Bob was up to. The junior cabin leaders were under the senior cabin leaders. took a breath and looked him in the eye. had Michael not been standing behind her.” Bob shrugged. with the thin walls muffling the outside voices to a monotone buzz.” “Where’s Ros?” Jesse broke in.” She was trying to sound firm but her eyes were almost pleading. He was now about 35. “No. Bob took a sheet of paper from one of many file folders on his horrendously cluttered desk and handed it to her. mischievous camper he must have once been. and they all seemed to be talking at once. and would have backed out immediately. gaining volume. Linda answered to Kim Owen. I’m sure it was. Then another familiar face turned to welcome her. Bob guided her further into the crowded office as he continued. but instead of asking him what it was about she quietly skimmed the page.I know that. and with the business of last minute preparations for Staff Orientation.” Amidst numerous hello’s aimed at Jesse. which was a blocked off corner of the larger. If she told you I wanted it. Her face felt hot. showing the hierarchy of responsibility among the summer staff. “Absolutely not.. were under Linda Frey. but a little conspiratorially. And I won’t.. Bob had been the camp director for three years.. not a head cabin leader. or Staff-O as it was more commonly called. “Jesse McDougall! You made it!” Bob Owen took a few steps and gave Jesse her second hug. looking up at Bob and shaking her head. common one. red-haired. a little more reserved than her first. Bob went behind his desk and asked Jesse to sit. I can’t.” he said.” she said.” “. It was a small office. but game time has to come before campfire or it won’t be dark enough..“Can this thing copy any faster?” “Elaine’s number was here a minute ago. and they had taught the rapelling class together for as long.” She frowned quizzically.Millie must have finally retired from the post after about 50 years.” “Ros isn’t here.

” she roared crossly. on the verge of tears at having to say goodbye. perhaps? No. her heart was pounding. She sighed disdainfully. All his efforts failed. trying in vain to concentrate on the words. He stared at the page in front of him. He was going to win this one. saying nothing. His thoughts kept straying back to his reluctant new partner. struck Jesse. It was no use. She’d been as friendly and open as ever. fuller sadness in her somewhere? Why did she shrink from him when he gave her a friendly hug? He’d hugged her last summer when she left. “Don’t worry. and he really. She appeared happy enough.” Bob just looked at her for what seemed to be a long time. “And that’s supposed to be an encouraging thought?” Michael stood in the middle of the orange shag carpet that covered the interior of Homestead. “You’ll be working with me!” Jesse scowled. already. it was an amazing view. . trying to figure out the puzzle she presented. Quickly enough she regained most of her composure. She set her lips grimly. especially as new staff members were arriving by the truckload. So why did he have the feeling that there was some deeper. really too young for the job she’d been given. She slouched against the back of the chair and crossed her arms. framed by black and orange-flowered curtains from the 70's. and needed something to occupy his mind. He’d thought that maybe she’d shied away from him when he hugged her. and disappeared again as abruptly as he had appeared. She hadn’t been shy then. but he felt uncharacteristically like being alone. “Where is Ros?” “She’s teaching English in Singapore. really wanted to fix it. she seemed to have matured far too quickly over the past year. and again looked at Bob and shook her head.” “And just left us here?” “You won’t be alone .” At that moment Michael’s curly-topped head popped around the door. He had 20 minutes to kill. Even with the curtains. Yet she stared sadly out the window when she thought no one was looking.” he said with an amused grin. and she just stared blankly at the space where it had been.Michael will be working with you. “You’ll get a walkie-talkie. For a moment the absurdity of that head. or nervous. She glared back at him. but persuading her with his eyes as though he were winning a convert. Or was it something else? Something other than maturity… reservation. or wishing she were outside in the sun instead of cooped up inside with paperwork. joking about her newlyappointed job and teasing Marilyn and Bob. Something was strange. He had to bend over to look at the lake through their one tiny window. What was it about her that concerned him so much? She was probably homesick. coming out of nowhere and with no body attached to it. “As tempting as that is. who hadn’t arrived yet. he sat down on his bed and picked up a book he’d been reading. but he must have imagined it. or appearance thereof. the cabin he shared with Keith Wilson and Zeb Lewis. She rolled her eyes.hands felt cold. and very wrong.” he said brightly. I’m going to have to pass. Once again Michael’s head appeared in the office. Normally he would be socializing. When he’d appreciated it long enough. “I always knew I was cut out for administration.” he coaxed. “Alright. Barely more than a girl. in fact she’d hugged just about everybody then.

They were half way to the dining hall when she realized Michael had asked her a question. she had attempted to wipe her tears away and make herself presentable. but as the only tool available was a rather mangled corn broom. Sorry if I startled you. reducing the living area to a small square. She had vowed she would have it one day.” “It’s ok.” but by then Jesse had forgotten what she was going to say. and lacked only a flower box on the sill to be truly perfect. It seemed to her like a play-house window. and it even had white shutters she could open or close. After picking herself off her bed. there was Michael. but Jesse was still reluctant to pray at the morning meetings. she had wanted this cabin more than anything else. Jesse. what was that?” “It doesn’t matter. every inch of it. the walls were pretty thin. where he .” Jesse was just a little flustered. and he didn’t want to intrude. she didn’t understand why. waiting for the other to proceed. Even if it were shut. as she opened her inside door. The bed and dresser took up most of the floor-space. “Michael! I mean. We should go now. just about to knock. Then. Once her bed was made. Since the first year she had worked here.I’m sorry. She loved it. the walls and the carpet were a light blue.” “Hey Jesse. Now she had to face everyone looking like she’d just had a good cry. and didn’t say anything else for a few steps. I guess. and the window overlooking the water had little white lace curtains fluttering around them. except that her window was open and someone might hear her. I didn’t hear you. They had both stopped almost immediately. It was in sore need of vacuuming. and so when curled up in a ball on her sleeping bag. my fault. The roof was low and slanted. She was so tired. Jesse’s exhaustion was really more emotional than physical. but she hadn’t expected it so soon! She was only eighteen. less than ten feet away. what was once more? She thought about the time she and her sister had both started praying at the same time one morning at the staff prayer meeting.” he replied. thinking the other wasn’t going to. but planned to step down to the lake to wash the redness from her eyes before going to the staff meeting. but she didn’t know this. barely room enough to turn around in. “I’m sorry. hi. May finally continued. She thought she was well on her way towards being really happy. the tears came. Then they’d done it again. No more than the boy who sat on the front step of his own cabin. she thought to herself. It was the one good thing about being a head counsellor. she decided to lie down for a minute before unpacking any more. Did you want to go up to the dining hall?” “Uh. The window was her favourite part of the room: the screen swung open so that she could peek her head through. and was waiting for an answer. Finally May had said. Jesse seemed distracted. She could have sung for joy. “I . Oh well. she swept the rug with it as best she could. ashamed of herself for blubbering. She had entered her own little world. sure. “You go. After a few awful moments.” His face looked at her through the screen door. there wasn’t any point in wearing herself out before her first day had even begun. just a thirteen-year-old kitchen girl. she’d embarrassed herself so many times at camp already.Jesse unrolled her sleeping bag on the little cot that passed for her bed in the tiny room of a cabin that was her own.

Michael took Bob’s place and Jesse handed out the schedules as he talked. but eventually the excited group quieted down and Bob opened in prayer. Inside. almost as high as her waist. obviously trying to and succeeding in horrifying Megan with their gruesome detail. The benches and chairs were now filled with some 50 or more summer workers. He’d learned to recognize this habit of hers last summer. solving her dilemma. Megan Riley was surrounded by boys and they all looked to be in high spirits. as if she were surprised every time someone did something nice for her. in a little meeting area near the office door.” he said as he opened the door of the dining hall for her. the benches began to fill. “No problem. . but she really was grateful. which contained years of photo albums as well as books. and she reminded herself that she knew just about everyone here. and dressers full of board games and colouring supplies. “Jesse! I’m so glad you’re here. Presently Jesse spoke up again. caught up in work and hello’s. as they were supposed to be displaying a united front and all. She could look casual and and be more comfortable. Young people sat in comfy chairs close to the front. She fiddled with her bracelet.. and directly behind her. A pretty girl with shoulder-length blond hair called her over to sit beside her. These guys are driving me nuts! I need a sane person to talk to.. Jesse joined the conversation and found that they were discussing the possibility of ridding the camp of some cute but apparently unwelcome rodents. Such little things. while behind them yellow benches lay ready for those still to come. in front of everyone. Normally she would have done it on her own. While Jesse took Meg’s mind off of traps and the deaths of small animals.. even Jesse realized it wasn’t very hard to rile Meg. she just bumped into it. there. Jesse tried not to let the growing crowd make her nervous. though he’d spoken to her rarely. He still didn’t understand it. She considered sitting down. Everyone else had been so busy. but she wasn’t sure anymore.. ending with Michael and Jesse: head male and female cabin leaders. and trying to catch up on an entire ten months’ worth of news.knew she couldn’t hear him. He smiled to himself as she thanked him again. Then again. “Thank you. anyway. Jesse wondered if she would have the nerve to speak in front of even this many people. As soon as she finished she wished she had taken longer. for carrying all my stuff to Ingleside. Her left palm met air. who took delight in defending any defenceless creature. He then introduced the senior staff. Sighing in anticipation of easing the load on her sore feet. then thought against it. She didn’t have much to say at this meeting. but she always expressed gratitude. Michael had walked over at just the right moment and picked up almost everything in one big load. though. Maybe she would just lean a little on the woodbox. The walls here were lined with bookshelves. Now she had to stand beside Michael until he was done. It took some persuasion. anyway. a few had already gathered at the fireplace at one end of the hall. she put her hands out behind her to rest on the lid. It was a large structure.” Her words were quiet and she was looking at her feet more than anything while she said it. and he had an extraordinary ability when it came to words.” It was true. most of them in their teens. She wouldn’t be talking to a crowd of strangers Finally Bob stood and brought the ‘meeting’ to some semblance of order. and knew that the best way to deal with it was to wait till it passed. She just needed to take a couple steps back.

and some sitting on the floor. “We’ll stay here. and many clapped.” he paused and looked at Jesse. Michael immediately came to her and asked if she was alright. Jesse explained that it had been rather suddenly thrust upon her.. how did you? We wrote letters all year and you never said anything about it.and that sense of belonging was exactly what she needed just then. It is a delicate art to sleep while sitting up with your eyes open: these young people had mastered it. When her talk ended Jesse sat carefully on the woodbox. a girl she had counselled with a few weeks last summer. It was not meant to humiliate her. and at the end of half an hour Jesse .” This was from Christine Harris. Most of them broke out in laughter.” Gradually the conversation turned to other things. emergency drills. With relief she realized she wouldn’t have to talk ‘to’ them.” she decided hurriedly.. “So Jesse. and female cabin leaders. when her turn to speak came she didn’t say much. yeah. but the laughter was infinitely to be preferred above awkward silence. “She’s teaching English and making lots of money doing it. “Hey. braiding the hair of another girl who sat cross-legged at her feet. The others had heard it all before. Being laughed at was part of belonging to the group . will you close in prayer?” With the final “Amen”. feeling far better than she had since the meeting had begun. Michael. Male cabin leaders on the kitchen steps. how’d you land this job? You didn’t say anything about it earlier.” said a girl curled up in a padded rocking chair. “Alright. just something on the point of orientation week and the importance of punctuality. The chatter of others quieted a bit as they overheard the question. She was at the edge of a bench near Jesse. leaving Jesse alone with about fifteen girls. She landed precariously but she was quick. Her name was Iris Peterson. “She went to Singapore. it went a long way toward easing the tension that had been building up inside her. nor did it.With one “Whoop!” her balance was lost and she toppled to the floor. In the midst of these thoughts she almost missed Bob’s final words. and she was quiet but well-liked. though. just with them. and practical jokes. She felt a place on her back where she had slid across the corner of the woodbox that might bruise. As if by common agreement.” said the girl getting her hair braided. and by the time Michael had time to react she had jumped back to her feet. Jess didn’t have time to worry about not having anything prepared. even as they switched seats the girls began the meeting themselves. stuff she was told to mention. and no one seemed at all surprised that she was acting as a head cabin leader. “Maintenance and kitchen staff will meet in the pavilion. she hadn’t stuttered too much. and knew they would hear exactly the same thing at least three more times before the week was over. Only the ‘newbies’ really listened. To make up for Michael’s wordiness. So they conserved their energy for more important matters. She had remembered everything she’d had to say. despite the fact that there were at least five girls here older than her. they all moved towards the front. such as late-night campfires.” Phil said as she stretched out in a recliner left vacant by a maintenance boy. most of the crowd dispersed. Instead. filling the comfy chairs and the first row of benches. She looked and felt a little sheepish. but she could only nod. Even some members of the audience failed to catch just what had happened. but nothing serious. “I thought Ros was coming again.

saluting sharply. “It’s not funny!” Phil insisted. but don’t forget to talk to Bob!” Jesse shrugged noncommitally as she went through the door. It was Jesse’s favourite colour. “Why wouldn’t he?” Phil asked. While walking through the semicircle of girls’ cabins. Thank you that we all got here safely and please help us to have a good week and to learn what you have to teach us. “All by yourself? In that dinky little thing?” “Well I could hardly fit another person in there. “What for?” “Nothing much. she knew they all had things they’d want to do before supper. but the wind that blew off of it was strangely warm. she would stay on land tonight. She wasn’t one to question authority or ask for favours.” “Amen.” Phil ignored the sarcasm. and there must be some reason he put me in there right away. “You deserve one week of human companionship before you become a complete hermit. “That’s crazy. Phil was exasperated. The walls were green. The sky was cloudy and the lake on her left was grey. watching her unpack. but this did seem like a very little thing. to the amusement of the other eight girls in the room. You’ll be so bored!” “I don’t mind it too much. It looked like a storm was not far off.” she whispered to the threatening clouds. the bunks were green. They dissolved into giggles. struggling to regain her seriousness. But I don’t want to bother Bob. “I’m staying in Ingleside. In Jesus’ name. and Phil’s suggestion was tempting.” Jesse sidestepped. the dresser was green.was almost reluctant to draw the meeting to a close. her mind wandered and her pace slowed. “Oh. “Just as long as you wait till after campfire. “Yes sir!” she said. However. Jesse couldn’t resist. I really like my cabin. “Oh no. I have to go.” said Jesse. will you stop making excuses? It’s not that big of a deal! Just ask!” Phil was blond. Its notorious waves were large and many were white-capped.” Jesse was sitting on Phil’s bunk in Cedar Circle. standing up. amen. “I don’t know.” “Ok. . She stood up and looked down at Jesse drill-sergeant style. I guess. She was short. almost hitting her head on the bunk above them as she ducked in. It was a green cabin. If she were a sailor. ’“Do you think he’d let me?” she ventured. slightly turned up little nose. thank you for this beautiful day.” “I know it’s a little lonely. for Pete’s sake! You shouldn’t be in solitary confinement already. “Whatever you say.” she said. She had freckles and a cute.” echoed a chorus of enthusiastic voices.” Jesse looked at her watch.” She placed a Winnie-the-Pooh bear on her pillow and sat down beside Jesse. So they stopped talking for a minute while she prayed: “Dear God. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:59 AM 0 comments Chapter 3 “So what cabin are you in?” Phil asked.” “Why don’t you just come in here for the week? It’s Staff-O. just something I was supposed to have done before supper.

the kitchen girls (and one kitchen boy) brought the food out to the tables. n the excitement of the first meal of the summer. coming nearer. I think. Keith Wilson. The food was as good as always. We’ll all be glad for a hot fire. There was also a list of female cabin leaders. that she knew. however. As she stepped into the hall. other than on Sundays. “I’m fine. There were always .” He seemed to think about this for a minute. Jesse surveyed the job before her. Do you have time to sit and talk for a while?” he asked. She understood his reasons. without even the experience of being officially in charge of her own cabin. It would be easier for her to learn if she were separated from the others. brought out the guitar and they went over the familiar old camp songs. Once inside and on her bed.” she half agreed. I just wondered. the summer program director. before camp actually starts. and match each team up with a cabin group as well as a cabin. “You don’t like it?” He sounded surprised. I was wondering why you put me in Ingleside this week. Thankfully. it was a rather sensitive task. practising for next week when the ‘real’ camping would begin.. I just need that list. Jesse hadn’t known how much she’d missed singing until then. other than at night. She’d only been an assistant counsellor for two years. if it didn’t make a difference. it wasn’t as if she’d be spending a lot of time indoors. she knew. and easier for them to accept her as their supervisor. She had lists of next week’s female campers. and Jesse wished she hadn’t sounded so abrupt.” he said slowly. “Oh. The meal went like any other at camp: someone was asked to pray. She had no real reason to sing at home. Then there was singing. empty serving dishes were held up and the eager kitchen girls (and boy) raced to snatch them up and bring them back with second helpings. and she would not be done by supper. “I think it would be a good idea for you to have a few days to adjust to it. She would be lonely. and things like special needs or attention deficit disorders. “It’ll get cold out soon. with her papers. And now she was the head cabin leader instead. She was not far into it when the dinner bell rang. I like it alright. I didn’t think about that. Her job was simple enough on the surface: match up senior counsellors with junior counsellors. but Jesse ignored her feelings and took the opening. And thirds. “Actually.” Jesse kept her disappointment hidden and nodded in agreement. “I’m sorry. Beside some of the names were short notes about allergies. Besides. arranged in cabin groups.” “Marilyn’s getting it for you now. “How are you doing?” he asked as he shut the door on a strong little blaze. In reality. She walked back to Ingleside alone. if I could stay in Cedar Circle for a while. Ingleside is going to be lonely.” he predicted “Maybe. she found Bob building a fire. It sounded like a suspicious question. But.” She waited for a minute before he responded.. She sat down at a table close to the kitchen. her eating habits went largely unnoticed. but Jesse didn’t have much of an appetite. But the loneliness itself should not bother her too much. as well as cabin mate requests. “Won’t that be kind of warm?” she asked. this would have been her first as a senior.She took the main stairway up to the dining hall. intending to walk through it to get to the office.

But then. and retreated safely to their cabins before the storm hit. as long as she had four walls and a roof over her head. she’d found them out and jumped in every one of them. and was opening the top drawer of her dresser to find her pajamas. and when she took another look she just about jumped out of her skin: three white faces peered creepily out of the darkness through her window. It no longer drummed delightfully on her roof. and the thunder wasn’t as loud or as close. All three laughed hysterically at her reaction. making a puppy dog face. and opened her mouth to drink the rain that poured down. There had been times. there were announcements. With her hands on her hips she gave them her most reproaching look.. although she didn’t have quite her sister’s courage. Jesse thought. but May was different.” No. “Pleeeeese?” Michael and Zeb joined in. Yet the weather held off. when a movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention. Trouble just seemed to follow her. Mom. As puddles began to form. Because it was the first day. The wet grass and earth felt good to her bare feet. She shook her head. None of them were much bothered by the weather. and she hadn’t been going to choir practice lately. Laughing at herself. had their first campfire of the year. when she was only six. the air was considerably colder than it had been when they’d come in. When the songs ended. It wasn’t likely to last. She remembered May running out in a storm once. And when their mother indignantly dragged the sopping wet girl indoors. these went on for quite a while. The rain. the lightning began to come less often. at least not since she was little. and the rain wasn’t as cold as she had . never had been. Jesse sat on her solitary bed. Jesse had watched from the open front door. either. or at least she didn’t show it. she grabbed a jacket that she knew would make no difference in the downpour. to the exasperation of their parents. Keith and Zeb and Michael. Her anger didn’t last long. and all three looked up at her in mock despair.cd’s or the radio to listen to. They were just too much to resist. of course. I’ve got my splash pants on. Even the boys in Homestead had each other. She wasn’t afraid of storms. The boys. though. She had just decided to get ready for bed. however. She’d always been fascinated by the display of sheer power.. she didn’t get into trouble as much as May had. poured forth as if to flood the whole earth. The wind had picked up. she had only said “It’s ok. like the stray animals that would “just follow” her home. when her temper would flash and back her into a corner. She goaded it on. She’d danced in the street in her bare feet. One good thing. watching the lightning through the squares of her window pane. May had only done it to show Jesse that there was nothing to be afraid of. By the time the workers were dismissed and moving collectively outside. “Oh come one!” Keith pleaded. it sounded more as if the whole cabin had been picked up and moved beneath a waterfall. but Jesse was not amused. and yelled at her to come on out and play. but it wasn’t raining yet. Jesse was not afraid of lightning anymore. They had played a get-to-know-you game involving a walk around the entire campground. Most of the young people enjoyed the company of six or seven others in their cabin and stayed up most of the night talking about last year and getting to know one another better. and went out. just smiled idiotically at her through the window. four years old and amazed at her older sister’s bravery. Bob’s fire probably had kept them warm after all. when she’d screamed in surprise at the sound of thunder. As Jesse watched.

“I think she’s the smart one. At the moment. thought she was with you. Zeb and Jesse seemed to be walking off a bit. man?” Michael reached down to grab a handful of rocks. but when he got close enough to see. it was hard to see anything at all. “What’s with you. looking around. “Yeah. “I’ll make sure Jesse’s in her cabin. however. He found her on the baseball diamond. Michael nodded. “Hey. was concerned. sticking to them like glue. Without the lightning. until it slowed down a little. it threatened to overflow the little ditch that contained it. “Well she’s not here. guys. They didn’t try to talk above the roar of the water.” Zeb said.” Michael just shook his head. “I’m not grumpy. It’s getting pretty cold out here. and the rain was disorienting.” Keith shivered. “Nothing’s with me. Jesse nodded to show that she was impressed.” By now their hair and clothes were soaked. “Not for a while yet. and Keith wondered at his serious attitude. he smiled: she was dancing. I’m headin’ in. Her head tilted back to let the rain wash her face. “Wonder when it’ll let up?” Zeb asked when he could be heard without yelling. “You had enough?” he asked Michael. “Whatever. They watched it in amazement for a few moments. I just went to get a flashlight. At first he didn’t know what she was doing. “Just get over it soon. “She probably went inside. Keith balked. “Oh. eh? You’re no fun to live with like this. wondering where she could have wandered in this darkness. then followed it to the beach. “where’s Jesse?” Zeb shrugged. She forgot to open her mouth to catch the droplets. “I just do. They stopped at the creek. His friend just wasn’t acting like his usual cheerful self.” “Put that thing down. It acted as a natural barrier between the staff cabin area and the lawn in front of the beach. so he took the opportunity to have a little heart-to-heart. man. “How do you know?” asked Keith. Her arms were raised out at her sides as she spun around and around. He wouldn’t have seen her at all if it hadn’t been for light from the windows of the girls’ washroom reaching her. apparently what they wished to show her.” said Keith. Michael nodded. Usually it was little more than a trickle of water. “I dunno.” He held up the evidence for them to see. but it .” They were momentarily blinded by a light as Zeb sloshed up to them.” Zeb said. And Keith.” Michael informed him.” “I’m coming too. “Hey. you’re probably right. Michael began walking the beach.” She wasn’t there. but ran and shoved each other playfully for some time. The flashlight clicked off and they opened their eyes again. frowning. just thinking. Keith and Zeb each grabbed one of her arms and pulled her through the grove of trees that surrounded the staff cabins at breakneck speed. You’ve been grumpy all day.” Michael seemed very sure of himself.expected. will ya?” Keith protested. being a sensitive guy. He cast Michael a sidelong glance and asked.” said Michael.” He picked up another rock. don’t give me that.” said Michael. and then began throwing them in the lake one by one. Jesse wondered what her mother would say if she could have seen her.

She might have been the only person in the world. “Of course I know he is. “Isn’t he wonderful?” He followed her as she walked towards Ingleside. and it doesn’t make sense to me.” “No.” said Keith. She laughed and opened her eyes. why he doesn’t always protect the people who love him. I couldn’t.. and in the end you’re worse off for it. I suppose he is. “I found her. she shrugged his hands off her shoulders and stood up. “I wish I couldn’t think at all. but I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. “Why did you fall?” “Well. I guess that’s what scares me. “I didn’t know you were here.” They were walking more slowly now. When she stopped. but he preferred it to her recent gloominess. “And now I’m just confusing myself more.” She paused for a minute.” “Better than not thinking at all.” They were walking side by side now and he looked down at her. But large hands grasped her shoulders to pull her up and pushed her hair away from her face.” “Maybe. don’t be. “To tell the truth. She shrugged her shoulders. I always know he’s wonderful. Michael didn’t say anything.” Why was he so upset? she wondered.” “Not a very pleasant thing to think about.” she said slowly. yes. “Are we interrupting anything?” Keith asked he slipped up behind them. she wobbled briefly. Michael smiled in the darkness. She was happy.” They walked in silence for a minute or so. and I’m not sure what my point was.” she said. “I was dizzy. then dropped onto the grass and didn’t bother getting up. “Do you?” “I used to wonder. “I don’t doubt him.” “Meaning. really. “I don’t mean that.” she ended in frustration. her fears. I don’t see why he didn’t stop it. It gives me something to think about.” said Michael.” she said. her troubles. before Michael broke it. “Is this coming from personal experience?” “Sometimes. but I am right now. even if it’s a perfection I don’t always understand. “Who’s wonderful?” “God. you’ve confused me too.” she said. his eyes clouded with concern. everything but the rhythm of water pouring down on her. The rain was intoxicating: she forgot her problems.” She laughed. “Sometimes he lets bad things happen. “ Sometimes I’m not so sure.” “Don’t you know he is?” He stopped laughing then. “You were looking for me?” Jesse asked in surprise . “Well.didn’t matter.” She thought about what she had said and a moment later took it back. “Thinking isn’t always the answer to things. Then he laughed.” she answered as she raised her hands in the air and looked up.?” She sighed. As she wasn’t dizzy anymore.. Sometimes you can think about something so much that it drives you crazy. thinking. This was a side of Jesse he hadn’t seen before.” “Only maybe?” Jesse shrugged.” She didn’t expand on this. so she did. Michael! He’s got to be perfect. startling Jesse but not Michael. “I see that. “Are you alright?” Michael asked. “Sorry ‘bout that. Why can’t I see his purpose in the things he does? How can I have so many doubts? He’s God.

“Yeah. She had to use her hand to brush off the sand and dirt that had collected there since last summer.” she said. the boys’ cabin. She went back and read it again. when she woke up. It was not until nearly dawn that her slumber was interrupted by unwelcome shadows. but they were as strong as ever. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:58 AM 0 comments Chapter 4 For a long while she slept soundly. Then she came to a certain passage that was underlined. Eventually she was calm again. and shivered. The sun was just starting to peek through her shutters.they were pulling her apart. a book she found she very much liked. She was late. but she heard herself praying for God to please let her die.” She seemed to get cold then.” Keith said with a knowing grin. well. She tried to scream. And she couldn’t talk. Then she fell asleep. She opened the Bible in her hands to a bookmarked page and began to read. every part of her. right between Ingleside and Homestead. prickly hands pulling and poking her. It was 6:05. her hands. breaking her bones. So she pulled the cover over her head and snuggled down in it’s softness. but one of the hands had wrapped itself around her throat. She quickly closed her window shutters and peeled her wet clothes off. I’m awake. It was just big enough for her to sit on top of. She tried to run away. She could see her cabin not too far ahead and decided she wanted to get there quicker than she could at the pace they were going. and sat up. their dark. so that even when she was in warm pj’s and tucked in her sleeping bag. found a towel in her suitcase and dried herself. now walking on her other side. but couldn’t. breathing deeply and trying to dispel the images still floating in her mind. obviously not pleased. She had read it before. She struggled against their hold on her. She was choking.” Michael commented. Jesse reached Ingleside and let the door slam behind her. “I didn’t mean to. They’re gone. Her hair was soaking. she was cold. She could have sworn her body had grown to fit the bumps and curves of the rock. her feet. “I thought you guys went in. because she hardly felt them anymore. She couldn’t breathe. Her eyes went over the worn pages easily. like trees come alive in an enchanted forest. and then climbed up. and gave her a perfect view of the sunrise.“Well you kind of disappeared. glancing from one to the other. crosslegged. “Goodnight!” she flung over her shoulder as she ran away. you were gone an awfully long time. so she broke away from them. They covered her face. Ten minutes later Jesse found her favourite rock on the beach. lulled by the sound of rain on her roof. She lay staring at the ceiling. only she had missed that part today. suddenly. At once she felt a sense of peacefulness. She was in II Corinthians.” said Zeb. and still the hands pulled at her . delighting in the words. She couldn’t move. but it sounded different somehow. and prayed that way. It’s over. it’s alright. even the ones she didn’t understand. she told herself. leaving thin slits of light on her wall. “I’m sorry. Figured we’d better check up on you. .

she realized. but not now. She didn’t open her Bible again.. How the girl began her mornings so early amazed him. the birds. When things got harder. where she kept her diary. But because I have Jesus. Though outwardly we are wasting away. She kept writing in her diary. too. Help me to know that you have a plan in all of this. For what is seen is temporary.18 That was what she felt like. She had been wasting away. Michael shook his head when he saw her. the beach. the rocks. Oh. God. she thought: she was wasting away. though I can’t understand it. “I will not lose heart. that couldn’t be it. Prayer meeting started at 7:30 around the fireplace. they really do seem ‘light and momentary’. “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless. or maybe it was all a prayer. please. She wrote about the little white flower in the tall grass to her left. and know that she could go on. everyone was there. for I am strong. And for a while she just sat.” II Corinthians 4:16 . Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. she was being renewed inwardly. and that you won’t leave me. day by day. before. She turned to the back of her Bible cover. and came across some she hadn’t known were there. and taught me to keep my eyes on that. and she knew they would. . She sorted through the feelings inside of her. and relatively awake. They would crush others. I have troubles I know would crush me. ready to jump onto the grassy bank behind her. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Seeing as it was the first morning. He gives me the strength to stand up under them. No. so instead of attempting to leap the gap she more daintily stepped off the rock and walked up the bank to go with them. At that moment Michael and Keith came out of Homestead. too. but on what is unseen. who walk according to the law of the Lord. switching back and forth between simply describing her thoughts and the world around her to praying. I’m being refreshed. God has shown me that I have eternal glory to look forward to. but what is unseen is eternal. Ever. for God was the only one who could know what she was writing. and a tear rolled down her cheek as she looked out at the beauty before her. when she’d first found out. she wanted to be able to read what she had written now. I am not wasting away. She was being renewed. she wasn’t wasting away any longer. Just like Paul had written in his letter to the Corinthians. She talked about the blue of the sky and the light of the sun and the chipmunk that she could hear rummaging through a garbage can by the pavilion. Bob opened in prayer and then read the first part of Psalm 119. They do nothing wrong.“Therefore we do not lose heart. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen. help me to focus on what I cannot see.” She had started her prayer in her diary. yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. I may be weaker. In no time at all it was 7:25. and picked out a pink gel pen. if I were trying to stand on my own. She gathered her things and stood up on her rock. But no. When all this trouble had started. on the outside.. because she didn’t want to forget it. She described the lake in detail.

the king who was described as a man after God’s own heart. Due to the uncommon enthusiasm that first morning. Most of the staff didn’t even bother leaving the dining hall. the longest one in the Bible. Today I’d like to take one idea that struck me as I read it. and David realized this about himself. Not one of us here today can honestly say that we have always obeyed God’s word. people who never sin. and share it with you. there was no harm in it. “It’s the first part of a very long psalm. He knows we aren’t perfect. there’s no use even trying? No. but since there were no campers to get ready for the day and no flag raising.” He held his Bible open. Jesse skipped the scrambled eggs and bacon and opted for . and learn his laws more fully. Eventually breakfast came. I’m going to make mistakes.’ David knew that he was not worthy of God’s blessing.” he began. We all fall short of the goal. many. but looked up at the staff sitting there. Suffice it to say that none of us measure up. the room bowed their heads and took turns speaking to their God. David speaks of people who do nothing wrong. You might be wondering. well. But did this stop David from serving God? Did he just look at his sins on one hand. “This is a psalm of David. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. But as you read on. we must trust him to forgive us. many things. And just as David trusted in God to forgive him. he didn’t: David says he will go on praising God. David. I’ve done things that are wrong. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. He’s blessing God’s people. to the consternation of the hospitality hostesses attempting to set them. well. key ideas. I know I’ve sinned.” When Bob was done and prayer requests were taken. who walk according to the laws of the lord. Despite the fact that it is long. We know that none of us can be included in that group. it is made up of many simple. I can’t say that. many. and God’s expectations on the other. that I’m sure Kim would gladly tell you about. “But I won’t get into that right now. trusting that God would forgive him when he made mistakes. that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. And God knows you will make mistakes. Oh. “This summer. it becomes clear that this is not exactly the case. whether you’re a cabin leader or on maintenance.’ At first glance you might think. the meeting lasted a little past the half hour mark. and say. do not utterly forsake me. or in the office. even in our weakness. Although Jesse sometimes said a short prayer out loud. “David begins this psalm with ‘Blessed are they whose ways are blameless. and that can be intimidating.they walk in his ways. God. ‘Oh. each of you has taken on a great responsibility. why have you chosen me for this job? I’m not perfect. she didn’t today. but still he calls us to work for him.” The room chuckled. and to give us the strength to continue to serve him. that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. that’s a nice thing to say. Breakfast didn’t need to start until 8:30. or working in the kitchen. I will obey your decrees. They stayed where they were or gathered in groups at tables. She was still thinking about Bob’s words and how they applied to her. He says here.

Then there was Samantha. Michael and Jesse had paperwork to do. Jesse met with the female cabin leaders in Cedar Circle. but the girl who did it was very good at it. She really had missed these songs. relatively unnoticed. They were both outgoing and had no problems fitting in. Sam was always surrounded by friends. They sang more camp songs after the meal. and then an hour or so to talk to the cabin leaders. She tried to stay out of her way.toast with raspberry jam. but she wasn’t anywhere near the flirt that some of the others were. She might have enjoyed attention. despite her occasional hysterics. Hannah Neufeld and Susannah Weibe. Two years older than herself.someone had just tossed a chunk of scrambled egg into Amy Laverly’s hair. It turned out to be nothing much . Today was also safety day. She willed herself not to grimace as she ate it. She was harmless really. Jesse learned more about the girls she was working with. constantly leading them all off topic. but very smart. Amy was a kitchen girl. so after lunch they would go over emergency situations as well as the mundane safety guidelines. There were those she had known and worked with from the first year: Chris had long dark curls and rosy cheeks. just fifteen years old. They were both blonde. never saying or doing anything to attract her attention. but Susannah’s hair was long and curly while Hannah’s was cut close to her head like a boy’s. . Jesse knew most of them pretty well. It didn’t look like she had made many friends yet. She’d always been shy. which made it easier. Jesse decided this was her favourite part of the day. too. More importantly. Jesse had never understood her. It allowed her to get up and dash to the washroom. There was also Phil. It wasn’t a very terrible scream. she supposed. Megan Riley was as loud as ever. Jasmine Denis was sixteen and had long black hair and glasses. She had strong vocal chords. They discussed matters such as how to put noisy campers to bed and how to detect and wash soiled sleeping bags. The odd thing was. Then began their busy day. Jesse looked up. and the people she was singing them with. and she knew how to create a ruckus without feigning mortal danger to her person. Samantha Oakley had frightened Jesse from her first year. Plus they had each other. And in this particular instance. Jesse was thankful for the distraction. There would be more games and another campfire after supper. Someone screamed. Keith brought out the guitar and Mark Saunders held up the words. and joined fully in the group conversation without once speaking to or looking directly at her. and rather amusing. which was right next to the kitchen. but there were a few new faces. so Jesse tried to be especially nice to her. again sitting as close as possible to the kitchen. There were also two seventeen-year-olds from out west. junior counsellors. but seemed to have come out of her shell during the past year. and others Jesse had known for years and loved dearly. and she was protesting despite the fact that she loved the attention. They must see something in Sam that she didn’t. just like they would for the campers. There were the younger girls. people Jesse admired. She was a pretty good kitchen girl. Jesse laughed with everyone else. She seemed nasty and calculating. Samantha seemed to have a like opinion of her. Iris Peterson was quiet. at least to her. When she came back she felt much better. Jesse almost envied them. perhaps.

She would encourage them to meet the expectations put on them. She was responsible for these girls now. she would have to. but although her intensity surprised him. hands on her shoulders. Just so there won’t be any misunderstandings.” “Oh?” Jesse said. she thought back to that meeting and the job ahead of her. and Samantha.. “As long as you’re not busy. She had expected this. No response. and make their jobs easier when she could.” Bob said. When she opened the door she could hear people talking. and no one around to do anything with.” Bob said. “Hi. There was nothing scheduled for another hour. pray for them and with them. don’t do this. “Come on. this is probably a good time to talk. They were practised. Her body tensed and her face masked defensively. When they could not handle a camper. try as she might. not a bunch of wild little campers. You’re the one who said I could do this in the first place.from the sixteen-year-olds to the 21-year-olds. However. Bob and Marilyn. “Come on. She was their caregiver. if you don’t mind. the office clerk.” “Actually. She couldn’t make out the words. She sighed. were sitting in chairs close to the fireplace. “We were just discussing. She had to get to know them all.Back in Ingleside. nervously glancing at Bob. dear. I’m not pretending nothing has happened. she would have to say no. “Oh. She was shaking and her eyes looked accusingly into his. So he really did want to talk to her about something. To Jasmine. They both turned to see her. Sorry. We’re not going to bite. “It really isn’t a big deal. and Phil.” he said softly. “There’s nothing to talk about. She needed to be around people to keep her sane. but I’m leaving. We were just talking about you. though. It was cabin cleanup.” She sounded casual enough.” “That’s not what this is. “Am I interrupting something?” Marilyn spoke first. Jesse walked over and sat down. we’d like you to stay. She would listen to their complaints and concerns and take them up with Bob.” “What’s to misunderstand? I’m fine. hon. ah. it left to much opportunity for thinking. end of story. I don’t need to be treated like an invalid or have special meetings or talk in whispers. “I was just getting some water. but there are more important things to worry about. and disciplinarian . “Take a seat. they looked guilty. She didn’t want to be by herself. To Jesse’s eye. Try again. Maybe there was someone in the dining hall. and they stopped short as soon as she walked in. gently but firmly insisting that she sit down.” “That’s alright. she couldn’t rest..” Always the logical one.” Jesse said. your situation. but her cabin was already clean. hesitantly. She was weary even at the thought of it. no. When they wanted time off to go to the conference centre or go diving off the railway bridge. calmly. There’s nothing wrong with me.” Her words were short and deliberate. your. Before she could do so Bob was in front of her. “We aren’t trying to make it into a big deal.” She was on her feet and ready to leave. stay a while. We need to talk about this. she could . I really don’t need this right now. “You can’t pretend nothing’s happened. and still try to be their friend. or go with them. after lunch. thought Jesse angrily. and fill in for them when they were worn out. “But you must admit that there are probably some details we should talk about.” said Bob pleasantly. role model. I’m fine. and I’m doing it. All this. grey-haired Marilyn.” Marilyn soothed.” said sweet.” she said. curtly.

either.” Soon their little circle resumed the appearance of civility.” she said. and Jesse was running after him. “What are you going to tell the others?” He was too jovial. “I’m kind of. no.” put in Marilyn. He knew her too well. She shot a look at Bob.” said Jesse. The thoughts in Jesse’s mind. and they were fair enough. What was he going to think now? How was she supposed to tell him? “Michael.” No one had a chance to say anything.” said Jesse. It’s your decision. an amused grin on his face for having happened to arrive at such an opportune time. too oblivious. “Who were you planning on sharing this with?” “Oh. I don’t mind if they know. walking in from the office on the tail end of the conversation.” His expression revealed honest ignorance. and glowered often to make her displeasure known.” “Well.” said Jesse. “What didn’t he tell me?” She panicked. Jesse’s heart raced as she realized why. I’m going to tell the others. Bob made her laugh. the water looked cold an unforgiving. curt answers. The least she could do was answer his questions.” “Secrets?” asked Michael. were far from civil. Then the questions came. it’s not really a secret. This meeting was annoying and uncomfortable. slowly.. “Oh. Only the last one startled her. It just gets too confusing. Michael became more serious. He was supposed to know already. “Who’s got a secret?” His question confused her. feeling like she was walking a plank. “Pregnant. Who haven’t you told yet?” “Well I didn’t know how comfortable you were with it. and if the girls know then they’d have to keep it secret too. I’m not worried about it.” “Well.” “As long as you don’t mind. I guess I’ll let the girls know. as long as you’re comfortable with it. I don’t like keeping secrets.” the edge was nearer. incredulously. I wouldn’t want to slip and say something to someone you didn’t want to know.not intimidate him. whatever seems best to you. looking at Bob. She gave short. “I hadn’t thought about it much.. and she reminded herself that Bob had been kind enough to let her work this summer.” “After the last few months.. “Oh. “It really doesn’t bother me anymore. too. They’re going to notice anyway.. “Sit down. however. she was going to be working side by side with this guy for two months.” “Well. Keeping secrets seems too much like lying. It’s important for them to know. Michael was gone. I think you’re right. “You didn’t tell him?” Before Bob could answer. and personally. at least.. But soon she could not be sarcastic anymore. They’re happier that way.. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:58 AM 0 comments Chapter 5 . For goodness’ sake.” “That sounds like a good idea to me. “the boys are just as well off not knowing. She attempted an explanation. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

By the time she reached the door he was gone from view, but she was pretty sure she knew where he was. She hesitated, though, and only by sheer will did she force her legs to carry her down the steps and over to the pavilion. She found him there, with his back to her, leaning with his forearms on the low wall facing the lake. His hands were folded and his head bowed. Jesse moved quietly up to a few feet behind him and stayed there for a long time, staring at her feet and then his back. His breathing was laboured, as if he were fighting for control. He was, really. Fighting the urge to yell. To run farther away. To look at her and demand what in the world was going on. God, give me strength, he said silently. Finally he turned around. “I’m sorry,” he said. He was. The simple apology wasn’t nearly enough to express what he meant, but he didn’t know what else to say. He was sorry for reacting the way he had, for not being able to deal with it calmly. And he felt guilty, because he had judged her. Whatever the reason, in that moment, that’s what he’d done. How could he have done that? It was strange to think he had any kind of faith in a human being, but he’d had faith in her. He’d put a little bit of trust in her character, even if subconsciously, and because of that this news had dealt him an extra hard blow. Five minutes ago he would have bet his life that Jesse would never do something like this. Without a shadow of a doubt in his mind, or his heart, or his soul, he would have flat-out denied the possibility. He had a hard time believing she had ever been kissed, never mind this. Jesse, pregnant? She was the good girl, the one you never had to worry about or second-guess. He prayed to God she was lying, that there was a mistake, that he was dreaming. Anything but this. He had been looking at the floor. Somehow he made himself meet her eyes. Those eyes they looked right through him. They saw his accusations and unforgivable thoughts. Her cheeks were wet with tears, and she was shivering. She looked ready to sob. She was hurt, and it was his fault. Had he made her cry? He, Michael Brown, had made Jesse McDougall cry. Oh God, what was he supposed to do? She didn’t say anything, and he couldn’t say any more. He held out his arms instead, they both took a step forward, and he held her as she cried, holding her head under his chin. “I’m so sorry,” he told her again, through his own tears. He tried his best to comfort her. “It’s ok... it’s ok... it’s ok...” She clung to him even when she was out of tears. It was better than facing him, better than seeing his disappointment in her. She knew what he thought of her, and it was almost unbearable if even for a few minutes. She couldn’t blame him; she would be thinking she same thing if she were in his position. She couldn’t explain right now, but she would, as soon as she could speak again. Laughter reached them as the hospitality hostesses, finished with the lunch dishes, came out the back door of the dining hall. They were headed for their cabin, obviously, and would soon be able to see them. Jesse immediately pulled herself away from Michael. She still couldn’t look at him. She needed to get away. Without a word and only one painful glance at him, she turned and half-walked, half-ran, to Ingleside. She collapsed on her bed and continued to cry. Was Michael angry? He almost seemed... but no, he couldn’t be. He was shocked, but he didn’t have, couldn’t have, any reason to be angry - except maybe that the camp would allow someone like her to work there. But he would understand soon enough. She would tell him, make him understand. Oh, why

did this have to be so hard? She buried her face in her pillow and groaned in frustration. This was all her fault, all of it. Sometimes, she really made herself mad. And this crying would she ever stop crying? It seemed as if she could do nothing else since she got here. She hadn’t cried for four months, and now she couldn’t stop. She was turning into a basketcase. Why had she just assumed he knew about her? It was so stupid! Bob and Kim knew, they’d obviously told Marilyn, and she suspected a few others as well. It would have been so much easier if they’d told Michael, too. Now... now she didn’t know what to do. She’d dealt with this many times, but it had been different. Always, before, she’d had time to work up her courage, and was able to explain everything before anyone had time to ask questions. She had been calm, always in control of herself. She’d told Bob, her pastor, and her friends. She’d done it well. Others had admired her composure, she knew. But this... in this she was completely lost. She didn’t want to talk. She didn’t want to do anything. There was a knock at her door. “What do you want?” she groaned. It was probably Phil, but she couldn’t face even her right now. There was no answer. Wonderful. Rubbing her face, she called out again, “come in!” It wasn’t Phil. Jesse wished now that she’d kept her mouth shut: it was Michael. He opened the door slightly and stuck his head in. “I’d really like to talk.” She didn’t feel up to it yet, but he looked so pitiful, so guilty, that she nodded in agreement. Knowing he shouldn’t really come in, she joined him on the front step, taking a box of kleenex with her. A bush on their right afforded some privacy when they sat down, so the only way anyone could see them would be from the beach. She blew her nose. Michael pointed awkwardly at some flowers a few feet away. “You’ve got daisies.” “Yeah.” She smiled. “Not many, but they do make it look pretty out here. Just as long as the campers don’t find them.” There was a lot you could do with a handful of wildflowers for extra points in cabin cleanup. “Aw, they’d grow back pretty quick. They’re tough little things.” She almost chuckled. “Not if they get picked clean every day!” Michael had to concede. She sobered now. She wasn’t crying anymore; it was time to tell him. “Michael, I don’t want you to be sorry. You have no reason to be.” “Yes, I do. I had no right to...” “Yes, you did. It was a surprise. I’m sorry no one told you. I honestly thought they had.” Michael was still apologetic. “It’s really not any of my business. I shouldn’t have asked.” He was talking too much, and it was distracting her. She had to get him to listen somehow. Calming herself down, she spoke slowly and carefully. “Look, I need you to understand something. It’s very important to me.” Why was it so hard to say this time? She had to stop and work out the words. “I know... what you must be thinking now. I know what I’d be thinking.” “Jesse, it’s alright. You don’t have to explain anything to me. People make mistakes.” She nodded. “Yeah, we do. But this wouldn’t have been a mistake - it would have been a sin. A really bad one, at that.” “Ok,” he said, trying to follow. He didn’t undersant why she needed to explain this to him.

She made sure his eyes met hers. Now came the hard part. “It wasn’t my fault.” She couldn’t tell if he understood or not, but she didn’t want to say the word. She hated that word. It was a horrible, humiliating word, and she couldn’t make herself say it again... but somehow, she had to make him understand her. She couldn’t think of anything else. She peeled back the long sleeve of her shirt and tugged on her bracelet to reveal her wrist: a wide white scar circled it. “That’s where the ropes were. I tried so hard to get out of them that they cut right through the skin.” She rubbed the place as she remembered the pain. “I couldn’t scream because I was gagged... and no one would have heard me anyway. It was so loud...” The words caught in her throat in a little gasp. She couldn’t go on... and she could see now that Michael understood. She looked at him again and whispered, desperately. “It wasn’t my fault.” She was raped. Michael stood up, and leaned against a birch tree. How could he have been so stupid? How could he have doubted her? He should have known. “Are you ok?” he asked finally. She actually grinned at him. “It was almost four months ago. I’m as ok as I’ll ever be.” It was a false grin. Her lightness didn’t fool him, and he immediately regretted asking the question. How could she be ok? He couldn’t even imagine what she’d gone through. He wasn’t about to call her a liar, though. “Why did you come to camp?” he asked instead. The question was a fairer one, and she gave him a more honest answer. “I needed to get away from home, away from everybody, and the pitying looks. I wanted to live normally again, to be happy, and I’m happiest here. Besides, God hasn’t told me to it’s time to quit yet.” As abruptly as the box of secrets had opened, it seemed to shut again. The rest of the day was spent doing perfectly normal Staff Orientation things. They went to chapel. They learned how to put out fires (with a real fire extinguisher, courtesy of the Rocky Bay volunteer fire department), line up for the emergency bell, and everybody’s favourite, search the lake for a body, which was actually a five gallon ice cream bucket filled with sand. They had supper, where Jesse ate neither too much nor too little (Michael was watching), they sang songs, and they played a rousing game of capture the flag. Considering the nature of the sport, he was relieved to see that Jesse was absent during this portion of the evening. After the game, while the wounded were tended to, the maintenance boys started up a fire. It was of a size that would never be allowed during a regular week, sending plumes of smoke into the air and nearly scalding the front row. But the heat and smoke failed to dishearten anyone. They sang more songs, most of them with actions, at first. They stomped like hippopotamuses, wiggled like fish, pretended they were Native boys out hunting with bows and arrows, and linked arms in pairs to dance in circles for some obscure but obviously religious reason. Michael sat in a back row. He went through the motions, but his heart wasn’t in it and he didn’t smile as much as he usually did. He tried not to stare at her, but she was right across from him, where the fire cast a glow on her face. He couldn’t help glancing every now and then. At least, he told himself it was only now and then. On the outside she appeared normal, she knew. She danced and laughed and sang out loud. Not too loud, but with her own measure of enthusiasm and modesty, just as she

No sooner had she rested her head on Phil’s shoulder than she could feel his eyes on her again. She was glad she had told Phil. Phil sat beside her. camp was not that much different from the rest of the world: and youths seldom do as they ought. And like only Phil could. bringing a smile. What am I doing here? she chastised herself. Her voice was sweet and clear as they sang: I love you. she had made her laugh. unsleeping till well after midnight. That night she lay in bed. She took her mind off what had been.. She’d immediately pledged her undying love to the little creature inside there. In what you hear May it be a sweet. Phil kissed her hair. Old friends. But Jesse was no longer young. But when she saw Phil’s worried face she smiled again. She quickly got up and pulled her shirt down again. And it was over. Normal people didn’t look happy all the time. “It’ll be ok. but her mind argued and won. she needed someone she could really talk to. and the final prayer prayed. slower. comforted her. when you talk to it? Just baby?” “I don’t call it anything. my King. Her body needed rest. Michael’s question plagued her. sweet sound In your ear Jesse grew more quiet and solemn. Lord.. and I lift my voice To worship you. the songs grew quieter. come on. she thought. Then as the night drew on. Her head fell on Phil’s shoulder as she willed herself not to cry again.” she said reassuringly. So a party was held in the dining hall. whom she declared already liked her. The last song was finally sung.” “Well.. Jesse really hoped it would be. She tried to ignore it. frowning. what do you call it right now? You know. She didn’t care anymore. slowly. encouraged her. and Phil fairly squealed for joy. It was a little rough. though. Acting like a child.” “Well. pretending. rejoice Take joy. “Its name?” repeated Jesse. Jesse. and by rights the young people should have followed suit. like the carefree teenager she could no longer be. Everyone seemed focussed on the words. keeping her awake. the kid’s got to have a name!” “I think I have some time yet. to herself and to her old friends. “There’s lots of time to pick a name.. Jesse revealed her barely swollen tummy. However. did they? She certainly didn’t have to pretend that she was.” “Well.” Phil took her friend’s hand as she tried to walk out. Oh well. but she wasn’t the only one. and turned it to the future. Everyone else had been playing capture the flag. with pizza and Monopoly and all sorts of amusements which the young people liked. of course. friends . and she knew she shouldn’t be playing that sport anyway. She could see Michael looking at her from time to time. oh my soul. probing. I don’t even know if it’s a girl or a boy.always had.” said Jesse. Who cared if he saw her frown? What did it matter anyway? He was only a boy. After the embarrassing episode with Michael. “What’s its name?” Phil had asked finally. agreed with her. Phil had been perfect: she’d cried with her. but it still bothered her. holding her hand. The sun had set some time ago. I guess I can wait. “ I hadn’t really thought about it.

singing. “I will renew you.” No point in trying to lie her way out of it. which had always been so dependable. or suspect something worse. and her lovely shade of green did not go unnoticed upon her return. Her steely black eyes didn’t miss a thing.” the voice said.and her stomach. everlasting joy will crown their heads. the secret lay heavily on her. looked at Jesse suspiciously. no less.” These were the ill-fated words voiced by the unfortunate guest speaker. weathered and wasting away. Presently tears escaped as well in spite of her. so she stayed in the basement a long time. Not part of the water. Phil wasn’t at her table to cover for her. There was no use putting it off. “Hope so. A lone snicker followed her out. “They will enter Zion with singing. But Jasmine. wet paper towel over her eyes. and she could have sworn it was Phil. until she heard the others leave. She had to tell them. “I have water for you. Mark had thick brown hair and freckles. She grasped at the promise. She knew it the second she started mounting those stairs. the poor girl in the middle row began to sniffle.who could no longer be her friends. Her hormones were giving her away. and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Where did that leave her? “Beaten by the constant waves.” she whispered out loud. and these were the people she trusted most. When the kitchen girls passed by with trays of breakfast sausages she had to run and lock herself in the bathroom for a full five minutes. and gave her a headache. She had been aged. if they didn’t already know then they soon would. either.. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:57 AM 0 comments Chapter 6 The time had come: they had to know. was even more sure as the aroma of fresh pancakes assaulted her senses. They . Besides. and for once. She was too embarrassed to go back upstairs.. This morning she couldn’t eat it. drink. because they were too young. Mark Saunders was a good kid. an assistant cabin leader and little brother of Josh Saunders. who was also at their table. what used to be her favourite meal of the day. and before long she had to excuse herself from the bewildered gathering. Her body was betraying her . And adults were supposed to know everything. yet not belonging to the land. who had been a staple at Rocky Bay for years. She didn’t even have a chance. taking a giganteus bite of pancake. fell into the gift of a dreamless sleep. The tiles were hard and frigid. “Will you? Will you really?” her soul cried out. her innocence taken away. She was always the one to rebuke her comrades for skipping it.” said Mark. admonishing them with biological facts that proved the value of a solid morning meal to one’s health. “Wretched girl. In the middle of chapel.” a voice said in her head.” she muttered through her tears as she sat on the floor of the downstairs washroom with cold. She had been taken away. nary a second after. Like the sand on a beach. of all things. Then there was the crying. Children could not have children. “Not feelin’ so great this morning?” asked Mark. and looked and acted like the wholesome farm boy he was. Jesse shrugged. Jesse couldn’t even pretend to eat. It started at breakfast. Gladness and joy will overtake them. “It’ll probably go away soon.

” And Michael. Phil took her hand. of that she was certain. An air of secrecy was about the meeting.” he explained to the others.” “So we’re all agreed Jesse’s emotionally unstable. The birds that had been singing a minute before were no longer heard. So why did she hesitate? There could be no senior staff . but no one was willing to suggest it. She looked at her friend. There was a strange silence. “I’ve called you all here because you might have noticed I’ve been acting a little strange lately.they would make her too nervous. . but somehow I wasn’t. but chapel wasn’t even that good today. Some looked embarrassed. No one seemed to know what they were gathered for. I was. Phil had spread the word around. I was alone. and those who knew better would not make it to be more than it was.would not judge her. and left me for dead a few miles away. sitting in a far corner. They sat on the floor of the chapel basement. “I’ve also been a little emotional lately. “I think I should also tell you that she’s been wandering out in the rain in the middle of the night. which also served as the staff lounge. “You’re sick. “It’s my meeting. “Four months ago. and had a voice to match.” corrected Amy. He was the giant of the bunch.” said Zeb.. exactly?” The whispering stopped. pregnant. Finally Will Chambers spoke up.. She knew they were all guessing the truth. Jesse was surprised. and they spoke in whispers or not at all while they waited. anyways.” said Jesse. A silence formed out of disbelief. angry even.” “And she refused to play PIT with me the other night in the dining hall. aren’t you?” said Mark. “Yes. what are we here for..” “Hey. and beat me up pretty bad. That night.” There was silence for a few moments. who nodded. and it was kind of late.” Zeb declared. “Crying in church is one thing. I’ve been throwing up my breakfast every morning. and they had all come. “Alright. I was walking back to campus. Even I was pretty sure I was dead. this isn’t my meeting.” put in Will. however. and it was kind of exciting.” “I’m pregnant. She ran outside with a plan already forming in her head.” Jesse admitted. “So Phil. met her eyes. “But I’m not sick.” Phil defended herself. “I was winning a game of ping pong. “Um. but the town I was in is usually pretty safe. Some guys decided to make some trouble. Many of the boys were obviously upset. and she went on. and Mark spoke for them all when he said.” Might as well just say it. “It better be good. she thought. “She throws up every day. it wasn’t. looking up at everybody but not standing..” Though she’d only skimmed the surface of the events as they’d truly happened.” said Jesse.” said Chris. arranged roughly in a circle. and I know it was stupid. the girls looked horrified. “The people who found me thought I was dead. There was an hour left before lunch.” Several people agreed. More than one person was confused by the last two testimonies. The kitchen girl was more observant than she looked. They already knew about her anyway.” “We’ve noticed. “You mean every morning.

I’m just not sure yet. Jesse sat at a table of all girls: Phil. That was a relief to everybody. People started looking at each other. Chris. “they are in jail.” Missy.” “I would also like to know if the men who did this to you are in jail. “Not yet. “I haven’t made that decision yet. And I use the term ‘men’ loosely.” remarked Amy Laverly. So I can throw up at breakfast and be emotionally unstable without getting the third degree. Zeb raised his hand. “Do you have any idea how painful that would be?” “My mom’s always said it’s the reason I’m an only child.” Uncomfortable silence followed. “Do you have a name yet?” said Chris. She was in the humanities program and hadn’t yet chosen a major. relieved.” “Neither am I. and the shy new girl. Jasmine. Megan.” she said diplomatically.” stated Jesse.” Lunch was unusually quiet. “I can’t believe you’re pregnant!” Chris said. This was a tougher question. Iris. “Not long enough. “I think this conversation is getting a little risque. Chris then raised her hand. “Are you quitting school?” she asked. I’d like to say that I’m very glad you’re alive. Finally.” she admitted. “This meeting is officially over. but I can’t say I would be terribly broken up about it if I didn’t.” “I wish I could drop out of school. Iris. “How long are they in jail for?” That was an easy one. but at least they were talking about it. She shrugged. exactly. “First.” Jesse replied. Though well-spoken and confident for her age. she was .” “Does it feel weird?” asked Iris.” Following the example of question and answer. “I can’t go back in the fall.” said Jesse. “I just wanted you all to know. “I would probably stay at home. Jesse coughed. “You don’t look it at all. Iris Peterson raised her hand. I’m not really comfortable discussing birth pains.” Iris raised her hand again. Jesse had just finished her first year of university.” said Megan.” Jesse answered.” “Yes. feeling strangely like a schoolteacher. “December. remarked enviously. seeing that no one else was going to do anything. surveying the circle. “Yes. “Must you discuss this in front of the expectant mother?” she chastised. and Jesse nodded to her. But as they whispered Jesse could feel eyes on her all the time.“It’s not a big deal. wrenching herself from his gaze.” she said quickly. Iris sat up straight and spoke with her usual precision. “So are you keeping it?” asked Will. “You’d rather go to school than have to give birth.” “Thank you. Chris rolled her eyes. Iris?” she acknowledged her. “I don’t know yet if I’ll finish. Mark asked what she would do if she kept the baby. try to get a job. if that were possible. a young kitchen girl. unsure of how to behave in this situation.” “When’s it due?” asked Megan. The atmosphere didn’t lighten. in fact everyone became more serious.

after all only sixteen, delicate and pretty. The thought of having a baby scared her to death. “Very weird,” Jesse admitted. “I don’t know how you can do it,” said a small voice. It was the first time Jasmine had spoken to her. “I wouldn’t do it.” Her eyes met Jesse’s. “What do you mean, you wouldn’t do it?” said Phil. “It’s not like she has a choice here.” Jasmine turned to her. “Alright, say she has this baby. What good will come of it? All it will do is remind her of him, that thing that did this to her. For the rest of her life. Every time she looks at it, that’s who she’ll see. You think she deserves to go through that kind of pain?” Her anger was evident through her whispering. She addressed the whole table now. “And what about the kid? You think it will do any good for it to live without a dad, and with a mom who doesn’t love him? Who can’t love him? Who probably won’t even be able to support him? It’s not fair to either of them!” “Look, if anyone can do it, Jesse can,” Chris said in her defence. “I don’t mean to offend Jesse,” Jasmine retorted, “but it’s too much to ask of anyone.” “So what do you want her to do? Put it up for adoption?” asked Iris timidly. Jasmine looked directly at Jesse. “Yeah, sure, that’s what I mean.” Her eyes were pitying, yet defiant. There was more than Jesse had thought, behind those eyes. Yes, she knew what she meant. ************************************************************ The walls were white. Her eyes wouldn’t open all the way, but the white shone through. Her eyes hurt; her whole body hurt. The pillows were soft but she could feel every lump, and every scratch and bruise and cut between the sterile sheets. It hurt to move, to breathe, to think. It hurt to live. She had thought she had died, or at least she had prayed for it. She wished she had; if she were in Heaven the pain would be gone. There would be no scars. She turned her head. Through the slit of one eye she saw a woman to her left, old, sitting up in bed with the back of her paper nightie hanging open; grinning at her through yellow teeth. The world was ugly. “Aahh, you’re awake,” the old woman cackled. She squinted at her. “I see ye there, tryin ti’ open yer eyes. Don’t bother. I’ll go tell yer Mummy yer up.” She started to get up, seemed to think about that for a minute, and then took it back. “No, wait now, I don’t rightly know where she’s gone. But she’ll be back, she’ll be back,” she assured her, leaning back and nodding her old head wisely. She sighed. Mom. I want Mom, she thought. I want to go home. She rolled back the covers and discovered she didn’t have on the same mint-green nightie as the old woman, but her own pyjamas. Her plaid flannel bottoms and soft white t-shirt. Somehow that made her feel better. Not wonderful, but better. She sat up and swung her legs down onto the floor. Then she tried to stand up. It was a bad idea. The woman laughed as Jesse grabbed at the food tray to stop herself from falling. She was so dizzy. Her legs felt like jelly and pain shot through her insides. She cried out loud in shock. With the old woman’s laughter following her, she slid to the cold floor and landed with a smack. Gritting her teeth through the pain and humiliation, she slowly crawled across the floor to the bathroom. She hauled herself up by gripping the edge of the sink and slammed the door. Then she flipped on the light switch and looked at her face in the mirror. She was ugly. The skin

around her eyes was black and swollen, and the right side of her jaw was in much the same condition. Her lips were dry and scabbed over. Her neck was red and tender. But what brought it back was the white bandage on her forehead. She gasped. “I hit my head...” she said out loud. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. She looked at her hands. Her fingers were red and scratched, her wrists were wrapped in gauze. They hurt more than anything. They burned. It was the rope, wasn’t it? The rope had done this! Before she knew what she was doing she had ripped off the tape and began unwinding the bandage. As she took off layer after layer her wrist hurt more and more; the lower ones were crusted with blood and puss. She choked on the sobs that racked her chest with violence. With a final rip, the last layer of gauze came off, and in the air the wound stung with new lustiness. She held the offending arm in front of her, eyes wide, crying out in anger. That was how they found her, screaming like a mad woman while the witch cackled from her bed. Her mother cried and the nurse led her to bed and re-wrapped her wrist while her mother asked why. She didn’t know why. Her wrist hurt more than ever, she should have let it alone. It would have healed better. Now it was bleeding again, and Mom was crying. Mom held her other hand and stroked her hair and cried. Seeing those tears stopped Jesse’s own, at least. It’s ok, she wanted to say. She wanted to reassure her mother, to tell her she was alright. But she just lay there, immobile, looking at her mom, while the nurse muttered and cleaned up the blood. She would not cry again, not for almost four months. Then the doctor came. He wore glasses and a white lab coat that made him look important. He talked to her like she was a little girl. Didn’t she know it was bad to take off her bandage? She must be a good girl and not scream and wake up all the other patients. Now could she sit up so he could make sure her heart was beating right? That’s a good girl. This might be a little cold on your back now. There we go, all done. Lay back down now. He never looked at her while he talked. She stayed sitting up. He turned to her mother and asked her to go with the nurse while he asked her some questions. Her mother stayed. Her mother was not stupid. He checked her eyes, and her tongue, and her temperature. He asked her where it hurt and she said everywhere. He told her what her injuries were, the major ones anyway. Then her mother had a phone call and had to leave the room. That’s when he did it. He told her. She might be pregnant. Then he gave her a pill and said her parents didn’t need to know about it. The pill would make it all go away, and this whole ordeal would just fade like a bad dream. Go away? she thought. This was not just going to go away. He had no idea. Then she looked at the pill in her hand for the first time, and realized what it was; what he was talking about. Her mind’s fog was cleared for a moment and she dropped the thing to the floor. It landed with a soft click. The doctor frowned and looked at her for the first time. “You shouldn’t have done that.” ************************************************************ Yes, she knew exactly what Jasmine meant. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:56 AM 0 comments

Chapter 7

What do you do when you wake up to darkness? Jesse picked up a rock and contemplated throwing it in the moonlit water; changed her mind and held it up to see it sparkle. It was so pretty. She should keep it. Swiftly her arm whipped back and then hurled it out, into the mouth of a far wave, one of the millions and billions of waves that had rolled through that bay over thousands of years. She couldn’t keep every pretty rock she found; if she did she would run out of room to live. So the rock had to be thrown away, where she couldn’t be tempted to pick it up again. It was better that way. Better for her, better for the rock. She thought of it’s pink shininess, the sharp points she had allowed her fingers to feel for just an instant. It would be happier there, out in the world’s biggest lake. Much happier than gathering dust under her bed, forgotten and stale. “Look at me, talking about a rock’s happiness,” she mused to herself. I must be going crazy. Crazy in the moonlight. She picked up another one and threw it out without looking at it. The wind rustled through the trees to her right and her left, keeping watch over the camp and its sleepers. “No sleep for me tonight,” whispered the girl. She looked up at the black sky filled with stars. So big, and she... so alone. She shivered. Her hand moved and another rock found a new home among the waves. “Rock of ages, cleft for me...” came a hollow tune from her lips. And she walked up and down the beach, with the song more in her head than sung, till calling seagulls and hazy greyness announced daybreak. Keith’s snores woke Michael up. That, and the sun shining in his eyes. He pulled the blankets over his head. It helped with the sunlight, but not the snoring. So reluctantly Michael got up and tossed his pillow in Keith’s general direction. It hit him in the head and then fell to the ground, having little or no effect on it’s target. Michael’s mind was foggy and he was grumpy, not being much of a morning person. It was 6:30, no less. What did one do at 6:30 in the morning, if one couldn’t sleep? The air outside was chilly and the grass was wet, which he noticed particularly because he didn’t have any shoes on. Disregarding that fact, he trekked, yawning, to the shower, figuring it had probably been a while since the last one. He really couldn’t remember at this ungodly hour. Jesse had walked to the Conference Centre, otherwise known as ‘the other side’ of camp. It lay on the same bay as the children’s camp, but was separated from it by a small private property, requiring a ten-minute walk back up the dirt road to reach it. Although technically she was still on camp property, she wasn’t sure her trip would have been sanctioned by the proper authorities... but at five in the morning she wasn’t likely to be missed. Upon arriving at her destination, she climbed the stairs of Eagle’s Nest, the large chalet overlooking the lake. She curled up on a wooden swing on the second-story balcony, and watched as the early fog slowly dissipated, leaving behind it the sound of birds chirping happily. How sweet they sounded! Each one so different, each call having its own special meaning. And they were so noisy about it! None shy or quiet, as if they knew just how beautiful their songs were. To the sound of their music she opened her Bible and sought comfort, in the one place she knew to find it.

the wood was honeycoloured. “What got you out of bed so early?” she smiled. but soon the camp would be waking and the day would be full. in hardships. so calming.” “Liar. . They were quiet for a while. but at the time that had seemed an unappealing option. Till now. She almost wished she didn’t have to leave it. I suppose I can tell it’s there.” she repeated. but now the leaves were green.I can’t even feel it yet. and answered her query. It was stupid. till the sun was half up and Phil’s crooning voice cut in dramatically. She opened her eyes. that she knew. The water in front. in difficulties. she conceded. then out. but it doesn’t do anything. “It is pretty. watching. very silly. for once. It was a perfect painting. I just felt like seeing it.“. for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Slowly she breathed in. in insults. and streams of yellow peeked around the earth’s sphere to tease them. “Well well well. Sunriiiise.. But no . her eyes closed. Phil came up just as she was beginning to doze off. in persecutions. and now the sun was coming up and she’d missed her chance. seeing as I was already awake. Phil shrugged. and tears. She had walked here in a black-and-white movie world. She had the whole day ahead of her! On how much sleep? She didn’t know what time the nightmares had woken her.. Across the lake the clouds were pink and fluffy. flow the yeeeeears One season following another Laden with happiness.” Jesse sighed. stunning her with her appearance. But something got me up this morning. “I did too!” Phil protested. a strong wall. “No. She could have gone back to sleep if she had tried.. and to her back. but my father isn’t. Swiftleeee. and the sky was red. “I wanted to see the sunrise. She was wrapped in her sleeping bag and looked remarkably like a caterpillar. “Shove over.10 “When I am weak. yet she wouldn’t have traded this morning for anything. It was silly to stay up.That is why. In an unexpected twist of fate. ‘My grace is sufficient for you.. For when I am weak. sunset.” II Corinthians 12:9. sunriiiiise.” Jesse declared doubtfully. It was so beautiful.” she mused as she rounded the corner of the chalet and walked towards Jesse. then I am strong.” she amended. The world was waking. sunset. What are you doing up?” she managed to ask finally. for Christ’s sake.He said to me. but is seemed she had been awake for hours. I delight in weaknesses. will ya?” she ordered and sat down next to her on the bench swing. “I told you I didn’t want to talk about it. She rested her head on Jesse’s shoulder and shared the sack’s warmth. I feel weak.” “Really?” Phil asked sleepily. isn’t it?” The sky was becoming brighter. A comforting thought. look what we have here. “Maybe not. “Baby kickin?” Phil inserted herself into the scene with such ease that for a moment Jesse forgot to be amazed. then I am strong. trees framing it like a stage curtain and surrounding her on both sides. only a little higher than herself due to her perch. “You’ve never gotten up before the sun a day in your life. and he will make me strong.

so she joined in quite seriously on the next verse. It was on this strip of grass they travelled.” “Simmer. ‘God is love’. look at those losers down there. There was no real beach here: the land was mostly a park-like maze of forest and trails. and then ran to the railing as Zeb Lewis. I could swoop down at any moment and peck all their eyes out!” “You’re weird. Zeb was tall.A part of Jesse wanted to laugh. since their paths had already crossed so improbably. Little do they know. Jesse had to stop her from throwing her Bible at them. of course. gesturing with his hands. Not goin’ anywhere.” . She would not have reports of her morning madness being spread around camp. Provided. just lovely!” They gave each other one horrified look. flat grassy strip about 100 feet wide. and although he was eighteen. or smart as far as animals go?” said Will. laughing and pointing at her. you guys ever think about birds?” Zeb asked as they walked. They sang the sun up. “Why I oughta. just clueing in. To the boys she called out. “how long have you guys been down there?” The boys howled in answer. pretty well built and a mop of shaggy blond hair. people smart. Phil scowled threateningly.” Phil said. “Hey. simmer. rocking back and forth slowly. “Remember. Then applause came from below. but she loved the song. but Will was the giant: 6"4. Phil began screaming threats and oaths down at the amused boys. right before a 20 foot drop-off to the water. Jesse followed. “God doesn’t want us to get nasty. “Is the whole camp up this morning?” she muttered to herself and Phil. with a long. It was silent for a few seconds after their song was over. he claimed he still had some growing years left in him.. knowing no one could hear them and not caring if anyone did. he wasn’t the one singing Fiddler on the Roof this morning!” said Will. Phil got so mad she turned and ran down the stairs. are they smart?” “Smart like. “What about ‘em?” he asked. “Cause I wouldn’t mind seeing a good fight.” Jesse couldn’t help chuckling at their antics. with some persuasion. promises of secrecy eventually obtained. “That was lovely. clapping appreciatively and laughing up at them. Jesse always thought of him as a friendly giant. “Do you figure they think? I mean. I’m not the one being fought. having been absorbed with his birdwatching and mild paranoia. but didn’t get involved. When Phil was finally satisfied with the boys’ contriteness. is there a fight goin’ on?” asked Zeb. girls. “Smart like. Will looked at him sideways. the fivesome decided to walk further down the shore together. “Hey.” He stood between Phil and her target in a peacemaking effort. Zeb looked up for emphasis. but Phil had a reputation to uphold. picking up the sleeping bag that lay forgotten on the deck. Jesse was horror-struck. Jesse wasn’t too worried about it. Will Chambers and Peter Laverly walked out from under the balcony. is that critter up there looking down at us and saying to himself. walkin’ along. “Then again.” said Peter.. Words were exchanged and. “I don’t think that’s ever been in question” answered Zeb.

“What about angels and stuff? They’re up there too. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Jesse never knew what went on in his head.” said Peter. rather than him. “So.” he said uncertainly.” And then.” “That can’t be right.” said Phil.” said Will. “You guys believe in aliens?” Zeb was weird like that. Will took the bait. just to make it clear.” “Maybe he thought it would worry us unnecessarily. “I can’t believe you guys are having a serious conversation about this.“Will. . it’s obviously got you worried. so they create aliens . she added . “I believe in aliens. unable to keep to herself any longer. “Does he have to tell us about every single thing he’s ever done?” “No.” said Jesse. Maybe they’ve exaggerated it a bit. you’re saying you didn’t believe in aliens?” Will couldn’t quite figure out if he was being tricked or not. but the idea started with ordinary people just looking up at the stars. “Not till I met you. but conveniently having no control over our lives down here. All five of them sat down on the top two steps. and they make millions doing it. interesting and everything. Jesse! You know you wanna. Because I don’t. “Yes. it would. “If it weren’t for the media. but if the bits that leaked out were any indication.” put in Jesse.” That ended the conversation. it was doubtful the world could handle much of it.” she said. smiling. is that it?” Phil was getting mad again.” suggested Phil. “but people look up to the stars and know they’re not alone because God’s there. if that’s the case. no one would take aliens seriously. “I guess not. “Then I’m sorry. If there were more people out there. “Well. “I still think he would have told us.” said Will. We know you’re an alienlover at heart!” “You’re scary. putting her chin on her knees.“Not that I believe in aliens. They don’t want to believe in God. “So before you knew about me. wondering. so not telling us didn’t work.” Phil took this personally. and they continued walking until they reached a set of steps leading down to the water. “Why?” asked Zeb. “You sound like you’re on the fence.” said Zeb. “it just wouldn’t make sense. “The media didn’t just make this all up. so now I don’t believe in God.” “Oh really?” said Zeb. say you’re sorry. They play on our fears. “Why would God put all those planets out there if he wasn’t gonna use ‘em?” “I would think he’d have told us if he’d done that.” reflected Peter. unoffended.” Zeb latched on.” Peter confirmed. Come over to the dark side.” “Good. “Would it make you feel better?” Will asked Phil.” “And you mean it this time? No more bringing it up?” “Sure.” “Oh.” Peter ordered. why would he tell us to be ‘searching the skies’ and ‘looking heavenward’ all the time? Then we could be focussing on other created beings.creatures somewhere out there.” said Peter. “It’s kind of an important thing.” “Of course it did.

She groaned. “Just this once won’t hurt anybody.. The accident didn’t happen in slow motion. to see not boxes. The kind that had pressure and sometimes hot water.” she whispered. “Have you no better way to spend your time?” They looked at her for a second. They walked slowly back to camp. with no way of stopping herself. Will tried to carry her but she wouldn’t let him. It wasn’t like she’d never fallen down a flight of stairs before (the others looked at each other curiously when she brought up that argument. She was only a little worried about what was going on inside her. they had to turn away from the beach to go around the small private property.. and Phil holding her hand and trying not to cry again. “Why don’t we just cut across?” Peter suggested. “I’m there!” agreed Peter. The two took off down the 20 steps or so to the first landing and began giving the birds names and interesting personalities. “Oh God. and the other was wrapped around her stomach. bumping and bouncing her way toward him. she insisted.” said Jess. “Is this really that important? Is it worth the pain and suffering?” she implored. please. So she leaned on Zeb a little bit while climbing back up the stairs. “Hey. That was one nice thing about this job: getting to use the ‘good’ showers in the chapel basement. “Maybe we should just go around.” she said. eager to avoid getting caught up in the new argument. looking at the triangular beach house. however.” suggested Will. “I think that guy has dogs. Phil and Will were there in an instant. “Guys. with both Will and Peter behind her ready to catch her should she fall.“Hey Pete. this one just seemed silly to her. Peter and Zeb tried to keep her mind occupied by talking about birds. Jesse was feeling fine anyway. and he reached her just as she hit the last step. agreeing with Phil. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. blinked a couple times. He’d just turned around at what sounded like a pile of cardboard boxes rolling down the steps. guys!” she cut in. the next thing she knew. she was tumbling down the stairs headfirst. You can see them lying on the front porch sometimes if you canoe past. He doesn’t like company. One arm was covering her face. Peter! I’m joining you two!” Will and Phil’s discussion was getting more and more heated. Lo . All she did was stand up and try to walk. She was alright. “You’re not serious! Don’t we just tell that to the campers to keep them from trespassing?” “No. “A big kind. Life was beginning to look good. Jesse rolled her eyes. and admittedly they did have her laughing a few times. leaving Jesse to cope with the quarrelsome children. Michael came out of the chapel feeling a little more awake. “It’s true. but considerately said nothing). he definitely didn’t miss the boys’ washroom.” said Jesse.” Phil looked wary. When they reached the edge of the Conference Centre property. While Jesse usually loved a good debate.” Peter laughed. There wasn’t time to do much. feel like going down and talking to someseagulls?” asked Zeb. and went back to their argument. really. when he heard a commotion coming down the road. No. It wasn’t that much farther. with gestures and raised voices. but Jesse. Peter caught her at the bottom. Phil trying to comfort her but nearly hysterical herself.” “What kind?” asked Peter. Phil and Will looking very sheepish.

Zeb saw him and waved. Michael didn’t seem to take that well so she tried to lighten the atmosphere. Phil and Jesse.” She tried to smile. “Hey!” Phil protested. “Man. Phil stamped her foot. It wasn’t quite convincing. Jesse woke up and watched as they passed gas stations along the highway before turning onto Main Street. “You missed the party! The Conference Centre is where it’s at.” “I hear they have cable in the hospital lounge. noticing the lack of room.” said Will. “We’ll be at the Hanger hospital. Jesse.” Then they were gone. though. Peter at least tried to look apologetic as he slammed the door. not even attempting to seem remorseful. “I’ve gotta come too!” Zeb shrugged.” He was grinning from ear to ear.” said Michael as he navigated the winding dirt road.” Will teased. leaving Phil alone and cranky in a cloud of red dust. “You guys are pigs!” “Yes. “I fell down a flight of stairs. but I intend to get out of here.” answered Phil. she was an early-bird. Will. We’ll phone if we’re going to be later than noon. “Hey. but the others? He’d probably never know the real story. Whatever. “So what gets you all up this early?” he asked.and behold.” said Peter.” “By the way. “Life just isn’t fair.” put in Will. “And we’re also going to town.” For a moment he was dumbfounded.” said Peter. She fell down a flight of stairs. half hopefully. “can we borrow your car?” “Sure. Michael ran to get his keys and Phil helped Jesse into the passenger seat as the other boys piled into the back. The next time he glanced at Jesse. “We just all happened to have the same idea this morning. Peter. “Why were you guys all out this morning. “What for?” “Well we’ve gotta drive Jesse to the hospital. It was then Michael noticed her scratched hands and a small bump forming by her left eye.” “It was enough that she should see a doctor. It sounded fishy to Michael. all chatting up and down like they’d been on a holiday. “It wasn’t a very big flight of stairs. In half an hour they reached the small town of Hanger. He was at her side quickly and made her look at him. I wasn’t running with any sharp objects. “On the other hand. and sort of found each other. Michael shouted instructions to Phil as he came back with the keys. The hospital was right there at the corner. are you alright?” She nodded. but a check in the rear view mirror told him they too were out of it. “Come again?” he said.” said Jesse. Maybe that was just as well.” said Zeb. seriously?” “We were watching the sunrise. yeah. She had to convince the boys that she could walk alone. is it? Sorry. trying to look confident.” said Michael. He was about to ask the boys in the back if she had hit her head at all during her fall. and . she was asleep with her head against the window.” said an exasperated Jesse. though. Everyone else seemed to agree. “An epidemic of sleeplessness. “So. As long as they didn’t snore. He couldn’t have just heard what he just heard. around the bend came Zeb. Michael waved back and waited for them to reach him.

Dampier just now. In a forceful. please?” “Oh. it’s not that bad.” Aunt Sandra sighed.. what’d you do to your head?” she asked and stepped forward to look at it more closely. “Oh. “I had a bit of an accident.” she said as she gave her a big hug. I guess. Finally she stepped back and surveyed her niece. or so Jesse firmly believed. shaking her head.” she muttered fretfully. “Well. Three of the boys found chairs in the lobby. But Michael leaned against a lilac wall and watched the hallway until she returned. Half an hour went by slowly. “Nope. Jesse smiled sheepishly. and I’m Jesse.? She used to come around here. Must have been two years ago now. polite but curt. seeing as Jesse was in good hands.” “She had three. returning to the present somewhat flustered. “Is Dr.” and led her down the hall. the second. Finally Will voiced what they’d all been thinking. “Theresa’s. Even Will. With some effort. “Yes. visiting your Nan.. Terrible thing about the eldest. “Good to see you. They flipped channels and fidgeted in their vinyl armchairs. let’s go take a look at you. It also helped that most of the nurses recognized her as ‘one of the DeFazio girls’ . Jesse tried to smile. Salo in. Dr. so I can’t recognize them anymore. “Aunt Sandra!” Jess exclaimed. she remained smiling.it made her feel at home even though she didn’t really know any of them. and they ran to each other. “our job’s done. but painted all sorts of colours. but not a rude manner. didn’t she? Which one are you? It’s so hard to get everyone straight. You just take a seat and she’ll be with you in a minute. “Is Dr. Michael paced. But just then she spotted her. “Now whose girl are you? Theresa’s or Lorelei’s?” She had put her pen down and actually looked interested.” said Will. She’d worked here as a nurse for a few years. Let’s see what’s on the tube. hon. he put his hands on the desk and leaned forward. DeFazio was her mother’s maiden name.” she said to Jesse. Salo. and more than likely have more kids of their own. now how long ago was that. I believe she’s with Mrs. and there were always flowers.” the nurse said. yes. “Well.. “No. They commented on the hospital smell and the poor quality of today’s cartoons. Salo in today?” “Do you have an appointment?” the nurse asked. you know.. to Jesse’s relief. “Jesse!” cried her aunt. “So what do you guys think’s taking so .eventually they entered the emergency door.” agreed Zeb. as Jesse and her aunt went off chatting. The nurse at the reception desk looked warily at Jesse and her troupe of followers as they approached.” “It’s been too long. Then she noticed her bumps and scratches. It wasn’t white. and as soon as I get them figured out all the kids go and grow up. It was the prettiest hospital in the world. and then I’m really out of it!” “She had four. still not showing.” “Oh.. but if she is here could you tell her that her niece would like to see her?” “Oh?” The nurse’s countenance immediately changed. and her Aunt Sandra was now a doctor.. Zeb and Peter didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as they thought they would. Michael didn’t even try to watch the TV. I remember.” This could have gone on for hours if Michael hadn’t interrupted.

“We both are. All this emotion and anxiety over Jesse: brave. Not that that’s her fault.” Zeb protested. “Normal people don’t fall that much. You guys ever see ‘Gone With the Wind’? Falling down stairs is bad news. trying to be logical. doncha think?” said Zeb. “Let’s keep it down.long?” “She’ll be alright. “That Scarlett girl fell like. “Crikey. And she rolled a lot more. or the other details of Jesse’s story. It was Hannah. and added. She laughed quietly at their worried faces. and Zeb rolled his eyes at their lack of imagination. Someone was invading her space. “Hi. Jasmine glared at her through narrowed eyes. sweet Jesse. “She just hasn’t quite mastered the art of walking. He looked up a second before the others and caught Jesse’s reassuring smile.” he hissed conspiratorially so they would understand.” “Remember. Somehow none of them liked the idea of that nurse piecing together her own version of this morning’s events. what if the baby were hurt! Really .” Jasmine lay with her hands folded behind her head.as if anyone cared about the pea-sized ball of tissue. So they fell into uncomfortable silence. behind the backs of the other boys.. “If every pregnant woman that tripped had a miscarriage. After about two minutes Zeb started pointing and mouthed something the others didn’t understand. He closed his eyes for a second and gave a quick prayer of thanks. “I’m Hannah. then leaned back against his wall with a much more relaxed look about him.” cut in Peter calmly. She was typing at a computer.” said Will in awe. poor. but when they looked they saw her give them a curious glance. The other boys jumped up in unison as they saw her approaching. two stories down. She closed her eyes for a moment and tried to push the sound of their high-pitched voices from her mind. nodding in the direction of the nurse who was still at the front desk.” she assured them all.” Hannah started tentatively. not all pregnant ladies are Jesse. “I don’t know. Jasmine nodded.” “Guys. She sat at the foot of Jasmine’s sleeping bag. there wouldn’t be many babies. Oh no. It was sickening. “She took quite a tumble. .” said Will. They’d been at it since breakfast . the one with the short blond hair and t-shirts one size too small. “You’re Jasmine. “I’m going to find out what’s happening. clumsy Jesse tripped and fell down a flight of stairs! Oh my goodness.” Hannah pointed out.” the girl said. patiently trying to get the conversation going. Her reverie was rudely interrupted.” he added hastily. The cabin was filled with girls chattering mindlessly. but not shyly. On the TV the crocodile hunter picked up a giant python. If the girl so much as mentioned the name Jesse. Jesse only went down like 20 steps. Jasmine didn’t answer. Her hands were clasped behind her back and she looked a little sheepish.” “Well she didn’t fall that far. Will and Peter were just starting to discourage the idea when Mike heard her sneakered footsteps squeaking down the hall.” Peter whispered loudly. staring at the bunk above her. eh?” They shut up accordingly. but blinked to let her know she was listening. Will and Peter shook their heads in confusion.” Will said skeptically..” “She’ll be fine. “I’m fine.

Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:56 AM 0 comments Chapter 8 “There’s my big girl!” boomed a big white-haired man who Jesse liked to call Papa. Most were already gone. “Yes. but almost immediately felt unwell. and she had to clear a spot for herself to sit down. “Did you have anything to eat yet? I’ll make some pancakes up at the house after you have a nap. Miron. There was only a small group still loitering by the office waiting for their rides. Nana was waiting by the car. holding her at arms’ length and examining her critically. It hardly seemed possible that it was Saturday already. The staff now had a day off. Frizzy bottle-blond hair peeked out from under her flamingo-pink sun visor. Better to answer the girl and get it over with. Going to Nana’s house meant eating pancakes. this was only to be expected. It was the first enticing offer she’d had all week. the shade afforded by the trees may have helped. “Oh. and it became more difficult to make satisfactory conversation with her grandparents. just look at you! You look so tired!” she exclaimed. whether you were hungry or not. as Jesse waved back at Michael. Gleefully she ran into her grandfather’s open arms. Familiarity. She was fine the whole way down the twisted dirt road. But she would pretend she hadn’t heard the part about a nap. During the trip her uneasiness grew. she knew it was no use. Even while protesting that she had eaten breakfast already. Jesse had overestimated the time it would take her to get ready to leave. He smelled like Papa: a mixture of work and sawdust and that oldpeople smell. she ignored the question and the twinkle in her Papa’s eye. but found herself hesitating. leathery arms crossed nonchalantly. Quickly turning back to him. Want to go play bump with Sus and me?” Jasmine was just about to make up an excuse. She took in her surroundings as though they held no interest for her whatsoever. “It’s boring in here. little girl! Give me that bag! What are you doing. to be sure her grandparents wouldn’t have to wait for her. but one could see they had been passed dully. however. letting her carry that big bag all by herself?” She didn’t wait for an answer. magazines and sweaters were everywhere. “Well now. leaning on it with her dark. and a brightly flowered shirt was tucked into an old pair of slacks. While the air conditioning chilled her. but quickly gave Jesse a hug and a kiss on both cheeks. and would report back at 3:00 pm on Sunday. hugged him around the neck and kissed his gruff cheek. She seemed not to see Jesse until she was about ten feet in front of her. “Where’s Nana?” she asked instead of answering. “So there you are. She could have been waiting only a few moments. musty-smelling car. Water bottles.This was getting tedious.” Jesse happily climbed in the back seat of the hot. Do you want something?” she asked in bored annoyance. Wrinkles formed around her eyes as much in admonishment as concern. it couldn’t keep the sun from pounding relentlessly into the back of her head and neck. who’s that?” asked Papa. and as there was no garage sale or thrift store on the grounds. it was worse. She tried to shift positions . When they hit the highway. and then she came furiously to life. I’m Jasmine. Hannah smiled.

As they turned into the driveway. She didn’t dare to lie down and give away her discomfort. It smelled the same as always.” she told herself. bordering the driveway . A van whizzed by. downy pillow. Finally she gained her feet. The porch was in disarray with many of Nana’s ‘projects’ yet unfinished. but couldn’t get out of the boiling rays. When she was little she had thought it was a mountain.” Nana called from the kitchen. as Jesse roamed through the living and dining rooms. She stumbled to the grass beside the road and her legs buckled under her. what she was doing? Were they laughing at her? It shouldn’t matter to her. Though she didn’t think she could fall asleep. For the rest of the trip Papa regaled them with hilarious stories of Jesse’s own mother. It was nice. she began to slowly drift off. No such luck. she decided to try. Lazily she rolled onto her stomach. where the house stood. she stood up. they were good ones. and old. stretched. and the aroma filled the house. clothes. but she’d been so hungry. Jesse noticed that the deck Papa had started last year was almost finished. Nana’s brown bread was sweet and had a sleepy kind of smell. Nana stood behind her. and quietly got back into the car. and happier times than now. “to make Nana happy. surrounded by old jewelry. Of course the house wasn’t really regal. but like a well-used antique that wasn’t worth very much. especially when riding backwards in the old family station wagon. Two minutes later she had to ask Papa to pull over. and her eyes closed as her head reached the soft. From this position she could see the thick bush that surrounded three sides of the house. Jesse bit back miserable tears. go upstairs and lie down on the bed. It was no use. “Little girl. but it did. tall and regal. Nothing had changed. She never really fell asleep. and she wondered who was in it. They left her bags in the car and climbed up the back steps to the house. rubbing her shoulders and holding her hair. She should have known better. We’re not going to camp for a while yet. the way it rose up majestically from the highway to the top. and then she’d been so pleased with herself for keeping it down! She’d almost dared to hope this affliction had run its course. pretending not to hear Nana’s admonishments. As she lay there on the queen-sized bed. round the corner. of happy places like this. Reluctantly she went up the stairway. Had they seen her? Had they wondered who she was. but inside there was bread baking in the bread machine. But when she sat down. saying something meant to be comforting. In the dining . but the many muddled thoughts and images that flashed through her exhausted mind were very like dreams. She squeezed her Nana’s hand in thanks. disgusted with herself.as Nana asked about her week and her family back home. She stifled a moan as her stomach protested the oatmeal she’d eaten this morning. who had been known for car-sickness. She shut her eyes and tried to think of something other than the kilometers of pavement ahead and the pounding in her brain. No longer able to keep herself in bed. After a few minutes. She smiled.Nana and Papa’s driveway. and went bounding through the hall and down the stairs. and a vast quantity of ancient wallpaper. Nana was always bragging that you couldn’t go anywhere in Canada. east or west. Nana and Papa lived off the highway just outside of Hanger. down the hall and into the spare room. letting the top half of her body lean out over the edge of the bed so she could look out the window. And for the first time in a long time. her body relaxed immediately. excitement overcame her weariness. without driving right past her front door.

room Papa was reading a paper, a mug of steaming, untouched black coffee in front of him, while Nana fried pancakes in the kitchen. Jesse sat down beside him and, suddenly seeing her, he looked over his paper. “So how’s Papa’s girl? Up already, eh?” “I couldn’t make myself sleep in the middle of the day.” She started poking through his paper looking for the comics. “I tried, honest.” “Mmm. You hungry?” he asked, still reading. Overhearing Papa’s question, Nana called gingerly from the kitchen, “I’ve got two pancakes here, little girl. Come and have something to eat.” As Jesse ate her pancakes at the small kitchen table, she listened to Nana talk, occasionally putting in a word or two herself when necessary. She learned from this discussion that her aunt Sandra was working late, her cousin Dom would be coming out to camp around four o’clock, and the drive-in was up for sale again. Nana and Papa had owned it for years, and enjoyed the running of it, but since they sold the place it had been resold again frequently by, in their opinion, incompetent owners. The rest of what Nana said was about people called Mitsy and Lala and Chee-chee, people very important to Nana, but whom Jesse’s mind failed to remember: distant great-aunts and old family friends who had known her as a baby and such. From the dining room Papa put in a few comments on recent golf games and mentioned fixing the roof of the camp up at Lake Conrad. Lake Conrad was a funny sort of place. Down south it would have been called a cottage, though it hardly merited such a distinguished title. “Camp” was much more fitting of this ancient cabin of two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a living/dining room with an old wood stove. There was one newer addition, the sunroom, put on about ten years ago for the sake of seating the extended family at supper. From the rafters hung antique bottles and children’s ice skates, and Papa’s bottle-opener collection adorned part of one kitchen wall. The rooms were poorly lit and the walls were red-stained particle board that didn’t go all the way up to the roof. This particular feature of the camp was quite handy for throwing things at or talking to people in the next room. The furniture was worn but sturdy; one particular couch was verifiably over 100 years old. It was a place where you didn’t have to worry about dripping a little after coming in from a swim or taking off your sandals, but it maintained a homey feeling, safe and comfortable. Jesse adored camp. As much as she loved being at Nana and Papa’s, she couldn’t wait to get out there again. She could picture it in her mind: the camp on the right-hand side of the property as you drove down the driveway, its roof green with moss; the sauna on the left and closer to the beach; the lake, small, but deep and cold. On one side were about ten camps, and the other was bordered by mountainous rocks with brave pines hanging on to the sides for dear life. She had spent the best part of eighteen summers there, but never took that beauty for granted. Every time she looked at it, it overwhelmed her. Unfortunately, she had to wait a little while longer to see it again. Nana wanted to make a casserole to take up for dinner first. Jesse washed the lunch dishes, despite her grandparents’ objections. There was nothing else to do anyway, and as much as she abhorred the chore at home, it wasn’t so bad at Nana and Papa’s. Everything seemed different here. She could wait before going to camp, she decided. She had a whole day and a night to spend there, and right now she had her hands in hot soapy water, and could look outside at a forest of evergreens through the window in front of her, and she couldn’t imagine being happier.

She didn’t pass up the chance to leave, however, when Dom showed up in his truck, early, to take her out to camp. They said a hasty goodbye to their grandparents, and within minutes they were speeding down that familiar dirt road. Dom had let his hair grow out in a shag style. The summer sun had once again bleached his light brown hair into a dusty blond while he worked at the public pool, at the same time tanning his skin, already dark from his Métis father’s side. With his dazzling blue eyes, the result was striking. Jesse begrudged those exotic colours, wasted on a boy. She leaned across the seat to tussle his hair. “So what’s this all about?” she teased. “I told you to let your hair grow two year ago. Now it’s old,” she said, grimacing. Dom laughed. “Maybe down south it is, but up here it’s just coming ‘in’. It does look good on me though, eh?” he said, checking himself in the mirror. “You wish,” she goaded him. “Always did think a lot of yourself.” Though they were the same age, Dom had always been a sensitive child. Three or four years ago she would have been unsure of how he would take the teasing, but something about him had changed. Now, at eighteen, he just smiled back at her. “You’re looking good. You sure you got a baby in there?” he said with a wink. She laughed. “Trust me, it’s there. It’ll be obvious soon enough, too. But thanks.” She was surprised by the unexpected and, she was sure, undeserved compliment. Feeling in a generous mood, she decided to return it. “And that shag does look pretty cool, even if you are a little behind the times.” “Hey, if anyone can bring it back, it’s me.” He might have been bragging, but Jesse didn’t doubt he was right. In Hanger, at least, Dom had a small following. His jovial tone changed and he became more serious. “So how you doing, really? Mom said you came to the hospital a couple days ago.” “Oh, that,” she brushed it off. “I fell down and a few people overreacted. Even your mom said it was nothing to worry about.” Dom wasn’t fooled. He glanced slyly at her. “I heard it was flight of stairs you fell down. And Mom said you got a few scratches.” “Which, as you can see,” she retorted, “are all healed up. I’m fine now. Better than new,” she insisted. She really just wanted to forget the whole, rather embarrassing mishap. She still cringed to remember how her clumsiness had once again drawn attention to herself; and worse, how close she had come to hurting the small life she was now responsible for. He gave her an appraising look, then a half-hearted smile. “Yeah,” he said, “I guess you’ll be alright.” She rolled her eyes. “Thanks for the reassurance.” Gravel spun and rocks clunked against the sides of the truck, even though they weren’t really going too fast. Dom either ignored or missed her sarcasm. “So how’s your family?” he asked, easily negotiating a turn in the road. She chuckled and shook her head. “Now they’re the ones you should be worried about!” She thought back to the past four months. For a little while almost-sixteen-year-old Corah and fourteen-year-old Marnie seemed to be growing up, but their good behaviour, sweet as it was, had been temporary. As life returned to relative normal around the house, the bickering and fighting did, too. “They’re one of the reasons I came back here. It’s calmer. They should be better while I’m gone, anyway. Marnie’s moving into my room for the

summer, so they won’t be sharing.” She looked out the window and sighed, remembering what it was like to be fourteen. “They remind me of me and May at that age.” “I doubt they’re that bad,” Dom said. “You two are a pretty hard act to follow. Ow!” he exclaimed as Jesse gave him a solid jab in the arm. “I’m trying to drive here, if you don’t mind.” “Oh, don’t go pretending to be a conscientious driver now. We’re here now, anyways.” “Yeah, well, most motor accidents occur within five miles of home, don’t you know,” he said as he parked the truck in what seemed to be a mere trail. Jesse wasn’t listening. She was already walking down the driveway. This one sloped down, instead of up. She let herself take in the view. The camp was to her right, just as she remembered it, and the tree-house her dad had built her when she was two was there beside it. On the left was the sauna, the deck surrounding it, and the dock leading out onto the water. There was just the faintest bit of wind in the air, making the lake ripple ever so slightly, with blue shimmers off of its black surface. Dom caught up and they walked down to the dock together, silently, so as not to disturb the majestic mood of the lake. As Jesse sat on the edge, she let one leg dangle, her sandaled toe just touching the water. It was low this year, she realized; but the richness of its colour reminded her how deep it was even yet. Dom sat down beside her. “Nice, eh?” was all he said. She breathed in deeply and slowly exhaled. “It’s perfect,” she said, savoring the moment. Dom smiled and gave one of her braids a gentle tug. She smiled wickedly and shoved him. He went to shove her back, but she scrambled to her feet, and giggling, tried to push him off the dock. He was big and on his feet too quickly for her, though, and she fled to the deck, knowing he wouldn’t hesitate to throw her in. “Chicken,” he called after her. It did something to her. She stopped abruptly at the name, turned to face him, picked a half-empty beer can up off the picnic table and without ceremony threw it at his head. As it turned out, the half-full beer can flinging its remaining contents out as it hurtled through the air was not aerodynamically stable. It landed harmlessly on the pebbles on the beach, a good five feet from Dom’s feet. Jesse felt she had gotten her point across anyhow. Head high, she marched into the sauna’s change room. There was a trunk in there filled with swim gear, as well as fishing rods and waterskis on hooks on the walls. She emerged excitedly seconds later wearing a life jacket and threw a second one to Dom, who was picking up the beer can. “Let’s go for a boat ride,” she commanded. She made no further mention of the beer can, and for some reason, neither did Dom. They took the canoe for a round of the camps. Jesse decided it was time for them to pick their favourite ones, which they would buy when they got older. The long-standing plan was for the cousins to branch out from the single camp and eventually own the whole lake. Of course, there was the public beach to consider. They didn’t suppose they could buy that up. Then again, what would be the point in owning practically the whole lake if the common people couldn’t come see it and be a little jealous? They figured the public beach could stay. The rest would suffice as their empire. The camps varied considerably in size and class. Some hardly looked habitable; others were almost like houses, with well painted walls, mowed lawns, even flower gardens. No matter how up-scale or run-down, however, they all included a small, indispensable

” Dom. and that their camp was a little ramshackle. She could see his point. if you could make it up the road in the winter. “Hmmm. “You know who owns this place?” “Sure. He made this announcement as they were passing it. They also had the longest dock. and through a very narrow opening Jesse could see a lop-sided old white and green building. “You could probably live in there all year round. It wasn’t terribly big.” he reasoned. just slightly set apart from the others. it was ugly. bigger.” she said wryly. though she well knew what she would see. she’s here for most of the summer. Starting from scratch did have a certain appeal.” he suggested. and what looked like two very non-functional station wagons parked in front of it. The ground here rose a little higher than on the other side. “It’s right beside our camp. “Yeah. in his enthusiasm slipping into the lazy. Dom decided he wanted the third property. Those factors put together more than made up for the fact that their property.” he said. But she had her sights set a little further on. just for a moment.” She continued plying him with questions. “Does she have any kids?” He shrugged his shoulders. you hopin’ she’ll croak soon?” She feigned offense. having barely set off. thinking of the trees. They stopped the canoe. their sauna was definitely newer. none of the camps were. Only this one wasn’t even a camp. was right beside the public beach. however. the little rascal he had been. Jesse felt compelled to look at it. Then the vision was replaced by her very grown-up cousin. reading a book. Jesse could see him once again. “She come out here much?” From the back of the canoe Dom began to turn the boat around. There was no grass. “so that leaves only one neighbour to worry about. the second one in. too. They kept paddling and eventually came to the very last camp on the lake. “That’s my house. And a sauna even bigger n’ ours. Maybe all at once. Why.” “Hmmm. Petrick. “ it has some privacy. She loved large porches.” she hummed out loud for a second. A nice big one. looking more like a shed than a residence. “Well. although their camp wasn’t much to look at. She knew it couldn’t be more than 40 years old.” she murmured again. Dom approved of her choice. looking out over the lake. and more attractive than any of the others. as though it had always been there. but it had a gorgeous porch on two sides. A stone house. I can pull down that ol’ junkheap and build whatever kind of camp I want. “You really think I would want someone to die just so I could have their house?” . Plus I’ll be able to get it cheaper than any of the other places. making the camps seem a little more dignified. Jesse and Dom took pride in the fact that. as the property was adjacent to their own. this one was a house. They’re probably old and moved away.sitting on a porch swing. “Mrs. no dock.” He was like a kid again. Cedar trees were allowed to grow up along the beach. only dirt and gravel. and the sauna was absolutely pitiful. was being practical. thinking. but it had an aura of oldness about it. slurred speech that had so distinguished him as a child. Maybe the winter. too. or fancy.” he said augustly.” she told Dom confidently. and she replied to him as such. It wasn’t just old and neglected. She could see herself on that porch as clearly as if it had been made for her . “Never seen any. watching the sun set.wooden structure near the shore. “with five bedrooms and indoor plumbing. a good kind.

no one had yelled at them.” “It shouldn’t be. She sat down on one of the couches near the fireplace and curled up. Perfectly normal. others collected over years of garage-saleing or forgotten by previous guests. right? An old lady hears two rowdy teenagers practically on her beach. Jesse realized she only had pyjamas and a dry bathing suit in the bag she had brought. and somehow Jesse had the eerie feeling that that person had in fact been watching them. Jesse gasped as her hand touched a familiar t-shirt that might have fit a ten-year-old. so she looks out her window. and they clumsily managed to get in and leave. Just when the rocking switched from accidental to intentional she couldn’t really say. A curtain had moved. Jesse was just about to threaten him with her still-clasped paddle. When he didn’t move she elaborated. so she rummaged through the dresser in her room looking for something that would fit. Might as well work to your advantage. He did. “I didn’t see anything. “Dominic!” she screamed. facing her. “You cold too?” she asked. Her paranoia spread easily to Dom. He ducked between the laughter. but trying to look mad.” She sat there a minute. which meant someone had seen them. they hadn’t seen a ghost. Funny how a lost article of clothing could bring back memories. both of which fit. She managed to find some very retro-looking brown track pants and a matching sweater. dumping them in waist-deep water. It was a warm.” she admitted. Nana kept the camp wellstocked with clothes. She felt a cold trickle down the back of her neck. mulling it over. the canoe pitching dangerously as Jesse tried to turn around to wreak her vengeance. Dom nodded in agreement. but they shivered and hurried to change out of their wet clothes. But the canoe did flip over.” she whispered. resting her head on a pillow and tucking her feet in beside her. She came out to the living room drying her hair. and it was most definitely Dom’s fault.” .” he said. sunny day. always the dramatic one. They got back to camp inexplicably shaken.“Hey. she’s gotta go sometime. “That was definitely freaky. or any hopes of acquiring any in the near future. It’s not like I’ve got money to spend. now also laughing. so she continued to search. She remembered this shirt . to find Dom building a fire.” she finally admitted out loud. “You toad!” she hollered. They hurled insults and splashed water like kids. They hadn’t done anything wrong. but someone’s hand had drawn that curtain back. finally. It wouldn’t do me any good now. “Dom. but barely in a whisper.” “Just get the canoe!” she pleaded. “I’m scared. just a little. “Yeah. so that he was just as freaked out. there’s someone in the house. Dom closed the stove door on the already crackling fire and leaned back on the other couch. Petrick. She snuggled down further in the cushions where she sat. when a stirring caught her eye. many having belonged to Jesse’s aunts and uncles a long time ago. though. “I think we need to leave now!” He looked doubtful. then realized their boat was floating away and argued over who had to go get it. “I am not praying for anything to happen to Mrs. But it wasn’t exactly practical for her present need. paddle flailing.it had been hers at one time. right?” Jesse made sure her next paddle stroke sent a small spray of lake water his way. anyway. “It was just a person.

” Jesse didn’t miss the expression. “I’m not the one who built the fire. “Oh. Jesse scowled. “We’re all thinking it. Somewhere in the middle they all ended up in the sauna at once. Aunt Sandra arrived and found the three of them sitting at the table. Nana had been making supper out at camp all summer for whoever happened to be around. He had never gotten married . “Don’t be such an ass.” . At least. maybe potatoes or perogies or macaroni and cheese.” he lowered his voice. Well. “So. When Nana wasn’t there. and they helped Nana out when she was there. his eyes creepily wide open and glaring. at some level.” she retorted. but somehow underneath it all she knew he cared.” he replied. though she wouldn’t let on that she knew. He made short work of bringing up the subject he knew she wouldn’t want to talk about. But you and I know better. but Jesse craved Nana’s cooking all week long.” she said. “That was just ol’ Mrs. An hour later Papa came in and gave them all enough warning to put the cards. I do. as if out of innocent curiosity. playing cards on the old faded green carpet. “Yes. They went swimming right after supper. trying to keep some dignity.” she suggested. but Nana was the best cook around anywhere.” he asked casually. Uncle Reid came in an hour later to find them sitting on the floor. “Whatcha gonna do. Jesse and Dom went swimming and jumped in the sauna periodically when they got cold. but as she grew up she learned to return his sarcasm and not let it hurt her. and shoved the knee-jerk reaction back down. Aunt Sandra and Uncle Reid had a sauna and jumped in the lake every once in a while when they got too hot. “what are you going to do with this kid?” Aunt Sandra lost her temper and chewed him out for it. Reid. “So. salad and beans and bread and meat.” he grinned. They made good food out at Bible Camp. you’re just as spooked as I am. Aunt Sandra or Uncle Reid might fire up the barbecue and feed the hungry crowd. Uncle Reid was a tough man to figure out. to be sure.he was cynical and Jesse couldn’t imagine anyone would want to marry him. An hour after that. you still want the haunted house?” he changed the subject. “that’s what most people would think.” “Sure. I’m just saying it out loud. I think you’re more spooked than me.and this Jesse had found out only last summer . bundled up like it was October. The strangest thing of all . What kind of a question is that?” “What do you mean?” he defended himself. Never anything fancy. Petrick. and it was always delicious.” she accused him. “Why should I?” he asked. hit me with a beer can?” “I don’t want to talk about the beer can. actually. He went out of his way to be cutting sometimes.” Dom agreed.was his appreciation for romantic movies. “and it’s not haunted. “So why are you so spooked?” “Whatever. She hated herself for being so sensitive. “No. He smoked and he did a lot of crosswords.“Nothing weird about it. drinking pop and playing dimes. why don’t you just shut up. drinks and potato chips away before Nana got there and yelled at them for spoiling their dinner and wasting the beautiful day cooped up inside. She’d been scared of him when he was younger. don’t we?” he ended in a faint whisper. Always something for desert.” she informed him succinctly. hoping Dom hadn’t caught it. For as long as Jesse could remember. “I’m not the one in the fetal position.

She couldn’t count the number of times she’d swum to the other side alone or with Dom. Someone was going to ask sooner or later. slowly warming their muscles. So she needed to be very sure. but took their time about it.” Reid spoke as the fog dissipated.” He glanced at her for some affirmation. “So. Still. I don’t know. They started swimming farther out again. creating more heat that stung as it swept across their backs. you never knew when a person would suddenly develop an opinion on something like this. yet Nana still insisted it wasn’t safe. not until she had things certain in her own mind. “So. I don’t know. hadn’t been left behind.” Dom asked when they were some distance out. “He’s just an old ogre. She knew only too well how easily she could be swayed by others. grinning. Dom?” She jogged down to the end of the dock. anyway. “What do you think I should do?” He turned onto his back and floated for a while. “Don’t let Uncle Reid bother you. isn’t it?” She nodded. “You really mean that?” she asked. are you?” he said. trying not to laugh. “Trying to lose me. I’m just thinking. While she was thankful for the wise. “It’s your baby. she doesn’t have to talk about it. she wondered? She decided to put out a feeler. surfacing out of breath and quite a distance from her starting point. The heat of the sauna. “She’s a big girl. Jesse sighed. I haven’t exactly decided yet what I’m going to do. someone who wasn’t eager to give her advice.” he said. and swam out further. leaving no chance for her to reconsider.” Dom counselled her as they swam in. swimming slower now. Just so you know. . Aunt Sandra. and no one else. and were soon almost in the middle of the lake.” Jesse called back.” She stood up. was ripped from her skin in an instant. Nana’s shrill. and came up near her a moment later. Dom was close behind. I think she can take care of herself. They surfaced far from the dock. I guess. “See. That was a relief. don’t worry bout it. “did you really mean that? You don’t know what you’re going to do with it?” “I’m thinking about it.” she said. she hasn’t burst into tears yet.” she said. and she wasn’t at that place yet. “Yeah. I guess it is. “It’s alright. before she opened her heart to anyone. however. so she braced herself for the cold shock of the water and dove in. “Pssh. Dom. extremely sure. she would give in to her own fears. this was one decision she needed to make for herself. They obeyed her wishes. God-fearing mentors who had helped to guide her in the past. It was between her and God. which never really seemed to penetrate to her insides anyway. if Jesse doesn’t want to talk about it.” She stopped and looked at him intently.” Could she trust him. “Sure I do.” Dom and Jesse shared an exasperated eye roll. “So? What are you thinking?” he asked impatiently. anyways. She would start to doubt her own convictions. commanding voice came from the camp.“Well maybe it’s none of your business. wet feet slapping the wood. I think I can handle him. Whatever you wanna do. and she would allow others to make the decision for her. “Oh.” Finally. “Sure. Nana.” “Ah. It was better not to confide too much just yet. “Ready to go out.” Sandra dumped some more water on the hot rocks. She slipped under the water and propelled herself ahead quickly. telling them not to go out so far.

” another girl said. “It’s proving to have its own special challenges. even on warm July evenings such as this. and didn’t know what to do about it.” . There really was no point to getting dressed when they would likely be swimming again in an hour or so.” she said honestly.” “I don’t know what you have against Jesse. They walked up the gently sloping ground and onto the beach. Water was turned on. white with a pink floral print. but it wasn’t a place for lounging in the sunlight when one was wet. she added to herself. It was late for them to be out and they were obviously in high spirits. so quiet. you don’t need to go crying to Jesse. Jesse’d often felt her eyes on her.” “But this is my face!” Susannah protested. She could often be seen sitting outside on a picnic table with Hannah and Susannah. Jesse dried herself off quickly and then wrapped up in a great warm housecoat. sweet even. The girl complained bitterly as the others laughed. and besides that.” came Hannah’s voice. I didn’t know. and the robes provided sufficient warmth in the meantime. or joining the games. But the girl had been making friends. Jesse was thankful for the change of topic. they were terribly practical. She seemed so shy. “She seems alright to me. facing the lake. you guys! Just look at me!” She recognized Susannah’s voice. it comes right off.and not just to her face. Susannah muttered disdainfully. she’d claimed hers when she was thirteen. “It’s washable marker. but her mind wandered back to last night. “How are you liking that?” She was about to say all was fine. They made me head counsellor this year. having gotten over her shyness of the first couple of days. with the sun still high and bright. she was sarcastic and patronizing. The beach was nice enough. “Ugh.” he answered.” particularly one girl by the name of Jasmine. all things considering. But that had changed. lazily. “No. the first few days. She’d just gotten out of the shower and was drying herself off in the little adjoining booth when a group of girls came in the other side of the washroom. how’s Bible Camp going so far?” Dom asked. this was her first summer at Rocky Bay. It belonged to the camp but he’d worn it since he was ten and it was so big that it had dragged on the ground behind him. so dark and cold it almost made her skin crawl. resisting the urge to go out and see it for herself. “I don’t know. feet on the bench. Jesse could just imagine the sight and silently offered her condolences. “Pretty good. “Oh come on Sus. How am I supposed to get this stuff off?” “Oh. “So. Jesse wasn’t used to such an attitude. They had a comforting familiarity about them. Dom did the same. she thought with an inner scowl. “There now. She smiled and laughed and had fun. either.” That was Jasmine talking. bums on the table-top. “You guys are so immature. They lounged on the round picnic table. and when Jasmine had been forced to talk to her. Her dark mood seemed to be reserved only for Jesse . She still didn’t understand what she’d overheard. It didn’t make any sense: what could Jasmine possibly have against her? She hardly knew the girl.” came another voice. then hurried to the deck to grab their towels. although his robe was red and lacked flowers. “It’s not our fault you fell asleep first. then giggled.” Dom was surprised. you know. Last night had been quite an eye-opener. don’t be such a baby.Soon they reached the end of the dock and their feet could just reach the pebbly bottom.

I doubt she was at a party.” Susannah’s voice echoed now.” “Whatever. It couldn’t be. I’ll bet they begged you to come back and work there this summer.” “Is that all.” “Still. and she couldn’t honestly argue with that. exactly. you know? Sometimes girls put themselves in really bad situations.” another girl said. She doesn’t seem like that type. Not here.” . still wet. It was her last sanctuary.” said Susannah. but as soon as you get pregnant it’s different. where she blames all her problems on being raped. dismissing her worries. They don’t mean for anything to happen. God. “Now why would I have anything against Jesse? I like the girl. strangers maybe. Everybody knows. “My aunt had told her to be careful. “Lots of girls get into trouble. and mostly knew May. or was she just trying to start rumours about her? Did anyone else believe her? Were they already thinking the same thing? “Oh. “I’m sure Jesse’s innocent in all this. Victims almost always know their attackers. they’ll love you too. Whenever my aunt and uncle catch her doing something bad she starts crying and they send her to a psychologist.” Dom said in disbelief. you know.” And with that.” she pointed out. But it’s not like she’s completely innocent. The quiet ones can surprise you. I actually feel sorry for her. “I thought it was hard getting all my campers to like me. bare wall. you know. I really do. this isn’t happening. you never know. There was nowhere else to go. ragged breaths. “she didn’t even like this guy. They did. the washroom was once again empty. It’s just that some people probably wonder. either. drinking and stuff. but she didn’t listen. Please. “Oh no.” She didn’t sound like she had a very high opinion of this cousin. One night it just caught up with her: she ended up in a bedroom with some guy and before she knew it he had the door locked and there was no one to help her.” “Out of the blue? Not likely. and she’s constantly using it to try to get attention now. once they get to know you. You don’t want to go looking for trouble.” “Didn’t she say she was walking home? And she was attacked. “But at least here we all know it’s not her fault. How could she? How could she? Thoughts raced through her head as she began to panic.” he said. and failing. But to Dom she just said. leaning on the cold. People label you.” she moaned. of course not. not here. and she was devastated by the whole thing. I had a cousin in New Brunswick. I didn’t mean that. for the moment forgetful of her colourful face.Jasmine laughed. “But that’s people who already know me. It gets old after a while.” “Well. but guys can so easily get the wrong impression. “Everyone else loves you. It’s not as if she were. that used to go to a lot of parties in high school. trying. Cabin leaders can be even more intimidating. didn’t they?” he accused. “Those people love you over there.” “Oh. like. to calm down.” There was a brief pause before she continued. “I wonder what happened to Jesse. She drew in air in deep. Did Jasmine really mean what she thought she meant? Why would she say something like that? Did she really believe it. “It’s the new people I’m having trouble with. her face burning.” “Well.” Jasmine answered casually. Jesse stood hugging a towel against her.” Jasmine said. just like that. promiscuous. they judge you. it’s not like that was totally her fault.

She sighed. looked behind her for a second and gulped. with all six of them this time. reading a magazine and drinking a beer on the picnic table. and Dom and Jesse went swimming once again at dusk. She was glad . It was pretty late by then. and hungry. the time passed rather pleasantly.” It irked her that he saw her fears so easily. and turn everyone else against her instead. They ate dessert. Sandra must have really reamed into Uncle Reid after Dom and Jesse had left the steambath. Eventually she left too. she added silently. but tonight they quietly went about getting ready for bed. She made it to the outhouse alright. and the thought of it actually happening terrified her. She closed her eyes to block it out. threw her body back on it and sat on the floor. she and Dom would stay up late that first night. Her instructions were especially amusing because she had chastised Nana for repeating the almost the same warnings when she had left an hour earlier. She shivered as she envisioned a bear coming out of those bushes over there. but as her eyes adjusted. Just like you’re not afraid of old lady Petrick!” “Oh. and not go swimming after dark. gasping for breath. Despite her brave face.” he answered sleepily. played another card game. “Close your windows. Boys. How easily he’d forgotten his own part in that little drama. even with one of Papa’s powerful flashlights clutched in a white-knuckled hand.” he called. turn off the sauna. In five terrified strides she reached the door. Jesse felt a knot of fear in her stomach as she walked to the outhouse in the dark. Jesse’s hair was wet and she crawled thankfully under the heavy covers of her bed and switched off the light above her head. really. daring him to say anything. As much as she claimed to be a ‘northern girl’. He had a toothbrush in his mouth and an eyebrow arched. “wouldn’t want any bears coming in. furry. she’d never actually come face to face with one of the pesky animals. The cousins had been staying out at camp without adult supervision for years now. but still they worried. It wasn’t even eleven o’clock yet. Heart racing. and only Aunt Sandra still hung around. but not without reminding them to lock the doors. and her head fell back against the door.” she shot back saucily. Dom walked casually over to the sink and finished brushing his teeth. She could hear him tossing in bed. “Goodnight. It was pitch black for a few seconds.” she said softly to Dom in the next room. and suddenly her imagination got the better of her. “That’s right!” You just mind your own business. and she bolted. she thought. playing cards. Dom stood across from her. and as no one else did either. locking it. He laughed. talking. “I’m not afraid of bears!” she protested. “What?” she asked. but struggled for composure on her way back. in front of the closet between the two bedrooms. She was tense and ready to spring.Unless they don’t. the moonlight streaming through her window washed the room with an ethereal glow. listening. She took a few steps. threw it open and slammed it behind her. following the beam of the flashlight. and snacking. she reached over and up with her right hand to twist the doorknob. Normally. eyes darting through the shadows. “Sure you’re not. She gave him a defiant look. because he didn’t bring up the offending subject again for the rest of the evening. She woke early and did not try to remember what she had dreamed about. like you’re not. “Goodnight Jesse. large. Only then did she look up. however. She nodded in satisfaction.

She didn’t know why she did that. which led into the sunroom. She was surprised to see a figure already at the picnic table. Jesse walked towards him cautiously. In fact. she reasoned. Still. and instead they rejected it every time. to accept salvation. and now she stood waiting in tense anticipation. it required effort to concentrate on the waking world. It would still be damp with dew. It certainly wasn’t her doing. Not once had she ever been given a smidgen of evidence that any of them were softening towards God. not wanting to disturb him. truly hated her. and since then out of habit. She still said the prayers. It wasn’t a case of not knowing. they were said without much enthusiasm. He sat with his feet on the seat. and not dredge up the workings of her sleeping mind. but Dom never looked up. She was careful to close the door quietly behind her. Settling in a couch. They’d been given every opportunity. especially over the past couple of years. There were always some cabins better than others. For as long as she could remember. It was the only week she’d ever had campers who honestly. hers had been one of the others. trying to shake the thought out of her head. The metal screen door banged against the doorframe despite her caution. just as they had done last night. that he could draw them to himself and show them his love. She didn’t doubt that God could open their eyes. Some memories were better left repressed. He had a book balanced on his knees. demanding attention. Someone else must have been praying. since her mom and dad knelt with her and May to hear their bedtime prayers. anyway. they seemed to understand the message quite well. for whatever reason. at least well enough to ridicule it and those who believed in it. of never having it explained to them. drudging up things she would rather forget. nor had it been one of her shining moments. First with her parents’ encouragement. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:55 AM 0 comments Chapter 9 Aunt Sandra had driven Jesse back out to Rocky Bay that afternoon for the first real week of camp. but hadn’t believed they would ever be answered. she had prayed for Mom’s family.that the images were not seared in her memory. and although she still said the prayers. she lost Dom from view because the windows were up too high. . The last thing she wanted to do right now was remember last year. Her mouth gaped open in disbelief as she realized what it was. as far as she could tell. Jesse physically recoiled just remembering her own teens cabin last year. It might clear her head better than the freezing water could. “Stop it!” she told herself severely. it didn’t look like he was going to. Dom would probably sleep for a while yet. she opted against an early morning dip and instead picked up her Bible. For a while she just sat there. but curious. not knowing what to think .because unless she was wrong. trying to convince herself she wasn’t wimping out. She went in the door closest to her. though. It was just that. Teens aged thirteen to fifteen would soon be arriving en masse. She thought of her bathing suit out on the line. It had not been an enjoyable experience. It was scary. Recoiling at the thought of that clamminess against her skin. and now this. Just as stealthily she retreated back to the cabin. Dom was reading a Bible.

and Debbie knew it. in fact she was certain she didn’t deserve it. I’m afraid you couldn’t be her. you didn’t forget how old your favourite camper was. still this one held a special place in her heart. freckle-faced burst of sunshine flying at her. she was having a hard time even putting names to some of the faces in front of her. full of stories from last summer. But this couldn’t be her Debbie. “The day before yesterday. And that’s what she did. the freckles were only in her imagination. making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be and guiding those who were lost. She went from cabin to cabin. She would have enjoyed getting to know these girls again. their cabin leaders this week.” Debbie nodded. She just hoped it would work itself out. and Debbie had attached herself to her from the first day. The girl laughed. Then there were five more girls waving and calling to her. there was Jasmine to consider. Of course. You’re really not a cabin leader any more?” she moaned dejectedly. “my favourite camper is ten years old and a good six inches shorter than you. but as an outside authority figure only. without her having to do any more explaining. She could have good hope of that. Jesse thought to herself and smiled. Since her responsibility was for the staff now. She recognized a lot of them. she wouldn’t be involved with the campers closely enough for them to hate her. Some lamented that they couldn’t be in a cabin with Jesse anymore. “Oh come on. The only thing she wanted to explain right now was where to find the nurse’s line. over the next two hours. But no. . She felt only a shred of guilt that this thought was such a welcome one. Probably a simple misunderstanding. at least. did you?” “Of course not. and by four o’clock there was a steady stream of them. “ Debbie!” she exclaimed. and the faces were familiar. Her eavesdropping last week had shaken her a little. “Jesse!” she heard her name cried out. She loved all her campers. Teens Week drew a fairly loyal crowd of long-time campers. but with Debbie she meant it. etc. she realized. “What are you doing here?” she asked. “You’re not thirteen already?” she said in disbelief. but she couldn’t believe the girl actually hated her. She’d been her counsellor three years in a row already. repeatedly. they brought back memories of a happy week. she convinced herself that it was no more than idle gossip. she realized as she squealed with glee and opened her arms. She might have to discipline some. not this gangly thing with braces whose head reached up to Jesse’s nose when she hugged her. As it should be.” She called all her campers her “favourite camper”. and talk of who else was here and who wasn’t. but most were too excited about their new counsellors to be very devastated. Still. the cabins they were in. Jesse didn’t know what she’d done to earn such fierce loyalty. They came up all talking at once. “Did you get my last letter?” “Uh-huh. like huge luggage-toting wasps swarming the campgrounds. She turned to see an auburn-haired. with a slow trickle arriving soon thereafter. For a few minutes she was sorry she had to be the head cabin leader. but as she reconsidered the conversation she’d overheard. She expected no difficulties with the staff themselves. of talks and jokes and laughter she had almost forgotten about. but there it was. They came in droves. Finally she held the girl at arm’s length. The first camper arrived an hour early.Hopefully no one would hate her this week. In fact. buzzing with excitement and ready to turn and sting you without warning.” she answered with mock seriousness.

Her companion’s reaction was equally cool. Jesse speaking directly to her first was not something she was prepared for. and her glare seemed to say “what are you doing here?”. The taller girl echoed the greeting even more enthusiastically. Mustering strength. suddenly unsure of herself. Carrie. Jodi?” “It’s Marcy. yeah. She headed to the last cabin she had to check on: Kaimi and Jasmine in Moose Canoe. is it?” Jesse asked. Carrie cocked her head to the side slightly. “Hello girls. smiling and talking loudly. She stopped midsentence and mid-stride. Did you dye your hair?” she asked. at least openly. Kaimi Wan was an old-timer. and as soon as she said it she realized her lie. Jesse met their tones. happy expression was immediately replaced with disbelief: her eyebrows went up. Jesse. to reacquaint themselves with the Ed’s Alley tables. hands in her pockets. to hang out on the basketball court. “Oh. Off to find more friends. Recognition stopped her cold.” she said so sincerely that she almost believed herself. roughly halting the girl attached to her. who was almost as tall as Jesse. “It looks so nice. Nice to see you again!” It came out before she had a chance to think about it. Even Debbie was drawn away. so she took a chance. but there was no time for remorse as she searched her mind for something to else to say. and Jesse was left to resume her role as head cabin leader. Carrie. her tone drenched with contempt and insult. I’m so horrible with names. although her eyes remained dull. the dark-haired one quickly gained control of her gaping mouth. the tall one’s name was Carrie. dressed in baggy pants and tank tops which were not too well hidden by zip-up sweaters that were not zipped up. “Um. “Is this your cabin?” she asked. There was one more lie. The other was curvy. who obliged her with attention. Both were tall: the taller of the two was thin.” She took a hesitant step forward. The girls nodded. Her pleasant day was ruined. But the shorter one didn’t so much as glance at her. Since Jasmine hadn’t seemed to make friends with any of the older girls.” she replied. She looked directly at her and with effort. She looked at her companion apologetically. she hadn’t come to Staff Orientation. her mouth opened. she knew. and usually took her lead from her friend. As she neared Moose Canoe’s front steps. plastered on a polite smile. Two girls walked out onto the porch. she had to watch that. . “Back for another year. I streaked it. and slung her hands in her back pockets in an attempt to appear casual. Her scorn was reserved for Jesse. with dark hair pulled up in a ponytail. Carrie was the least malicious of the two. and she hoped she hadn’t been too friendly. “What cabin are you in this year?” Carrie asked innocently.” she answered hesitantly. Their arms were linked and their sandals hurried in sync down the three stairs gracing the front of the cabin. she remembered. “I’m sorry. Despite their silent messages.And then they were gone. Jesse had assigned her to Kaimi and now just had to hope for the best. as her stomach knotted in agonizing tension. “You look different. before the shorter one. lightly and only mildly apologetic. and as she was only working for two weeks this summer. the door of the cabin swung open. She wasn’t sure of this one. “Oh hi.” she said. and she’d be a good influence. imagining how Jasmine and Kaimi would get along. Jesse was fairly certain it would work out. Her confident. Kaimi could handle just about anything. saw her. her blond-streaked hair cut to her chin.

She chuckled to herself as the two girls went on their way. She thought it was worth it for the joy of seeing the love in many of her campers grow. they were Kaimi and Jasmine’s problem. but about half of her cabin that ill-fated Teens Week. By opening herself to them she made herself vulnerable. She had loved them as best she could. He gave up trying to disentangle them. they didn’t seem so horrible. she knew. and took their anger out on her. made her spiritually weary at times. If you want to visit me you’ll have to come down to Ingleside. and well they should. he tried to. They seemed silly and laughable. letting a deep breath out in a long. Sunday afternoons were nerve-wracking experiences because she wanted to make a good first impression. she had always wanted her campers to love her. As the week progressed they got it into their heads that Jesse was solely responsible for every one of the undesirable aspects of camp. They had been perfect little beasts. However. first for her and then for her Saviour. perhaps. Michael sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. She felt if she were truly showing them Jesus’ love as she should. every decision. and she had hated herself that week. . As a cabin leader. But when the love she poured out wasn’t returned. certain. They had been two of the worst campers she’d ever had. though she tried not to show it outwardly. but she was reduced to continually handing out threats and punishments just to get them through the day. put both hands on the top of his head and leaned back in his chair. as she stood on the porch and knocked on the door of Moose Canoe. but she no longer had the energy either to blame herself or to care to try and fix it. They got stuck in the mess of straw-coloured locks before they got far past his forehead. and if they could not see Jesus in her then how could they ever love him? It was a hard way to go about it. not just obey her. not just them. It made her work harder. It was not only the grief of watching a soul turn from Christ. somehow. For now. that she would somehow get her revenge on them for the way they had acted last year. They’d ignored her so completely that not only could she not get through to them the message of God’s love. because she found that the scorn of her former campers was not only bearable. Now that she had seen them.Jesse was finding it easier to keep smiling. of significance. It spent her physically. They obviously didn’t hate her any less. but also of personal rejection. If they didn’t love her. the pain of it was worse than it would have been otherwise. it meant Jesus’ love was not evident in her actions. but more so because they represented her own failure as a cabin leader. The computer was not his friend today. she was reminded that she was not the one who had to deal with these girls this week. anyway? Didn’t they know they were unwelcome? They certainly hadn’t enjoyed themselves last time. Even Jasmine didn’t deserve this. Girls could be very cruel. and she’d felt it keenly. then they would respond with the same. but she couldn’t bring herself to like them. They hated her. silent whistle. every restriction. and their sting could be sharp should they turn on her. unless of course some serious disciplinary measures became necessary. these city girls puffed up with their own importance. Why were they back. and took a toll on her emotions in tears shed and unshed.” She knew very well that was the last thing they wanted to do. she had been stung once too often. and her heart went out to them. every schedule. but emptied. They’d pushed her on everything: they balked at every rule. Some weeks her failure in the case of a single camper could reduce her to melancholy. “I’m head cabin leader this year. and she second-guessed herself on every word. at least. and she’d dreaded meeting up with them again. But now.

Now he wouldn’t be able to shake that image of her out of his head. he realized. Jesse was always pretty. “Hi. giving him a view of her from the side. helping her go through the camper check-in forms so they would be done before supper. Women were supposed to be pretty large by then. I don’t know about you!” “Oh I’ll find something. she seemed to be the same girl she had been last year. but he couldn’t remember her name. though far from done.With all the time they’d had to get ready for the first week of camp. Jesse was standing beside Marilyn’s desk. and the spell was broken. and he had checked. He wondered. Marilyn and Jesse took renewed interest in their paperwork. and it made him glad to see her laugh. he could actually see it. a young girl’s voice yelled out. which was odd because he usually remembered names. Just as he saw a couple of spots. and would superimpose itself over every view he had of her from now on.” . he thought he’d have seen it. could wait. hearing about it or thinking about it could drive the point home as much as that glimpse of roundness. but if there had been anything to see. arching her back just slightly. but at the moment she looked beautiful. she took her other hand and rested it on her hip. I don’t think we’ve met. but at the same time part of him died. that she was pregnant. Michael closed his computer program. For one perfect Kodak Moment. He only glanced casually once in a while. until she started getting even bigger. her behaviour always too normal. On the surface. it couldn’t be happening.. wanting to finish it quickly. Jesse broke in on his reverie. the first day was still turning out to be a logistical nightmare. as if on cue. but at the way the sun streamed in from the window and lit up her hair with copper sparks. he tore his eyes from the computer screen and looked over to his left. “Jesse!” Jesse spotted Debbie’s arm waving at her and smiled. Taking a minute’s break. then looked up at Michael. But she didn’t look pregnant. It was like magic.. She said something that made Marilyn laugh. half of which he had missed.” he said. He’d known. turning as she did so. He recognized her. No amount of talking about it. Quickly he turned around to face the window. She would be six months pregnant by the end of August. It had implanted itself firmly.” he assured her. Presently she picked up a paper from the desk and held it up to read. “We gonna have to eat on the floor?” he joked beside her as he searched for room. reaching across the table. trying to figure this all out. of course. that was. that little swelling of her belly that his male eyes hadn’t been able to see before now. weren’t they? With sore backs and swollen feet? A look of deep concentration came over his face as he sat there. He smiled. and found himself across from a black-haired girl with glasses. When they entered the dining hall it was nearly full. “Looks like I’ve got a seat. The dinner bell rang. The sound of staff and campers pouring into the dining hall drifted through to the office. but no. so she must have been at Staff-O. He allowed himself to watch her for a minute more because she didn’t seem to be noticing him. as she walked away from him. Something was definitely caught in his throat. “I’m Michael. Which would inevitably happen. “You coming for supper?” she asked. Her clothes were always too loose. and that made it far too easy to pretend nothing was different. then. More disappointed than he liked to admit. He almost whooped. not at the joke. he took a seat alone. knowing that his work.

do they?” she teased. and they said they don’t have enough for that. if ever. Many of them were former campers of Jesse’s. seeming to be rocked to sleep by her movements. It is a very difficult thing to find fault with a person who was as blatantly and openly honest as he. “I do believe I will take you up on that some time this week. Phil’s going to let me play her guitar. Michael was the opposite of these. I told them you always gave us candy during devotions. “See there. “you earned that candy. She didn’t know that she’d ever get used to the alien feeling. “Oh. especially if she were sitting. actually lying. “I’m gonna miss that candy. although Jesse tried to include the others if she could. If .” pitched in another girl named Ruth-Anne. That was a relief. and usually she only felt it move in the night. smile without meaning it. “I did a foot!” The whole table erupted in giggles. It startled her every time. “No!” Debbie said excitedly. Just when she was beginning to forget. Susannah said I could braid her hair for the banquet on Friday.” “Yeah. aren’t you? Your counsellors don’t beat you. and that was a reward for a week of really sweet full-body massages. to think about something else. Besides.” Jesse took a bite of her food and rolled her eyes. Quickly she scanned the girls’ faces: their chatter had moved on and none of them seemed to have noticed anything. “We’ve got Phil and Susannah. It was pretty calm during the day. taking the bait and moving on. girls. Who would have thought a hand had so many muscles? “Yes. It felt suspiciously like child labour. it was hard even for those inclined toward snobbery to truly dislike Michael. Michael was what you might call a free spirit. knock it off already! You’re still having fun. and would have if the other girls weren’t just as eager to put their own voices in. but every so often she was surprised by a sharp little kick or a punch in the middle of the day. If you want more I suggest you start giving Phil and Susannah some back rubs. It did that once in a while. but her conscience didn’t bother her enough to make her refuse. “but in Cedar Circle I’m pretty sure I gave out candy once. I guess it’s awake.” She couldn’t help herself. along with causing a sharp intake of breath. many of the most dishonest people in this world can pride themselves on rarely.” she said between chews. though. pretend they understand when they don’t.Jesse’s table seemed to be more interested in talking than eating. or steal from their employers. however there is little to be gained by their retelling. Debbie could have carried the conversation herself.” she said. Jesse just laughed at her. she would be reminded that she was not alone. “I don’t know what cabin you were in last summer. and few if any such persons could be found among the Bible Camp staff. Jesse closed her eyes and sighed contentedly just remembering Debbie’s hand massages. “Why did you have to go and be head cabin leader this year?” Debbie grumbled for the umpteenth time.” said Jesse. crestfallen. Those who are not so generous might have come up with less friendly titles. so the talk centred mostly on last summer.” “Want me to give you a hand massage?” Debbie asked with dancing eyes. It was unnerving. she mused. A slight jerk inside herself brought her eyes open fast enough.” “I remember that!” another girl piped up. but they might slyly omit some very important truths. Honesty in it’s real sense is much more than the avoidance of lies.

she was shocked to find him staring so intensely that her insides went all shaky. She couldn’t think when he was looking at her. and she quickly bowed her head. a practice that came from being truly interested in people but was sometimes mistaken for flirting. sometimes seriously and sometimes in fun. She nodded dumbly. They like him. and when he was embarrassed he blushed a deep red. which was a good thing. Once when she did this. She did. in spite of herself. He leaned back in his seat as prayer was said over the food. Of course. she only wished. I didn’t catch that. “I’m sorry. asking her how she was enjoying her first day as an assistant counsellor. however. He also had a habit of looking people in the eye when talking with them. “It’s alright. She noticed that all four of them were girls. because he was talking to her again. showing his teeth. They were mostly experienced at camping: the loyal few who refused to give up their week of childish pleasures in favour of more ‘grown up’ activities. She was not bitter.something needed saying. which was often. between the three rows of tables. but they made up for their numbers with exuberance. who took one and passed them on to the campers. to the far end at which their seats happened to be situated. as if inviting her to join in. Michael seemed to be accomplishing both with surprising ease. Attendance was lower than it would be in other weeks. however. Bible Camp being a new experience. “Jasmine. which unfortunately happened to be the case at this moment. As they dug eagerly into the food he made every one of them say their name and what cabin they were in. listening to every word he said. nor the rest of the dining hall. but she could only plaster on a smile that she hoped was believable. and yet she didn’t know what she would do if he actually did. and glancing up every once in a while when he was silent.” she heard herself say. She ate most of her meal staring down at her plate. and he would turn his attentions back to the noisy campers. “It’s a little overwhelming at first. and he seemed as absorbed in the conversation as they were. leaning forward a little to hear her better. note the “Amen”. He never smiled unless he was happy. amid such a racket. Jasmine barely managed to gasp out her name the first time he asked it.” she managed a little louder. until another kitchen girl took it away to be refilled. he said it. There seemed to be no reservations in this group. he did not show off when playing sports but always passed to girls if they were open. Jasmine was thinking no such thing. but didn’t hear the words. and carts laden with platters of hamburgers were rolled squeakily down the two aisles. As they talked he looked at her occasionally. to assure herself that he was still there. Jasmine sat in awe of him as he chatted amicably with the campers.” he told her. He confirmed the name with eyebrows raised questioningly. and then held up the empty platter. He was not prone to look over his shoulder to see if anyone was watching him. that he would turn those piercing blue eyes on her again. her contemplations could go no further than to wonder how anyone could eat. isn’t it?” he said understandingly. she realized with a pang of something that could only be called jealousy. Thankfully at that time the kitchen doors opened. such as loitering downtown or at the mall. He smiled. and she nodded weakly in response. but she soon realized that out . never mind carry on a conversation. and when he found something funny he laughed long and loud. Why did she say that? She should have been more enthusiastic about it. Michael took the plate from a smiling kitchen girl with animated pleasure and gave it to Jasmine.

” Phil said. I’ll ignore that remark.” Debbie left reluctantly. “I swear it actually recognizes your voice.” she brightened. Phil plopped down beside Jesse. Debbie looked at her through the cabin’s screen door. She sat on her bed with her back against the wall beside her window. “The girl swung it around like it was a baseball bat! It took her all of two minutes to put as many new scratches in it as I’d done in two years!” Pressing her ear up to Jesse’s stomach. “I’m sorry. “Oh. Swimming was definitely out of the question for her this week. and she didn’t want to ruin that feeling. she gave Jesse’s stomach three small raps. as if she were knocking on a door. She up? Hey girl!” she called to the tummy. Jesse?” Debbie asked with a grin on her face. and she entered and plunked down on the bed beside her cross-legged. “Come on. “Skedaddle. and you didn’t go swimming the day before that. “I guess I haven’t been much fun this week. but he noticed her then. She racked her brain to come up with some kind of excuse. Bridgett needs a swimming buddy. Jesse groaned. I’ve got to help Marilyn in the tuk shop. “Oh.” “As I happen to be an excellent cabin leader. Instead she concentrated diligently on giving answers to his questions that she thought would most please him.” she muttered. “You haven’t done anything with me this week.” Jesse looked down at those red-brown puppy-dog eyes and tried to disagree. turning towards her with a bounce. Aunty Phil’s here! Time to wake up. “We’ll do something. she’s not a problem. anyway.” Jesse assured her. Jesse shook her head. casting a bitter glance at her counsellor as she passed her.” Phil’s hands now covered Jesse’s abdomen. Debbie’s face fell. “You didn’t play Bucket Ball yesterday. “Will you be my swimming buddy. You’re it. looking none too impressed. “Hey kid. “Whiny brat. and was so charmingly sweet and nice for the rest of the meal that she could almost imagine he had really been looking at her. Being as small and cute as she was.” she pouted. Jesse put her book down.” Jesse promised her. “She just doesn’t like you.” she said. and she seemed to be having a conversation . Debbie gave Jesse one last longing look. “Then supper. lying down and putting her head on Jesse’s lap. She desperately wanted to know what he was looking at. let me think. You said we’d do stuff together. She was rewarded with a quiet gurgling sound. she needed it to get any respect. “Sorry. “Umm. glad to have a good excuse. but too lazy to get up. The door swung open abruptly as Phil strolled in.” With that.” Jesse sighed.” “What was I supposed to do?!” Phil exclaimed upwards. “can you swim with me after supper?” Jesse bit her lip. Hey. nodding toward Debbie. What’s after swim?” “Mini activity. “This kid likes me. but she knew it was true.” she stalled. Her ankles were crossed and her feet hung over the edge of the mattress. she consoled herself.” Debbie said dejectedly. “Off you go. have I?” Debbie just rolled her eyes up at her and shook her head. When she’d gone. “Well. outraged.” Jesse smiled at Phil’s drill-sergeant-like attitude.” she said instead.” she barked. then swim again. Can I come in?” Jesse nodded. “I heard you wouldn’t let her play your guitar.he was actually gazing over her shoulder. “let me think of something.

“Do you mind? You’re interrupting. and I’ll know what they were talking about just the same. we can’t just lie around all day doing nothing. “Another month or so and kids this age would get suspicious.with it. Oh! That was a kick! See. It only takes one with an idea to get it started: is she. would it be the worst thing in the world?” “Oh. I can decide who I feel like telling. showing some sympathy. or isn’t she? And then it’s all over camp. “you don’t really look pregnant yet. can’t you let it be during the day?” Phil gave her a disapproving glare. “Well. “You missed it. you can do it! Gotta build up those muscles.” Jesse confirmed. “I’m just glad Teens is the first week of the summer. or something?” Jesse picked up her book. “Every morning I get dressed and think. Punch Aunty Phil in the head! Come on.” Phil was momentarily distracted by the sound of the baby doing a somersault. And skinny for a pregnant lady is not exactly comforting. All I’m asking is five minutes before I go on shore duty. She didn’t think she had ever ‘glowed’. you’re not fat. You’re the skinniest pregnant lady I know. You know how girls are.” Phil agreed. Jesse laughed out loud. “I feel it. Jesse shrugged. “Somehow I don’t think you know many pregnant ladies.” Jesse had to concede that. “Wow. you’re going to have to come out with it eventually. Jesse. “I guess I can’t really complain. there. “Aren’t you supposed to be ‘glowing’. do you hear this?” she asked.” she assured her. I feel humongous!” “Is it that bad?” Phil asked. but the baggy clothes seem to be working so far. give me a little punch. “You’re not very cheery for a pregnant woman. that was a good kick! Come on now. but I don’t think anyone’s guessed why. right? I’d say you’ve done pretty good hiding it this far. Phil could be so strange.” Jesse grumbled. “And what’s this month? No-sense-of-humour month? No-time-for-your-friends month?” “No. maybe not hear so much.” Jesse stared at the wall. and they’ll all stop talking. “I don’t know how I’m going to get through the rest of this week. Well.” Phil reached up an understanding hand to pat her on the cheek. last month least of all. you have all the time in the world to spend with baby. You can’t take that away from me too. I feel huge. I guess that makes sense. I have that much control. “It keeps me up all night. I don’t know. That’s it! Oh. except maybe to someone who knows what they’re looking for. “That was last month. now. At least now. What does it feel like? Oh wait. Today I’ll walk past a group of girls. now.” she lamented.” “I don’t think you need to worry.” she admitted.” “Don’t you have campers to be watching?” “Look. Sometimes. But . I changed the topic. “There we go! That’s my little girl! Ok now.” “Hmm. “this is fat and crabby month.” That was a lie. she’s happy!” Phil declared.” she answered. today’s the day. and pressed closer to hear better. unable to keep up her facade of indifference. “I guess I’m just not looking forward to strangers being able to see it.” said Phil.” she said narrowly. someone here is happy.” Phil noted. I guess.” “Yeah. at least. biiiiig stretch. I look like I’ve gained some weight. And even if they did find out.” “And why not?” Jesse demanded grumpily. “I really can’t tell. “There.

in his ridiculous wetsuit that he insisted on wearing when he was life guarding.” Phil grunted and got off the bed. and Jesse didn’t know what to do. when the water got to about chest-high. or waders. too. . tell Zeb to hold his horses. the person she had once been. but a second later she felt like laughing. and the swimmers shivered as they braved the chilly water. her face conveying without words that their cover may have just been blown. She looked dumbstruck. In fact. maybe they shouldn’t.” she choked out finally. “if I make it through this week.there’s a bunch of little kid weeks coming up. but windy. she had no doubts that they could handle it quite well. drawing back the curtains. They shouldn’t have to deal with this. Phil’s head snapped forward and she sat up off of Jesse’s lap. They know it’s not my fault. but she didn’t know if she could. “They’re looking for the shore guard. Halfway there. until she almost believed it. he would reach the floating dock. She told herself not to worry. She ran her fingers absent-mindedly through Phil’s hair.” she admitted. Every swimmer had to have a buddy. Then they were gone. and not feeling anything in particular. someone to swim near them and hold their hand when Zeb signalled a ‘buddy check’ with two sharp blasts on the whistle. They’re not innocents.” The door was once again swept open.” She closed her eyes. “I really don’t want to explain this whole thing to any of these girls. and I don’t think they’d think any differently of you. if just for a little while.” said Jesse. that nothing had happened.” Phil agreed.” “No. and she was left not knowing how to feel. and pairs of campers rushed into the lake. when they look at me. “but do you have any idea how hard it is to come out and say it? People don’t talk about stuff like this. and climb up on it to keep watch over the swimmers. and that everything would be fine. but the poor girl couldn’t get anything to come out. “I suppose you’re right. She didn’t want to lose that person. She swallowed and tried again. I don’t think it would scar any of them for life. so you’ll probably get away with it for a while longer. you know. “What do you want?” she demanded with a show of irritability.” When she was honest with herself. Debbie stood ponderously on the doorstep. and fully relish his position high above the heads of everyone else. “I’m coming. that’s me. She could recapture. either. eyebrows raised and lips pursed. holding the door open as if she didn’t know whether to proceed or turn and run. it makes them uncomfortable. Girls shrieked as boys splashed them in the ankle-deep shallows and the boys yelped as the girls splashed them back. passed. “Ugh. Jesse knew this was true. Debbie opened her mouth. This. For a moment she considered crying. He was followed by four other staff members acting as water guards to help keep campers from drowning or throwing mud or wandering away. smoothing out the blond tendrils. in a swimsuit and flip-flops. but somehow. they watch the news and hear stories. Are you sure the bell even rang?” Just before she exited she turned and gave Jesse a meaningful look. It was a bright day. There was something about these kids. She saw Zeb. towel and shampoo in hand. I still feel ashamed. Eventually.” “That’s the catcher. long as you make it through this week. walking far out into the shallow bay. and some of them have probably been sexually abused themselves. “but I think they could handle it if it came to that. especially Debbie. he turned toward shore and blew a long blast on his whistle. when she was around them she could almost pretend nothing was wrong. not completely. She turned and looked out her small window.

and Jesse was doing the staff line. but knew she couldn’t. It’s painful watching him like this. For the third time. probably to enjoy the high waves that were begging to be jumped in. thank you very much. “Just tell me when you’re ready. Michael had been standing there for about five minutes already. even if she didn’t have to be in the tuk shop in 15 minutes.” said Peter.” he dared.” Michael asserted.” he said finally. Presently Mark and Peter appeared for their tuk. Mark walked around to his other side. looking down on him over the tuk bar.” she said in amused exasperation. as if thinking about it was hurting his head. dragging out his decision longer than she thought was possible. you know. “I’d be happy if he’d just take his popsicle and be done with it. Jesse turned to the next person in line. I am a paying customer. we can take care of him for you. “Nooo. I can’t help but pity him. who lined up inside the pavilion.” “But I don’t want it. through the window facing the lake.” She rolled her eyes. who was a full head shorter than himself. I’ll have a Kit-Kat and a bottle of water. “Well then. agonizing over banana or cherry or grape. “I’d like to see that. She replaced the popsicle in the freezer. but he never made it easy. “if you’re sure our services aren’t needed.” he said so seriously Jesse couldn’t tell if he were joking or not. “What do you want then?” His antics were entertaining.” He looked at the popsicle and then at her. “I didn’t ask for that. Soon the short line-up of voracious young people was appeased with chips and candy and pop. so she served the next person.” . Ma’am?” Peter asked in mock severity. every day it seemed to take him longer to decide on a flavour.” he offered hopefully. who just shook his head. “Is this guy giving you any trouble.” he retorted.” “I’m right here. Then she glanced back at Michael. putting his hand forcefully on Michael’s right shoulder. then went to the freezer. and I’ll make up my own mind. or whatever it is he’s thinking about. and grinned. She snorted. Marilyn was doling out tuk to the campers. Michael still stood there. who asked for Reese Peanut Butter Cups and a Pepsi. “I could give it to you now or in half an hour when you do decide you want it.More people than usual were going out today. but incessant. “That’s 50 cents. forearms on the counter. hands folded as if asking for heavenly guidance. He sucked in his cheeks. She did wish she could go with them. and placed it next to him. She shook her head dismally. took out a popsicle. and every day he got a popsicle. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:54 AM 0 comments Chapter 10 “Decided yet?” she asked the Michael. pretending to be offended. I won’t be pressured into buying something I don’t want. “You can’t just give me something I didn’t ask for. “Because if he is. and there was a momentary lull in business. Michael looked down at Mark. In fact. He came every day. Jesse scrutinized him for a few moments.

please and thank you. appearing too deep in thought to notice her. that she had glasses and a weak chin. If only it weren’t Jesse. and the amount of time he spent at the tuk shop was of no little concern to her young heart. Jesse?” Debbie said. Jesse couldn’t be that much prettier: her hair was a nondescript colour and there was nothing special about her eyes. In everything they believed she was good . and above all.” she said. there was nothing else she could do without getting in Marilyn’s way. And yet. boys. after ignoring him for a full five seconds. People around here practically worshipped her. she would have been able to bear it. before running away to give Phil her candy.” Mark added. “Something wrong?” Debbie asked when Jesse handed her the orange box. so offensive. Debbie. She knew it had been absurd to suppose he had any interest in herself in the first place.” Michael stared straight ahead. “It’s just. Jesse smiled then. for that matter. Other staff came and went. “Oh.” She looked down on Debbie. “Too late!” she declared. somehow. and she could recognize him coming out of the merest corner of her eye. if one looked correctly.” “You don’t like boys much. “Phil wants some Reese’s Pieces. she was getting fatter every day. looking at her intently. and Phil waved from her post on the picnic table by the beach. to draw attention to herself and garner sympathy from everyone around her. I’ll never understand them. Jesse seemed to be able to use it to her advantage. Although her duties did not often bring her into close proximity to him. Boys were not supposed to be interested in pregnant girls. realizing she had been distracted and probably frowning. This was what made it so strange. but what could he possibly see in that girl? Other than her age. came up shortly after Michael left. but he stood there for a full ten minutes before finally requesting a banana popsicle. When they left.” she said finally. giving her a stern look. she decided Jesse had no great advantage over herself. do you. even when it stared them in the face. wet and wrapped in a beach towel. but she was comforted by her green eyes and silky black hair. either. She had looked at herself in the mirror and knew that there was some kind of beauty there. so attuned was she to his presence. Jesse was not the only one who knew that Michael ate a popsicle every day.” Debbie giggled. It had not taken her long to determine just who he had been looking at over her shoulder on Sunday night. or any other feature. not for about another ten years. it was unnatural. so she came to the counter beside Michael and leaned on it. and she came off looking like a religious hero. his comings and goings and general doings were carefully noted when she managed to be in viewing distance.” she said. she told herself. they just get on my nerves. Jesse busied herself by putting more cans of pop in the fridge. They’re more trouble than they’re worth. She was a dreadful bore. “Take as long as you want. well. Jasmine knew she was not particularly attractive. “Nah. Such an anomaly had no chance of slipping past Jasmine’s watchful eyes. “And don’t you forget it. “But we close at 3:30.“Doritos and an Oreo ice-cream sandwich. She was nothing but a slut. When that was done. that’s all. It seemed her eyes acted of their own accord: a swift sweep of a room when she entered or a glance at the field or in the pavilion quickly told her if he was there. and they could believe no shortcoming in her character.

“but I don’t think she wanted to talk about it.” “I asked Sam that.” Susannah offered. “Aren’t nuns Catholic?” Hannah shrugged her shoulders.” On a drizzly Thursday afternoon. . She had dragged Jasmine from Moose Canoe without telling her what this was about.” she said. but Hannah.” “Phil probably knows. But she dumped her boyfriend anyway and said she just didn’t care about boys anymore. you too Jas.” Jasmine explained. but she was leading the hiking class right now. Hannah sat up. “Sleep can wait.and brave and decent. now that she had their attention. “I don’t know.” Susannah finished for her. “You mean she’s. yanking the earphones off Hannah’s head. and she gets up every morning to watch the sunrise and pray. Jasmine just sat there and let this sink in. As in past tense. along with everything else. “Hannah. “Jesse had a sister!” she proclaimed triumphantly. “I was almost sleeping. Susannah burst into Tamarac Central. plucking a blade of grass up by its roots. Hannah.” “She doesn’t have a sister. Samantha told me she hasn’t had a boyfriend since she was sixteen. maybe that’s why she didn’t do it. then sit down on a picnic table and eat it with him.. for once. She said she was seriously considering becoming a nun at one point. you idiot. aren’t you? Well I just found out!” She waited a moment for effect. who was at this moment calling Jesse “. You missed prayer meeting this morning so I know you don’t really need it anyways.” she said with a scowl. she had a sister. Phil says she’s read the entire Bible twice in the last two years. listen to this!” she implored. “What was her name?” asked Hannah. with Jasmine close behind. “I can’t imagine what being raped must have done to her.” “Really?” Susannah asked skeptically.. “Yes.” said Hannah. Jasmine watched Michael give half his popsicle to a camper.. who had been propped up on her side to hear the news. “You’ll never believe it!” Susannah claimed. She looked scornfully at Sus. I have a sister too. Susannah and Jasmine sat down on the bed next to her’s. loathing the subject but unwilling to pass up the opportunity to gain valuable information.” At this point Jasmine entered the conversation. You’re the one who wanted to know why Jesse dumped her boyfriend and started reading her Bible in the first place. and she knew now that it was going to work. “Big deal. while the campers were busy with their mini activities and some of the staff had an hour off. It was Samantha’s. rolled over again with a groan. if there’s anything worth telling. finally interested. you know. I could ask her. who had been contentedly dozing on top of her sleeping bag. Listen to this. it would have affected her on such a spiritual level..the most Godly person I know under 50.” “Dead. “So what happened two years ago that made her up and break this poor boy’s heart? Don’t tell me she got that idea out of her Bible. Can you believe it?” Hannah nodded and agreed with her in a low voice. was righteously indignant. wanting her revelation to be as dramatic as possible. “I’d like to know what made her change so dramatically. She couldn’t even convince Hannah or Susannah to look beyond her innocent charade.

except that she got really nervous when she had to acknowledge them.” “Well. her eyes wide with horror. she’d never had a boyfriend. and she was head cabin leader her last year.” questioned Hannah. it used to be called Peapod or something awful like that. horrifically mournful. since everyone else here does. she’d never get married?” Susannah nodded and let the significance of it sink in. their bodies riddled with bullets. hand in hand. “You’re joking me. She says she was probably doing something with that family. Susannah’s face fell. I guess she decided I should know about it.” “So she was a martyr?” Hannah said uncertainly. sorry that anyone’s sister had died.” Her voice dropped deep and low. she’d just pretend she didn’t notice when they tried.” “And yet. They were found at the end of the street. It was burnt to a crisp. Susannah shook her head. only slightly deterred by Jasmine’s skepticism. “She’d worked at camp for five years before she left. so she was taking a chance just staying with them. Phil didn’t want to talk about it last night when I asked her. She was visiting a missionary family in Israel. She has her own theories. “she was a real missionary type? All gung-ho for God and everything?” “Yep.” “So this May. I don’t know why so don’t bother asking. “you mean like. and the entire family died. They named Ingleside for her. ‘First bell’ at 9:45 pm had seen 29 girls digging for toothbrushes and toothpaste under mountains of shoes and clothing. Their charred bones were found in their beds.” Susannah said. but this morning she changed her mind.” A bird chirping outside in a brief ray of sunlight that broke through the clouds seemed out of place. She wouldn’t even shake their hands.” Jasmine noted. Phil says she acted like boys didn’t exist. Later in the evening Jesse walked slowly between the girls’ cabins. Hannah was for once dumbfounded. and one conflicting detail made little dent in her satisfaction. But one night. even Jesse’s. She doesn’t think May was just visiting those people. so I’ll have to tell you. and in extremely mysterious circumstances. and she was nineteen years old. then jostling each . mocking the atrocity of the scene just described for them. “You’d never guess it in a thousand years. Phil says she remembers her walking around with a little Bible in her hand wherever she went. “I’m perfectly serious. I’d say she was a martyr either way. “Phil thinks so. their house caught on fire. although no one knows for sure. Anyway she died with them.” she said unbelievingly. and she didn’t want me saying anything stupid to Jesse. too. She had saved the best for last. they say they probably never woke up. “you say she died holding a boy’s hand. apparently. conspiratorially. But the family’s oldest son and May weren’t with them. “It was almost two years ago. “Until the day she died.” “How’d she die?” asked Jasmine. Susannah nodded. waiting patiently for their occupants to settle down. Once she got started she got right into it though. or even had a crush. and their lives had been threatened before. like it was a relief to get it all out. And get this: she’d sworn herself to a life of celibacy!” “Celibacy?” Hannah repeated.“Her name was May. They say she led gads of campers to Christ. She knew it was still a fabulous story. I only know what I’ve been told. But that family was certainly missionaries. lying face-down in the middle of the road.” said Susannah. some sort of underground Christian work.

Susannah seemed unable to begin. little headway had been made. “It’s quiet time. but their cabin had been surprisingly well-behaved all week. But could you please tell me why you thought to ask?” There was a noticeable loss of tension in the room. This was strange: campers had a somewhat higher respect for the head cabin leader. First she smiled at Sus to reassure her. and it took them a minute to notice her. Moose Canoe even settled down early tonight. One look at Susannah’s defeated face reminded her that Phil was leading the Outdoor Survival class’s overnight camp-out on the other property tonight. but a swift denial was . who wasn’t smiling. and were largely unimpressed by her newlyacquired authority. although she wasn’t at all sure that it was. Crickets could be heard outside. “I am not a lesbian. but aside from this. The rest were yelling at each other. offended that anyone would suggest this of her. Such a question didn’t deserve an answer. Jesse grinned nervously. deprived of their unruly comrades from last summer. No one answered her for a dragging interval. Most cabins quieted on their own. Jesse. before she even said a word. but she allowed them a few minutes grace before reminding one cabin that was still rowdy. are you a lesbian?” Some of the others broke out in nervous giggles. No one had heard her knock.” she said brightly. seven clanging times as always. and relieved at the sight of help. lower corner were crunching their way through a large bag of chips. all nervously biting lips and tongues. in her opinion. as leaders were anxious to put an end to the deafening racket. she could deal with this. Susannah now included. especially since half of these girls had been in her cabin last year. and the few stragglers left outside made their ways to their cabins. Susannah looked both embarrassed for being unable to maintain order on her own. not bothering to go inside any of them. and swallowing loudly. and Jesse had made her rounds slowly. So this was for real. The next half hour was ‘loud time’ in the cabins.” she said firmly. 10:30 started a half hour of ‘quiet time’ for cabin devotions. some faster than others. She felt embarrassed. and she felt no need for human company. Jesse had been afraid Kaimi and Jasmine would have a hard time of it. The cold air and the star-filled sky with raucous. What disturbed her more was the guilty look they were all giving her. apparently for the sake of hearing their own voices. so let Susannah start devotions. A card game was going on across a row of three top bunks. what they’d all obviously been talking about. “Um. Susannah looked mortified. At 10:00 she had rung ‘second bell’. Ok then. childish voices carrying far out into the night was soothingly familiar. ok?” Still no one talked. she couldn’t complain about the cessation of noise. “No. However. had grudgingly settled into camp routine and weren’t giving their counsellors much trouble besides their unresponsiveness. The girls were for the most part in their own bunks. Her eyes searched the room and landed on Debbie. “That’s better. It was just starting to get creepy when an unidentified girl asked.other for sink and mirror space in the washroom. but not so much that her presence should have this much of an impact. They were all glancing at each other. unabashedly. and she could have replied in anger. Carrie and Marcy. then sat down on Phil’s bed. Tamarac Central followed suit shortly thereafter. Odd. Two girls in the opposite. but at 10:35 Jesse decided to “say goodnight” to an unusually rambunctious Cedar Circle. and Jesse was glad she’d thought to be direct. “Did I miss something?” Jesse finally asked. She stood in front of the door as the din gradually faded into silence. Jesse tried to figure out if this was serious. since Phil was usually a pretty strict disciplinarian.

” he said quietly in explanation as he dragged her along.” “You wear guys’ clothes. I can’t get into this! She racked her brain for an answer that would be true. “Jesse. He jogged up and grabbed her elbow. Their chatter might have resumed behind her as the door shut. “Goodnight girls. “Because God hates our sin. “Is that it?” she asked incredulously when no more accusations were forthcoming. you wouldn’t even let us talk about guys at all inside the cabin. She reclaimed her arm and kept up . “Marcy said her counsellor told her you haven’t had a boyfriend in two years. without inviting further questions.” “I did not!” Debbie cried indignantly.” “You never talk to guys.” she said evenly. blond girl on a bottom bunk close by finally answered. “That’s all? From that. why it’s wrong.” she said. “I remember last year. Jesse waited a second or two for something else. we mean Phil and you. “Debbie said you were.” “They’ve been asking me all night about this stuff. or about them. a slight. “So why is it a sin?” someone asked.” This statement was met with more outright laughter. I find that a little hard to believe.” “Phil and me?” Jesse said in disbelief. and that was her first concern.” “Last year you told us we should love gay people. I didn’t know why they were asking. Phil doesn’t have a boyfriend either. It was definitely a difficult subject. how wrong it really is if it is wrong. “Skunk.” Oh no. Ruth-Anne. but he still loves us. and Jesse felt sympathy for her. and sin is a serious thing. “Jesse!” Michael’s voice called from behind her. not something to laugh at. and because I wear a lot of plaid? Come on.” Debbie said proudly.” “She said we should hate the sin and love the sinner. “So you’re suspicious of us because we are friends. Listen to your cabin leader and be quiet for your devotions. She looked remorsefully at Jesse..” put in another girl. and left without waiting for replies..” said a girl lying on her stomach on a top bunk.” Jesse nodded. The girl who’d spoken up seemed to have lost her nerve. because neither of us have or want boyfriends right now. “That’s right. you conclude that Phil and I are gay?” No one said anything else. and we shouldn’t make jokes about them. “I also said that homosexuality is a sin. “It doesn’t hurt anybody. stop!” he said more urgently. glad she remembered this. But she was in no mood to talk. “Go away!” she flung back at him without turning around. She stopped. but if it did she didn’t know it.” Susannah said tiredly. “Because God says it is.” one girl offered. “No. “Phil said no such thing.” “I heard you wanted to be a nun. and you two met three years ago. “I was only worried that you might be.” Jesse said with great confidence.” “And Phil.” she added.the best way to ease their minds. She walked swiftly across the field and turned right at a dirt road that was really just tire tracks. she thought.I couldn’t answer it all. and then went to walk through the thinly treed area to her little cabin. “If it’s wrong.” said another of her former campers. in the trees. turning her around with him. “You don’t like boys. Jesse laughed.

” Her smarting eyes finally brimmed over and two tears trailed down her face. and didn’t mind waiting outside when it was so warm and peaceful. “And if I did. “When something as sweet and innocent as love between friends can be turned into something ugly. and in recognition of years of attendance in multiples of five. but he couldn’t imagine that this could be a shock to Jesse. who would listen? I’m not brave enough to try. served with the customary sweet-rolls. their schools.” said Michael.” Michael was sympathetic. however. and the crafts class put up a few feeble decorations. The cooks made an especially nice meal of ham and scalloped potatoes. After swim and tuk.” she said certainly.” she shook her head. “Crying out about it might. Boys washed and combed their hair and passed out gel to spike it up at the front. To the campers. The girls brought out skirts and dresses and make-up which had been banned until tonight. which was really only supper followed by the handing out of awards for levels achieved in Major and Mini activities. “We live in a sick world. “It does seem odd that they would think up something like that.” Michael told her. but he didn’t know that and she didn’t bother telling him that. and she’d only make a fool of herself. she was taking it rather well. Michael noticed her agitation and figured she was entitled to it.” She wouldn’t even know where to start. but that’s the world they live in. That’s what they’re being taught. and was instead being kept away from it. “Then why isn’t anyone crying about it?” she asked. better than you know. but then found herself relating that evening’s story. for the winning team from games time.” “Talking to ten girls is hardly an outcry.” Jesse said doubtfully. in this place. their homes even. “It looks like you are. it was no small affair. and ones who should know better. Jesse maintained a glum silence for a while. loving friendships. Friday afternoon there were no Mini activities.” “But it isn’t. He looked at her thoughtfully. in the minds of thirteen-year-olds. and it’s ruining so many things that God made for them to enjoy . They sat on a picnic table overlooking the beach to await the skunk’s departure. but she was a morning person.” she informed him after it had all poured out. I think. both which were enthusiastically attended. And it’s even worse for boys. Not at him. the media. compassionately.” he ventured. Yet she seemed profoundly affected by this little incident. “It’s a start. Seen in that light. when she was probably tired and just wanted to go to bed.” “It’s a crying shame. “not when you consider their surroundings.with him of her own accord. “Crying won’t do anyone much good.” he agreed. nothing can change that. openly and subliminally. anyway. I think. They did one another’s hair and borrowed so many shoes and accessories and clothes that many ended . He agreed that the world was becoming increasingly perverted. It seems out of place here. He was a night person.like true. “You did tonight. boys and girls had two hours to get ready for Banquet. Michael. but she was mad. They have to live in it. and he imagined that to her this was as unpleasant as being woken up early was to him. “and those girls listened.

confiding in Deb. At least. as there were plenty of counsellors around to manage the chaos.up entirely decked out in their friends’ belongings. but she didn’t tell anyone else about that episode. she told me this morning.” said Phil. “I don’t think you have to.” she said softly. It was in the middle of this ruckus that Jesse apprehended Phil for a private conversation at Ingleside. But she was really worried.” It was a long and insightful speech for Phil.” Jesse frowned. She offered no details and Debbie asked none.” Jesse admitted. A few finished early and loitered in the pavilion for a half-hour before dinner. “What did she say about it?” Phil’s nose wrinkled. “while she was apologizing. maybe I was. and now she’s sorry. no doubt resulting in many sour-faced pictures of normally happy campers. Picking a reed growing in the wet sand. That girl’s gonna be somebody. I shouldn’t have let her barge in here all the time.” Phil affirmed. She wants to be Godly. “I think I understand a little better now. when I was talking to the baby..” Phil hurried to explain. and she’s made you her example. I thought the reasons those girls gave me were kind of flimsy. “Did Sus tell you about last night?” Jesse asked when they reached her cabin. “No. It was not an unusual time for the head cabin leader to conduct such interviews. She did it quickly and dispassionately. I’ve never seen such mournful repentance in a girl.” That was odd.” said Phil. while close by on the field the rest of camp was assembled to watch the rocketry class’s rocket launch. “No. “The poor girl can’t understand how she got the idea in her head in the first place. Anyone can see that. There’s no reason for that. but Debbie isn’t just a camper .” “Well. which really required little else but supervision. . but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.” “Well. It was easier than she’d expected. You should talk to her.” “So I don’t need to explain why you were lounging on me?” Jesse said with a teasing grin. “Remember a couple days ago. You’re sure she’s convinced we’re not gay?” “Positive. but when Zeb and Keith came around to take cabin photos. it would probably mean a lot that you trusted her. Jesse had no idea her friend possessed such persuasion. she walked in on us! So that’s how this whole thing got started. a little. “That’s right. Jesse. “She didn’t have to. walking with her along the beach. Deb started the rumour. Jesse. I don’t think you could hurt her by telling. Jesse thought. “I don’t know what to say to that. many unfinished girls had to be dragged petulantly outside to meet the camera. she told me she didn’t.” “Mad? Well. She looks up to you. She never told me.she’s your friend.. She’s trying so hard to become mature. It could go a long way towards helping her grow up. I didn’t know that. why you don’t want to go around telling everybody.?” Jesse groaned. “But she should know she can talk to me. I think she’s afraid you’re mad at her. She did it after Banquet. she peeled it slowly into fine shreds. Did you know she became a Christian because of you?” Jesse choked up. but showed the maturity of a young woman and spent a minute walking in thoughtful silence.” Phil answered slowly. This sounded like the beginning of a familiar argument. “Don’t get upset. “Debbie told me.

two among the many campers Jesse had lately admitted to disliking. you spend half the week just trying to remember everyone’s name! Nobody’s really comfortable with each other until at least Thursday.“Thank you for telling me. campers who’d had the time of their lives would.” she said. She already knew this. Although he was thinking it. forget everything else. however. camp is about more than getting a quick sinner’s prayer out of these kids. And that’s where you get character development. “I know that. Instead of running into their parents’ arms. you have time and a reason to work out the problems. I mean. she did not let on.” he said instead. we should be.” she conceded. they filled them with suitcases and sleeping bags. phone calls and visits. it was more likely because they missed their CD collections than their families. “That’s something to think about. it’s time to go home. “One week really is too short. sitting beside her on a pavilion ledge. of course. This week. rush into their arms.” she said. “all you really have to do is put up with one another. “but just think of the fun you could have! The way we have it set up.” Michael frowned at this. letting them pack the car while they themselves spent their last few moments with friends. As always. and then came close to Jesse’s side and impulsively put her thin arm around Jesse’s waist. as someone else might.” she said finally. The friendships that had just begun to form. If she understood he was using this confidence against her. “Of course we are! Or if we’re not. couples and small groups could be seen affectionately hugging each other goodbye. “It would be harder to say goodbye at the end. “but think of how hard it is for them! You don’t shove a baby out on the street to fend for itself! You feed it . “I’m glad you’re alright. catching sight of their parents. Saturday morning and the departure of the campers was bittersweet. There were promises made of letters. “If you only have a week. “Sometimes a week is all people can manage to take of each other!” He was thinking of Carrie and Marcy. but in her world such considerations could not enter. But if you know you have to live together all summer. Michael did not say that those camps were for rich kids. It was a heartwarming scene if ever there was one. most of which would inevitably be broken.” Jesse remarked to Michael. “So am I. and just when you’re starting to feel like you belong .” Jesse sensed the beginning of an argument. and leave without a single glance behind. you know.” “And what if you got stuck with a cabin that didn’t get along?” Michael asked with an antagonizing grin. Their cabin leaders would pretend not to be sad. the campers were old enough to be acquiring a taste for independence. “I think I’d like to work at a real summer camp. and quietly sweep out their empty. God can still work in them after they leave. If they were eager to return home. “A lot of kids’ lives have been changed by a quick ‘sinner’s prayer’. were more important to them than they were to the younger children. or had been picked up from last summer.” she said.” Jessie held her close. where the kids stay the whole summer. Where had the week gone? It was over so soon.” At the conclusion of subsequent weeks. All over camp. They could do so much more with six or eight weeks. noiseless cabins.” “And are we in the business of character development?” Michael asked reasonably.

They won’t make it out there. so she closed it again. “You’re right. They get back home and their newfound ‘faith’ is forgotten in a matter of days.” “Then why do so many of them die?” Jesse asked squarely. they’ll fall away after two months at camp. “I know it is.. “I suppose you have a point. You just wanted a good debate. “God knows which ones are his.” Jesse finished for him.” he said. if you thought about it for a while. She leaned her head back to stop a yawn. The world is a harsh place. she wasn’t going to hide anything from him. a week is do-able.” he admitted. The conversation had come around to the point he’d been trying to avoid. It’s not practical at all. maybe it’s not supposed to stick. We’re here to plant the seed. “Well. and youth groups. “I’m not saying every kid in the world needs a whole summer of preaching..” Her sense of serenity lost. “I’ll bet you have a lot of beautiful dreams. The difference is. “If it doesn’t stick after a week. he felt the fight go out of him. It’s God’s responsibility to make it grow. if for no other reason than to make her happy. Shouldn’t we try to make them as strong as we can before we send them out on their own?” “I don’t know. that’s the only good argument you have against it. But I don’t care what else you say. she tucked a contrary strand of hair behind her ear and closed her eyes. and stuck with it. yes. He offered no resistance to her heavy perusal. Jesse looked at him carefully. whereas a whole summer.” he suggested. or that every kid who gets it is going to become a super-Christian.” Michael answered gently. and saw that he wasn’t. did it after four or five years of coming to camp.” “Is too expensive. The ones who decided to follow Jesus. She opened one eye to see if he was teasing her. and paused to get control of her emotions before going on firmly but calmly. They need a solid foundation. So what’s so wrong with wanting to give them a better chance?” She knew she was getting angry. It is a good idea. Most of them hardly knew what they were talking about. Jesse glared at him. he’d get exactly what he asked for. Eventually she looked away and sighed. all who stood up. But it would be worth it for some of them. He had a way of getting a little too personal sometimes. although it might take a little longer. So he didn’t understand why he couldn’t just back down. and you know that’s not what I’m trying to do. Michael grimaced. It doesn’t stick after just one week. “When I’m awake. you help it grow. “If they fall away after a week at camp.” she said sleepily. Let him take what he would from that.” Chin tilted up confidently. . yeah. that God can use to build them up. “It’s a beautiful dream. Well.” Michael knew he should just agree with her.” he heard himself saying. There are churches for them. and Sunday School. but you were there at testimony campfire as well as I was! You heard what they said. You’d like my idea of a summer camp as much as I do.and nurture it. Looking at her like that. but I think cutting off all new Christians from civilization for two months of boot-camp is going a little overboard. Jesse squirmed at the comment. and we could do a better job of giving it to them if we had more time. trying not to get her angry at him.” she admitted. “You said a lot of kids’ lives are changed in a week. “It would be expensive.” She looked at him arrogantly.” she stated. “You know very well that I know a longer camp isn’t going to change God’s plan.

” Michael frowned.if that’s what she needs..” he said. if I were you. An idiot. thanks. She saw Michael talking to Keith when Jesse left. personally. She easily admitted that to herself. His voice was teasing but also filled with unmistakable respect. “We’re friends. wasn’t she? It didn’t matter anymore whether or not she did it on purpose. but definitely a brave one.” said Michael. not hearing their words because they spoke quietly.At that moment.away from him.” “Well. Michael and Jesse’s easy closeness. their playful teasing. Michael watched her say goodbye. she hated Jesse. She watched them from a mere 20 feet away. to the point. as though they didn’t care who heard them. Neither of them noticed Jasmine. but she’s been bit once and she’s not gonna get herself hurt again. “Don’t give me that lip. Keith was not amused. crying “Emma!” to say a tearful farewell.” “Like I said. I mean it. because they kept looking at her. and right now I don’t. but knowing who they were about. Why couldn’t it be her? Didn’t she deserve that little bit of happiness? But no.” he said sanguinely. ‘don’t insult my intelligence. “We do?” Keith looked at him incredulously. clutching a pair of shoes intended for the lost and found. “you’re a brave man.I can’t talk unless I understand you. she was used to jealousy.” said Michael.” he said fervently.” he said. I think. a camper called out to her.. “Hurts like that don’t heal overnight. growing stronger with every day she nursed what she’d thought to be jealousy. “You are one brave man. Jesse immediately swung her legs down from the ledge and ran off.” “And I’d keep it that way. leaning on the ledge from outside the pavilion. “Man. their heated debate. and they moved on to something else. Their voices carried. “You don’t think that’s what I want?” Michael asked. Jasmine hated her for it. But her hatred had been hidden deep in her heart.. She was jealous. Why?! she cried inside. . And she’ll take that anger out on somebody. but try to get much closer. I think we both know that’s not true. “I’m innocent. It was over before it really started. spreading his arms. Always the centre of attention.” Keith advised. “She might like you. Jesse had to get everything she wanted. and Michael couldn’t help but grin. Keith gave him a look that said. Michael grinned. Sensing a movement on his right. It left a bitterness in her soul and a similar taste in her mouth. Yes. “Tell me what you’re up to . he noted. probably whoever’s in arms reach. She felt it every time a pretty girl walked by. and then go off to busy herself elsewhere . You know what I’m talking about. please’. and God only knows why. “How long you been there?” Keith ignored the question.” “Oh.” Keith said generously. she could have chewed you up and spit you out right there! Don’t know why she didn’t. watching Jesse just as Michael had been. “Don’t mention it. not drawn out and uncomfortable. I tell you. maybe.. as if there were no question about it. Their conversation was short and sweet.” Keith said. “You’ve lost me. Keith met his look with a purpose. for now. and she’ll snap. She’d seen everything. She’s tolerating you. and only now did she recognize it for what it was. he looked over to see Keith. You wanna volunteer yourself?” “Well.” Keith nodded slowly.

so there was little chance of convincing the girl to stick it out until the next morning. they were old enough to remember that they were homesick. so guarded. “For what?” he asked. and had every right to be homesick. is how I put it. Michael came into the office. to the relief of the distraught cabin leader. Yet if she stayed. others would want to go. As she dialled the number. Under the right circumstances.She hated her. he knelt down beside the girl so that they were eye-level and started talking to her. As she watched. The girl was only eight years old. were easily distracted. She gave one longing glance at Michael’s eyes. She turned her back to them when someone picked up at the other end. which were oblivious to hers. the little imp was beaming from ear to ear. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:53 AM 0 comments Chapter 11 “I-want-to-go-home!” the little girl bawled. It was her decision to make. especially the six-year-olds. neither was she spoiled or whiny. She could hear faint laughter behind her as she explained the situation to the girl’s mother. though she hadn’t yet been able to get her to talk to her about it. She sighed sympathetically. too. and she hated to phone the parents before the child gave it an honest try. Michael went on the defensive. She knew the girl had a crush on Michael. working with someone so closed off. just a little too petulantly for her age. to let the girl go or try to convince her to stay. By the time she called her over to the phone. attempting to comfort. It was a challenge. It was just after lunch. she just missed her mom too much to have fun. her misery might have an even more widespread effect over the camp. “I told that woman that her child was upset . and her cabin leader didn’t look much better. and she didn’t care. and stalked off. he did a little backtrack to where she was sitting. Jesse finally decided to make the call home. She didn’t want to be responsible for creating a Junior Week of mass exodus. swaggering cheerfully as always. The younger ones. though her eyes were still red and puffy from dried tears. Confused.extremely upset. She hadn’t been able to make her open up yet. If Jesse gave her the choice. But it was only the second day. the juniors could be worse than even primary campers. She would do what she could. Jesse shook her head at him from Bob’s office. but he either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Kaimi was close enough to see her reaction. As Jasmine was eavesdropping. Like most homesick kids. This girl certainly looked wretched. and maybe she never would. “Thanks a lot. Jesse was being patient with her. Seeing the sniffling little girl and a counsellor trying unsuccessfully to comfort her. Having been there herself a good number of times. I told her she had been crying all day. she would ask if she could keep Jasmine on as an assistant for next week. and she desperately wished it weren’t. I believe. but she felt like she should keep trying. and then followed Jasmine out to see if she could help find the owner of the unclaimed shoes. If one girl was allowed to leave. She wasn’t doing it to annoy her or the other staff.” Jesse said insincerely when the girl and her cabin leader had left to go pack her things. She glowered at him accusingly. she wasn’t . Kaimi had gotten rid of their last camper. but when juniors got homesick. Jesse could relate. trying to understand. she told herself.

” he assured her. “I have a gift. go fix someone else’s mood. if anyone can fix that. “Are you doing that on purpose?” He shook his head. or sad.” Jesse was a little sorry for doing just that a minute ago. his sunny-day usual.” he declared. coming around the counter in a few long strides. “Not that I have ever been aware of. I was teased non-stop about it as a kid.” she answered truthfully.” she assured him. “Trust me. Miss Jesse?” he teased.” Bob walked in casually. “What’re you two up to?” . “Pregnant women do not carry paper. That helped her find her voice.” she threatened wryly. it’s me. sometimes I still am. and I hope I don’t see you try anything like it again. “Is that a blush I see. Leave mine alone.” She disappeared behind the counter. “Must be nice.” “Really? Well. but now it’s usually when I’m hot or tired.” and then she laughed out loud as she saw a flush creep across his face. but Michael was too quick for her. “If I thought you meant that..” he said as he straightened. not able to think of anything appropriate to say to that..” “I’ll show you a gift. Where would you like this. quite shocked. “What can I say?” Michael asked helplessly. “Uh-uh-uh. wearing khaki shorts and a Rocky Bay Bible Camp t-shirt. but she knew he was referring to his own tendency to turn a striking shade of red. and was inconsolable. opening a lower cabinet door and angrily pulling out bundles of paper. but she had seemed ill at ease. It was true that her face wasn’t at all red. though. looking away. And after talking to you for two minutes.” “But you’re embarrassed now.yes. not embarrassed. She didn’t say anything. “It just means you’re a very sensitive sort of fellow.” “You don’t?” he asked.” she said. Her desire to exact revenge surpassed her mercy.” “Oh. I said ‘gleefully’ . When she had a stack of three packages she shut the door and went to pick up the pile. my dear?” She pointed wordlessly to the photocopier. but he didn’t seem upset about it. no guy does this on purpose. throwing the last paper wrapper in the blue box.. “I do not blush. as he loaded the bottom tray of the photocopier with paper. His cloudy-day ensemble consisted of zipping the legs onto his sunnyday shorts. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken. I’d do it. He picked up the paper before she could get her hands around it. or angry. and normally the suggestion that a girl was blushing was enough to bring on that very reaction.announces she wants to come home.” he glanced around the office. leaning over the divider. Or so I’ve been told. imitating his teasing tone. says ‘hi mom!’ and gleefully . The smile never left Michael’s face. however. “Hey. Her mother must have thought I was crazy! I can’t believe she actually agreed to come pick her kid up!” She had one hand on her hip and gestured animatedly with the other as she reamed into him.participating in any activities. it’s nothing to be ashamed of. “Oh. Michael took advantage of her embarrassment.” he clucked. “I might blush like a rose. “I’m in no mood.. “It gave me a thick hide. she’s the happiest camper I’ve seen all day: picks up the phone. shaking her fist at him over the counter.

“I’m embarrassing Michael. if you found out that someone had been in the room with you this whooole time?” Zeb asked as he stood up behind the corner computer desk.” “Yeah. “Yesterday I told Mark I was madly in love with him. and went into the dining hall. “Are you embarrassed?” “No. as always. until she caught sight of him looking so much like a freakishly tall.” Michael differed. “She’s doing nothing of the sort. “You couldn’t be more dull if you tried. “Are you embarrassed?” “I don’t think so. Michael was duly impressed by his dishevelledness. “Would you be. I.” she claimed. that was scandalous. The next day we were in the kitchen for .” “You’ve never done a shocking think in your entire life.” Jesse proudly vowed. no. Michael looked personally offended. missed three prayer meetings last week. then laughed at him. “I once wore a baseball cap for an entire summer without taking it off. “You didn’t. One hand was on his hip. alright. His voice was so smooth and controlled that Jesse didn’t blink at the noise.” said Jesse. Just gotta go use the little boys’ room. young punk red-headed Albert Einstein.” she let Michael know. “I am embarrassing her. I’m not embarrassed. he scratched his back as he ambled out. The effect was a little startling and she jumped just a bit.” Michael contended.” “Last year I threw a muffin at a camper’s head. on the other hand. His hair stood on end and there was a queer light in his eyes. Michael sized up the situation and decided to play hardball.” Jesse said boldly. Reaching with a long arm. I. she decided to defend herself.” “The first year I was a kitchen girl I missed curfew one night and mooned the moon. “Well see there. not really. When he was gone.”said Michael. “When I was eight years old I ran naked through the sprinkler in our front yard. “Just who was it who came to breakfast in his boxer shorts on Saturday?” “Those were pyjama pants.” he said with a stretch and a yawn. and the head cook and her husband saw us from their bedroom window.” putting his hand up in self-defence. you gotta get out more.” Jesse answered brightly. He had earphones draped around his neck and a bag of nachos in hand. as if to emphasize their gravity. “I did.” she countered. Michael looked at Jesse when he had gone. “Me and four other girls. “Don’t worry.” Jesse wagered. Jesse looked pointedly into all the corners and behind every desk that might be concealing another body. “You’re the boring one. you probably made his day.” “But I wore fuzzy puppy dog slippers with them. and his words and his body moved slowly. Satisfied that there were no more peeping toms. You kids were so boring I had to listen to some music to keep me awake. “Well done. his head close to the top of the door-frame as he crossed the threshold. Keep up the good work!” he said encouragingly. “I beg to differ.” Bob nodded in agreement as he walked through the office. “Zeb.” The competition stopped short. “Now just hold on a minute there. on the other hand. am a perfectly shocking individual.” A strange voice intruded then.” “I didn’t go to church on Sunday.” “And you’ve got better?” Michael asked haughtily. How long you been sitting behind that desk? As in how many days?” Zeb was imperturbable.

Once in a while a girl might help out. She felt proud of herself as she stepped into the sunlight. Oh. but Jesse’s heart had been warmed. Since there were two games a day. eager to win extra points by being the first team assembled.” Jesse did not blush. . no matter how popular it was with the campers. it had been a shock to everyone. but nearby a group of muddy boys lined the banks of the creek.” “I’m impressed. The happy. she admitted to herself. seem to have taken a while longer. Would she still be able to laugh if he’d told her any of the really ‘shocking’ things he’d done? “Yes. she had a total of one and a half hours off instead of the standard hour. In fact. Laughter reached her and she was once again amazed by the pleasant ring it carried. let’s just be thankful you seem to have reconsidered. but he couldn’t help feeling a little deceitful for pretending those were the worst past offenses he could come up with. but none of them was quite good enough. and now she had a good excuse not to participate in it. what a beautiful sight was that pile of firewood! The campers were discovering the rest of camp.” Michael managed to look slightly shame-faced. doing every job the cooks could think up in their vengeance. she held her head up and stalked out of the room before she said something she’d regret.” he said. She took a deep breath and went to lean on the porch railing. exactly. He hadn’t lied. “I was in perfect health. as was the basketball court. She gazed contentedly at the bustling campground. The bell rang seven times. They were rigorously building new dams and destroying old ones. but eight is a little old to be running around without clothes. He couldn’t contemplate telling her that he’d tried marijuana for the first time in grade seven. driven by curiosity or just to prove she wasn’t afraid to get dirty. dirty children rushed to the field where their teams’ flags and captains were waiting. The dining hall hasn’t been that clean since it was built.twelve hours straight. she wasn’t even embarrassed.” she acquiesced. Or that in grade eight he had lent his cherubic face to help some highschool kids rob three old ladies on one street.” “Oh I learned that lesson well before I hit my teens. and they were still mad at us for the rest of the summer. A thousand possible retorts flashed through her head. at 45 minutes each. when not accompanied by the whack-whack sound of Ed’s Alley pool balls hitting each other and the sides of the wooden alleys. “You. you see. The soccer field was being used again.” “You’re not so bad yourself. She had always hated the game. and I don’t feel at all guilty about it. Team Time had never been her favourite.” he assured her. “Not exactly shocking. Pregnancy was not without its perks. but I had the cutest little tush. and I thought it a shame to deprive the world of it just for the sake of propriety. keeping his thoughts to himself. When the maintenance crew started chopping up the tables for firewood this morning. Michael noticed her hesitation and was starting to look smug. Jesse was glad that for her the bell signalled time off.” “And you really skipped church on Sunday?” Jesse tipped her chin proudly. The new plastic playground by the water stood unused. now that you’re in your 20's. “Well. She and Michael made the schedules for all the cabin leaders’ time off as well as their own. Not able to endure that. Three girls played on the swings. on the other hand.

She ran off to get changed. “I don’t think I should. though. and Jesse was aching for a swim. Their leaders were easygoing. Samantha didn’t look annoyed. There were four kitchen girls this week: Amy Laverly and Missy Nerino. Although she was fast. Rules had toughened up since. A little piece of her died at every swim time. Samantha and the kitchen girls came to sign out in the office.skipping rocks. From there you could either walk down a steep bank to the water. eager for some excitement. Sam would be taking them to Moose Creek. It had warmed up over the last few days. since the position had been unfilled and Linda. if one of you rides in the trunk. “Why don’t you come with us? We’re going to the falls. they had been getting cabin fever without a ‘head hosp’ to take them out on trips. but back when she was a camper. who’d been to camp before but were only working a couple weeks. “Hey Jesse!” Amy Laverly greeted her. when she was left on land with the water-shy. “Sure. She and the others were sporting bathing suits and towels. You don’t have to jump. to where they formed a bridge over the river. and the class spread out as they walked upriver . It was an unusually hot. churning water . Amy looked at Samantha. A short way upstream was a waterfall. Jesse was convinced. picking up sticks. After last week. She saw him exit at the far end of the dining hall and rush to meet up with his own team. “A few times. or jump off the bridge. Samantha had switched from cabin staff to be the head hospitality hostess. You guys have a good time. trying to spot fish.” she answered.” Getting to Moose Creek meant leaving the camp road to follow a set of railroad tracks. Besides needing supervision. humid afternoon. “We can fit her in the car. but that was far from satisfying. was just about fed up with the young girls. “Swimming won’t hurt you. who were here pretty much all summer. she almost regretted her decision when she got to the car and everyone else was already loaded and waiting for her. Swimming at Moose Creek was one of their favourite outings. “You off now?” Missy asked her as they came up the stairs. Sometimes she waded in wearing shorts. fussing about making her comfortable and asking if it was alright for her to wear a seatbelt. right?” Samantha shrugged.” Rachelle and Caitlyn both quickly volunteered. She’d had her first kiss under the waterfall. As they drove off.and she had not argued when Michael insisted she take Team Time rather than a Major or Mini. Even as she brushed a damp tendril off her forehead. tucking a large towel up under her arms to that it covered her body as well as part of her legs. and Jesse told herself that she was imagining Sam’s dislike of her. Jesse was at the back of the procession with a couple of friends.” Jesse smiled but shook her head. The others were all very nice. She was eleven when she first came here. and the falling. the head cook.” “Why not?” asked Amy. She knew where they were going and went weak with envy. The girls in the trunk dangled their legs out over the bumper and seemed itching to be off. it hadn’t been an uncommon thing for the hiking class to walk up to Moose Creek on their last day. Missy asked her if she’d ever been to the falls before. and she found herself glad to be getting to know them better. and Rachelle and Caitlyn.

was loud. Their swim was much too short for Jesse’s liking. When she mouthed “ok”. and a grey t-shirt because it warm. she and Sam slipped and skidded down the steep incline to the river as carefully as they could. He was too precious for his memory to be laughed at. if it could be called that. He’d picked up his sleeping bag and smiled at her. The running . quite a few freckles. which meant he was probably twelve. The sounds of her group were drowned out. she discovered that the back of a waterfall is not a straight wall of rock. and had no desire to be teased by them. Sometimes. He had soft brown eyes. she wondered if he’d been real. She was content with her own cabin mates as companions. he leaned toward her and kissed her on the lips. or when a low rumble of thunder had sounded in the distance. or that he would ask her to the banquet on Friday. then. A boy came in after her. Rising up from the narrow beaches on either side of the creek were miniature cliffs. because they were supposed to wear pants and shoes to hike. she picked her way over a wet. or when their female leader wore a pair of very short shorts for their march through the bush and flirted with the male leader. He looked around and seemed to like the cavern. as if she had stepped into a world where everything was backwards. While the others picked raspberries and their leaders talked together. she had felt someone watching her. and she’d never seen him at camp since that summer. He was there to see her. It was very small. but by coincidence or fate. their eyes had met again a few times. freezing water. though cloudy outside. He had dark brown hair. They didn’t say goodbye on Saturday. She’d looked up and seen him. When they rounded the last corner and came face to face with the waterfall. Each one bobbed up a little way downstream and scrambled up onto the bank. while she helped her parents unpack the trunk of the car. not the back of the waterfall. She didn’t wish he would talk to her. She never would have ventured in if she’d heard the order forbidding it. and was just a tiny bit taller than her. hardly ten or fifteen feet in height. though it didn’t awe him as it did her. two cars to their left. she thought it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. Since they’d found themselves in the same hiking class. They could swim once they reached the falls. He had never spoken to her before. narrow ledge till she reached a large cavern filled with mist. while the rest of the girls walked out to the middle. and she felt very alone. now. and told her they had to leave. So she was not as surprised as she might have been when he entered the secret world behind the waterfall. But on the first day. He was wearing faded jeans and old running shoes. usually when they both noticed something that no one else seemed to: like when a fox crossed the road far ahead of them. and she thought they were very nicelooking. looking through the back of the cascading river and seeing only shadows of the people on the other side. When they came to the bridge. it was much more desirable to keep her coed friendship. but still rejuvenating. unspoken. she hadn’t. But before they walked out. nor she to him. He didn’t speak to her again at all that week. he took her hand. They walked to the waterfall because there was no use trying to fight the current swimming. Eyes wide in wonder. He walked up to her and cupped his hands over her ear so that he wouldn’t have to shout. but would he be real to anyone else? Perhaps that was why she never told anyone about him. screaming as they went. and above them were trees and sky. then dropped one by one into the deep. She had no doubt that he was real to her.

and that’s the truth. In reality. Missy. don’t say that. None of the girls had stared at her. They had left their towels in Sam’s car. “We’ve told you it’s just a little baby fat.” She considered confessing the real reason she hesitated to swim at camp.” The girls digested this for a moment.” Missy smiled but didn’t look convinced.” said Amy. She floated on her back as the current slowly pushed her away. and she was very self-conscious about it. Jesse expected that the . and might have been friends with if they were closer in age. almost tepid bay back at camp. “I’d have to think about it. And it’s nothing compared to my thunder thighs. we might wonder.” she said. I know it’s not terribly obvious yet. And none of us thought anything of it till then.” she conceded. “but eight and ten-year-olds won’t. where the tracks met the road. The waterfall held for her a magical quality.” Jesse was glad to have her vote of confidence. Caitlyn hadn’t spoken to her before. unremarkable as it may seem to others. “No putting ourselves down here. but she knew they had all snuck discreet glances at her stomach. She shook her head. This outing was the first time Jesse had been in a bathing suit in front of anyone but family since she felt herself starting to show. Amy and Missy appeared unsure. “Heck. and I came out here like this. I don’t look big to you because you’re expecting to see a tummy. we’re just grownups. testing her strength against its relentless power. but she seemed like the kind of person she would like. Some of the girls giggled. My mom didn’t tell me or my sisters that she was having my little brother till like a month before he was born. To these campers. but they would only reason away that excuse too. Amy had brought a watch.” Jesse showed no sign of being convinced. The sun quickly dried everything but their hair as they picked their way back to the bridge. and all too soon it was time to go. “Alright girls. I look more pregnant than you!” put in Missy. Unfortunately. Did she look strange in that light? Rachelle. “I’m not so sure. They would never know. “Oh. Amy finally brought it up. Missy and Amy looked grudgingly repentant for their indiscretions. and then she’d have nothing left to argue with. who was slightly plump around the waist. in contrast to the shallow. It was a place where time should stand still. though. As they were leaving. You’re all beautiful the way God made you. you’d all definitely be wondering about it. As always she was overwhelmed by the wildness and beauty that surrounded and shielded her in this place. “Sure. Caitlyn decided a voice of reason was necessary.” said Rachelle to Jesse. They tried to imagine Jesse was not pregnant. you hardly look pregnant at all. Jesse. if you’re worried about the kids. but I do look kind of funny. If you hadn’t known. I’m sure you could get away with swimming back at camp this week. what did we say about body image?” asked Samantha. “If you hadn’t told us.” That put an end to the self-deprecation. They hardly know what being pregnant means. after they’d all taken an appropriate moment to think on Samantha’s words. “Amy’s right though. She might have a point there. Kids don’t notice those things. kids don’t care what grownups look like. I would never have dreamt you could be pregnant. “You know. She swam as close as she dared to the foam.water was icy.

The others also shrugged it off. “Oh. “Don’t worry ‘bout it.” Samantha said nonchalantly. She searched the trees warily as they picked their way over the railway ties. who was behind her. This became a concern when. and the train was just barrelling down. Samantha and the others were leaving the tracks. A deep rumbling in the ties beneath her brought enough feeling back into her legs for her to turn and look behind her. following their example and stepping off the tracks. but only Sam even came close to catching her. like sensible people. And I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life. Just keep going. Did they have no fear of the danger he represented? Did they even see it? Missy. What happened next would be told around campfires and dining hall snacks for years to come. though. The subject dropped as they climbed up to the tracks.” Jesse didn’t answer her. As a result. It wasn’t that she was embarrassed. then she saw it. bumped into Jesse’s back. she knew she could not move any closer to the wild animal that claimed the safety of the grass. and just sat back on its haunches when it saw them. low whistle. but she didn’t hear it. but Jesse could not dismiss this horrifying possibility so easily. Jesse managed to scramble up easily enough. and she’s not even halfway to the road yet. It would attract attention. of course. it’ll run off. and it would have been cute if it didn’t terrify her so. She pressed her lips together and stifled a cry that came out as a rasping whimper. Ahead of them. either. said something to her. against Samantha’s certainty. and we thought it was all gonna be ok. too. But when she finally managed to grab hold of her arm. and parading around in front of them so they could see it with their own eyes. It was less tricky than going down had been. directly between the two groups.. like she was going to outrun the train! So we all started running after her. looking at her. but she didn’t even look at us. Once they were up and on their way. with a glance at Jesse. and finally she understood why the others had taken their chances with the bear.” she said. But Jesse was still on the tracks.campers wouldn’t notice anything was amiss. those claws could rake through her flesh. The bear sat there. “So the five of us are on the grass to the side. It didn’t seem to mind the girls at all.” she started. right. found themselves quite a bit removed from the others before they were halfway to the car. but they might be. looking for any sign of something big and covered with black fur.. eventually. and . and she and Missy. who was concentrating on her feet. What are they doing? Jesse thought hysterically. She took one look behind her and went tearing down the tracks. But train or not.. There was a difference between telling them she was pregnant. closer to the great beast than ever. Caitlyn especially turned out to be an excellent story-teller. Missy. She was more worried about certain staff members. the male ones in particular. Steep as it was. not full grown yet. Sam reached her. a bear actually sauntered lazily out from the underbrush. her words were drowned out by a long. All she could think was that with one swipe of his paw. “What the. it was almost on the bridge already. It was a little thing. obviously. “Probably just a bear. a rustling noise in the bushes to their right brought her to attention pretty quick.. so we slowed down a bit. her steps slowed. She didn’t move. So we were all screaming at her to get out of the way. They were actually walking on the grass. what do you think Jesse did? She shook her off! Sam goes rolling backwards. in one deadly bite those teeth could sink into her skull. and that was one thing she didn’t mind going out of her way to avoid.

Jesse just kept running! We all thought she was definitely going to die.” And here she would pause for dramatic effect. only it was way louder and scarier. which they were now in. maybe a foot or two off the grass.” Jesse answered. As soon as the train passed. “Are you hurt?” she asked Samantha.” said Samantha distractedly. Jesse sat up. the tracks were slightly elevated. regardless of whether both Samantha and Jesse were sitting beside them. It was like they had never existed. and on this side there was a ditch. The train was just hollering away behind us. Jesse was beginning to see that Samantha had a bossy side. and I swear to you I was absolutely certain they were both dead. But Sam popped right back up. barely audible over the roar of the train. “I’m fine. she couldn’t imagine. Jesse didn’t have a very good recollection of the events thus far. by a long embankment of stones. but it seemed more like she was flying. The cars went by and suddenly we realized there was nothing we could do. and Sam’s face staring into hers. but she remembered what happened next. she knew that much. It was the most horrible feeling I’ve ever had in my life. just like in a movie. from both dangers. Eyes would widen and a collective breath would be held. and then there was that moment: this gut-sinking. when the train passed us. while the rest of us fell down on the grass and tried to breathe again. where the bear had been. All the while. Samantha and Jesse lay in the weed-filled ditch. “No. however. “Are you alive?” Sam had asked urgently. sickening moment. they began running back to camp. But she and Samantha were now on the left side.” she said. Sam had pushed her over. As it was. Why she hadn’t thought herself to use that path of escape. After checking her out thoroughly. If Jesse had known that every staff member would soon hear that she and Sam had been run over by a train. Jesse vaguely noticed that the sound of the train’s whistle started to sound more like girls’ screams. Missy says she counted them. she would add that there were 84 cars before Caitlyn could continue). and the bare railroad ties and iron rails didn’t hold a trace of them. The train rushed by a good five feet above her head. And then she was gone: the train rolled over the spot where she and Jesse had just been. she would have made more of an effort to get up. and we never thought she was gonna make it. having watched dumbly as the train rolled by. On the right side. and it intrigued her. but Sam and Jesse were still ahead of us by quite a bit. “Are you hurt?” Sam asked. By now the train was getting close. or not. She looked up. as well as legs that could and would carry them further. suddenly very concerned that her rescuer might have been injured because of her. “Yes. Samantha insisted that she lay still until she could remember what her first aid training called for in a situation such as this.” (and if Missy were there for the story. Samantha jumped on the tracks. now found they had tears and voices. We were all back at full speed. then. Sam decided that since there was no obvious injury to . And then it was gone. She opened her eyes to find herself flat on her back. and started chasing her down again. awful. very much alive. like an angel just picked her up by the arms and threw her in front of that train. The girls. “ She stood there the whole time.

” He knew before Will reached half-court that something was wrong. he caught his finger in it. He tossed the ball in a corner and strode over to meet him. He felt the firm rubberiness of the ball. Michael shot a few hoops before they took over the whole area. as if to support both of them. Michael was on the basketball court playing one-on-one with a camper named Rocky. very efficiently. “What’s up?” he asked. She did so. just shrugged and put the key in the ignition. He felt like an outsider looking in at a strange cult. “It’s bad. This court is nothing but a cement hockey rink to them. “It’s a sissy game anyway. “They don’t know any other sport exists. “Nice!” he said as Rocky swished one in from the foul line. “Where did the others go. Will put his hand on Michaels’s shoulder. He focussed on the net. challenging him to games when there weren’t enough people around to form hockey teams. How could anyone prefer slapping away haphazardly at a little ball on the ground with big. gesturing. but Michael shook him off and ran. “Hey!” he greeted Will. Slamming his desk drawer in frustration.” he said. It was a beautiful moment. The second jolt of pain sobered him.” he said in a low voice. and finally fall in.” He was stunned motionless for a second. Samantha made no answer. circle once. and in one smooth motion sent the ball up in a graceful arc. and bounced the ball back to Michael.. Jesse was fairly lifted off the ground and laid in the back seat of the car. We’re not sure what happened exactly. “Some kitchen girls just came into the office from swimming at Moose Creek. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:52 AM 0 comments Chapter 12 Back at camp. kicked his chair across the carpet instead and hurt his toes. A curse came into his head and he almost uttered it out loud. he was thinking rationally .” Michael tossed him the ball and Rocky bounced it a couple times. then saw some of his friends come in at the other end of the fenced-in court. glancing around to make sure the campers weren’t near. jumped. Rocky shrugged. but they were saying Samantha and Jesse might have got hit by a train.Jesse herself. who’d come in at the other end of the cage with a bunch of his boys. As the boys picked up hockey sticks and brought out a net. By the time he reached his car. cumbersome sticks? How could you play a game when you were always looking down? He couldn’t understand the attraction.. relishing the sound of it as it hit the pavement and the way it fit so perfectly in his hands as he caught it again. and he stopped a minute to breathe. “What is it about hockey around here?” he asked. do you suppose?” she thought to ask. but Michael was trying to convert him into a basketball player. “Looks like we’ve got enough for hockey!” he said excitedly. holding the ball at his side as Will approached.” Will tried to hold him. “Look at them. He reached the empty office and spent agonizing seconds fumbling for his keys. the only thing she could do was get her to a hospital. He watched it hit the rim. “Bob and a bunch of guys went to check it out already. asking for strength and calmness. The kid was more of a hockey fan.

“We ran. Jesse dreamed she was being chased by a wild buffalo. no one survived getting hit by a train.” she said finally. upon opening her eyes. “Did you see the car before you left?” Missy bit her lip. Missy!” Missy just cried harder. it was all of a sudden behind a fence.” “Did you take the car back to camp?” he asked. shaking. “I don’t know. So who took the car? He couldn’t let himself hope .enough to watch his speed on the road.” he said gently. “Which car?” he asked. “No.” “You don’t . but there was no mistaking him. “I don’t know. “Did Sam drive you girls here?” Missy nodded. wouldn’t they? No. When it caught up with her at last. where was Sam’s car? He drove back to camp first. she looked upon and recognized her golden-boy. her nose still wrinkled in disgust until. he didn’t think about what he’d find there. I thought she came after me. She looked up at him with scared. confused. Both of them. and most docile-looking. She woke up moaning. “They were just. His face was creased with worry. And Sam tried to pull her off. tell me what happened! Please. honest. It ran her down. She put her head down and rocked back and forth. “No. “It’s all my fault! I was right behind her. and was much . She just ran. It was so fast. It wasn’t even worth considering.” she said. Two cars were parked on the side of the road already. snarling and grunting most ferociously. Thinking like this was crazy. so did the other girls. Michael looked up and scanned the vehicles. Michael started toward the others. “I didn’t look. armed with Missy’s description of a blue Honda Civic. he concentrated on reaching the tracks. but stopped by her side first. and they got hit. he couldn’t help wondering. she remembered now where she was and how she came to be there. knees pulled up to her chin. Then he headed for Hanger. gone.” Michael stood up.” “You saw them get hit? You’re sure?” Missy nodded. As he drove. “You cold?” he asked numbly. “Hey. And yet. I told her there was a train coming. and I just left her there! I didn’t know she would get so scared like that. shaking her head.was it here?” When Missy didn’t answer.” she cried into her knees.but if they weren’t dead. “Missy?” he said. “You got a towel with you?” “It’s in the car. red eyes. Four or five people were walking along the rails. “Did you see anyone move the car? Come on.” she said. “Sam’s car. Sam and Jesse would get to a hospital. but when she held her hand out to pet its nose it sneezed on her. Though she could still see in her mind the frightening wooly beast. She looked up. they couldn’t. he pressed again. Missy said they’d been hit. A quick check of the half-dozen cars in the parking lot told him it wasn’t there. No one needed another accident right now.” “Where’s Sam’s car?” he asked. sitting beside her.” “She didn’t get off the tracks?” Michael asked. searching the ground. A girl sat on the grass by the road in her bathing suit.

” Jesse concluded. Jesse bore up well under the news. and ran down the hall.” He watched for Jesse’s reaction to that news. It didn’t seem strange when he reached down and brushed her cheek lightly with his knuckles: she just smiled and sighed contentedly. and if she was one already she certainly was not going to let on about it. When had she decided to refer to him as ‘golden-boy’.” he said finally.” he said. so in the . checked right and left twice. She squared her shoulders. finally decided on left. She expected Sam to arrive shortly. She then left to attend some other patient. in no way weakened her fondness for the term. and would not be fatal. “I think so. When she was quite composed. “You’re sure you’ll be alright?” he asked. “Yeah. “No one’s picking up. Aunt Sandra. “she made me promise to. There was a slight complication the pregnancy. but it was her aunt Sandra who came in first. she was actually in something like shock. She would call him golden-boy forever now in her mind. Michael nodded. “Don’t move. Although she was beginning to see a nicer side to Samantha. “She told me what happened to you two. she wondered? It did suit him. and shut the door behind her. “Where’s Sam?” she asked. Samantha marched resolutely to her side and took her hand in her own two. Ignoring this request. but it was a good thing that it had been caught this early. would she mind if she prayed for her? Jesse didn’t mind. “You’re here. Inside that lanky 6" frame was an adorable little kid. however. and his pained look was replaced by a much more familiar grin. “Trying to phone camp.” “Is that such a surprise?” “It will be to some people. with his ruddy skin and sandy curls. Their coming to the hospital now was extremely fortunate. as they must be very worried by now. but enough to be both scared and amazed at her unlikely circumstances.” she answered. not understanding everything. “I’d better go get her. Although she appeared little affected as she explained this. I’m here.” Jesse just nodded and said “Ok”. with permission.” he answered. Maybe she was a little medicated.” He hesitated before volunteering the rest of the information. He turned around. and with a smile begged them to try again to phone camp. but she didn’t seem too appalled. and no longer suspected her of hatred towards herself. It had nothing to do with Samantha’s mode of rescuing her. opened the door to the anxious persons who were of course waiting just outside. Jesse chuckled. and of necessity was blocking them out. She had no intention of becoming a basket-case. quite the opposite in fact.” he instructed as he reached the doorway. as her niece wished to tell her friends. and derive wicked pleasure from knowing it would annoy him to know it.relieved to know she and Sam were no more alone. what the verdict was. but everyone at camp thinks you got hit by that train. but she doubted he would appreciate the nickname if he found out about it. She spoke long. and asked. though. She did not know how to deal with the emotions stirring around inside of her. in her own words and privately. “I’ll be back in a minute. The thought that it would vex him. Jesse looked around the empty hospital room. held her head high. Michael’s presence was soothing.” she said. And you’re alive. “I’ll have to stay here overnight.” he assured her as he backed away reluctantly. when you woke up. and gave her some distressing information.

“Well you are not my doctor. but each equally determined to grin and bear it for the sake of the other. “And my doctor recommends a swim and a sauna. as Samantha was finishing. Samantha nodded. and beyond them were hills. They did not expect her to feel up to adding to their prayers. you know. Her hand went down to her abdomen.” she urged. which had guided them to the hospital. “But then again. “I’m not leaving you here alone. so she ventured out. She stretched out the fabric and looked down at herself. Unfortunately there was no mirror in the room. I’ve got my Auntie Sandra. When they’d left.. watching the car pull away.” he observed.” “You gonna drive out?” asked Samantha. She could see that God had protected herself and the baby. Her aunt will take care of her fine enough. It was a nice day. “That’s Michael’s story. Though her window faced the parking lot. either.stillness of that rose-coloured room she prayed simply but beautifully over Jesse and her unborn child. for they were obviously affected emotionally. and asked for continued grace and safety under the doctors’ care. I’ll be fine. you’ve got a phone in here. She felt the need to reassure herself that something was there.” Jesse said happily. “No answer.” said Jesse. No one was around but an old lady in a wheelchair. Can you believe those silly girls?” “It is kind of hard to believe they didn’t think to check the other side of the tracks. and the golden-boy added his own thanks for their God’s all-knowing goodness. There’s nothing wrong with me. We might just go out to the lake after her shift and take a swim. though. I might just drive back there to tell them. .” Jesse smiled to encourage them on their way. eh?” Jesse said.” “So they really think we’re dead. though it was well-hidden under her loose blue hospital gown. anyway. “If no one answers this time.” “You’ll do nothing of the sort. “you look tired. “Hey. which had the effect of strengthening her own at that moment. She could feel the little round bulge.” said Sam.. I don’t even need to be lying down.” asserted Michael. their obvious love and their faith. Another nice day she had to spend looking out at it.” Sam said.” Jesse admitted. As she passed the other patient. Michael. Jesse’s other hand was caught up. and Jesse didn’t know whether she meant to excuse or berate her by this.” Samantha said. and Jesse found herself summarily wrapped up in a tender hug from Samantha. How could she be anything but amazed? Both girls’ dry eyes did them credit in Michael’s view.” “Ah. She fingered the yellow drapes. it was not a drab scene.” “I doubt that. that he had used the train to bring her here. for the lot was small and encircled by trees. “Guess so. she got out of her bed and stood by the window. Presently. which she readily returned. She peered down the hall.” “You should go with him. Michael hung up. She could not help but be touched by their words.” “You weren’t thinking at all. “We allowed to use it?” Without an answer he picked up the receiver and dialled. the woman reached out and touched the sleeve of Jesse’s gown. Go get some sleep. “No. “But I don’t think you need to worry about her. the tightness of her skin as it stretched to accommodate. I didn’t think to jump on that side.

when they lived in Manitoba. No one. Horror-struck.“I need to go to the bathroom.” Jesse said quickly. peering into every open door they passed.” Jesse said lamely. She’s just bored.. working hard to smile. “Come on Nettie. She couldn’t help this woman go to the bathroom! What was she doing? Oh. “Nettie?” a voice behind her said. “Help me. sounding urgent. her hands folded between her knees for a minute. Finally she found one: a small room with a girl’s sign on the door. her skin loose and wrinkly. She was very old. let’s go back to your room. “Please bring me to the bathroom.. It was a quiet city and a weeknight. trying to push herself up. “She goes to the bathroom because she has nothing else to do. She walked hurriedly back to her room and sat down on the chair by the window. They had no sense of respect for the dead at all. “She said she had to go to the washroom. She grabbed the handles of the metal chair and pushed it in front of her. Her lips looked like she licked them too much. and she had met only a couple of younger highschool kids out walking. her eyes were vacant.” Jesse was now stunned. Then she leaned forward and crossed her arms on the narrow window-sill. “That’s what I’m looking for anyway. . Jesse wasn’t afraid of graveyards. Jesse turned in relief and embarrassment.” she croaked out. She and May used to pack peanut butter sandwiches and ride their bikes out to the old cemetery outside of town.” she begged. but the nurse walked right past her. The church was a good 30 minutes off campus. “Help me out. because she was far from the areas frequented by the university students. and she could see the reflection of her eyes in the glass. hopping over small gravestones and climbing up onto the bigger ones. ************************************************************ There had been a new moon that night. Why had she meddled? Why couldn’t she just walk by.” Besides. “I don’t know where it is. They knew where souls went when people died.” She looked at Jesse as she wheeled her out. and no mirror suiting her own purposes.. they weren’t her responsibility. “Ok. but Jesse was mortified. and the thought of having to beg someone to bring her to the washroom made her sick to her stomach. They would sit around the tall monument in the middle to eat their lunches.” she stammered. Jesse now looked back down the hall hoping so see someone. “I need to go to the bathroom!” the old woman mumbled again. There was hardly enough room to get the lady in. The nurse didn’t seem upset with her..” the woman said. she would be old herself one day. and then run around playing games. “Do you want me to close the door?” she asked. as the woman informed her over and over that she wanted to go to the bathroom. and their parents had never thought it necessary to teach them to respect the body’s resting place.” “Oh.” She tried to back away.” she tried to explain. resting her chin on her wrist so that her nose was a centimetre from the window-pane. She sat there for a long. leave it alone? The patients here were none of her business. where it ended at another intersection and the streetlights started again. not wanting to upset her. She looked warily at the patient. where was a nurse? She backed away from the disturbing old person. and there were no street-lights by the cemetery. The graveyard started at the top of the hill and went all the way to the bottom.until the light faded. hanging off her miniature skeleton. “I’ll. long time . go get someone.

” “Mm-hmm. They had been in the same music class and had mutual friends. bent over with his elbows on his knees. She looked at her eyes in the window-mirror of the hospital. probably. but the boys she generally disapproved of. She’d lumped Jeremy in with them. She didn’t want to be rude. and she was surprised that she recognized his voice. popular. See you around. the boy whose . It was odd enough. “What are you doing out here?” “I’m just waiting for a friend. he’d worked at No Frills part-time last year. “I was. she now realized. “Oh. Nervous.” He seemed reluctant to let her go.” She walked away. and that she would have to find a way to make it up. sounding impressed. It was such a chance meeting. “Yeah. aware of her inadequacy at small-talk. He said he was working. Jeremy. academic. perhaps lonely? What was he doing there. seemed in the mood to chat. to make her nervous. but just nodded. that wasn’t right. standing awkwardly. but she began to believe she had done Jeremy Beale a great injustice. She had a few girlfriends in this circle.On this night. well. though. Looking up. a step above the skids. and she felt compelled to stay. and Jesse was about to smile. she couldn’t pass him by now. Jeremy rightly guessed that she was there attending the university. tell him how good it had been to see him again. essentially turning up her nose at him. someone sat on a bench a few feet back from the sidewalk. athletic or artistic.” she said. “Yeah. at the top of the hill.” “Oh. eh?” Jeremy asked. he had been friendlier to her than she could bring herself to act towards him. though. slowing. but he saw her too soon. it’s alright. her Christian conscience was berating her for what amounted to. and continue on her way. Overall. Before she had taken many steps. ************************************************************ If only she hadn’t stopped that night. It was more.” “You’re in a choir. Well. Like many seniors. “You going somewhere?” “Home. What kind of eyes were these? Eyes that did not see. He’d hung out with a crowd of the not-so-well-off. if she had seen the scars on his wrists. so soft-spoken. “Chilly out. but she knew little about him. drawing her jean jacket closer around her. They took a few minutes to catch up.” she affirmed. She remembered him mostly by a couple of crude jokes he’d told in her presence. She hurried her steps as she neared him. and she had never even attempted to show him that love. so as to pass by sooner. not really. just for church. than they’d ever said to each other all through highschool. isn’t it?” he said. or because his manners or his language offended her. She knew him from highschool. I better get going.” he said. very different from the way he’d acted at school. just at choir practice. Wasn’t he a person? God loved him as much as he loved her. She hardly knew him at all. No. and dark enough. If she hadn’t turned her nose up at him because he wasn’t as smart as her. and find out the reasons of each for being in the city. and usually said hi when he saw her. which stood out in her mind because afterward he seemed to regret offending her. “Jeremy!” she said. They had not seen Jeremy Beale. If only she had taken notice of Jeremy earlier. At times she’d regarded him with nothing other than contempt. he greeted her pleasantly. smokers and bearded hippies. He hadn’t been rich. really? He’d been so polite. thinking he had sounded a little out of sorts. uh.

and stared. she’d said she would be alright. but she hadn’t forgotten what it was like: she remembered the sounds..” . her heart hardly daring to beat. and had made little recovery until they brought her home. and she would. her hands clammy. She could not sleep soundly. She was stronger than that now. and nothing to stop anyone else from entering it. And she hadn’t forgotten the fear. She sighed and decided to let it go. every movement of air. not able to even breath until she found it.. She listened as they passed her room. and carried her through till morning. Curiously. was a possible menace. There was no lock on the door. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:51 AM 0 comments Chapter 13 Michael and Keith showed up the next day to bring her back to Bible Camp when Aunt Sandra was done with her. there was no guarantee. Closed doors meant nothing. This room was no better. the sound of footsteps in the hall made her bolt straight up. and in time. If she stood up. There was no safety in numbers. She did not lie down again. She relinquished her hold on the gown. so terribly. She walked across the room and switched the light off. she might not have changed anything. The hallway was still lit . There were lots of people inside the hospital already. whose father beat him up whenever he had a bad day. she told her reflection in the window.she shut her door. She pulled at the back of her hospital gown. “What’s this for?” she asked. She was vulnerable. and he without the world. She climbed in between the icy hospital sheets with her socks still on. because she could not in all truthfulness tell herself she was safe. so that it clung tight to her belly. But fearfulness was exhausting. she told herself. who felt the world would be better off without him. Even with one or both of her parents beside her. This wasn’t her fault. merciful sleep claimed her. She turned sideways. She couldn’t argue herself out of being terrified. She had sent everyone away. She thanked God next week was primary. the strange air that warmed her skin and chilled her insides.she threw it on the floor. He refused to be fazed. But even as the words ran through her head. It was worse. “Hey. She wasn’t the scared wreck she’d been four months ago. There remained a discernible bump in the fabric. they get a hug. Yes. There was no lock.mother had run away when he was twelve. she had always been afraid. She fumbled for the light switch above her head that turned a lamp on. the hard mattress. she could see herself clearly in the window. Keith immediately took off his Oakleys and wrapped her a big hug.and no one cared. Keith was not usually the affectionate type. careful not to squash her middle. The pillow was too big and soft . Lying back down. when people come back from the dead. Why had she not seen that? She hadn’t even bothered to look. it was there alright. she did so. It was thoroughly dark out now. It was late. she sighed. and pulled up the thin blanket that was folded at the foot of the bed. Even if she had seen. the crack of light that slid under the door. terribly vulnerable . every shadow. She laughed. And that’s that. with her chest constricting painfully.or should have. because she was alone. so that it hung loose . She was soon covered in perspiration. Every noise. no one to stay awake while she slept. her face wet with silent tears. It had been a few months since she’s spent a night in a hospital. No one was there to protect her.

” By the time she’d fallen asleep. remembering. “No.” was her reply.” she affirmed. “No. She went when you did. like something just came to him. she was usually so quiet and sweet-looking. “Bob used to stop the van on the tracks to tease her. Michael fixed her eye.” Keith shook his head. Michael watched the display of emotion as good-humouredly as Jesse accepted it. This being only his second year at camp. “She came to Moose Creek with us. beach boy Keith. he hadn’t known May. he’d been sixteen. especially now.” Michael could only listen. replacing the sunglasses. “And she crossed the bridge.” Jesse mused. presumably. “If you were in a group that wanted to go. He’d heard stories.” “I thought so. he had no reason to think there was anything to worry about from that corner.” she was able to say honestly. She’d almost forgotten the events of yesterday. “Yep. turning around to face him. He could talk about her now with ease. Aunt Sandra was around if I needed anything. but he felt like an intruder when he did. or she’d go along. my aunt said he was in town with some friends last night. Michael thought he heard hesitation in her voice.” Keith asserted. for the two or three hours she’d gotten. She was glad for the second question. In Michael’s mind that was enough to dismiss the idea of anything going on between him and Jesse. It was a cruel twist of fate that had landed him in Northern Ontario. “She had nightmares all the time. but he was a pretty-boy who belonged on a beach in California. her mind was too overworked to leave energy for dreams. the fury in May’s face. no bad dreams at all.He looked around. “Did you sleep alright?” he asked as they backed out of the parking space. “I didn’t. on the other hand. “We kind of left in a hurry. as Michael started the engine. “Are you sure?” she asked. when they took kids out rapelling. almost looked reflective as he spoke. She’d slept soundly enough. but she’d usually beg off. “She was terrified of them.” he said. Their friendship was one of long-standing respect and familiarity. Keith. unavoidably. She got asked a lot. now or in the future. “I was with them once.” She got in the passenger side door that he’d opened for her. with Jesse here.” Jesse explained. and her reason for being here. She shrugged and said casually.” Jesse started. At this point in time. “No dreams of trains rushing toward you?” Keith teased from the back.” said Jesse. her last year. but it could not be intimacy. “So you were here alone the whole time?” He didn’t like that idea. complete with a surfboard and an orange tan. “It was only one night. “Only a couple of times. She’d been fourteen. “You got a bag or anything?” he asked. it was hilarious! I didn’t think May was capable of getting mad. “No trains. He leaned forward urgently. but if you’d seen the look she gave him!” He. “Did your cousin come to see you?” he asked her as they left. had known May since she started working there. incredulously. Keith was a nice guy. she’d either make an excuse for not letting them. Shocked the whole office the first time she . Until you started going. “Wasn’t May afraid of trains?” Jesse was surprised at the mention of her sister.” “Did you?” “Hmm?” “Did you need anything?” “No. “Hey!” said Keith suddenly.

actually agreed to it. and he pulled into the parking lot.” said Jesse. “I’m assuming it used to be orange. Keith and Jesse grabbed a picnic table while Michael ordered fries and drinks at the window. is there an ice cream place or anything like that around here?” Michael asked.” Jesse eyed him. There’s only one lady in there. What had occupied her thoughts.” He thumped the shabby orange picnic table with his fist. The grass was shamefully overgrown. The orange paint on the tables was peeling badly. “Blue doesn’t really stand out. which managed to look neglected despite the new paint. then? It must be the baby. “See if you can strong-word our french fries here any faster.” Michael offered. and the colour sat badly against the fresh blue and white stripes of the building. There were three dilapidated trucks parked on what used to be the lawn. Jesse pointed out the Hanger Drive-In up ahead.” he said. He could tell she was somewhere else. trying his hand at being outraged.” Michael surprised himself by saying. or make any other conclusions.” “Be my guest. she looked like she could use some cheering up. was for each to ponder on their own. for all appearances permanent fixtures.” “Might have something to do with the colour. “I think the food’s going to be a while. trying to remember. “This definitely calls for some strongly worded complaining.” Keith conjectured. “Aw. thinking. Keith added his agreement to Michael’s guess. pretending to be angry. So she hadn’t been thinking about trains last night.” Keith observed while they waited. Couldn’t miss it. but it’s changed owners a lot since then. not out loud. “Nice place. “Hey. but on the other side.” said Keith. “Do you think that was smart?” Jesse asked Michael. “I am not pleased at all.” he reasoned. looking at their table. and he felt certain she would have. “Well. There was some sort of complication with it. “Are you trying to cheer me up?” she asked suspiciously.” “What!” Keith exclaimed. “Anyway. but sadly. if anything.” “I’ll bet she never took her eyes off you. and none of them can make a go of it. It was craziness. At least. “It’s getting more and more run down every year. Jesse looked at Michael without seeing him. apologetically. and there were no other customers in sight.” The diner was just off the same highway as Jesse’s grandparents’ house. “A great colour. “Man. and she doesn’t look too quick. “I never noticed. no doubt to flirt mercilessly with the poor woman.” He really was charming. and she was worried. and he walked off.” she said. What it meant.” Michael rejoined them. It was obvious she hadn’t thought about this before. one thing you should be able to count on in this country is fast food. however.” Jesse well understood Keith’s sarcasm.” “I think I will. He can’t do any harm. “That it was. “You know how to pick them.” he amended. if she’d been thinking about the accident yesterday. It seemed to be the consensus. No one was willing to draw any more connections. I am not pleased. especially to cars going by fast.” she agreed. we’re missing lunch at camp anyway. wondering. “It was great when I was a kid. how am I supposed to contend . he can’t do much harm. “Well. having so many worries to choose between.

she suddenly began to fight back. she wrestled his hand to the table. “Come on. “Wanna arm wrestle?” Michael asked. They grasped hands. “Losing is doing less than your best. isn’t it?” he said confidently. her eyes fixed on their intertwined fingers and her muscles strained against his.” Jesse started to laugh him off. grinning faintly. Keith set their food down on the table and clapped his congratulations.” She gritted her teeth and pushed harder.” “It’s a pointless fight. and he met her force steadily. “You’re not even trying. “You’re going to win anyway. pushing a little harder. “I only wanted you to try. The look of satisfaction on his face. and then gave thanks.” “I can’t beat you. plus a good deal of her upper body weight. however. “Make me work.” he offered. she found she really wanted to test her mettle against his. He was having to work just a little bit for the win. “Go!” he said. Make me work for it. I am a rather fine specimen. was misunderstood by Jesse.” she argued. “Come on.” she argued again.” she gushed. and put her right elbow on the table. not to her surprise. “Highly illegal. her hostile look into his eyes made him honest again. He leaned his head in and spoke softly and firmly. But something stopped her from refusing. you could’a taken him. leaning over the table. extending his hand in a playful invitation. “So if you don’t put all your effort into it. “Because if you’re sweating and out of breath at the end.” he prompted. she hated arm wrestling. His eyebrows raised in amusement.” “So I see. but even so she knew she didn’t have a chance.” “Neither are you.” she countered angrily. “you can do better than that. “It’s called cutting your losses. and they teetered once again toward her side. I wasn’t . but impressive. I’ll go easy on you. No one would pay me to lift weights.” he said. it doesn’t hurt so bad when you lose.” Jesse nodded. His hand didn’t budge. “You’re stronger than that.” His eyes locked hers. Michael was smiling when Keith finished grace. pretending to be impressed. “have you been working out?” “Better: mowing lawns. As soon as she felt the added pressure. then he began to slowly force her hand toward the table. It sounded condescending to Jesse. Selfconsciousness forgotten. Besides. A bear-like roar erupted from her throat. “That shouldn’t matter. But when he started letting her gain back lost ground. She pushed. aren’t I?” He lifted a lean arm proudly.with fury like that?” “Aw.” “Understandably. pure muscle. She met his eyes. even when she was more evenly paired. It was the one game that really bothered her to lose. He sat down between them and held up his hands: “Shall we pray?” he asked.” she protested angrily. the loss is more humiliating? That’s it. “Look at that. and with both hands.” said Jesse. is that it?” he asked. “Well. For some reason. Michael wasn’t exactly a body-builder. and that pleased him. He looked at her sadly.” she growled.

unafflicted by pangs of conscience. until common sense prodded her on. let’s go. but she was convinced she saw an evil grin glaring ferociously at her. “Why are you in such a hurry.insinuating you should cheat. Worse even than how he had acted in school.” Demurely. Medium height. but it was just odd enough that she couldn’t help looking up again as the dark truck passed. and then someone after him. . It looked like something scary from the 80's. She stopped. leave her alone. and shivered even more as her path brought her unavoidably closer to this angry-looking person. “I couldn’t beat you fairly.” That was it. He leaned against the truck with his hands spread. she whirled around. pushing himself off from the vehicle and whirling around to face her as she tried to pass. “I’ll remember that in the future. The cab light went on as he opened the door. You knew that. etc.zippers. A male emerged from the passenger side. she saw Jeremy getting in. she supposed. It was somewhat comforting to think he hadn’t completely abandoned her to be insulted by his friend. I wasn’t going to lose.” “And the fact that you won unfairly doesn’t bother you?” he wondered aloud. She took a step backwards.” Jesse barely recognized Jeremy’s voice through the open window. Something about it made her uneasy. She jerked instinctively to a stop.man. But more worrisome was the fact that her way was now blocked: the leather-jacketed person was standing on the sidewalk ahead of her. How was she supposed to respond to that? It was all very strange.” he barked. Having finally made up her mind. whether to stop or try to go around the obstacle. friendly tone.” ************************************************************ Before she was half-way down the hill she heard a truck pull over. She hadn’t realized he was so close. this whole situation was strange and cold and uncomfortable. directly in her way. “I said. He’d always been nice to her. so different from his earlier. She shrugged nonchalantly. then slowed. darkly animalistic. Jesse smoothed her hair back behind her ears and reached for a milkshake. “You got a smoke?” came the half-dead voice from his face. until she realized there were no headlights blinding her. buttons. She gulped. anyway? It wasn’t even nice leather. And he was standing in her way. It stopped a few metres in front of her. “Well if I was going to try. Glancing behind her. she was leaving this deranged scene. She dipped a french fry in ketchup and ate. Who wore leather. Jamie?” he asked. “F--. It was loud and angry.” she reasoned. It was beyond rude. “Come on. illuminating the driver. It was too dark to see clearly. lifted sideways to look at her through shadowed eyes she couldn’t see. She didn’t care who thought what. It was shiny and full of metal . “We’ve got all the fun we need right here. She did not like this person with his leather jacket. although she couldn’t say what. with his head down as though in frustration. you know. so there was no point in challenging me in the first place if you didn’t expect me to cheat. “you got a smoke?” he repeated. and soon she would have to decide what to do. She kept walking. A door opened and slammed shut.” she heard Jeremy say to the menacing figure in front of her. the way the bad guys did on COPS when they got caught. Leather jacket. Her head shook a negative answer and she walked on without even breaking stride. and walked straight into Jeremy.

” she whispered to the door. They didn’t tend to stick around for very long in the Bible. It was warm. Until she felt Jeremy’s hand close around her wrist. The staff morning prayer meetings had always included prayer for safety. she had never been taught to.the girl who came back from the dead. the kitchen girls would solemnly re-tell the story to anyone who hadn’t heard. . Still. flashed through her mind in the second it took for her to recognize him. love. Whatever the means. but other than that it was quite presentable. but he was good friends with Warren. while others gathered round to listen once again. and her no-nonsense attitude went a long way toward stopping any talk which might. the end of the week came as a relief. slipping the second strap of her bag over her left shoulder before heading toward the parking lot. regardless of Samantha’s attempts to downplay her own heroism. and there was now a new awareness that these prayers were actually being answered. she could hear her father’s frustrated reprimand ringing in her head. said “God sure has an angel watching over you. That connection. Saturday morning. Once again. upset Jesse. making sure it was left in decent condition: the carpet was still full of sand that would not be budged by her sad little broom. a cook patted her on the shoulder lovingly as she sat down beside her. clear. and all her paperwork handed in to the office. but Jesse still cringed every time she was reminded of the incident. An angel? She didn’t know what to think about that. anyway. Thankfully. They were careful not to dwell on the foolishness of Jesse’s panicked flight. perhaps a little more thoughtful. and the implications of it. even with the breeze off the bay blowing in through the window.the girl she hung out with more than anyone else in highschool. Maybe it had been an angel who pushed her and Sam out of the way. and could do them again. Her relief was short-lived. She hadn’t thought she really believed in guardian angels. she finished packing her overnight bag and gave the room a once-over. As the door slammed noisily behind her she flinched at the sound of wood smacking against wood: even this far from home. Still. Lisa’s boyfriend. after every camper was gone.” The words from behind her were cold. being the hero of their adventure. One morning. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:50 AM 0 comments Chapter 14 Her welcome back at Bible Camp after her night in the hospital was strange and overwhelming. “Grab her. and in an accent that came partly from Wales and more from New Zealand. she had to admit that somehow.hadn’t he? They weren’t close. in her mind. Nothing had ever created in her more fear. Prayers became bolder. and toneless. Her ride could be here any time now. not bodyguards. but they did protect people on occasion. Overall the camp seemed more subdued. Angels were messengers. Jesse stepped into her little cabin and sighed in contentment. It was a pretty cool story. Lisa had been her ‘sort-of best friend’ . “Sorry. Quickly. angel or no. Samantha actually captured most of the spotlight.” Jesse smiled. God had saved them. and she could feel the sweat forming on her forehead. more suitable for an all-powerful God who had done amazing things in the past. she was uncomfortably at the centre of attention .

” Then silence for a few seconds. She would not play into his game now.” was his first sentence to her after she threw her bag onto the front seat and came in after it. she couldn’t let him rile her. He didn’t give up. Is she working today?” “She’s on call. “So. so she changed the subject as much as she dared. you know. Eventually. seeing as I’m frequenting it so often. Not so anymore. She looked over at Uncle Reid. Anything was fair game for his amusement. and innocent. and her heart would beat more quickly for a few agonizing seconds. Jesse’s hopes would rise up. At the sound of spinning gravel.” What did he know about it? Her expression darkened. after all.” “Lots of people are afraid of trains. When she was little she loved taking the train out here with you and your mom.But it didn’t arrive any time soon. but it wasn’t her grandparents’: it was Uncle Reid’s silver Mazda. though. and she would descend again into plain boredom. Uncle Reid was another story. And Aunt Sandra could very well desert her too. perogies with fried . Jesse’s spirit faltered briefly. She’d been drawn into traps like this before. It was only the tracks she was afraid of.” “Yeah?” “Saturday night.” At least she wouldn’t be alone with him all day. But she’d been younger then. “Your sister used to be afraid of railroad tracks. She didn’t like him talking about May. if you’ve nothing to take your mind off the wait. far too many. but they were delivered tauntingly. Uncle Reid. Her Grandparents were weird. “It’s nice having Aunt Sandra at the hospital. even sitting in the cool shade of the willow tree. She looked sideways at him. “Dom working this afternoon?” “And again this evening. Surely he couldn’t turn that against her. I hear everyone at Bible Camp thought you were hit by a train.” So no Dom tonight. some kids having a party. but within seconds she had braced herself for a ride with her uncle.” Nana urged her to eat more. she wasn’t afraid of trains.” “Oh.” she agreed with him casually.” Jesse glanced at him quickly. they did. “I just find it interesting. He was just. They knew about her pregnancy.” “Oh. She wondered if he knew about the problem Aunt Sandra had found with the baby. a simple observation. at least not until later. The words themselves were innocent enough. until an unfamiliar vehicle would arrive in a cloud of red dust. This happened several times. He wasn’t a monster. “Yes. “You’d have thought they’d have looked for a body before jumping to a conclusion like that. for a while. “Yes. “Are Nana and Papa at camp?” “I imagine they’ll be out for supper. but they weren’t deliberately cruel the way Uncle Reid could be. well. I know. The waiting wasn’t pleasant. Her tense anticipation dissolved.” She could think of no intelligent reply to that. A half hour in a car with him wouldn’t kill her. In front of her were cabbage rolls. but avoided talking about it directly even if they alluded to it sometimes. that’s all. the car that came around the corner was for her. Waiting never is. She knew he was trying to provoke her. seeing the same arrogance on his face that she had heard in his voice.

or eat meat. that his statement was not really a vote of confidence in her. She could hardly believe it.” her Nana said matter-of-factly. she knew. Has she decided to keep it. She knew. not someone she’d only read about in a newspaper. which no doubt served to whet the appetites of her Polish and Italian family. As different as this conversation was in comparison. “It can’t be healthy for her to be undecided. and she settled herself on a couch. an older couple from a few camps over. “That’s Jesse. almost brought a smile to her lips. It . It’s none of my business one way or the other. “The girl’s old enough to make her own decisions.” Papa’s sharp tone of voice. “That’s right. Mary?” came an old lady’s voice. is all. which Jesse heard very seldom. smokies.” “If she wants it. She knew they were relieved when she took a book out to the screened-in porch. It was still light out. After a moment or two of silent glances between the guests and her grandparents to confirm that she was ‘the one’. they’re Christians. and a salad with red onion in it. And about this baby. She could protect it. This little child. He was like a man who’d had a religious experience. After supper Nana and Papa had company for dessert and cards. She used to like to sit in an inconspicuous corner or hallway and listen to her parents brag about her and her sisters to their friends over coffee. She had already eaten two perogies with all the small pieces of onion carefully picked off. there had been none of the usual questions about where she was going to school. made it difficult for Jesse to even hold down what she’d had. but is she keepin’ it or puttin’ it up for adoption. They were talking about her. see. “Oh now Miron. “I’m concerned for the girl. “So that’s the one you told us about. why don’t you mind your own business for once?” came her husband’s gruff voice. Not some stranger.. do you know?” “Mitsy. The smell of the remaining food. what she was studying or where she was living. “Her parents nothing!” Nana fumed. She thinks it would be a sin!” Her Nana spat out the word contemptuously. You don’t want your grandchild raising this thing. The child she had to protect at all costs. all this gossip. “Jesse will do what Jesse will do. be serious.” came Mitsy’s defensive reply. was because of this child. it reminded her of those days. that’s a good thing.. as long as she carried it in her own body. she quietly slipped out. her child. She could hear them talking about her. and there was the sound of cards being slapped on the table.” Mary agreed with her husband. “So she’s havin’ it. “Well she’s not showin’ or anythin’. All this discussion. When Jesse was introduced as “Theresa’s eldest”.” Jesse looked down at her hand resting defensively on her stomach. It was exactly what he said: he had decided a few years ago that he should mind his own business.onions. She’s as religious as the rest of them.” “And why shouldn’t she?” asked her Papa. it’s none of our business. you know.” her Papa said. she just barely managed to catch herself before correcting them. however. let her keep it. and he had steadfastly followed through with that resolution. Someone’s got to tell her she just can’t keep it. As soon as she believed she had been sufficiently polite. She took a piece of bread and tried to refuse the rest without reminding them that she didn’t like onions or cabbage. but about her. do you know?” “Well her parents probably won’t let her have an abortion.

She couldn’t tell if he saw what she was reading. she was beginning to feel more and more that they rejected that part of her . and she picked it up. That was Uncle Reid’s voice. but it was hardly her fault.was safe there. That was exactly what she had left at home .she’d never admit it to anyone. she had once heard it said. he can’t leave work. it seemed she was always on the defensive. The phone beside her head rang. Why was she here? It used to feel like home here . She couldn’t remember why she’d left them. and that made her feel edgy. She couldn’t relax.” “Well if she has. judgmental. we haven’t said anything bad about her. waiting for some cutting remark. however.now she just felt alone. really. but it was hard to know what they thought about it.a whole lot of people willing and ready to take care of her. What did she look like to them? Did she appear arrogant. “I just thought I’d tell you before you did. wanting someone to take care of her. Jesse just sat. and she tried not to care. She took in the beauty all around her and tried to let it bring her a sense of peace. . “God. Anything now could appear suspicious. “Oh she cannot.” Jesse’s head snapped up. She was outnumbered and lonely . Uncle Reid looked down his nose at her with pursed lips.” said Uncle Reid. She was trapped.” “How is your father doing these days?” Nana pressed. she’s right out there in the porch.” “These walls are paper thin. foolish. and their thoughtless words? She could handle them. of course. The book. Jesse walked into the back room and got her Bible. She could see the sun edging closer to the rim of the mountains on the far side of the lake. “Was that your mother on the phone?” “Yes. In a somewhat brighter mood.” Jesse answered tiredly.” she answered simply. Was she being selfish? She felt so weak. but who would protect it afterwards? Who would protect it from people like these. “Did she have anything to say?” her Nana asked while dealing cards. They didn’t have much use for him. She’s heard every word. could not engage her. she came back into the room where the adults were still visiting. for eavesdropping. She was guilty. this really sucks. “Nothing big. sounding annoyed. A loon called its crazy call. “The door’s closed. She wasn’t trying to make a statement. but it was true. not knowing what to do. but could a child? She couldn’t shelter it alone.” Nana said dismissively.” she said out loud . It was her mother. Returning to the living room.” Papa said. “God. “No. she can probably hear you. she took a seat on a couch close to the lamp Uncle Reid had turned on and read by the shared light. And while they professed to love her. never had. Crying for the wind.knowing how immature it sounded. They weren’t very good at pretending they cared about her father. Somehow Uncle Reid’s advisory felt more like an accusation of her. or if anyone else did. more than anything else.the part that was her Father’s. He had been reading in a chair on the far side of the room while the older ones played cards at the table. “Is he coming up this year?” Papa asked. She should probably just read her book and forget about it. She curled up on her side and lay with her head on the arm rest. Mum. “You know. what am I going to do?” she asked in silent plea.

Nana and Papa. I do believe it. and the beach to her left. and finally. There were no lights. and she almost decided not to do it after all. and none of the other camps were close enough to afford a good view. They relayed the message to her knees. out to her fingers and up through her head.” Jesse waited until they were all gone. Still she walked to the end of the dock. which felt every jar that accompanied each hard step. she ran out through the darkness to turn the sauna on. quickly shoving it in the pocket of her flowered robe. Finally. I’m a Christian. bickering over nothing. And she needs a rest. but it was hard! Her Uncle spoke for her instead. It was risky. Mitsy. She took her bathing suit out of her pocket and clutched it in her hand. and seized it instinctively. Her main concern was the public beach. she unbraided and brushed out her hair. and her brain felt dizzy. aren’t you Jesse?” Why did he have to be so horrible? He was her uncle. and dove.” her husband urged. then her uncle. From there it tingled up her spine.” Jesse bit back a smart reply. “She likes camp. and weedy grass scattered here and there. was cruel to her feet. but her still-tender soles sensed their nighttime coldness. dimly-lit mirror that reflected only half her face. More than her eyes. The cold. “Look at us old goats. she took a deep breath for nerve and went back out into the night. unwilling to part with that ounce of safety. which complained with every bend. for crying out loud! She tried to ignore him and answer Mitsy as respectfully as possible. she keeps her grandfather and me company. First the guests.weak? She realized her mind was wandering. the immediate neighbour was never there at all. There was no point in going through this if she wasn’t going to concentrate. shed her robe. and it made her nervous. She considered her swimsuit. her feet told her that the sun was not out. In front of the tiny. “Of course she does. No one would be coming to camp this late. but mustered her courage at the last. Nana defended her against outsiders. “I only asked her a question. when all was ready. her neck tightened. “a Bible?” Jesse just looked up and nodded. Oh. and brought it back to the words in front of her. She couldn’t be rude to her grandparents’ guest. and that she should be in bed. . she returned the key to its spot and undressed. embarrassed for his wife. “Oh now. after spending all week with those bratty kids out at Bible Camp! Besides. She shut her eyes. Her arms went numb. It was Nana and Papa’s friend Mitsy who broke the silence. hanging on a nail in her room.” “Oh leave the girl alone. hard-packed earth riddled with roots. Mitsy. “What’ve you got to read there?” she asked. this business. no noises. but no one was there for the moment. Then she grabbed a clean towel from a laundry basket in the side room. Back in the camp. Our Jesse’s a good little Christian. What’s a girl your age doing out here with us anyway? You should be out having fun!” Although it was something she might have said herself. “I am leaving her alone.” She turned back to Jesse. the wooden boards were less treacherous. Gaining the deck. She surveyed the camps to her right.” said Mitsy. Then it reached her hips. Taking the key from its hook by the door. don’t tell me you believe in all that stuff. She set the towel down beside her. “Yes. It was very late.

of the choice that would let her go on as near as possible to the way she had been before.at just the time when she was beginning to feel like taking care of herself. and she was sorry. Of course she should go home her parents would not have it any other way. her body and soul were soothed for a few moments. and a little money to live on. but always being here. when they should really be starting to take things easier. But thoughts trickled in. and getting the education that would make it possible . and would never make her feel she was being given more than her share of anything. But here was a problem . though it meant she was safer. cleansing water. She tread water. or anything in between. it was her very favourite place. If she could only have a little house on this lake. not only coming for a vacation. she was underqualified even to be a waitress. but doing nothing of any great importance or excitement. Yet she did not want to go back. Teeth chattered. she was not alone or friendless. were not well-off. always feeling this way. she would get a part-time job. though comfortable. She loved camp. of home and of her Mum and Dad. and swimming was her favourite thing to do. And her parents.As the cold water slipped over her skin. As soon as she could. and a sauna. beside the lake and the trees and the hills. while her sisters went to school and her parents went to work to support them all. Less than five minutes of this kind of being alive was all she could take.was not a pleasant thought. and she lay down on the top bench with a sopping wet towel wrapped around her. but just was. She was very lucky to have a family that would never think twice about taking care of her. For a while she concentrated on nothing. They wanted her. thought of nothing.but what a pity she could only feel when she was wet and cold almost to the point of numbness. She thought she would like nothing better than that. clung to by tentacles of freezing hair. rock. Some might attribute it to adrenaline. although without thinking of them seriously. and pay her sisters to babysit on evenings and weekends. needing to warm her muscles but not willing to go any further from the safety of the dock. and no way of getting any. And then she thought it would be very nice if she could live here forever. neither happy nor sad.she had no money. She thought of how happy she was here. and an even more expensive grandchild added. but she knew it was a glorious feeling in and of itself: completely surrounded by clear. She though of her other option . staring at the yellow light through the window above the door.the rest was bathed in blackness. sly and simple at first. She wanted more than to sink into simplicity and obscurity. but there was no moon at all. Giving up the baby might almost erase ... and of how the oppressive heat of the sauna made everything foggy and clear at the same time. The expense of a child returned. alright. The light from the camp was her only guide . she knew it was worth whatever danger she was putting herself in. And in a few more minutes her mind was wandering towards some more serious matters. She couldn’t tell where the lake. There were people to take care of her.. The hot sauna was a welcome refuge. She thought of the baby that would come. She would stay home alone with her baby.. Then gradually her eyes adjusted and made out the stars. But to be dependent . was no small inconvenience. nonthreatening in appearance. It would not be a bad life. It was her home as much as it ever had been. surrounded by those who loved her. She was awake. Her wet head. and sky started or ended. listening to the hum of electricity in the stove. One year of university was nothing. living and breathing and feeling . emerged some distance from the dock.

it seemed wrong to try to go back. and she could not see it any other way. her life had taken an unexpected turn. She could not give the baby up. their affectionate name for those campers who required extra-special attention. easy week. everyone had more time off. It was a part of her. A child needed clean air. sort of. open for primary week. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:49 AM 0 comments Chapter 15 There were four cabins. here in the north where she was most happy herself. “It usually is. Michael came to remark on how enjoyable the week was so far. With a higher staff:camper ratio than at any other time. Jesse liked her. she didn’t understand it entirely herself. acquired a ‘cling-on’.” Jesse responded. The campers were happy and adorable. “Have you noticed how happy we all are to be chased. Michael and Jesse sat talking on the picnic table by the beach. but now she was on it. Her name was Samantha. “Do you think it’s because the camp is so small this week?” She thought that had something to do with it. If only she could manage it somehow. But she couldn’t make herself believe it. the campers were quiet and mostly sleeping. she could not like the city. and in her mind it was no place for a child. With nothing to remind her of the incident. to give it a happy childhood. along with many of the counsellors. they related all the funny happenings of the day and laughed at them together. and space and safety to run around freely . two girls’ and two boys’. and that no one would blame her for it. “I think it is something more than that. The attachment formed on the first night.” she confessed to him. and she was thinking too much. and the girls’ cabins had three counsellors each. however. No one else seemed to understand that. Even if it were a boy. Something in her longed to make a home for herself and this baby. and attached themselves to one particular staff member. She knew how logical it was. and it was still tolerably light out. No.as she had when she was young. and went to bed (if not to sleep) at 9:00 pm. Instead of going straight to bed. and pour their . but that path only looked dark and lonely. She would take one more painful dip. and the stresses involved in large group management were significantly lessened. She had never contemplated a future without a university education because it simply hadn’t been an option. Hers was a shy six-year-old with messy blond hair and scared blue eyes. it was hers. but now it was thrust on her she found she handled it very well. despite everything. though. Neither of them had any work to finish in the office. Jesse. and hugged? To wipe their dirty faces and dish out their food.the past. upon the loan of a stuffed white rabbit that was known to cure stomach-aches. but she felt that she could love it. Individually. and despite her neediness. As much as she loved her own family. It had the makings of a fun. she might eventually forget about it. Each one had only seven or eight campers. At 9:30 on Tuesday night. And it was exciting. though she told herself over and again that she would not be losing anything. climbed on. the campers required more attention than during any other week. and Jesse during the day. She didn’t want to live in it herself. if all went well. From then on her little hands required the rabbit at night. She was too warm.

saying she didn’t want his head to get any bigger. we are moms and dads.” “Well that’s encouraging to know.” “If you’re referring to our arm-wrestling bout. I suppose. Jesse looked up into his eyes.” “Thanks for the vote of confidence.” “You’re very ambitious. leaning back idly.” “Well.” “You’re very good at it. “So we’re all playing house?” “More or less.” Michael demanded to know what they were. “if it was just your hair. they’re practically from ours.” “And how do you like being a mother?” “I like it very well. “I never thought about it. and more like the children we could be having in a few years. more protective. She had never felt more like a proud mother than she had that night. “And all with those golden locks. grinning. “The kids love you. I’m more than ready for a rematch whenever you decide to obey the rules.” Michael said. and to be back to their usual banter. We sense it the very first day. eh?” she mused. I think.” she said as quickly as possible. even if we don’t realize it. these kids look less like our little brothers and sisters. someday. I’m afraid.” Jesse confessed. and a lot of us are old enough that they could almost belong to us.just long enough for Michael to realize his mistake. A whole passel of ‘em.” “You like my ‘golden locks’?” Michael asked mischievously. We become more responsible. for a week. except admiring . even me.” “Or your manly physique. She would admit to nothing specifically.” Michael grinned. glad that he hadn’t managed to ruin the evening. “One of these days. and an answer caught in her throat for a second .juice for them?” She could remember herself last year. What about you?” She was caught off guard. But you do have some other qualities to recommend you.” “Would you?” “Yeah. though. You seem very certain. A few quiet seconds passed. This week. “They’re all so young.” He looked out at the lake as he spoke. but she refused to tell him. “Exactly how much is a passel?” “Oh. so I haven’t had much of a chance to play Dad.” Michael mused. too. I think. there’s no need.. We all know it.” “Maybe I am. and then she turned the conversation back. “Six or seven kids. I wouldn’t be. some girl is going to fall in love with those curls. Suddenly.. “I’d like to have kids.” Jesse smiled. I’m sure you’ll get a wife no matter how scrawny you are. six or seven at least.” “Don’t worry. as soon as those twenty-something parents arrive and we see that they aren’t from our parents’ generation. I’ve never been a cabin leader. and she’s going to want six or seven kids with hair just like it. comically prophetic. fixing all her girls’ angel costumes for the Christmas play at the end of the week. yes. “My face sure isn’t going to recommend me.” “Even you?” “Yes.

“Those kids get to stay up all night and I can’t get any work done.” Keith said in answer to Michael’s greeting. with no hurt feelings.” “Well it was mostly my idea. He was quickly at her side asking if she wanted anything. and the noise from their party filtered in to their workplace. admiring their handiwork. He strolled through what was by now near-darkness.but he thought she looked more than a little ill this morning. and went to find some company. to the office... it was he who had pulled off the swap. “I hate primary. “You up for anything?” Michael grinned. I’m finished anyway.” “Working?” Michael asked. maintenance. He said . Jesse retired shortly after. She turned abruptly away from him.” and so saying. Zeb reminded them that. While they were standing there still. so that it could be solemnly hoisted up the pole while the national anthem was sung. he logged out and rolled his chair away from the desk.” Zeb interjected. “All you said was that we should make a flag. but Keith would not be put off. and it served the added function of shameless self-promotion.she rarely went to breakfast anymore. “At this time of night? That doesn’t sound like the Keith I know and love. He was not surprised . The three Homestead boys stood back together around the flagpole. or if he could do anything for her. though. and how to fold theirs in the same way.his hair. “O Homestead!” waved proudly in the morning wind. disregarding Zeb. being the only one of their group to have ever been a maintenance boy. as it only made her feel worse . Only the maintenance crew were slightly put-out. and Michael saw more clearly the sadness in her eyes that she was trying to hide. and unfurled with one strong tug on the rope on the final “For thee!” When Zeb was done feigning offence. and then Keith saw her too and called out.” “Oh. off to the rescue. but Michael of course was not tired in the least. Campers and cabin staff were filing into the dining hall for breakfast after a very unusual flag-raising. enjoying the sense of accomplishment. It was a very respectable prank. It was my idea to run it up the flag pole. Michael was very impressed. and the want of colour in her face. Beach-boy Keith. to which Zeb protested excessively. “That’s one awesome painting job. it’s nothing. “This was a great idea. She smiled at him. He found Keith at a computer. Keith would acknowledge only that Zeb had helped. The kitchen girls. Mike. with his California coolness. and some of the office staff were in the dining hall having pizza. For a moment he was afraid she was very ill.” Zeb protested. He knew where the Canada flag was kept. but she seemed to recover herself enough to turn again and give Keith some sort of answer.” While Michael humbly accepted the praise.” Keith reminded him. “And I came up with the design. “You’ve captured the essence of Homestead. She politely declined the offer. they all agreed that it had been a worthwhile expenditure of an evening. Michael happened to notice Jesse in the pavilion. While most of the maintenance crew was looking for the Canada flag.” said Keith. “What’d you have in mind?” It was a wet Wednesday morning.

the stories about her were told guardedly between those who had known her. and I don’t know where to go to find some solid earth again.something back. What kills me most. Everywhere I look. was someone he could never know. but the true you isn’t there. All three were quiet. put it on her dresser. he did not consider. but I can’t do it. It’s like I stepped into a different universe the day you died. Why did you have to go? Everything’s wrong without you. I can think of you without grieving. and most of the staff here . and the sight and sounds of happy children claimed their attention. This person. though.. Today it hurts too much. I don’t really know what you feel about it. I could never understand that. but I loved you. and . but I can’t seem to fill your shoes.” Jesse folded her journal closed with the pen stuck in the spine. but often just listening to the stories grows some familiarity. It hurts that you’re gone and I can’t talk to you. How can there be a me without you? I don’t belong in this world. most of the time. Zeb asked. Presently the two separated. Michael hardly knew what to think of the scene he’d just witnessed. Oh. I’m reminded of you. like things treasured but not to be taken out often. What was it like. You were so very. Though she was remembered with fondness. When Keith put his hand on her shoulder comfortingly. and smile. I looked up to you. I can’t even be me anymore. but you confused me. I still can’t believe you’re not here. but the memories were too precious. looking at the ground.. He and Zeb joined Keith. I try to piece together my memories of you. One always feels left out when others are talking about people or places one has never seen. but I’m so tired. I’ve tried to be strong. I didn’t always think I did. “She would have been 21 today. Michael rarely heard more than a few words about her. I get little glimpses. When he did. I try. I took you for granted.shared something that he didn’t. I want you for me. and when she was a safe distance away. because the world lost so much goodness when you left it. very good. though. This place is full of you. this strange time in which you don’t exist. and I never got around to really making you out. or by the means of her comfort. It’s slipping away. it seemed as though the speakers would like to say more. it hurts. “May. that you’ll never be here again. so I don’t know. I miss you so much. Not today. Whether he was more troubled by Jesse’s evident distress.” Keith added. Zeb. Keith. she willingly leaned in to him. because a big piece of me is gone. I want you to make my world complete again. too. to be taken away so early? Would you have rather stayed. I can remember you with only a little sadness. then. It hurts to be left behind. It makes me want to be better. to make a picture of the person you really were. or painful. I didn’t always know it was you that made things so good. The ground keeps crumbling under my feet.” Once again Michael was struck by the fact that they . This wasn’t the case with May. But I did love you. Michael got the benefit of Keith’s answer: “It’s May’s birthday today.“So what was that all about?” They were all walking towards the dining hall together. which Michael could not hear. before Michael could . and after a few more words she walked to her cabin. May. and he held her for a few moments. and think of you in Heaven. is that I want you so selfishly. until they entered the dining hall. or are you happy where you are? I never really understood you.Jesse. and she seemed to nod. I admired you.

and went out fully expecting to find another camper to be Samantha’s buddy. while I still can. Her head was only a little higher than Jesse’s waist. and if nobody else needed a swimming buddy. She had forgotten how much little kids splash. Birthdays had taken on a new meaning since May’s death. discovering yet more pain. She sobbed till she was worn out. It was May’s birthday today. Towing her giggling body behind. but she felt calm. looked up at Jesse and asked the question she most dreaded. everything opposite to what a birthday was for. who was life guarding. but then she reminded herself that May was dead. and located little Samantha. She soon gave up trying altogether. Now. aching sobs. Though the water was shallow.had a good cry. They would have to stay in pretty shallow water. Jesse was forced to make a deal with her. Little Samantha.” Jesse answered. and she hadn’t yet actually had to go swimming. she was able to take up the lament again. Today was different from all the other days. waving at her. in very little time she was soaked. She eyed it warily. She didn’t sleep with a pillow. almost peaceful. it was a reminder of her absence. until she could not even groan. . She changed into a bathing suit and shorts. she sloshed toward Sam through warm. and she deserved to mourn as much as May deserved to be mourned. Not the serene. She would not let herself forget. Her feet dangled over the bottom edge. I would. “Of course. and saw Sam.but if I’m your buddy then someone else might not have anyone to swim with. Then she looked down at the little girl holding her hand. Every once in a while calmness threatened to interrupt her release. and the t-shirt clung to her every curve unless she continuously released the suction by pulling it away from herself. She waved back.” she pouted. this day was for celebrating her life. It had always worked before. so that her head reached the pillow. She twirled around with her cling-on still holding onto her arm. she reasoned optimistically. Slowly she pulled herself higher up. though. “But I want you to be my swimming buddy. When she was alive. screeching in delight. cold kind of cry that she had recently found herself capable of. would you?” Unfortunately. with tangled hair framing her dirty but hopeful face. There were no single campers in need of a buddy. but harsh. knee-deep water. it was actually a green garbage bag filled with clean laundry. She had died on Jesse’s own birthday. “Will you be my swimming buddy?” Jesse smiled and tried to look like she would love nothing better. pulled a big t-shirt over that. Samantha was not yet at the stage of development where she could be reasoned into selflessness. Her face fell. They would wait by the lake. “Jesse!” She looked around to see who had called her. but for now she needed something to hug. and... She wrapped her arms around its comforting softness.” Sam advised her. She lay on her stomach low on the bed. Her tshirt might not even get wet. of the fact that she had not lived another year. “I see you finally gave in. You wouldn’t want that. “You worry too much. Her throat and lungs were sore afterwards. and Jesse was actually going to have to go in the lake. “I guess I might as well.” said Sam. she would go with her.

How are things in the kitchen?” Jesse asked. Everyone who worked in the camp knew there was something to it. of course. Samantha and Jesse sat on the bed in Jesse’s cabin. and Jesse’s lamp made Ingleside feel safe and cozy. and partly because so many people were praying for Rocky Bay.” Jesse nodded.” she assured her. Had she worried him this morning? She knew she should have just stayed in her cabin. “I think we should talk. Trudging back to shore when swim was over. yeah. Jesse saw Michael sitting on the picnic table. It kept the world out . and part of the lake. see you then. Do you want to come over tonight?” “Sure. they did. “Are you busy tonight?” Sam asked. magazines. even with lifeguarding. Jesse gave her another little spin in the water. “Easy.it’s worries. or at least breached. May had told her about The Bubble a long time ago. and surrounded both of the camp properties. “it would be nice to talk sometime without little ears listening. finally. it’s noise. That night at ten o’clock. that’ll change. it would shatter her belief in one of her most favourite concepts of all time: the Rocky Bay Bubble. “Oh. The Bubble was real. he was supposed to be watching them . I hardly feel like I’m earning my keep. maybe?” “No.” Jesse said in disbelief. She was too far away to be sure.” with a meaningful look at little Samantha.Intermediate’s always full. But she still thought he was watching her the most. The Bubble started at the second railroad tracks on Bible Camp Road. and started working at the kids’ defences soon after they arrived and their parents left. It was actually dark out. I mean. Music. His love permeated and filled it. He was watching them all. If what Samantha had just told her was true. not at Bible Camp. “Something little kids don’t have to worry about. May believed it existed partly because of all the staff that were filled with love and the Holy Spirit. “Sure. It’s such a small week. We’ll all be earning our keep next week . she realized it was no laughing matter. The Bubble had been shattered. Something had happened that wasn’t supposed to happen at Rocky .“I can’t help it.” said Sam. and various electronic devices were confiscated on entry. Jesse had laughed. around ten.” “Well.” “Okay. it’s influences. Ten ok?” “Yeah.” answered Sam. I’m not busy. but she had a feeling he was watching her. but when she came to Bible Camp herself. but she was succeeding at it. and although the campers brought a certain amount of worldliness in with them. all of it. We should talk. “After lights out I mean.” said Jesse. Little Samantha was already dragging Jesse away. It was silly. Sam’s news managed to overshadow that comfortable feeling. the influence of Christ was greater on the inside. (anger and hurt and all that). The Bubble was responsible for every good thing about camp. Why did she keep doing things that drew attention to herself? She really didn’t think she was trying to do it.” “What’s ‘earn your keep’?” asked little Samantha. It wasn’t possible.that’s what the shore guard did. who didn’t like being ignored. But the world had just broken in through those defences. “They didn’t. Ten is great. anyway.

She needed it to give her strength to get through what came next. and Jesse was left to think over the strange conversation. and then caught them in the act herself.” said Sam. Sam shrugged nonchalantly. Her safe place was crashing down all around her. He cozied up next to her on the yellow wooden bench. you almost look as though you weren’t up at the crack of dawn this morning. Could the infamous early-riser have slept in this morning? As unlikely as it sounded. She leaned in to him a little to speak quietly so that she wouldn’t disturb the others. I used to think you didn’t like me. and it was a doozie.” she confessed guiltily. ‘ I didn’t’. Grassy Knoll. “You know.had been smoking pot behind their cabin. it was possible. without producing any change in his feelings. someone was going to pay for it. “I may have slept in a little. When Michael arrived at the staff prayer meeting on Thursday. He enjoyed the sensation of her closeness far too much. familiar. and seeing him work in the lives of others around her. It was shocking. Hadn’t she gone through enough? Were two months of peace too much to ask? Two months of happiness. Not everyone likes everyone. She went out and sat on her front step. and Sam was fairly certain that almost no one believed it. but true.” “I didn’t. only her boyfriend. ‘Rumour’. What on earth was she supposed to do with this? she thought to herself. After the meeting. Jesse was already there.Bay Bible Camp. Two months of being close to God.” She said goodnight. Apparently. Two of the kitchen girls . But also.” she was reminded. as usual. and he told himself so. and in only a few words.Missy Nerino and another girl . “God. the kind found in the Old Testament? Was he punishing the entire camp because she was there? “For his wrath can flare up in a moment. Where was he now? Why wasn’t he protecting this place? Was it her? Had she done something to incur his terrible wrath. He was a little light-headed all through the prayer meeting. safe. while the cabin staff woke up their campers and got them ready for . and as far as Jesse was concerned. in fact.” he said. Two months where everything was the same. not sure what to say. Sam didn’t say anything either. but she thought Jesse should know about it anyway. What was unusual was that her hair was still wet. They were picked up by their parents that evening. of being reminded daily of his love and protection. and Jesse was learning to appreciate that quality. As overwhelming as the information was. The Bubble that protected her and everything she believed to be sacred seemed to have burst. The second bit of news was the real reason Sam had wanted to talk with her. feeling him work in her life. “Thanks for telling me. “That’s life. she was not a person of many words. No one seemed to know who started it.” Jesse said eventually. ‘Pot’. Jesse was appalled. Jesse sat in silence for a while. the side of God she had grown up believing in. what are you doing to me?” she asked. “You didn’t?” she repeated. “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him. Sam had been tipped off by Amy Laverly. that was all she wanted. Jesse barely had time to absorb it before Sam changed the subject.” she quoted bitterly. ready to reevaluate her beliefs. “Now. there was a rumour floating around that Jesse’s ‘attackers’ had been.

or we don’t really believe God will answer. the feeling you get when you come to camp. how it’s different from the world outside.. We shouldn’t make them into something they weren’t. “You know. or how we can pray for a camper’s lost glasses. As she explained more of the aspects of The Bubble to him.” “But do you ever feel like we’re not following it?” Jesse asked. but she felt there was more to it than that. and they were good examples to the rest of us. tapping the bench in front of him absently. or maybe we don’t pray for the right things.” she said.” Michael was beginning to understand. A bubble. when you’re looking backwards.” Jesse saw some logic in this. Michael found himself becoming more interested in it. It’s almost like we don’t have as much faith as they did back then. you know about The Bubble. “The Rocky Bay Bubble. I think they deserve respect.. from what I hear. that made sense. And it’s easier to see God’s plan. I don’t doubt that those were wonderful people. “Kind of like the boy in the bubble. She was glad when Michael continued. they just seem so much more... “Which bubble?” Michael asked uncertainly. as if that explained everything. Jesse asked him an odd question. That. so Jesse came in for breakfast so they could continue the conversation.” he mused. “the past always seems a little rosier than it really was. I’m sure they had doubts. “Their example.. “Do you believe in The Bubble?” “The bubble?” She looked at him expectantly. 60 years old? It had good beginnings. “At the same time. and the next day someone finds them in the lake..” “Well. When he didn’t register any recognition. grabbing hold of that idea. but they had faults just like us. You know. It’s like. how you can say things and talk about things here that people would think you were nuts for anywhere else. But he couldn’t bear the look of disappointment on her face. “I’m not sure if I know what you’re talking about. trying to remind him. Even when my parents tell stories about how the Board would have prayers answered when they were younger. when they show black and white slides of the men and women who started the camp. and the prayers he’s answered. happy that he understood. “This camp is what. she went on.?” As he’d hoped. “Do you sometimes think people back then were very different from us?” she asked him. Yeah. God honours the prayers of his servants. impressed Michael. “Exactly!” Jesse said. I think.” She looked terribly worried about this. and trusted him when there was nothing here. “It probably has something to do with the history of the place. Sometimes I don’t think we pray enough. even adding some suggestions of his own. I mean. too. a lot of prayer.Godly. He’d never met . It starts at the second tracks. even 20 years ago. “How do you mean?” “Well. in itself. putting some real thought into this one.” he answered slowly. “Maybe if you described it to me. He and Jesse were now sitting facing each other.” she said.flag raising. and tell about how they prayed for things.” They were still talking when it was time for flag raising. They laid a good foundation.” he began. a lot of sacrifice. and times when they didn’t feel like God was listening. her enthusiasm seemed to return. “Oh. keeping all the germs out?” he ventured...

She didn’t. for she’d been leaning over the table to talk to him. Still. “She doesn’t like you. so no. not quite believing him. at least not in the way you have. though she was unaware that others had noticed the hostility. to the entire staff. if you don’t think we do. right?” she said point blank. Deep down.. . and it awed him. or tried to change the subject. Someone had made this up. He hadn’t brushed her off. “You think I’m right?” she said in amazement. and she felt that was more than enough. Jesse feigned ignorance. or told her she needed to be realistic. She knew who it was.. she’d rather not. “Well.” Jesse couldn’t refute that. “What people?” “Oh don’t give me that. He listened. Jesse put off confronting the person responsible for the undesirable rumours pertaining to her.in front of her. were valid. but when it came down to it. yourself? I mean. she knew she had to talk to her. parents would be arriving to take their children home shortly after supper. She would be just as happy never mentioning the offense at all. and answered with only a slight twinge of arrogance. “If you think we can do better. Phil did.” Jesse grinned without meaning to. and she heard of it. She had told her story in the beginning.. then we’re not. I haven’t really thought about this before. There’s no such thing as too much prayer. and she doesn’t really try to hide it. While it seemed to bother her..anyone who questioned the kinds of things she questioned. and if one of my sisters feels like we’re not praying enough. and he wasn’t patronizing her. I am an excellent arguer. or too much faith. “So. If it were about anyone else. Technically. Phil talked through a bite of mashed potatoes. He wasn’t looking at her like she was a silly little girl. Michael leaned in. too. you’re probably right. “That’s what I thought!” In spite of the fact that. do you really agree with me? Or are you just giving in to avoid an argument?” she asked. since it was Primary camp. So what if some chose to believe something else? She didn’t need to defend herself against idle rumours or even malicious gossip. “As we all know. right? We’re all “brothers and sisters in Christ”.. At least. she couldn’t make herself actually approach the perpetrator. “And no. and he acted as if her opinions. then we can. He was taking her seriously. as a Christian.” She sat up straighter. but she wasn’t sure of the best way to handle the situation.. He nodded. “you know who it is. she knew it was more than that.” begged Phil.” Jesse’s grin broke into a look of utter astonishment. almost as if they mattered enough to do something about them. “Have you ever thought about it before. she would certainly have to deal with the situation. this man.” Jesse looked more closely at this boy.” Jesse wondered about that. I am not trying to avoid an argument.. he didn’t seem like he was.no. and lying about others should not be tolerated in a Christian camp. and at lunch she was afraid Sam would ask her about it. “How do you know I know?” she asked. But we’re a team.I’d say. careless of the little eyes and ears at the table. She leaned in again. That’s not the kind of thing you argue with. it showed him where her heart was. you know what people are saying about you.

“stress isn’t good for the baby.” Phil scooped up some peas with her next bit of potatoes. The other was to not apologize. “You’re too nice. Tell me if she doesn’t. “You worry too much.“So are you gonna talk to her about it?” “Probably.” the smaller girl intoned. so being sent home was not an option. She didn’t know if they had any proof that she was the source of the rumour about Jesse. Otherwise. Phil had made it very clear that she expected her to “make things right” with Jesse. for all our sakes. “But you don’t need to worry about it. and it had to be done. “What do you understand?” asked Phil in the serious tone that her campers. “You know you never would have done it. “Don’t let her worry. appreciated. and she couldn’t risk getting in trouble: her parents had made it very clear that they didn’t expect to see her for the rest of the summer. “it’s not good for the you-know-what. but that didn’t much soothe her annoyance with Phil. “they’re five! They don’t understand anything!” “I understand. Jasmine considered her options.” said Phil. “I took care of it for you.” she offered. The little girl thought for a minute. “See?” she said to Jesse. tell me when she does. But she should be apologizing to you sometime today.” said Jesse. Jesse’s expression challenged that accusation. either.” said Phil matter-of-factly. but she didn’t like the idea of that short blond girl coming after her again. “I can say the alphabet. No. and turned away from her abruptly. does it?” Phil’s smile didn’t falter.” she said between bites. Besides.” Jesse gave her an evil glare as a little boy beside her said “What baby?” She was able to hush him up and distract him with a juice re-fill. better yet.” she added as an after-thought while chewing a piece of chicken. “You might as well stop trying. you wouldn’t talk to her at all. “It really doesn’t matter what I do. I didn’t yell at her or anything. “Oh come on. The obvious one was to apologize to Jesse. and bring somebody with me. There weren’t many. not knowing what to say to this. Now you can get on with the more important and pleasant parts of your job.” piped up the tiny girl in braids beside her.” Jesse closed her eyes. She held up the potato bowl for a refill.” Jesse hung her head down in defeat. somewhat cruelly.” While waiting for two young campers to finish going to the washroom. “That’s not understanding. If it were up to you.” Phil asserted.” Phil said. who were used to being talked down to. but that didn’t appeal to her. and I don’t want to do that.” “You’re lying. She didn’t expect a fair trial here.” Jesse stared in blank shock. Don’t worry. Jesse.” said Phil. passing by. “You did what?” Phil shrugged her shoulders.” said Mark. “Today?” “Maybe. I’ve gotta talk to her again. and it was picked up by Amy Laverly. but she doubted that it mattered. and Jasmine knew she would tell on her if she didn’t follow through. “I talked to her for you. “Don’t be mad. I was very Christian about it. . “There is no way you’re going to confront her today.

since most of them were swimming.. Apologize. a person of no significance whatsoever? Her brief astonishment at Jesse’s casual manner was that quickly replaced by bitterness. She would just do it. Jasmine moved to get a better view. Not that she cared. Jesse seemed surprised to see him. it would be an admission of guilt. From the cover of trees and shade. she had started the rumour. She turned to take a shortcut through the bush to her cabin. They were all going in this afternoon. Jesse had done none of these things. People could take her or leave her. Jasmine was too dumbfounded even to smile. As she . Sarah?” she asked as one girl attempted to leave. Jesse recognized her and slowed. Jesse really hadn’t looked upset. with or without evidence. Jasmine didn’t have guard duty today. and that idea rubbed her the wrong way.and everyone worshipped Jesse. clad in bathing suits and carrying towels too large for them. before she found her. Even Hannah and Susannah were just barely tolerable. and before Jesse could say anything Jasmine said as casually as possible but a little out of breath. she decided. she and Kaimi had decided. That was it? It seemed strange. The guilty camper reluctantly made her way back to a sink. and they’d have to forgive her. if not to get angry as Phil had. It had been stupid. almost as though it hadn’t affected her at all. she quickly thought. and looking somewhat lost in thought. and rather quickly. or by telling her how hurt she’d been by them. almost smiling. as well as dirty.” “It’s just Jesse. facing each other.“Did you wash your hands. but there were one or two reluctant ones that were getting pretty smelly. Jesse was perfect in the eyes of all who beheld her. Keith stood close as he said something to her. she looked over her shoulder to see who it was. though. “Jessica!” she called as she approached. It was some time. Of course. It would all be over. Slightly interested. Yes. She had expected her. still looking rather distracted. I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding. Jasmine stopped her on the road behind the dining hall to make her apology. make it official. No one here liked her . how could someone like that be affected by her. she saw Keith rush down and catch up with her least favourite head cabin leader.” Jasmine stood there as Jesse walked past her without another word. She should have known they’d pin it on her. It’s alright. but she definitely wasn’t sorry for it. and then. but pleased.” Jesse replied. Why should she be? Her version was probably closer to the truth than anyone realized. but once there she heard someone else coming down the road. There were no campers around. watching Jesse calmly continue on her journey to the pavilion. at least to try to make her feel guilty in some way: by lecturing her on lies and gossip. Why should it? She didn’t like them either. It wasn’t as if anyone had really believed her story. She acted as if she really believed it had been an innocent misunderstanding. “I’m sorry for what I’ve been saying about you. however. or expounding on her forgiveness. it didn’t affect her one bit. As soon as her campers were lined up at the beach. anyway. so she planned to speak to Jesse while the kids were in the water. The girls finished washing their hands. placing his hand on her arm. “Sure. and she walked out with them towards the cabin to get ready for swim. and that wasn’t the best way to hand them back to their parents. Most of them usually went swimming anyway. walking from the chapel carrying a Bible under one arm. and they had no reason to think anyone else was watching. of course. anyway.then again.. she went in search of Jesse. it wouldn’t. they stopped. Something was up with these two.

looking for the peanuts which their Papa regularly fed him. too. They soon learned the reason for her unexpected appearance. or harder of hearing. and that was all she needed. sunny but with a chill wind. The chipmunk scurried under the porch to stay when Nana’s car pulled in and stopped a few feet away from them. Jesse wished she could have followed him. and he had actually kissed her. Nana began working on dinner. to talk to her. wondering who could possibly be coming that Nana would think it necessary to clean for. He watched her. By the time they were finished that.. Jesse said goodbye to the anticipated day of relaxation. she wasn’t going to guess. As soon as the car was unloaded.. “Take those things out of the back seat and bring them in. and dinner was ready to go in the oven when she came back. and then Keith kissed her on the cheek before they parted. and never having the opportunity before this. doing what. Friday. the interest seemed to come more from him than from her. and the cousins were dispatched to pick raspberries for the cheesecake she had decided to make for dessert. But there was still the cheesecake to do... Added to that. but she had seen the kiss. but it was a rather late one. This was how Dom and Jesse happened to be sent there. she had been so sure Jesse liked Michael. She couldn’t remember it ever having been done before. fearing he wouldn’t be able to digest it properly. they were required to help straighten up the camp. some filled with food. It was the first time in a long while that she had eaten breakfast.but come to think of it. Petrick’s yet. and she looked forward to a lazy day of swimming and relaxing. But this. Mrs. and she really did feel a little hungry.as though they were much farther away. At one o’clock in the afternoon. about 10:30 in the morning. and bags of ingredients.” she called out to them as she walked around from the driver’s side . It was unfathomable. not the other way around. As they emptied the back seat of pots and pans. With a sense of foreboding. Petrick had suffered a stroke and was in the hospital. With a sigh. July 28. and in the middle of camp. who was known to sleep til ten and often eleven. She never would have guessed it. She was already a little concerned that the salted peanuts they usually fed him weren’t good for his health. and had asked Nana to bring some things for her from her house. Jesse was excited. having wanted to see the inside of the stone house for years. Other than her fears for the chipmunk. eating a bowl of cereal and watching a chipmunk poke his nose between the stairs. it was a fine day. It was unusually early for Nana.watched. but Jesse would not. and had company coming over to dinner that evening. than they actually were. They had obviously been in the chapel together. Why they would take such risks was beyond her.she had hugged Keith. Nana was satisfied with the appearance of the camp. and she hadn’t gone to Mrs. Dom fed some of his cereal to the chipmunk. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:48 AM 0 comments Chapter 16 Jesse sat with Dom on the camp’s porch steps. but she was certain that something was going on between them. they learned that she was driving to the city with Papa for an appointment at three o’clock. Both were also a . he made excuses to be near her. Jesse hugged him around the neck.

like their own camp. the right lane leading away from the lake to somewhere unknown. and Jesse spied a spider in one. slender birches and a few poplars. Jesse was so scared. It was crammed with furniture and nicknacks on every surface. Long as they peered into the blackness. and was chilled by what she saw. out of which grew a little forest of tall. only bigger . though. it hugged the treeline on the right side of the property. save the corner of a four-poster bed on which a faint light from the doorway fell. which was partially covered on the lake side.little nervous. and dining room all in one. which was a huge stone structure in the centre of the living area. to best catch the light and heat of the southern sun. They walked slowly. This one’s black legs were thin and not hairy. Petrick’s. while admiring the house from the water. They climbed the porch steps to reach the side door. for all the curtains were dark colours and drawn together. like thick black ink painted in the air. but its web was new. and soon the birch grove opened up to show them the stone house. They looked into a large bedroom without seeing it. Here there was a fork in the road. she would have quickly grabbed the suitcase. and found none. it was an entity in itself. It smelled of dust and smoke. It did not scurry away at the sight or sound of the intruders. hiding in darker corners and crevices in the furniture.and went to the fireplace. though the grass was overgrown. where a shaft of light sneaked in between the curtains and illuminated it temporarily. presumably. made that day. Dom came in behind her. passing eight or ten camps before reaching their destination. She joined him only to tell him not to snoop. and opened it with the key Nana had given them. It was no wonder that it was dark. but Dom had found a door in the opposite wall. one that could be felt. . and some other unseen quality sent shivers up her spine. It’s darkness was not only an absence of light. was shaped like an L with one arm along the south end. and she could not then retreat. and was filled with tall grasses and wildflowers. different in quality from the darkness of the evergreen forests all around it. never mind idle curiosity. but here it was open and sunny. without a roof. the left going. this was quickly devoured. much as she would have liked to. Dom searched for a light switch. they could see nothing. giving the place an enchanted feeling. He looked at it in awe. and called her over. to Mrs. then scanned the room. The light through the leaves was tinted a light green. Jesse’s chest constricted. It could have been dead. It seemed very pleasant and well-situated.it seemed a large kitchen. and birds sang and flitted from tree to tree. He passed her and went into the room . She wondered how many others there were. and left the creepy premises directly. perfectly still. The room inside was very dark. living. Neither had forgotten the scare they’d had a few weeks ago. Jesse stepped in first. they were completely blacked out. which was behind a large stuffed chair in the living room. Cobwebs hung on the walls and in corners. If there were windows. The porch. The triangular patch of ground formed by this split in the road dipped down to form a hollow. but did not stop on the threshold as she had. but sat where it was. but it was as big around as her hand. Like their camp. and she felt she could not enter that room for any reason. and filled with weeds and wildflowers. but he already had the door open. There was a wild look about the place which Jesse was not altogether against. Jesse and Dom took the left road. all covered in a thick layer of dust. to their left. Their eyes could not adjust to this darkness.

Dom pulled her out of the house running. “I didn’t close that door. When he was safely on her side of the lintel. she left them with instructions to mow the lawn and straighten up the mess in the kitchen.” “Neither did I. however.” Jesse said when they were safely out on the porch. her head snapped to the right at the closed bedroom door. Nana’s cheesecake was almost done. “The suitcase.” said Dom. and she had no time or inclination for the second. but very real fear possessed her.” she mouthed breathlessly. she pushed him against the wall with determined force. however. “Let’s go. anxious to leave. She glared at the spider. Jesse was shaking. She felt nothing when she re-entered. His anger immediately dissipated into concern. and was in the house again before Dom had a chance to argue. she reached into that room and caught the back of his shirt in her fist. straightening himself and his clothing.” She walked back briskly. clutching the front of his shirt. They hurried back to camp.Dom apparently did not feel what she did. It took all her strength to do it. and her voice. Jesse could not let her cousin’s folly doom him. but then he did see that she was terrified.” Still holding her hand. just in time. He didn’t see what she was so freaked out about. “I can feel it. “Hurry!” urged Dom. but avoided looking at the bedroom door.” An illogical. worse even than the self-inflicted panic that still drove her to run from invisible bears in the darkness between the outhouse and the camp door. that a door closed and we’re scared to go back in?” She paused to steady her breathing. her eyes wide. either. still in its corner. “Something’s in there. he tried to take the steps. “I’ll get it. “I didn’t hear it close. but she held her ground. “Why should I?” was Dom’s angry reply. They spent another hour on the porch before complying to these requests. He reached out to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.” she said. Unable to do anything else. if it’s so important. and when it was. they had only been gone 20 minutes when they arrived. In the light of day. “Nana can get it herself. as Dom towered over her and was not easily budged from his purpose. “We forgot it. for he took a step into that evil room. she thought.” “I’m not going back in there. she succeeded only because she had surprised him. the rationale of the physical world once again presented itself. as Papa wouldn’t have time for the first (and she felt he was straining himself unnecessarily these days). and though it felt longer. “Stay out of that room!” she warned. She looked back at him.” “You’d send your own grandmother in there? And what are we going to tell her. not feeling entirely safe even from the open doorway. . and the cottage was locked up safely. after wrenching out of her fierce grip. The rather heavy suitcase was retrieved without incident. he watched her from the doorway. as she left. acting confidently without feeling so.” said Dom. and with all her effort. except disgust for the dirtiness and clutter. and spoke in a hoarse whisper. but before he could. Dom wanted to know what was in the stone house that had sent them running. and yanked him back. Very courageously.

I think they could hurt someone who didn’t have that protection. it could make that person hurt someone else. and an evil spirit isn’t strong enough to displace God’s spirit. and served God. They are free to roam the earth as much as they wish..for you to be saved. But they can’t harm anyone. if not millions. God let Satan kill Job’s children. y’know? May. What she said. “May gave it to me. But one angel.” Dom wanted to know if there was a spirit in the house. and Lucifer and the angels who followed him were thrown out of Heaven.I thought it might be a good thing.” “Can they hurt us?” he asked. he had made Heaven. Some of his followers were also able to do this in his name. “What did it feel like?” She didn’t know how to describe it.she was a good person. just like people don’t become angels when they die. “I didn’t feel anything. because people who die cannot come back. “I suppose. “She wanted. The angels were good.” she explained.it just seemed ridiculous.” . so she went to the beginning. but more than just that. “but I can’t. But I don’t think a demon can possess someone who has the Holy Spirit inside of him. do you?” “Sometimes I wish I could. or evil spirits. It wasn’t me. led a rebellion against God. I know she did. God and his angels won. The two spirits couldn’t live in the same person. and the angels expelled with him are demons. I never read it.” said Jesse. “And you still don’t believe it. Jesse..and then I found it again last year in my closet behind a bunch of stuff.” Dom grinned. I can’t believe in something as easy as forgiveness. before you worked at Bible Camp. “The Holy Spirit inside me sensed the demon. “Before God made the world..” he told her. he had power over the demons. He was able to cast them out of people. Lucifer is the devil.” Dom looked grave. “I saw you with a Bible. But yes.. trying to overthrow him and become God himself. Thousands. “They aren’t ghosts. a long time ago. to read it. “Why didn’t I feel anything?” “You wouldn’t feel it if you weren’t a Christian. but intrigued.” “She loved you. She had sensed something. without God allowing it. Dom grew serious then.” he said dully. and all the angels. at least not a Christian. “I’ve never read about an evil spirit possessing a house. “I don’t know.. if the demon was possessing a person.” she said finally. Something within her simply knew.” “I’m not. because she cried sometimes. I think she knew I didn’t believe her. “Why are you reading it?” Dom turned away from her and hung his head. but I never believed any of it.” Jesse said honestly. It had been a feeling. surely.. “That’s probably how I knew. I . “There are evil spirits. Lucifer. “Yeah.” she said gently.She didn’t know how to explain. she tried to tell me things. of angels. But I guess if someone in the house invited demons there. I listened because I wanted to make her happy. but not with one of the usual senses.” Jesse hadn’t known her sister had taken such steps with Dom.” Dom looked confused. But when Jesus came. When we were younger. Jesse searched his face. so much.” he admitted. they would come. as far as she knew. at first. I’m too bad.” She thought a minute more. It was a sense. Jesse took a moment to think before responding...

Music blared. He sucked on a candy. as the driveway was full. She came to. and seemed to enjoy her embarrassment when he looked her up and down.on the front lawn. even louder when the truck doors were opened. When Jeremy began to comply. into the cemetery. dark room with a cot against one concrete wall.” But he was done discussing the state of his soul. “So. and into a small. her head connected with another gravestone.” he said. “Gag her. Suddenly released. to her right she heard someone come from the truck. and she used them as best she could in the small space. She stared at him. Her hands and feet. and there was a person beside her whom she had never seen before in her life. They locked it behind them.” he said with a mischievous grin. he only grabbed her other wrist. Jeremy turned around to the boy beside her. she felt the presence of evil. Ahead. She looked behind her once. the two boys together managed to pin her. But when Jeremy leaned over the seat to help. She would not be gagged. and tightened his hold on both. Dom.” the boy beside her said. somehow. “Jamie?” she asked shakily. She did not answer that question. she knew there were no houses or open businesses for more than a block. telling him to “make sure he was seen. looking only mildly interested. handing him something. really. Her wrists and ankles were tied with ropes. as she tried to search his face for a hint of what was going on. When she indignantly tried to slap it away. “Have you ever sensed a demon before?” he asked. In that room. and the gag was secured just as the truck pulled in the laneway . On the way down. after a while. “you still want the stone house?” Jesse just glared at him. cramped and belted in the back seat of a pickup truck going way too fast on a gravel road. making a sickening crack that she never heard. She thought she heard Jeremy joining the chase. either. “We’re awake back here. It seemed darker. and instantly regretted not kicking him harder. Behind her was the scary guy in the leather jacket. unable to see anything.” They brought her. doubling back to the house at the bottom of the graveyard .” After a while. ************************************************************ . still made good weapons. Something smacked her in the shins and threw her to the mud. She bit her bottom lip and said nothing. through a hallway.” the stranger behind her ordered. but the leather jacket then grabbed hold and sent Jeremy inside. The leather jacket in the driver’s seat laughed. she followed the instructions her mother had drilled into her head.“It’s not an easy thing. though she’d never expected to use them: she kneed him in the groin. struggling against their hands and the ropes. and he stared back at her. She had a vague idea of making another left. and she was not a fast runner. though tied.the only one on this road. she saw the lights of a house ahead.” and “come down after half an hour. She was hauled down stairs. she ran hard. “Put her in the truck. She was dragged out by Jeremy and her back seat partner. too. around to a back door that led straight into the basement. It never happened. ************************************************************ Jeremy’s grip on her wrist was solid. back up the sidewalk. She veered to the left. “Good! That’ll make it more interesting.

She never would have guessed what was on the inside. A cobweb in the corner of the window screen in her room fixated her. to which Nana laughed. She paddled on to the far corner of the lake. When it gets too dirty. and only a very little bit disappointed. it’s a nice house anyway. and continued paddling.” Papa contradicted her. She passed by Mrs. but today they didn’t have any jobs for her. the bottom was muddy. and Nana and Papa were around. The funeral was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. To escape them. Jesse prayed that whoever they were. it goes to the dump. but she would not have stepped out of it for anything. I just buy another one at a garage sale for ten dollars. and her canoe drifted through stands of reeds. “It’ll take years to clean that place out. Petrick died early the next morning. She heard a window opened loudly as the house slipped out of her view. I wouldn’t clean it for anything. Nana and Papa discussed the fact that Mrs. shallow pool. I suppose you’re right. “Yes.” said Papa. I won’t even clean my stove. Dom was life-guarding during the day. blackflies and mosquitoes plagued her. It looked so peaceful from here. Papa expected an open house the following weekend. She let herself drift lazily along in the still. knowing that if she refused outright. That night. however.” she said. heading directly back to camp instead of following the shoreline. Unless Horace just moves in. she went through the middle of the lake. “Was it filthy when you two went over to get her suitcase?” Nana asked her. then. and Nana intended to go. Jesse knew he saw her. You’d have to sell something. there would be questions. they would be safe. and asked Jesse if she’d like to go with him. but the third walked around to the front porch. Jesse had never even seen her. The man on the porch was called. and when it clouded over early in the afternoon.” “And what do you do with your old one?” Jesse asked. While passing by the stone house again. where the water was shallow. there was no way she was stepping in that house again. She would have made Jesse come too. Her mind kept returning to that house.” “Well.Mrs. She had every right to be on the lake. Nana wondered how they would ever clean the place out. Two entered the house without ceremony. from a distance. She was relieved. he too entered the house. till the bugs became too much for her. she couldn’t sleep. She swam and read most of the morning. “Yes. “What garage sale? You haven’t had a garage sale in years. and leaned on the railing overlooking the lake. she noticed a red car pull in the driveway. “I sell it at my garage sale. Jesse finally got her day of relaxation on Saturday. an object of both horror and .” said Nana. if she didn’t have to go to Rocky Bay. The bottom of her boat almost touched the bottom. but it intrigued her because it was different. “Can’t be much worse than cleaning our house will be!” replied Papa. Petrick’s stone house slowly. She gave a noncommital answer. Or I get your grandfather to bring it to the dump. without apology. She would think of an excuse not to go next week. but think of all the work cleaning it!” said Nana. Petrick’s house had already been put up for sale. “Yes. from which three people exited. she went canoeing. Her feet would be sucked in to her ankles in the muck. very. That night over supper. but no screams of terror.” “Well. and finally. It was wild here.

there was something horrible and frightening inside. though the larger furniture remained. and revealed the dark outline of a man. She should leave while she still could. Want was almost the wrong word. and she stood face to face with him. footsteps on gravel walking around the car. but a longing for home was one selfish desire she had no qualms about indulging in. There were no vehicles in the driveway. walked to the side of the bed and turned on a lamp. and four strangely-shaped posts at the corners. The lamp was still on. she saw the results of an afternoon’s hard work: boxes were stacked everywhere. and in spite of everything. it could be anywhere. hoping the intruder might enter that room. She wondered what. she shone her flashlight on a window that must look into the bedroom. An inside light came on. and for him to be here. The shadow hesitated briefly. To her surprise. She’d never seen Michael outside of Bible Camp. leaving behind a lot of the tape that had held it. She flicked her flashlight off. in various stages of being filled. From the kitchen window. The sound of a car door. She was not prone to feelings of selfentitlement. The stone walls muffled any footsteps she might have heard. . only a thousand times worse. and a well-earned one. she knew. The panes had bits of pieces of tape on them. never mind the tiny Lake Conrad. She ducked. Keys jingled. she wanted to face it. She had no time to do anything. as though they had been papered over. was unthinkable. She wanted to know that there was a strength in her stronger than the strength of Hell. but she didn’t. at her camp. 11:19 pm? The engine cut off. When she forced herself to stand up again. Mrs. Because if there wasn’t. She had wanted that house. not Hanger. she could finally stop being afraid. People from camp went to the city on the weekend. Petrick’s. she peered inside. Petrick had probably been too old to make the trip up very often. and someone had removed the paper hurriedly. She had never wanted anything more. She recognized and appreciated the fact that Rocky Bay and Lake Conrad were separate worlds. Walking around to the front. the door did open. if anything. she checked her watch. that’s what it was. She noticed a stairway that she and Dom had not explored. She couldn’t always be running. and if she did. She saw the outline of a bed. Who would be here at.an engine. It was like seeing a teacher at the grocery store. Cupping her hands over the surface. he couldn’t see her. her place of rest. she still wanted to make it hers. Jesse gasped. and her eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness. If it was there. It was silly.intrigue. Whatever was in there. when another light came on: the outside porch light. and she didn’t like backing down. but she also knew that she couldn’t run from it. Thank goodness. She wanted to defeat it. but the room was empty. Yes. Her mind barely had time to register that fact. and the clutter of smaller and medium-sized objects was considerably reduced. was upstairs. and then on the boards of the porch. In the darkness. She knew the face that looked around the room. A noise startled her . she felt as though it were hers already. the side door opened. It took some time for her to recover from the collision of the two. unless she were right up close to the window. Instead. she watched the dark window. took a flashlight. She couldn’t believe her good fortune. She dressed. then entered. she had nothing left to live for. Michael was gone. It was Michael’s. She saw her future there. The front door opened. and made a valiant effort to quell her fear of bears as she walked up the road to Mrs. It was just shocking.

still rooted to the spot. um.sorry about your aunt.” he said. She stuck her head in.” She was very uncomfortable. if I were you. “I think I’ll go now. Nothing. but they failed to inspire a sense of fear. The cobwebs remained. He studied her up close. and started to leave.” she said. Michael looked thoroughly amused. “I’m getting some clothes for my aunt to wear at her funeral. “Would you like to come in?” “No. She walked cautiously toward the room that had sent her running only the day before.” he said. “I’m. “Are you going to come back when I’m gone?” he asked. “Oh. “What are you doing here?” she countered. .” she admitted. Seconds ticked by but she could not think of an answer..Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:47 AM 0 comments Chapter 17 He couldn’t have looked more confused and surprised. indicating the boxes.. but he blocked her path.” He looked at her curiously. Something had changed.” she obliged him.” “Oh. and considering her holy mission. not sure what to think.. I see.” Michael’s face registered some satisfaction at extracting that bit of information from her. So she reused his question. “Do you want me to leave you alone?” She didn’t answer directly. They’ll be at the funeral. I think my grandparents did. and she wasn’t happy about it. Did you know her?” “No.” By now. thank you. and he held the door open for her. “Yes. “Wouldn’t you rather wait inside?” She gulped.” She watched nervously as he went into the bedroom. she didn’t think it would be a good idea anyway. “Alright. I’ll just be a minute. “Have a seat. “Can I take you home?” “No.. but didn’t question her further on the topic. no.” she said. “I wouldn’t sit on any of the chairs.” she said. Come to think of it. not wanting him to make a big deal of it.” “Ah. She couldn’t lie.” “And you?” “I. the creepy feeling of the house as a whole was considerably reduced. Did he have any idea what he was doing? Did he know what his aunt had been? She listened carefully to the shuffling and rummaging that came from the open door.I’d rather not say. Why wouldn’t he just let her leave? “I won’t be here much longer. “And you’re not going to tell me why you’re here? Or where you came from?” “My grandparents have a camp on this lake. “Jesse? What are you doing here?” She was still reeling from the impact. Nothing dreadful seemed to happen. “Yes. that’s alright.

They’re going to sell it. “Are you allowed to say that?” He shrugged. She pulled out of the doorway and went back to her box. but couldn’t think of the right words. Jesse began questioning Michael in the car. “You never saw her. “What about you?” he asked.She was devastated. When they were comfortably seated on opposing couches. All pretty Satanic-looking.” An owl hooted.” he said.” “Did she have kids?” “One.” “Oh. Michael got her . for nothing! The room smelled like mothballs. if I ever saw it. um. But Aunt Laura always claimed it was hers. it’s the next drive. about your aunt?” “Yeah. And whatever it was. I rarely saw her. “Yes. and she didn’t like company. and a little nuts. “Do you want to come inside?” she asked.” Determined to find out what had happened since she’d last encountered the house. “Did you ever go in the house before she died?” Michael looked at her. a Ouija board. but she was too close to getting some real answers. slowly. she was scary? Was she crazy?” Jesse asked.” Jesse knew she should let him go. “left to them by their parents.” he said with significance. Satanic. Jesse took off her seatbelt and turned in the seat to face him. She was my great-great-aunt. when they turned on some lights. “when I was a kid. but I found a bunch of things in her house . Michael glanced at her as he drove. “Hey. that’s what they looked like to me. sure from the look in his eyes that he had. My Mom used to say she was just superstitious. “So. “A bookcase fell on me.” She tried to say something. “Tell me when we get to your camp. Aunt Laura was turning out to be quite interesting.” “Is she selling the house?” “The house belongs to my parents. and Jesse soon had a fire built out of the embers in the fireplace. Michael appeared with a paper bag of shoes and clothing. “You felt it?” she asked. all the planning and anxiety. and a bunch of other things I couldn’t recognize. excited but nervous. and suddenly Jesse was very aware of the darkness surrounding the vehicle. She lived there for something like 50 years. They both realized they had some things to talk about. All this work. The cabin was bright at least. So..” he explained. “What do you mean. were you and your aunt close?” “No. I’ll take you home. She was scary. “I felt it. and staying up till all hours of the night. outliving everybody. It was written all over his face. and she knew that he knew that she knew something. of that she was sure. well.” This was interesting. tarot cards.” “Satanic-looking?” Jesse repeated as the car came to a stop. or just the fact that Aunt Laura was dead. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the prayer. and for no good earthly reason. it wasn’t there anymore when I went in. but your parents let her live in their house?” “It belonged to my grandparents. she was into a lot of weird stuff. She lives in the States.” “What about today?” “Today I prayed hard before stepping in that house. “All ready!” he announced.” So far.” he admitted. but there were no evil spirits inhabiting any corners. and no one ever had the nerve to kick her out.. so good. “It broke my arm and some ribs. She felt royally ripped off. In a few minutes. “Come on.

why he doesn’t intervene with a miracle every time evil people try to do evil things. It tells you that you will only be hurt again. without so much drama. “And in the middle of the night. I know you know it. “Call it stupidity.’ Have you heard that one? Straight out of the Bible. “Maybe you’re being too logical. right? Or what about this one: God disciplines those he loves. she just sat there. Sometimes people say things. “Oh wait. God will protect you? He let you get hurt! You might have died! How and why would you trust him to protect you after that?” Michael was silent. dumbfounded. leaning forwards. if you were so scared?” Jesse was at a loss. “It didn’t freak you out at all? Knowing there was something that powerful out there. adopting a sarcastic tone. “I have no idea. “Wait a minute!” she said after thinking. Jesse couldn’t understand that.. I know this one.” he said. even. According to human standards. then she shook her head.” “At least now I’ll be able to sleep. “So why did you go back?” Michael asked. you would have to be mad to trust him. and that evil?” Michael shrugged. “People said those things to you?” She nodded. Agitatedly. Maybe you did something bad that day. willing herself not to cry. but often they aren’t applicable or meaningful. though.” After that speech. He sighed. You need to find your own reason to trust him again. Oh. “ ‘All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. “You just said a piece of furniture fell on you and broke bones! What do you mean. and they don’t realize how painful their words are. “I can never know what you went through. You know he’ll never leave you.” she said with feeling.” she said. and neither does anyone else.” Michael went on. paused a second or two. and I know he never wanted this to happen to you. I don’t know why he let it happen. God’s honest truth.story out of her. Or maybe God was just trying to get your attention. meaning to help. that he never has. “I have no comprehensible answer to that. But since she wasn’t in a black and white movie.” he said.” she said at last. she felt like she should have a cigarette to take a shaky draught on. “You can trust him not to give you more than you can bear. His smoky blue eyes were full of real sorrow when he looked at her. I trusted God to protect me from evil spirits. but this one. somewhere deep down. huh? And you just got what you deserved. this one’s my favourite. Only you and God can work this out. Only you can know why God let this happen to you. he got up and walked to the sliding glass doors.but you know that’s not true. whatever it was. You’re the one experiencing it. and returned to the edge of his seat. It says that God abandoned you.. knowing it was still there. with a sigh. knowing it’s gone. Your mind rebels against it. “Trusting God isn’t logical. But he is giving you the strength to hold up under it. and he’ll work . God isn’t disciplining you. and just looked at her sadly. They might be true. angrily. Michael didn’t just sit there. it’s crazy.” “Well it probably wasn’t the brightest thing you’ve ever done.” Jesse held her head in her hands.” “I’ve slept well for the past thirteen years. “I was a kid when it happened. though it doesn’t make any sense.” Jesse almost accepted that answer.

not in that way. such as her family. what is he going to let happen to me next?” Michael had nothing more to say. Soon Jesse was lying down on her couch. what could he do? She had chosen to talk to him. and he had to respect that. admittedly.” “So it was just God’s will for me to be raped. not to punish us. Michael followed suit.” Jesse had given up by the end of this speech. but he guides us if we’re looking. If he couldn’t counsel her. worn out. made a wrong turn or something. looking right at him. relaxed. She needed a friend. and that’s what I don’t understand. If it’s God’s will. and he forgives us if we do make a mistake. We may do things he doesn’t want us to.” she said. “I trusted him! But the one time I needed him. Her misery. went beyond anything he could comprehend. it’s going to happen. God disciplines us to mold us. But if this is what he calls protection. I’d be happy. I took refuge in him. stepped out of his will for my life. “I’m so afraid. that if I found myself in a bad situation. but still. ‘Blessed are all who take refuge in him’. he didn’t lift a finger to help me. They continued to talk through some issues. “I know it’s not a popular view. Somehow.something good out of it. Michael was wordless. . though unconsciously. her fear and loneliness. she was laying herself open before him. not some boy taking advantage of an emotional situation. Nothing would be so unforgivable at this moment as preaching. He couldn’t just walk away from her. I can tell you that much.” she confessed. “My faith always made sense! This doesn’t make any sense! This . “He never let anything like this ever happen to me before. is that what you’re saying?” she replied. and all I can think is. Michael. is that hard. whether we know it or not. But I can’t see where I made a mistake.” she said. “That’s not what you meant. “I’m sorry. and it wasn’t a punishment.” she said angrily. What happened to you is not your fault. “David said. her voice choked with too many tears shed. Here he could speak freely. “but I honestly don’t think we can step out of God’s will for our lives. Should I not have been on the road that night? Should I not have joined that choir? Should I have been a friend to Jeremy? If staying in God’s will. more calmly however. if I always tried to follow him. he will.just . I can’t do it! It’s not possible! I don’t know what he wants from me!” Michael couldn’t have been more relieved at the turn of conversation. She didn’t really need him right now. “that if I was good. and talking about more mundane subjects.” Her fingers were linked behind her neck. it was because I’d done something wrong. that wasn’t fair. He doesn’t just leave us to suffer the consequences of being human. and she couldn’t keep it in anymore. Now it was his turn to put his head in his hands. “But that’s what it sounds like. if understanding it. I know that he loves me. she sat back on the couch.” She sighed. Why would that be God’s will? What kind of God is he?” “Those are perfectly valid questions. then I don’t feel safe.” he said. I know he can protect me. Their answers gradually grew shorter. “I know God is good. He also had to keep his own feelings in check which were telling him to hold her tight and offer that protection she thought she needed. “I always thought.” For the first time that night. maybe only because he happened to be connected with his aunt’s formerly demon-filled house. too. biting back tears and channelling a righteous anger. and he couldn’t comfort her.hurts!” She lifted her head from her hands.” She took a moment to collect herself. and was crying bitterly into her hands.

He locked the door. Morning found them both in better spirits. He had barely to roll off the couch and he was kneeling by her in the dark. and only seemed to be getting worse. then. She spent an hour or two in the sunroom quite serenely reading Job. having attended his aunt’s funeral. but at the moment she found parts of it very helpful. taking her shoulders and shaking her. He was considering a glass of cold water. “Don’t leave. and took his place on the other couch. When Michael finally woke up. He was attentive. she didn’t trust easily. thoughtful. and wrenched her arm free of his grasp. and held her as he would have held a child. what had seemed the very end of the world only the night before. and caught her hand. and staring at him. without opening her eyes. saying soothing words and rocking her gently. somewhat selfconsciously. but she leaned her head on his shoulder and clung desperately to his shirt. So he couldn’t. Though last night hadn’t been planned. Turning off the lights. She replied that it confused her terribly. . Sweet. “Jesse!” he called to her. now did not appear so tragic. When they failed to open. but somehow their meaning was clear. She didn’t need him anymore. She was going to hurt herself if he didn’t wake her soon. he was surprised to hear her speak. “Jesse! Wake up! It’s a dream! It’s only a dream. but he was the same Michael. In the light of day. crying and calling in her sleep. He knew things about her now that no other person knew. alert to sounds of distress. overcast and rainy as it was. and then he left. he assured her it was nothing. it wouldn’t have happened if she didn’t already have faith in him.and Jesse’s eyelids were more often closed. for listening to her the night before. and finding a blanket and pillow in the side room. She leaned on him now almost without realizing it. but he didn’t act any differently towards her. Jesse in particular.” She only struggled harder against him. for two minutes together. as though in her sleep. infallible Michael. caring. but he had always been those things. He was mollified by her change of spirits. her eyes were open. She thanked him. funny. Was there anything else he could do? He woke up while it was still dark. Now that she was awake.” she murmured. but he didn’t know how. but Michael was earning it. She was thrashing about. when suddenly. indeed. These days. until she was asleep again. she did not cry. For a moment he didn’t know where he was. and found her at it. until he recognized Jesse’s voice. She resisted every attempt he made. covered her with one and laid the other under her head. Michael got up. “Jesse!” he yelled louder. words strung together without making any sense. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:46 AM 0 comments Chapter 18 Meeting again at Bible Camp for the beginning of Intermediate I was not as awkward as Jesse thought it might. Michael arrived late. eyes shut tight as though to hide from some terror. and at the same time she ceased speaking. he asked her how she liked the book. He did take her in his arms. got another blanket and pillow. gaining more of her trust almost daily.

This sort of thing happens far too often. vague dislike either. like Sam’s had been. She had already demonstrated that she would act on that feeling. Too often she had to go to Michael. “Wow. rambunctious lot into their bunks. she was still hearing noises from their cabin. Last week hadn’t been a problem. Being their friend was fine when I was a cabin leader. her severe look and tone went unheeded. Jesse left. she managed. they sure do like you. She enjoyed these evening conversations. She decided to see where Michael was. having devotions with them. She missed being a cabin leader. going through all the ups and downs of a week in a cabin. and the campers picked up on that when she had to deal with discipline issues. If only she could earn Sam’s trust in return. and she was sure they were listening to Chris’s devotions. It was already 11:10 and Michael hadn’t shown up. She missed connecting with the campers individually.” Chris observed between shouting commands. “A little too much. to herd the giggling. deep-seated dislike. She knew the girl was out to get her. she was sooo fun!” and “Hey Jesse. It was chilly. the older and intimidating head hospitality hostess who had never liked her. She checked on Chris and Jasmine’s cabin that night during quiet time. and discovered that her walkie-talkie was turned off . Five minutes after loud time had officially ended. She liked to come in. discussing the day and making plans for tomorrow. “She was my cabin leader. but it’s not so great now that I’m supposed to be the one laying down the law. so she knocked on the door and walked in with her head cabin leader face on. Jesse didn’t want to think about what the young perjurer might still have in store for her. remember me?” died out. She wasn’t that effective as an authority figure: she didn’t have enough confidence in herself. She’d been in her element. She might have saved her life. or even Bob. for help. and one or the other of them was often delayed another five or ten minutes after that. Much as she tried to present herself as an authority figure. Tonight was one of those nights. the kind that had a reason and a purpose. though she couldn’t imagine why. One person she really didn’t trust was Jasmine. especially. but this week lights out wasn’t until 11:00 pm. Too many of the campers recognized her from years past. It wasn’t just a general. and everything was still damp from the rain earlier that day. After the cries of “I remember her!”. She had been good at it. along with their cabin leaders. and sit in on a few minutes of devotions every once in a while. She didn’t know what she’d have done without Michael. rather than an awed hush. and the summer was barely half over. but Jesse was convinced she barely tolerated her even now. and often delving into more abstract topics of philosophy and theology. even if she was a little more tired for it the next morning. This was a real. she knew. I think.she must . They’d made a sort of habit of talking together by the beach after lights out. and she had hugged some of them and tried to remember their names. and her appearance caused more of a renewed ruckus. and their leaders were having a hard time getting them to settle down.She was also beginning to trust a more unlikely character: Samantha. to see how the different cabin leaders handled this challenging task. Chris and Jasmine’s campers were a rambunctious lot this week.” When the girls were finally settled down. as unobtrusively as possible.

” True to his word. When she paged him. literally within seconds. Intermediate was always a hectic. her characteristics. and she’d become interested. They were at the age where being away from their parents for a week was the coolest thing in the world. it was in fact much nicer than a cabin. four bedrooms. The hospitality hostesses had to be moved into the basement of Bob and Kim’s house. Then he had showed her the research he’d already done. though. yet. required efficient crowd control. and a large common room with comfy couches and a bay window looking out at the lake. asking for insight into personal references and intimations he might have missed. The campers themselves had a blast. her personality. he wanted to know more about May herself . and emotional conversation. “stuff”. and although there were two weeks devoted to them. she’d shaken her head sadly: everything possible had been done to find out why May had been killed. who spent hours pouring over them. the different villages she had visited and the people she’d met. Tonight. She almost envied them. Nine to twelve was the most popular age group for camping. though. He had facts that she hadn’t known. and Michael had gone with them to the hospital in Hanger. Every once in a while he would come to her. the precise wording of certain statements. Tonight. and even more theories that he couldn’t prove. When he first asked her for help. two bathrooms. Jesse eventually wrote home asking for May’s letters to be mailed to her. cabin leaders were stretched to the limit. Even Grassy Knoll was put into commission to accommodate them all. but not altogether unpleasant. He wanted to talk to Jesse. but she hadn’t answered. which hadn’t been done in years. with their own entrance. From then on Jesse answered every question he put to her. Jesse could remember spending her first summer as a kitchen girl living in that basement. but rewarding week. For the past couple of weeks. The hospitality hostesses had more dishes to do.her likes and dislikes. where he’d been spending a lot of time lately. “Where are you?” Keith asked. The sheer number of campers meant that everyone had to step it up. Michael had tried to tell her.have forgotten to turn it on again after leaving Moose Canoe. trying very hard to remember details. and graciously loaned them to Keith. homesickness was absolutely out of the . Keith joined her on the picnic table. Keith answered: one of Peter’s campers had gotten sick. He was really serious about this. “By the lake.” “Stay there. She didn’t feel she had much to give him. and every activity. from games to lunch lines.the postmarks on May’s letters. but Keith was interested in many things she would have thought were insignificant . when asked by nosy passers-by. working on what he called. at 109. For Jesse it was a difficult. He wanted to get into her head. they were usually the largest groups of the summer. Cool even on hot days. He’d only had to walk from the office. he needed to get away from his desk. She was finding she knew more about her sister than she’d formerly thought. and I’ll be down in a minute. This week was filled almost to capacity. Jesse had been helping him with his project: piecing together the details surrounding May’s death. He was wasting his time. and there were no answers. she realized. to understand how she thought and therefore. how she would act. Just finished the rounds. she told him.

or watching out for her. Though she liked him. The more he learned about her. That in itself was amazing. In the office. who might otherwise have turned out ok. their hormones weren’t completely in control yet. to keep. and some of them were making some of his boys a little uncomfortable. but she seemed very much out of his reach. he’d told himself it was just protectiveness. “Tired?” she asked. especially among the twelve-year-old girls. and not in a good way. his protectiveness had grown into affection. dyed their hair (usually with horrendous results). was that he was quieter than usual. In fact. Girls did. patiently filing paperwork. There were about three or four of them. on the other side of the flagpole.and somewhere along the way. never complaining. Their heads were being turned. Michael was also sizing up his half of the campers. That day after lights out. but almost wished that the girls and guys could be separated this week. Jesse picked them out at Monday morning flag raising. and flirted with the boys. and then everything that had happened since . mature faster than boys. He liked this age group too. outrunning trains – how could he not be concerned? She was so young. some difficult characters. but who would probably cause the most problems and take up most of her time. humming to herself. snot-nosed. All she noticed. and while they recognized the opposite sex. Wait for that one good woman. he’d peek over his computer screen and see her working away at the opposite desk. sure that she would be able to read his thoughts. What made girls act like this. you’ll want to deserve her.falling down stairs. by far the minority. even without considering the ordeal she was going through. There was just no question in his mind that it should be him. she seemed to need someone to take care of her. He didn’t know if he’d be able to do it. . he couldn’t see that she liked him more than she liked anyone else. There were so many little things like that about her that baffled him. or as more than a friend. but some enjoyed the attention they received. They were generally much more enthusiastic about camp activities than older groups. some of whom were already dressing trashy and were there to have fun on their own terms. The thought plagued him throughout the day. but he’d yet to find one. he wanted to tell these boys. so alone. Was it possible that she ever could? He was afraid to hope. He wanted her. He knew that he was somewhat enamoured with Jesse. because when she comes along. Sometimes he tried to look for a flaw. and more independent than younger ones. Many were embarrassed. He wanted to deserve her. not just as a partner here at camp. indeed. He wanted her for himself. At first. Wait. that Saturday night at her camp had been the only time he’d ever witnessed any real discontent in her. He hadn’t thought beyond that. They wore spaghetti-straps tops. rough and tumble kids who wanted to run and play and beat each other up. the more he loved . however. There were. he approached their picnic table on the beach like a nervous schoolboy. But in watching her. of course. he wondered? How could they not realize that these boys didn’t care about them? They were just kids: dirty.question. he realized that he didn’t just love all these little things about her. tried to show their midriffs. They didn’t need to start worrying about girls already. Then he looked at Jesse. Serenely. he loved her. With this pregnancy. but he was also starting to dread the day he had to say goodbye to her.

He needed time to think.if she ever got up the nerve to actually speak to him.” “Well that’s not unusual. “It could be a lot worse. “Yes.” he agreed.” She grimaced.” she teased. They parted ways in front of Ingleside.” Jesse smiled. but instead of continuing to the office as usual. This morning. Keith told me. really?” Michael tried to keep his voice jovial.” he said to defend himself. though. I’d turned it off. He even came out and kept me company. alone. Why would I be?” “Oh. She’d thought it out all weekend.” she said as she took it from him. “I didn’t know it was possible to pry him out of the office these days.” She couldn’t believe it. She had to think of something to say. even with the rain.and it was happening so easily! “How did you end up here?” she asked. Jasmine had decided what to do with her information.” “Not all of us like waking up before the sun. Now she had something real to back up her story. I slept in a bit this morning. she thought as she spooned some of the mush into her dish. “It’s been pretty rainy lately. but you never answered. and the simplest way for him to receive it was for her to tell him directly. not impossible. that. “Where are you from?” “Saskatchewan.” he said. “Cream of wheat?” he asked. and she was just going to come right out and say it . He accepted a tray of orange slices from Iris Peterson. no. “Oh. I’m used to late nights. This was an actual conversation . No more sneaking around. it is. Not today.” “Oh. She’d tried yesterday. You just have to know how to ask. Rain is a Godsend. Well. how to make it appear casual? The subject had to come up in conversation. holding the bowl out for her. “No shortage of sunshine there. no. Yeah. he sat across from her at breakfast. Jesse was tired. It’s nice to get a day like this. She could hardly believe her good luck! It was the absolute perfect opportunity. She quickly smiled.” “Keith. well. starting rumours that may or may not get back to him. just being up at the hospital all last night. Not exactly a conversation starter.” “We’ve had a good summer though.” “Keith?” “Mm hmm. “Yes. I guess I can’t handle the responsibility. weighing her options. He’d even talked to her for a minute or two afterwards. and happy. The problem was. “Yeah. Michael doubled back to his own cabin.“Hmm? Oh.” “Really?” she said. She had been in the perfect situation: they were co-leaders of the same team for Team Time. sure. that she’d spoken. He passed her the brown sugar before she had to ask for it. and passed them to the kids down . surprised.” he replied. you know me. thanks. “It’s a nice day out. don’t you think?” “Oh. and she knew how to use it to her best advantage. Michael was the one who needed to hear what she had to say. she could start by answering his questions. “But how did you find out where I was last night? I tried to radio you. He looked surprised. but she’d chickened out.” she offered. in the middle of a drought. They didn’t talk much longer. I could be at home right now. and Michael wasn’t sure how to handle his emotions.

“I wonder how many of them ended up getting married?” “Oh. The camp’s been running for 60 years. I’m not sure if it’s official.. he forced himself to concentrate on his job. “My parents used to come here.” “Yeah. holding her on her sister’s birthday. though. He replayed in his mind every time Keith had walked in between them. he imagined.. he’s great. He had to stop. He couldn’t go on like this.. He had a job to do.Jesse and Keith. Jasmine smiled slyly.” She stopped there.” she said with calculated wistfulness. “I knew they’d been friends for a long time.. so she was pretty excited about me seeing the place.” she added quickly.. If it . “A lot of young people. tons.. He looked interested. “I guess it’s bound to happen in a place like this. He swallowed. talking on the picnic table by the beach. before he could change the subject on her again. He kept hearing Jasmine Denis’s voice in his mind. Minute by agonizingly slow minute. it’s as if they’ve grown up together.. They met here. “Well.kissing friends…over and over her words played back to him. probably. So he got through the day. But how did you end up here? You’re from down south. “so many of the staff here are so close. unable to finish.he saw them kissing. every conversation that had turned to the years long before Michael had ever come to camp. I’m almost jealous. and put a lilt in her voice.. even if two people come from different places.” she said in a conspiratorial whisper. “I mean. But in her mind she was pleading for him to ask her how she knew. “I met Keith last spring. “Amazing. He could deal with them later. Just look at Keith and Jesse. leaving him out of the loop.” he began weakly. it was nothing compared to the struggle he had getting through today. smiling sweetly.the table before answering. His staff needed him. how easily friends can become kissing friends?” If Michael had been distracted yesterday.” he said. if nothing else.. the campers needed him…and Jesse needed him.” he said. isn’t it. I think it’s wonderful. We’ve all got a common interest in kids and camping. Was it true? Were they really a couple? The questions sneaked into his mind during every moment of idleness. In the evening. his mind was free to wander.” “Keith seems very friendly.” Jasmine said when he trailed off. they can be friends for years if they keep coming back.” “And sometimes for years. planting trees in northern Alberta.. He saw his friend comforting Jesse. I think?” he asked. “but something is definitely going on there.” She couldn’t believe how well this was going! If only she didn’t mess it up at the crucial moment. “Keith and Jesse?” Jasmine feigned a look of surprise. she backtracked. after all. while doing his nightly rounds. He convinced me to come out to camp with him that summer. and we’re working together all summer sometimes. He had to push these tormenting thoughts to the side. “I guess a lot of couples probably met at camp. as a partner in work. What he didn’t remember. My mom grew up around here. looking as if his mind were doing somersaults in rapid succession. before she could pursue the topic of Keith. He saw them alone. with her having a baby and all. “You didn’t know?” But at the look in his eyes. so he kept himself busy. His face looked white.” Michael put his coffee cup down. all Christians.

as though he didn’t expect that anyone had. But oh. How stupid could he have been to think that? When had she ever given him any indication that she wanted to be more than friends? Never. It could just be the beginnings of a long friendship slowly turning into something else. but it wasn’t like him. then turned his attention back to colouring between the lines with a fat marker. that could be it. Jesse got the impression that he might be going through something that he couldn’t talk to her about. Not like him at all. distracted.” said Keith. But a second later the door opened again.” he said. “Oh. You might wanna check his cabin. a little patronizingly. a very clean person. “not his dirty underwear. it’s cabin cleanup time. “Oh. yeah. “Hey Zeb. gross. Yeah. Not unfriendly or unkind. so she tried to give him some room. But if Keith knew anything about it. He’d been acting distant. and was a better liar than she thought him to be.” Then he was gone. it happens. he left his underwear on the floor this morning. “Uh. as if searching the recesses of his brain.” Jesse rolled her eyes. “I haven’t noticed anything. I didn’t need to know that. buddy. He usually folds it all nicely and puts it in his dresser. Jesse. how he’d hoped. though. just as he opened the door to leave. He just did his laundry. Zeb looked up and around.” “No.” Zeb said in his usual slur. and there was more than just that. I’ll be going now. Oh and don’t tell him that I told you that. wouldn’t she have told him? Wouldn’t Keith at least have given him a hint? They might not want everyone at camp to know about their relationship. nothin’ else I can think of. no. by any standard.” he said thoughtfully. and he stuck his head in. I meant his clean underwear. but maybe just a little less personal. Well. “Do you know if anything’s wrong with him?” Keith looked up from the poster he was making. see you all later. but he had thought he was close enough to both of them to be privy to information like this.” Zeb returned groggily.. “He doesn’t usually do that.” Jesse said to Keith while making some photocopies on Thursday morning. which was pointing in all directions. you noticed anything strange about Michael lately?” Zeb stopped to think. “Michael’s acting strangely. “Anyone seen Mark?” he asked. while letting him know she was there for him. “Yeah. Sort of like what he’d thought he might have with Jesse. Halfway through the summer.maybe they didn’t even know their own minds yet. he was giving her no hints.” Keith shrugged. “Are you sure? He’s gone to bed early two nights in a row. but today. not bothering to stop colouring.” Jesse looked down. Maybe Jasmine had been right about it not being ‘official’.were true. “he just left it all over the floor.” “That it?” asked Keith. “So he’s tired.. He’s usually a very clean person. The outside door opened and Zeb walked in wearing purple shorts and an orange t-shirt that matched his hair. Jesse was silent for a minute or so before trying again. . and there really wasn’t anything to tell.” he gestured with his hands. “I hope you don’t hold that against him though. Keith stopped him.” and he left. “Well.

and concentrated very hard. “No adolescent boy. “it’s that maternal glow you have about you. there is always that hope.as though drinking in every drop of sunshine that she could. well. such contentment.” She laughed and pushed him away playfully. almost seriously. that he couldn’t help smiling along.” She laughed.” “Well. you know. He shook his head as though to shame her. “That.” she said. enough that if one stood very still facing the light. in fact .” “You’re a nut.” she quipped. “Don’t be ridiculous! If any little boys are looking at me. including the entire population of Tumble Inn.just east of it. “What look?” “That look you had just now.” Try as he might.“Does Zeb drink?” Jesse asked. Keith sighed.” “Yes. her eyes were closed. Michael could detect no bump beneath the baggy sweater. She wore a camp hoodie. have a humongous crush on you. “Any particular reason for that look on your face?” Jesse looked up at him in surprise. let’s just hope they didn’t notice. taking her hand and tucking it in the crook of his arm as he led her to the dining hall. “but at the moment. like a plant with its leaves outstretched towards the life-giving rays. I’m also the envy of about twenty-five lovesick little boys. As the anthem ended and the campers were dismissed for breakfast row by row. The sun sliced through the chill left by the cold night.” “Speaking of which. (and I doubt they are) it’s more likely that they’re wondering if I’m hiding a basketball underneath this shirt. all wishing it was them escorting the pretty head female cabin leader to breakfast. Michael saw Jesse doing just this during O Canada at the flag raising. and she wasn’t quite facing the flag . they could feel its warmth. but I don’t think we can depend on it.” “Why’s that?” He whispered confidentially in her ear again: “Because half the boys here. “Noo. trying to hide her embarrassment at . There was a smile on her face that spoke of such peace. with your eyes closed. no. I’m afraid they were.” he insisted. you mean. and though the hood was pushed back and her hands locked behind her back in respect for the country.” “How unpatriotic of me. “If only it were that simple. and almost stop shivering. he sidled up beside her and whispered in her ear. are you sure this kind of contact between us is entirely appropriate for a Bible Camp?” she said with some seriousness.” “I mean no male over the age of eleven.” he said. “Not a very good example to set for the children. I can’t deny. It has enhanced your natural beauty to the point where no man can resist you.” “Were my eyes closed?” “Yes.” Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:45 AM 0 comments Chapter 19 Friday morning dawned bright and clear.

I’m firmly against it myself. “Good luck!” A few of the other male staff overheard. She didn’t know exactly what to make of it. Well. and oatmeal. “What’s all that about?” He turned back to her. but it was better than that sad look he’d had in his eyes the last few days. About five minutes into the meal. then mad. Jesse thought. “You work fast. guys are weird. he seemed to have a new gleam in his eye that she hadn’t seen before. hungry campers. There was a general feeling of joviality surrounding everyone at breakfast that morning. Keith.” he said. Obviously. was not happy: Jasmine was confused at first. A little incorrigible. he seemed to be acting more like himself. and expressed their approval with guffaws. who was holding it open. “Perhaps not under normal circumstances. smiling the way you do after a big laugh. too. She’d really been worried about him. Mike. it’s a wonder they let me work here at all!” “Oh. but . since they had come in after all the campers. “If my condition is so delicate. He’d resigned himself to the fact that she loved someone else. he managed to situate themselves across from each other. because they both had a good chuckle over it. and seemed to like it. and Michael responded by flashing him a grin that said just how pleased he was with himself. and quieted down just in time for grace. though. but by getting Keith to move a table down. perhaps.” “Me too. At least one person. but he was literally beaming. “Girls are weirder. One particularly adventurous ten-year-old added peanut butter and jam to his.” piped up a little girl at their table. Michael got the joke. gave her a wink and slapped Michael on the back as he passed. anyway. then. I don’t think anyone can object to my offering of assistance.” Zeb called after him.” he agreed. some stomping feet. He was dishing out oatmeal to campers with flourish. he knew what was going on. and a few loud claps.” she said.being called pretty.” the peanut butter and jam boy shot back. Now. and didn’t mind it. and that was the end of that. and his obvious zest for life. Amy Laverly shot the boy a look and threatened to take his peanut butter away. “You’d be much better off resting.” She laughed again. “but in your delicate condition. Jesse wondered what the joke was. I’m afraid my chivalrous nature is going to get the better of me. Whatever it was. was so contagious that even the skeptical ones were soon piling on the milk and brown sugar. grasped Michael by the shoulder and said something quietly to him. “I totally agree. whether they asked for it or not.” he conceded. He’d seemed disappointed. She had seen Michael give Jesse up. looking at him across the table from her. which Jesse couldn’t make out over the din of noisy.” “Well. “Hey Mike!” Michael scanned the room and located the caller waving at him from across the hall. She almost asked about it. from the campers to the kitchen staff. Michael blushed and told Will to mind his own breakfast. “Nothing. but decided not to risk jinxing the spell. and the argument continued until the kitchen girls brought out the eggs and toast. He had difficulty finding two spots together for Jesse and himself. but as long as you insist on exerting yourself. “They’re just being guys. Will’s voice shouted through the general racket.” He ushered her in the door and Zeb.

“Aw. Michael couldn’t help seeing how advantageous the situation was for him: another weekend alone with Jesse was waiting for him. due to a hip injury that had caused a shortage of cooks. The next time Jesse was alone with Keith.” Jesse was thrilled to hear it. Her plan had been working so well. “Yes.” he said with his typical male machoness. but left it at that. kiss another. He’s so happy it’s almost nauseating. His parents. though. acting like he’d just won a gold medal! Did he not even care about what she’d told him. and asked her to watch out for the girl. in the hope that he might turn to her for companionship. who’d flown in for the funeral and some initial legalities. he started early on by asking about her childhood. if she’d been there. It wouldn’t interest you. He might – he just might have noticed her there someday. Samantha was now in the kitchen. they could keep their secrets if they wanted. she’d just had a fair chance. just guy stuff.” “Did you find out what was wrong?” “Oh. For once. There was an open house at his aunt’s house tomorrow. There . obliged to run bread through the toaster. and had him telling her about his family. He would have got over it. Did you have anything to do with it?” “Me and Zeb might have had a talk with him. Maybe he hadn’t exactly shown an interest in her. were leaving the sale up to him and the real estate agent. And Hannah and Susannah. and have a third worshipping at her feet . She laughed. were not the sort to pick up on things like this. when he gave Jesse a ride into Hanger. in time.and everyone else cheered for her! She got standing ovations wherever she went! It was inexplicable. what Jesse had done? Or had she lied to him about that.not devastated. Kaimi might have. too? Everyone was so eager to believe this girl. especially with her there to comfort him. and he was expected to take care of the last-minute cleaning duties. Although someone had died to make it possible. starting with this car ride. Nobody noticed Jasmine. Before she left. but could detect no reason for her ups and downs. that doesn’t mean we didn’t care. She’d barely described the town she grew up in. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:45 AM 0 comments Chapter 20 Michael had calmed down a little bit by Saturday morning. however. Then he’d walked in with that two-bit floozy on his arm. So she was on her own. really? And I almost thought you didn’t care. she’d discussed her concerns about Jasmine with Samantha. but he hadn’t been disinterested. Since he wanted to know everything about her. but the older cabin leader had finished her two weeks.” “We didn’t notice anything. and was gone for the remainder of the summer. and she’d taken every opportunity to talk to him. as usual. to make excuses and exceptions for her. he asked her if she still thought Michael was acting weird. They perceived that Jasmine was moody. She could have a baby with one guy. though excellent friends. Jesse rolled her eyes. when she somehow managed to turn the conversation around. As long as Michael was fixed. even just to be near him. but just the opposite now. however.

and leaning on the passenger door. he noticed two cars parked above the sloping driveway. after lunch. “Those are my sisters. one hand in a pocket and the other holding a beer. were people. As they drove slowly into the laneway lined with trees. and faced three large Italian men who seemed to be in their 40's. babies and dogs. one on either side. since he would be staying so close to her. uncles and friends too numerous for him to keep track of. “I’m Jesse’s Uncle Horace. shouting warnings for bystanders to get out of their way as they raced to the end of the dock and dove in. When these introductions were over he followed Jesse to the patio. Jesse had jumped out and began receiving enthusiastic hugs from everyone in the crowd that had gathered. sitting on steps. and coming in and out of the camp. He also appreciated her smile. had they been sitting snugly on the bench of a truck. Jesse noticed them too. and began rhyming off names as he met grandparents. Corah and Marnie. “Hello. But in the eyes of one. with gelled and spiked hair. The first thing on their agenda. as he extended his free hand. Within a couple minutes of talking. pointing to two of the girls as they ran by. to Jesse. People were already waving. and two on the left behind the sauna. and as soon as Michael stopped the car beside the front porch. with her head gently resting on his shoulder. The fact remained that she was sleeping in his car. and a short-sleeved dress shirt. in case he didn’t recognize it from the weekend before. beside which a small trailer was parked. Together. which was decidedly the warmest of them all. However. he did not even get to watch her as she slept. with no smiles on their faces. “They’re here!” was all she said. aunts. The other two men were also Jesse’s uncles. where she greeted three of her great-grandparents. khaki shorts. “I’d forgotten it was this week. he turned to find that she’d fallen asleep! It would have been perfect. suspicious glowers. and grasped his hand firmly.” . where Jesse was getting a decidedly warmer greeting.” said one. Michael stepped out of the car hesitantly. He’d already made her agree that. Old people. and sat up straighter.wasn’t much to tell: he had one older brother and very few relatives. many holding food and/or drinks of various kinds. Who might you be?” Michael shook his hand and introduced himself as Jesse’s friend from Bible Camp.” Jesse said. separated from him by the stick shift. more vehicles appeared: one on the right beside the camp. all four men walked around to the other side of the car. cousins. she was safely seated in her own bucket seat. they should “hang out” together on their day off. it was one of the happiest sights in the world. though. swimming in the lake. and pointed out the right driveway. and hopefully getting rested up for the fun-filled weekend he had planned for them. As the camp came into view. if not striking. all with dark hair. one after another. the rest I think are just friends. was checking out the Aboriginal People’s pow-wow in town that afternoon. and introduced him to her family.” she said mainly to herself. It was easy to pick out her mom. She seemed to remember Michael again. young people. Michael detected a glimmer of amusement. probably the youngest. A group of teenagers came tumbling out of the sauna. He couldn’t help grinning. as the resemblance was noticeable. To Michael. And as he was obliged to concentrate on his driving. Jesse woke up when he pulled onto the dirt road. And in between these buildings and automobiles. it looked like the place had been overrun. as it happened. “A couple of the others are cousins. apologized laughingly for not being better company for him.

“And what can you do with that?” asked the young uncle with spiked hair. “That’s Michael. “Where are you from.” “Does he speak?” asked her Aunt Sandra.” “Yeah. It’s hard to keep track.” said Michael. “I went to Bible College. Two little purple-lipped girls in bathing suits ran by him chasing after a small white dog. “Theology and World Studies. will you go swimming with us?” “Later. So what d’you call them. and then they were off again. is a cousin!” she said. The kids could hardly be heard over the grownups and the radio. Jesse. giving her a hug around the neck. There were looks of approval all round. “And what do you do in Saskatchewan?” asked the red-haired woman. . watching a boy on a high stool in the centre getting his hair cut.” said Jesse’s mother. carrying cans of grape Crush and screaming in delight. you’re not Catholic. I know. “You can do lots of stuff with that. “But he’s not going to be a priest. “Become a priest?” Jesse gave her uncle a look.” she promised.” “Always knew Jesse’d bring home a missionary. “What are you taking in school?” asked Aunt Sandra. A woman beside Michael with large red hair handed a baby off to a gangly pre-teen and lit a cigarette. where most of the adults seemed to be congregated in a circle of mismatched lawn chairs. her friend from Bible Camp. “who’s the guy?” Her grandfather answered for her from across the circle. also smoking.” she said dryly. they might be one of my cousin’s cousins. None of the adults told them to put on shoes or dry clothes.” “Oh. “Little girl! Little girl! Come put this sweater on!” Jesse and Michael took a seat on the patio. Michael?” said the lady cutting the boy’s hair. waved from the water and invited her and her friend to join them. Jesse scooped the littler one up before she could get away. “I’m Saskatoon. the only one who didn’t look extremely disappointed with the young man.“You think?” Jesse shrugged. or knock off the racket. “Jesse!” the girl cried.” said Jesse. counteracting Sandra’s intimidating greeting. releasing them both. well. “Jesse. but you became a nurse first. grateful for a question he could actually answer.” said Horace gruffly. you know.” There was uncomfortable silence for a moment or two. ministers? Reverends?” “Don’t be putting down Bible College. leave the dog alone.” she said after a puff. “So.” he said. But one elderly lady came out of the camp shouting.” said Jesse’s Uncle Reid. “This. “We’re friends.” “Are you going to be a missionary?” asked the hairdresser. I forgot.” “Only because Mum made me. so you could do something useful.” Corah and Marnie. “I’m going to school right now. “Yeah. The other one came back and demanded her hug as well. “I didn’t ‘bring him home’. seeing no reason to interrupt their swim just for Jesse. “Ghastly city.

he’ll be alright. but one of his aunts convinced him that he wouldn’t enjoy it. but you should be. I’m your uncle. you know.. we can go skinnydipping. Michael ignored Jesse’s warning glance.” “Ha!” laughed Sandra. after taking a swig of her strawberry cooler. “Besides. too. not me. Michael and Jesse smiled at each other. “Let’s go. Horace stood up and beckoned to Michael.” “I’m just asking the boy a few questions. “we haven’t told her everything we have on you yet. The kids from the lake came trooping soggily past them and into the sauna.” admitted Michael. ignoring Sandra’s last remark. And I’m the only one other than Theresa without a divorce under my belt. “and you think you’re the best qualified to interview him?” “Hey. Dad. “Where would you go if you were a missionary?” asked the young uncle. “Just don’t get caught alone with any of them. “They’ve been waiting for years to do this. I’ve never golfed. “They might. and I’d love to go there again. And what’s it like down there? Is it a good place to raise a family?” “Uncle Chris. and followed her uncles and grandfather.” he replied with confidence.” “Hey.” said Reid. Michael.” “It’s ok. you’ve gotta learn some time. son.” There was an evil gleam in his eye.” . really.” “Oh.” said Kate.“I’m thinking about it.” The boy getting his hair cut wanted to go. your father’s not here to do it. honey. You coming?” “He can’t.” “Yes. I’ve been to Equador.” admitted her mother. I’m entitled. “Well. “Sorry about them. looking pointedly at all his brothers and sisters. aren’t they?” she said to the women who remained. beautiful wife and three gorgeous little girls. we better leave pretty soon. “Yeah. She was his aunt. trust me.” “Uh huh.. I think I can handle it.” “Kate could still leave you.” said Chris. “Oh. “Give it up. Jesse watched their retreating figures and despaired of ever seeing him again. “Why not?” “He’s cleaning out Mrs. come on now.” While the parley continued to rage around them. but what were you doing with the first 35 years of your life?” “And I make more money than any of you. We’re going golfing this afternoon. it’ll get worse.” said Jesse quickly.” Chris checked his Rolex. and you were the only one who went to college instead of university. “Come on. “They’re going to bury his body on that golf course. Come on.” Jesse apologized quietly. we tee off at one. I’ve got a loving. Besides. do you golf?” This came from Horace.” “Well.” he assured her. no. who actually was very attractive. yeah. there’ll be lots of time for that.” “You think I’m scared?” “No. we’re talking about the kid here. Petrick’s house today. “Yeah. whatever else you might say about me.” said his wife Kate. now all the guys are gone.” “So. “Uh. we know.

After taking a quick swim with the men. a large group of teenagers followed.excluding Michael’s stay at their camp.Sandra laughed the way she did when she was slightly inebriated. their brightness accentuating the fact that the sun was actually on its way down. especially Marnie. “Unless you want everyone at all the other camps to see us. Realizing then that Dom didn’t know about the changes that had occurred in the stone house.” she confided. they were slightly more affectionate than usual towards her.” Kate agreed.” “Alright then. their parents’ constant presence was still a kill-joy for the younger ones. not one . Jesse could tell that he was out of his element. for the most part. Jesse was shocked by the scene. It would probably get better tomorrow when their two older cousins. She was his favourite cousin. But the rest of her aunts. It was a nice evening for a walk. So when Michael drove over to the old stone house. but it was mild. “That does lend credibility. and showed Michael a degree of grudging respect. and she doubted that Corah or Marnie would be too keen on seeing the older generation in their all-togethers. Not a nicknack. There was still some teasing. crocheting an afghan. it is tempting to doubt the whole thing. But Michael also told me that he’d had the same suspicion when he was younger. and it was nice. Jesse just hoped there wasn’t a full moon that night. and his acquiescence in this matter did much to secure their approval of him. Jesse’s sisters and the older cousins declared their desire to see it. arrived. The house was empty. having grown up in a small and very conservative family.” Jesse wouldn’t make any promises. If anything.” said Jesse’s mom. Dom was pleasant but a bit reserved. but when Michael returned with her Papa and her uncles. if only down the road. and they all felt the improvements of complete freedom. Petrick’s house . the kids. but he handled himself nicely. Well can’t we send them off somewhere?” “You might want to wait until it’s dark out. When Michael said he had to go finish the cleaning at his aunt’s house. “Oh right. ladies? Mom?” “You’d be lucky to get me in that lake with my bathing suit on. They even let him try his hand at the barbecue. no matter how dark it was. the heckling stopped. which she suddenly felt embarrassed about sharing. “never mind going in naked in the middle of the blasted night. Who’s in. when she had recounted the tale. Jesse? You and your sisters are old enough to join your aunts. after all. “we’ll do it tonight. he stayed close to Jesse for most of the evening. “Should I prepare the kids to be scared?” Dom asked Jesse secretively. seemed up for it.” declared Nana. “Interesting. John and Craig. still early and bright.” Kate’s face fell. Jesse quickly filled him in on her late-night adventure to the late Mrs. walking. “With my son around? I don’t think so.” Michael welcomed them into the stone house with all the lights on. with all the excitement of getting away from camp for a while. She didn’t know what happened on the golf course that afternoon. except for prudish Aunt Lilian. Coming in behind her cousins.” Dom agreed. Jesse thought he might be a little jealous. “So I hope you’re right about it being gone. whatever it was.” “What about it. Her sisters liked him. “Do you still think it was an evil spirit? You might have just been imagining things. I suppose.” “Well. As permissive as they were.” said Dom.

The group decided it was time for them to go home. She’d have taken any camp on this lake.” Michael responded that they could only hope that the new owners would build a sauna. “Wouldn’t you.” Jesse advised. “and the beach looks alright.. It was like a different house.piece of furniture remained. and my parents certainly don’t expect it of me. and stone in the kitchen . to see the porch and the yard. But there was no feeling of doom or danger. having seen it in its prior state. It was darker in that room than elsewhere in the house. though. it was like a new house.” “Ah. Of course she would. but Jesse and Dom went directly to the bedroom.” declared a female cousin. All the cousins were impressed. there being nothing more to see here. “Well. considering its present ownership.” All of Jesse’s relatives declared they would move there in a second.” Dom agreed.needed to be swept and scrubbed. an end-table. Michael’s only defence was that his parents lived in Saskatchewan. when Michael came out. the last time he’d seen it. and the breeze brought in a pleasant scent to replace the mustiness that had attended the former occupant. Michael informed them that it had been as crowded as the rest of the house. The older three followed them with less commotion. and they left directly to see the upstairs. but the area seemed so large and open. with slanting ceilings of wood that matched the floor. “I’ve never considered it before. The younger teenagers discovered the staircase. the mustiness lingered here a little longer. The floor . Satisfied that there was nothing else of interest inside. the kids stampeded downstairs and out the front door. was overawed by the transformation. and having only two small windows. Other than that. “It will help with the smell. “You should probably wash the walls.wood in the living area. but none of them could imagine why anyone would sell a camp like this in the first place. and she’d wanted this house particularly for years. Jesse could imagine a couple of comfy chairs by the window. and the mosquitoes were coming out. Jesse?” Marnie asked her. So all she said was that she could never afford it. It was starting to get dark. For now. permeated the residence. if they could. that Jesse could see). and didn’t want to take care of two houses. All the windows were open. “You’ll need a house someday. But saying so now would have.” said Michael.” Michael assured her. they could give it to you. and Michael promised to do so. and maybe a small bookshelf.” “This is a nice porch. everything was as bare as the downstairs. no one had anything to say. “There’s no sauna!” one cousin accused. being lit only by a lamp (the only article left that was not attached to the house.uncomfortable implications. however. making this a pleasant little common area. The second floor had two equal-sized rooms and a bathroom. “I was just as dumbfounded when I saw it. but Dom and Jesse. “It does have a dock.. The view of the lake. “But it doesn’t have a sauna. but do I have any intention of living in the wilds of Northern Ontario?” Michael asked the young girl. all of which converged around a landing that was almost large enough to be a room in and of itself. through the front windows and screen door.” Corah offered. and their own camp .

She would take swimming lessons at the pool with Dom as her teacher. and the strange thing was. but there was always that difference. In her heart she felt that if by some miracle she could only get that house.. and said “Nothing. and the magic of watching a tiny plant sprout out of the ground. The alternative . of making her way in the world. laughing. in what amounted to her inner. but it was coming. Then there was Michael.. All of which it was. and she didn’t even want to know what he’d gone through on that golf course. she had seen where she would place couches. though. Uncle Horace came into the sunroom and intruded on her thoughts and her writing. this simple act often made things look clearer. She had never liked the idea of giving it up. They would go to the little Baptist church in town.going home . and she didn’t want to miss him. while walking through the bare rooms. or working two jobs while her child was raised in daycare. the sense that somehow people changed on the outside. he’d been thrust into her personal sphere. the one she continued to think of as hers. if not innermost circle. to him. with a black lab running beside them. it looks like I’ve got work to do. Here. That hadn’t happened with Michael. chairs. whatcha’ doin’?” She closed her book quickly. the placement of rugs. or maybe her perception of them changed. It could be really fun. he seemed to fit. She longed for a feeling of independence. Back at their own familiar camp. he’d been friendly.” . and now she was beginning to envision a life with a child. They didn’t include living in a cramped apartment and subsisting on welfare.. She wrote it all down. More than that. he wasn’t a stranger.” said Jesse. and piano lessons from one of the ladies in town. you can forget it. and working in the kitchen with a baby in her arms. Once again. like it or not. no doubt. First of all there was the issue of her house. no matter what logic said against it. She imagined the colour of the drapes. He was obviously a little overwhelmed.. if only.and she was starting to think that she could like it. and . He’d be gone after the summer. and her daughter would grow up knowing the feel of dirt between her toes. She may not have planned a baby. He’d endured their taunting patiently. but she couldn’t make herself face that reality. not to mention somewhat iniquitous. she thought over the events of the day and wrote them down in her journal. and there would be fathers enough there to fill the role in bits and pieces. but not today. “And if you think I’m going to offer to help. She knew she needed to think rationally. but there were no answers. to be reasonable. They would skate on the frozen lake in winter. or the problems that could arise from that child lacking a father figure. But he had stayed with her. It was always a little dangerous hanging out with Rocky Bay people outside of Bible Camp. Such a life she saw for the two of them. “Well. He was the same person outside as he was inside. it hadn’t bothered her to have him here.” Michael said as they were leaving. “Hey kiddo. her camp had probably seemed crowded and chaotic. and pictures. He seemed to belong with her. they were as much a team here as they were while directing campers into their seats at chapel. then everything else would fall in place.a nursery in one of the upstairs rooms. She would have a garden. She saw herself rocking on a front porch swing. She shouldn’t let herself be so dependent on anybody. Somehow. and that was what got to her.she didn’t know if she could bear. The only problem was that her fantasies weren’t realistic. In her mind.offering such conveniences as tables and chairs.

What’s that you got there.” Her mother joined them.“Doesn’t look like nothing to me. looking out at the lake that was now almost hidden in shadow. Just think of how many hearts you’d be breaking if you didn’t at least give the boys a chance. but there was no bed in the house. finally. “I’m afraid I don’t feel at all responsible for anyone else’s heart. It’s cold and unfeeling of me. “We’re good friends. he wasn’t to be put off. “Well. and asked her in a gruff voice. That’s all. Take it from someone who knows. Michael wasn’t likely to be scared as easily as she was. she wondered about Michael. “Like I said.” she added in the interim. It would be awfully uncomfortable. he crossed his arms. and so lonely. she had never done well alone. He was apparently trying to stare her down.” “Close enough to go out with him?” She shook her head and smiled patronizingly. sat staring at her for some moments trying to see a sign that she was hiding anything. maybe you should make an exception.” “Close friends?” Jesse sighed. “You don’t wanna be alone. But then.” “Oh come on. The ghosts of those who should have been there seemed to fill the empty bunks.” Her neck hurt.” Jesse shrugged and smiled. Still. .” “I don’t want to make an exception. you seemed awfully close this afternoon.” “Ooh.” “Not every girl. I know. every girl wants to get married. A bare house could be very scary at night. He held her gaze until finally tiring of the showdown.” He was indignant.” He turned back to her in a livelier mood. and Horace was forced to leave her alone. “So. it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. He’s here to help sell Mrs. looked down at her through dark. ‘what was up with this Michael fellow?’ Jesse looked back up at him. met his eyes and said calmly. so he gave me a ride. mimicking his tone. Petrick’s old house. but I am unmoved. That night. a pretty girl like you can have your pick. a diary? You write all about your boyfriends in there?” “No.” “Well. all alone? She’d seen a sleeping bag in his trunk. lying between Corah and Marnie on the pull-out bed. just my strange relatives. fancying himself wizened by years. Taking a seat beside her on the couch. then. “Did I give the impression that I didn’t?” she questioned. “Yes. that hurts.” “So you want to end up old and alone? I can tell you from experience. and even that small room had become cold and expansive at night. is it against your religion or something? How are you supposed to find someone to marry if you don’t date?” “I’m not looking to get married. like sleeping out in the open. and she had to look away. we’re close. “We’re friends. Jesse. only worse. all that empty space gave her the willies. we’re very good friends. “Besides. “What. She’d once slept alone in one of the cabins at Rocky Bay.” Uncle Horace feigned with a hand on his heart. you-can-tell-me voice. serious eyes. Was he sleeping in that empty house.” He shook his head.” Horace. is that all you want to be?” he asked in a very grown-up. He tried another tactic. “Uncle Horace. you know I don’t date.

he grew more and more afraid. Jesse’s grandfather had asked him. The end of the service was a relief. . and while he worked. I just saw the sign last weekend. What he hadn’t seen were the grins and silent laughter that prevailed behind his back. Today. making it hard to concentrate on anything else. and Michael had felt like he was facing an Italian mob. sweeping and scrubbing. that her uncles didn’t murder him in his sleep. She usually knew no one at this little church that they attended once a year. but he stood tall and answered clearly. he turned around to see five disapproving scowls. Either they slept in. “Have you been here before?” she whispered back. “I intend to marry her.” The pastor opened in prayer. There would be time for niceties later.” Michael whispered to her. They went back to the lake for lunch and a swim before heading out to Rocky Bay. sir. “No. but somehow she almost wished it weren’t over. walking in while the congregation was singing and having to find out what page of the hymnal they were on. but they did have a rather sadistic sense of humour. and then sat down beside her. He also knew he wanted to marry her . Jesse hated it. He’d gone willingly like a lamb to the slaughter . had no use for him. what his intentions were towards his granddaughter. though. praying for two miracles: first. but he actually got worse as the game progressed. and the game continued without another word about it. but Jesse and her sisters always felt a little uncomfortable. Keith. and wondering at her reaction to the contact. and they bowed their heads together. So he finished cleaning the stone house with a troubled spirit. both were inevitably aware of their closeness.and on the fourth hole. But her family was crazy. What had he gotten himself into? He was crazy in love with Jesse. he thought. graciously stood aside to let the ladies in. Her extended family. but despite their interest in the message. “You hardly missed a thing. After each bad shot. and they had no pity. having grown up here.as did Zeb. or forgot it was Sunday. the humiliation was lessened a little. Though they actually liked this boy. His sons stood around him. ever. Then there was the sermon. and now. They were late for church. Three hours had never gone by so slowly. second. and then the family patriarch nodded. the rest of the male cabin leaders from last week. Her mother knew some members of the congregation. or trying to find a space on a pew for all of them to sit while someone read the announcements from the pulpit. and later fell asleep on the hard floor. by the sight of a friendly and familiar face: Michael. He was sure he would never play a game of golf again. He had never been so scared in his life. Jesse couldn’t help glancing at the arm touching his every once in a while. With every borrowed golf ball he lost. They continued to stare at him for a few moments longer. after hitting his ball directly into a pond that was almost in the opposite direction to where he’d been aiming. Jesse’s mother and sisters didn’t seem to mind it as much as she did. at least. Jesse’s uncles weren’t cruel. it happened every summer.Michael worked until late into the night in that house. It didn’t seem possible. point blank. or forgot what time it started. in the second-last row. that much he knew. that Keith and Zeb had been right about his chances with Jesse.” he’d said. Her uncles hated him. they thoroughly enjoyed tormenting him that afternoon.

Horace looked him in the eye when he said it. They just loved me.” “They like you.” “I don’t know. they have a funny way of showing their love.” “Well. “Well what?” “Are you going to give anyone any reason to make good on those threats?” “I’m going to try not to. Good to know. She chuckled because he said it with such pain in his voice. They uttered their threats while they were still in church. They’ll be gone by next weekend. were repeated at least five times. so if I brought you to my family reunion and half of my closest relatives said they wanted to kill you. Their ability to switch from open and amiable teenagers to potential assassins. preceded and followed by jovial banter and well-wishes. right.” he said uncertainly. you know. whether they liked it or not.” These words.” he said. “I’m serious. So.” “Really?” “Most of them.” “Well?” He was confused. Reid stood beside him and pretended to be looking somewhere else. “They really like you. you’ll never have to see them again. here. always quietly but clearly. or slight variations thereof. you have nothing to worry about.” He laughed. The least expected. In the car. Besides.Michael was relieved that he met with no more hostility in any of Jesse’s relatives. “If you hurt her. But he intended to see those relatives again. another weekend with her was a possibility. “I have never had my life threatened so many times in the entire rest of my life as it has been threatened today. but I wouldn’t automatically assume that they didn’t like me. was chilling. but they wouldn’t be far away. She might not see them again for a while. except for one final warning. “What. She was just grateful that he seemed unperturbed by it all.” “Like with death threats?” She gave him a disbelieving look.” All he really cared about was the part where she mentioned ‘next weekend’. you’d be fine with that?” “Maybe not. “Well then. trying to give equal attention to both her and the road.. and therefore the most startling protectors. and back again. Stop being such a baby. and Chris came up behind him and wickedly whispered it in his ear.. The goodbye was not painful for Jesse. Michael spoke first.” “And anyway. but it wasn’t like leaving home. I could see it in their eyes.” They spent a few minutes glancing back and forth at each other in silence. accompanied by friendly pats on the shoulder. she asked him how he had enjoyed golfing with her uncles. I’ll kill you. and all he said was that he didn’t think golf was his sport. “So you’re saying they liked me. her family’s insinuations regarding her and Michael’s relationship was a bothersome nuisance she was not sorry to leave behind. Jesse obviously loved them.” “Yeah. gathering their thoughts. so they were going to be . were Jesse’s little sisters. She wished she could spend more time with her family.

“Well. August 7 6:30 am It is my first morning as a cabin leader this year. but it’s for the best. “Oh yes. overbearing? Scares away all your boyfriends?” “Well there was that kid in grade one that followed me home from school. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:44 AM 0 comments Chapter 21 Monday. though.” Jesse proposed. Why do you want to know?” “Protective. Tuesday. “My mom left that duty to my dad. “Your mother was very pleasant. a new girl. some old. I got through yesterday alright.needed at the wedding. but you never know.” The mindless chatter brought them all the way to Rocky Bay.” Her dad. but today it really starts. depending on how you looked at it. and I think my cabin is going to be a challenge. Isn’t that an awful thing to say? I’m a terrible person. she. some loud. Jesse was being asked to do double duty .. I don’t know what it is about her.ah. medium I guess.” she joked.as a cabin leader. so nothing’s been proven. or not so fun. yes. Well.. and I am very nervous. at least I don’t think I’m letting my feelings show. and maybe when I get to know her better I will like her more. She’s just not the kind of person I would normally be friends with. “Ah. “So.” “Really? How?” Michael wavered.” “That’s my mom. It could be a good week. but I don’t really like her all that much. The girls are an interesting mix . your dad.. “They never did find the body. He had almost forgotten about him. My assistant cabin leader is Mandy.” “She reminds me of my own mom. either.” “And I’m guessing she didn’t threaten to kill you?” “Not once.” “I guess having sons will do that... trying to keep a straight face. we do have that.” he offered in an attempt at a truce. some new. “And I always thought you were such a sweet girl. she’s like that. Due to a shortage of cabin staff. Some are quiet. that’s where our mother’s diverge then. She’s not mean or anything. We’re getting along... I can’t explain it. she had those..” Jesse admitted.” Michael remarked. August 8 6:45 am . My mom packed a mean spanking.” “I’m beginning to think your entire family just has this sick sense of humour. where they were in for some very fun news. She’s never been a violent person.” “Well..” “I’m sorry you had to find out this way.none are really bad. but none are really good. ” “All those mother-like qualities?” “Yep.is he a big man?” “Uh.

I suppose I should have a talk with her. really I don’t. But it’s nice and sunny out anyway. I don’t know what to do with this girl. I love them to pieces. Looked cozy. I know that sounds oxymoronic. We sat up. and she’s acting worse than them. I do a quick couple . Katy is actually pretty awesome. but they’re so ignorant. and last night confirmed it. you know. and she wore her pyjama pants to breakfast. being head cabin leader and staying in a cabin. And guess what Mandy says? “Well. He went fishing for a couple days. along with all her stuff. Not a cloud in the sky. This morning I am at the beach by the fire pit for my devotions because someone was on the picnic table by the main beach. I know I don’t own that beach in the morning. I’m sorry. I mean really! Some Christians. I knew she was no good. who can blame me? No. Later that night. but for some reason they can’t! I suppose it doesn’t help much that Mandy refuses to help me. It was freezing this morning. How do I do devotions in my own cabin. I know they want to be good. I just don’t know what to do with them! Why can’t they get dressed before flag raising? Why can’t they at least try to clean during cabin cleanup? Why can’t they be quiet during quiet time? They want to. It’s hard this week. I almost believed her. so the girl was definitely lying. and neither is Katy. August 9 7:00 am Katherine went home last night around midnight.apparently her mom left him. How can I expect the girls to listen to me when she undermines everything I say? She’s supposed to be setting an example. a gentle breeze. that’s not true . she was gone. with all the conflicting messages they’re getting.. Katie (not Katy) got up and went out to the bathroom without asking. It smells delicious. and with 9 bratty campers.” I could have throttled her. and at the same time make sure the other cabins are getting along alright? I try to get my own girls in bed early. at least not yet. Wednesday. Crazy. good air. and then quickly check on the others.. Thinking. and it has put me a little out of sorts. I was trying to tell them about creation. 6 days doesn’t necessarily mean 6 days. Her Dad called . No wonder these girls are confused. So crazy! What is going on with these girls? How can a girl lie so blatantly. I love that there is no smog. she’s not afraid to be a kid. but I got very wet walking through the tall grass getting to my alternate location. and of course there were questions about evolution. so I’ll dry quickly. I couldn’t tell who it was. you know? It takes some maturity to do that. but it’s gotten really nice since. too. but I really don’t want to. and when he came home. they had a sleeping bag wrapped around them. looked at each other. I guess I was grumpy this morning. and clean.These girls are intolerable. 1:30 pm I feel a little better now. What kind of mother leaves her husband while her 13 year old kid is at camp? It took me a while to fall asleep after that.and I am not going crazy.Beth is not a brat. But Mandy backs me up. she said it so sincerely. I don’t hate them. I could live on air like this. Both Mandy and I were awake at the time. and she said ‘did you just see what I just saw?’ I followed Katie out and she lied to my face. I feel pulled in a dozen directions practically every moment of the day. She was as loud as anyone last night. and about something so silly? The really nutty part about it was. saying she had asked Mandy.

gagged-sounding rasps. but I don’t trust her. And I might have. to celebrate. too. and a man came and tried to take them away from me. looking at the ceiling. I wanted to dance and sing. It was horrible. or she might have fallen out of her bunk. and I’d like nothing better than to take her up on it. It was the biggest. I’m a horrible person! . She threw up. though. Thursday. August 10 6:37 am I dreamt that I had 2 campers.I just had that feeling.. From what I saw on Sunday. but it came out as these heavy.of rounds during loud time. and I don’t need that again.. and I want revenge. if the light from the girls’ washroom didn’t cast an artificial glow over the spot where I stood. Katie has been sleeping between me and Mandy. I was worried that she might get my bed dirty. It drew me to it.but I know that’s wrong. I locked them in and locked him out. just rising above the water. that she is just a lost child trying to defend herself in what has been. uncaring world. this sign of his grandness. choking. I really would. I feel personally offended. and I’m sure she doesn’t have many friends. We’ve started using channel 2 to talk to each other so we don’t annoy the rest of the senior staff. so far. Her mother had said she has them sometimes. I can’t help wondering what happens when I’m not there. And yet at a time like that. a cruel. I know that I need to love her. Last night was a Full Moon. Thank goodness we thought of it. She doesn’t have any problem with it. but some were standing still (they were apple trees). He’s taken over a lot of stuff for me. somehow. and her body was rigid and shaking. He’s so funny. please help me to love her. They wanted to go to him. that they couldn’t go with him. He’s already caught me once dancing in that field at night. But he found them again and started climbing the trees. She is very immature. It was so hard. I was in the washroom about to change. and it was trickling out of her mouth. I can remember thinking she would probably have one this week . and I couldn’t have resisted even if I’d wanted to. Why couldn’t they understand? Katie had a seizure this morning. She was trying to breath. It’s great. but I really don’t think Mandy can handle our cabin on her own for very long. and if Michael weren’t sure to walk by in a few minutes. and I made the girls run to a nearby hill and climb up into the trees. casting a long road of light along the surface. My golden boy has been wonderful. but I was told differently. and though she made it sound like a rare occurrence. I wandered down to the field after my final rounds. her parents aren’t the greatest either. Most of the trees had been cut down. this gift of God. but I wouldn’t let them. and I was trying to make them understand that the man was dangerous. on an extra staff bed. I suppose I should have anticipated this and put myself with a more experienced assistant. I thought it was the Harvest Moon. Then he left. 9:30 am Katie is giving me a hard time this morning. when all the cabins had turned their lights off. I’d like her to do something really bad so I can send her home. when one of the girls came for me. most beautiful moon I have ever seen in my life. Her eyes were open. She’s trying to pick a fight. he keeps me laughing all day. There it was. and I felt as if I could walk along that highway into the moon itself. God. and we find time to talk during swim or free time.

Do you have any idea how good it feels to really talk to someone. and for that I will always feel that I failed these girls.but most of the time I have to agree with him later on. Mandy was already there. The girls were asking questions. I was at prayer meeting and Tiffany-Joy came to get me. but I pray that in similar situations in the future. Give me the words to speak. so the girls didn’t want to go back to sleep when it was all over. Some were in the bathroom. so there were a lot of “is so-and-so a sin?”. but it’s good for me to have someone so levelheaded around. I just about had a heart attack. so tired. as if he really cares about what they’re saying. but I am so glad I got another chance to do it right! I only wished I had done it yesterday. devos went fairly well last night. and he coaxed me down to the picnic table on the beach. I don’t know what I’d do without him.he’s earned my confidence. I was up very late last night. That’s what they really needed. but I did. about nothing. anyway. And then he always knows what to say. God.and sometimes I’m right . I should be sleeping. Mandy seemed to be handling Katie alright . 11:05 am I’ve taken chapel off. and though it was my own fault. As grossed out as I was. please forgive me. they seemed to be even more shaken up. sometimes I get this strange feeling when he looks at me. about everything. but I’m sure about it. I shouldn’t have gone. The stars were so amazing.actually I have a new respect for Mandy now because of that. I’m so stupid sometimes. I didn’t. I needed to tell someone. I was surprised.The only rational thing I did was get the other girls out of the cabin. so I stood outside with the girls again. Sometimes I argue with him . about how hard it is to know just how to deal with them sometimes. I can’t tell . how much I’d missed having a real talk with Michael. and Mandy has improved to the point that I felt she could handle them. August 11 9:15 am Katie had another seizure this morning. I should have prayed with them though. too. It’s funny. Michael saw me going into my cabin after doing my final round. about my girls. don’t let my mind go blank. I also told him I was keeping the baby. I will listen to your guidance and do what I know is right. asked them what they were going to do when they got home. it was almost 8:00.everything except what I knew I should be doing. It’s almost weird. and not be afraid of speaking the truth? I never have to worry about how Michael’s going to react. He seemed like the best person . I made another mistake . I don’t think I’d even written it down yet. but when they all came out I actually did pray with them. by me. praying some more. They all sounded relieved when I suggested it. I stayed with them outside and tried to keep them calm. though. They’re so clear and perfect out here. anyway. I’m so. or reading some scripture. On a brighter note. I’ve never met someone who listens so intently to other people. It was about sin. I won’t ask for another chance (I don’t want Katie to have another seizure). The girls were all quiet. especially after last weekend. After praying. I’m not sorry for it. talking to them about God. I guess. Some of them were really hard to answer. We just talked and talked. Don’t let me chicken out. It was just a short prayer. and whistled. shared a funny story . but it did get my attention. to make it seem official.I sat on the porch and started talking about normal things. I told him about my cabin. Friday. And they wanted to hear the ten commandments.

. and those I couldn’t like. I really did like most of them. most of me loves it. but it did. I’m so tired I think I could sleep in tomorrow. sweet rest! Why on earth am I up so early? Ah. you know. Part of me is a little upset at having my uterus treated like a playground. not to ‘put my faith in men’. It happens every year. He couldn’t sit still for long. to look into it’s eye when it is young. and no one even taught me how to do it! There was no test. Their faces are replaced with new ones. The baby kept me up all night. details are lost.except maybe at sunset. Even Michael isn’t perfect. It beckons me. That is what calls me from my bed. and I want to be protected. what started this. to feel safe. and every once in a while he walked out onto the porch and looked in the direction of her . But this life is a good thing. They weren’t so awful. to know that there is a little person whose every need is totally dependent on me.. but it’s nice to have a friend. I didn’t even want it to happen. before it learns to pierce my own with its fierceness. The rest will be gone. Oh. She must be dancing in there. The evidence of it was in his face. with every minute that passed while he waited for her to appear. I wish I could keep him. I. I’m already starting to let the girls go.. I don’t know if I can ever come to terms with it. But no. and in the way he became more anxious. so special and unique. I may never have this feeling again. Will and Peter watched him and exchanged knowing glances. they were just girls. What happened to me. the sun. and more fidgety. I know I didn’t write enough this week. I think I’ll remember them forever. They knew he was thinking of asking her this weekend. but there’s no guarantee that the reading will be able to dredge up the memories. it breathes the air I breathe. Jesse McDougall. the chance to see what I can’t see at any other time. I am excited about the weekend. August 12 6:44 am I’m sorry to see these girls go. really am. you can’t see the sunset from here. I’ll read it. Keith. I stand by my previous statement. Did I say that? Saturday. no interview.. It’s stupid. one can only write so much. and even what I’ve written will grow dark.but I’ll admit. though. was a very bad thing. I might even have a nap this afternoon.what he’s thinking. am responsible for another life. but I don’t know how else to describe it. Men fail. Each girl is so important. but I never do. I cannot run from that. I can feel myself beginning to forget them. like I know he would protect me. I know. I think I was able to love. But isn’t it wrong to lean on someone? I’m supposed to lean on God. I really. along with entire memories. Me! It eats what I eat. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:43 AM 0 comments Chapter 22 Michael paced the office nervously. I must beat the sun! I must feel it’s first glorious rays on my skin! To see the miracle that drives night away. It’s probably because I am so scared. no application procedure. I feel safe with him. despite appearances. every week. I’m growing a little human inside me. but the sun. aren’t I? I need to learn to trust him again. their names fade.

If anything. she would feel safer with him there. When they asked Keith for his opinion. Michael greeted Dom like they were old pals.cabin. She laughed. but couldn’t bring herself to lie down. the quiet. she went to put her bag in her room. and soon the plan was to go swimming. They brought with them the news that Nana and Papa were away for the weekend. who could also sleep in the middle of the day. and carried it as they walked to his car. and the well-earned rest. reminding Jesse of her cousin John. “There’s a bed in the middle room. was 6"4'. They spent a perfectly lazy day this way. There was a pillow in the passenger seat. and occasionally wandering to the kitchen for something to snack on. They weren’t alone so much as together. Aunt Sandra was appalled that they had already wasted so much of the day inside. By now she was used to him being here. He closed his eye and grinned. where she read contentedly on the sofa. even if it was only a small backpack. She really was exhausted. Her smile melted all his worries away. after what had happened to her. Her hair was in a ponytail. with her feet up on the woodbox and a cushion behind her neck.” she informed him. She’d already napped in the car. but Peter wasn’t so confident . but wasn’t sure that she was ready for marriage. enjoying the sunshine. when Dom and Aunt Sandra arrived late in the afternoon. and also favoured that particular couch. John.spending a weekend alone at the lake. Michael relaxed instantly when he saw her coming up from Ingleside.” Michael said. and when she came out he was lying on the couch. While changing for their swim. and woke up grumpy. she took a book out to the sunroom. and to combat the uncommon heat she had discarded her usual baggy sweater and wore a tank top that loosely outlined her growing figure. though. Michael slept pretty soundly for a few hours. Will and Peter made predictions about what Jesse’s answer would be. While he was outside. So she didn’t even think of what the world would assume about two young people . reading. Will was sure she’d say yes. I’m comfortable here. since there were lots of beds now that her family was gone. and he woke up groggy. and being alone with him was nothing new. Michael didn’t snore or fill the entire length of the couch. He took her bag. Aunt Sandra probably couldn’t really appreciate how much time they had spent outside all week at Bible Camp. Instead. Jesse had to get the key from its hiding spot and made him swear to secrecy concerning the location. and he hurried to her side like a man set free. “No thanks. It was just Michael. but wouldn’t tell them whether or not he believed she would. Having a job that kept her indoors. He didn’t want to share her again this weekend. he said he hoped she’d say yes. They entered the silence of the cottage. Jesse wondered briefly if she should don the t-shirt she . That didn’t stop her from using it.” She supposed anything would be comfortable after sleeping on the floor of his aunt’s house. Nevertheless. nearly asleep. but smiling. as she assumed he had done last weekend. dozing.he thought she liked him. she had to at least bring him a blanket.particularly a young woman and a man almost four years her senior . She decided she would invite him to stay here for the night. He didn’t stir as she laid it over him. and that was enough for one day. She was tired too. and she grinned sheepishly. He breathed a sigh of relief when they pulled into the empty driveway at Jesse’s camp. but Jesse said nothing. “in case you get tired. snored loudly. and he opened one eye. He seemed to belong to the lake as much as he belonged to Bible Camp. though.

and therefore wasn’t necessary just because Michael was here. and your insides let themselves become the same temperature as the water around you. it would be a problem here. She didn’t usually wear it here. kind of like something from the 60's. “Don’t tell me you brought home a wimp.” she said crossly. Then. Jesse had no choice but to answer. all at once the cold goes away. “I will never understand the attraction to the sauna. it’s a special kind of cold.” put in Sandra. Sandra claimed the corner with control of the water bucket. who had just been introduced to the novelty the weekend before. Mikey?” he teased. and though it wasn’t an issue in the shallow bay at Bible Camp. but soon retreated to the sauna. They jumped in the lake first to get wet. but you call it fun. “First. and Michael in the other corner seat.” said Jesse. is that it?” Michael asked. just when the last drop of warmth is gone. “Yes. too. and it hurts to breathe. “Yeah. Besides. “Yeah right.” said Michael. “Well. “You deliberately jump into water that is too cold to be swimming in. Your body’s given up on trying to be warm. Eventually she decided that the t-shirt wasn’t for decency’s sake so much as to conceal her roundness from the campers. Water droplets clung to their arms and legs and glistened on their faces.” Dom taunted. The t-shirt dragged her down in the water. with just her family.” put in Dom. You’re like a cold-blooded fish that doesn’t feel cold. “It’s not just cold. then Dom beside her.” “But she shut up about it and took it like a woman. “I never used to like the sauna either. Dom laughed. but I sat on the middle bench. quite cozily because four adults was all it would take. Her bathing suit itself was quite modest.” “It’s great for the skin. but urged her to explain what she meant by a ‘special kind of cold’. She thought it was cute. That’s the delicious . Jesse. “That’s the fun part. Jesse sat next to her. Michael took it good-naturedly. They sat all four on the top bench. the only one who could wrest the spot away from Dom. so she gathered her thoughts and spoke dramatically.was used to wearing at Bible Camp. and the point isn’t to stay in till you die.” “So you really like the cold water.” Jesse said. and then run into this wood hut filled with hot steam. The boys would not let it go at that. black with white trim. “I can handle it. do you really want to trick yourselves into thinking it’s a good idea to jump into icy cold water?” Jesse could well imagine how hot it had been in here last weekend. I just don’t see the attraction. “You wanna sit on the second row. your eyes dry out. subjecting yourselves to temperatures at which the human body will eventually cease to function. someone should tell your uncles that. “your skin gets all tingly. “Sometimes it takes a little extra motivation to take that plunge. but she only said. and you think you’re going to die. ten?” He turned to Michael. till you were what. just till you’re hot enough that the lake starts to look good. even though we know we’ll be glad for it in the end. with a high neckline and short skirt.” she said.” Jesse said. with only Michael and her uncles. Sandra looked at her niece. Your skin burns. and you can feel the heat being drawn out from the centre of your body. where the deep water required real swimming.” “The door’s right there if you can’t take it.” she said forgivingly. but Jesse just looked across Dom to Michael. “It’s ok.” said Dom.

” said Dom. You would die long before your body temperature dropped that far. knowing nothing of the dark conclusions the young people had come to concerning Mrs.” he said. but it’s not like camps on this lake go up for sale every day. “Hey Jesse. “But it’s all gone now.” Dom’s mouth hung open.” “Well it’s certainly imaginative. Michael had been waiting for this opening. as she’d taught herself to do years ago. but I find myself believing it anyway.” Jesse sighed like an exasperated parent trying to explain a simple concept to a group of unappreciative children. actually. I don’t know if we will sell it. “You really are crazy. not what actually happens. “Would you live in it?” asked Dom. Me and Jesse started. and heard nothing but good things about her. and that’s Jesse’s. Aunt Sandra threw a quarter jug of water onto the rocks. yeah.” she implored Michael. “I know it’s all nonsense. for one thing. That was before we found out. “It would be a long time before any of us could even begin to think seriously about it. our favourite place in the world. Dom then got a bright idea. and who knows who Nana and Papa will leave this camp to? They could give it to Uncle . “Wow. “Even considering the. “And you’re not gonna get another chance at this one in your lifetime. This is like.” he replied. didn’t you like your aunt?” Aunt Sandra asked. about the ‘smell’. As the hot air rose. “You interested?” “Oh. I love you. whatever it is. so eventually it tries to warm up again.” “What. “Jesse. “and there’s nothing left there to remind me of her. then proceeded more slowly. Jesse breathed through the burn. but she didn’t say anything.part. But you’re not really a fish. “Who exactly has been picking out camps to buy?” “Well we’ve only begun picking out specific camps this year. Petrick.” explained Dom. as though it were common knowledge. and even Michael didn’t seem to mind the heat. and your body can only pretend to be a fish for so long.” said her aunt.” Jesse tried to explain. “Not yet.” This was news to Jesse. “I just meant that it smelled.” But Michael’s mouth turned up at the corners. uh. previous occupants?” “My great aunt is gone. How do you make something like being cold and wet sound so good?” “It’s not nonsense. Sandra had even gone to the old lady’s funeral. I’ve grown kind of attached to the place.” “Well.” said Michael. “Have you sold your aunt’s house yet?” asked Sandra. then her sisters and Stu and Rachel did last week. she’s wanted that house for years. and have to go back in the sauna. “I’m only telling him what it feels like. but tried to appear casual.” “Ignore him.” “It’s just a silly thing we do. “We’ve all picked out the camps we’re going to buy someday. but Michael grinned. Michael was very interested in what Dom was saying. That doesn’t mean it’s nonsense.” she said distinctively. “I talked to my parents about maybe keeping it. “but as a doctor I can tell you that it is definitely nonsense. But by this time. please. which turned into steam in one spectacular sizzle.” said Dom. but there was a smile on her face.” Jesse still said nothing. maybe he’d sell it to you!” The suggestion caught her off guard. either. That’s when you really feel cold.” he said. you know. It wasn’t too bad though.

I can dive in the lake without thinking about how deep it is. He glanced at Dom. Mike. looking at Jesse.Horace and none of us’ll ever be allowed back here. will ya?” said his mother. only to see him shaking his head.” said Michael. the whole lake’ll be ours. I guess I don’t have much choice.” she said. “Not yet. really. There aren’t any leaches. “I thought you were going home. and she didn’t really like the city. He did see that Jesse was uncomfortable with the idea of returning to school. What else is there?” “There’s always beer in the fridge. That’s what Michael had assumed. did any of them look sober to you?” “You just worry about yourself.” “Why?” he asked impulsively. and seemed . too.” he said. not knowing if she could put it in words.” said her aunt dryly. “Well that says something. It burned more intensely this time. Michael listened curiously. But she faltered. She just shrugged. “I don’t know. again looking at Jesse. My happiest memories were made here. So we figure we’ve all gotta get our own. “So. Eventually. mister.” added Dom. “Well it’s true. home. Dom just smiled cheekily. you decided yet what you’re doing after camp?” asked her aunt when the heat had lost its sting. I guess. but it was still her home. and his eyes closed.” She poured about another third of a jug of water onto the hot stove. You were here last week. Aunt Sandra looked at Jesse harshly before she spoke. over any other?” She shrugged again.” “Well. “My parents’ house? I don’t know. Michael noticed the tension in the air but didn’t know what caused it. but I wouldn’t want to stay. throwing more water on the rocks. As the steam rose. because this is where I learned how to dive. “or go to work and get your own apartment.” she answered. who was known for his love of that tropical state. “It’s just.” she agreed.” said Dom. “Even better than Disney World. The air is clean. unable to deny the claim.” “This is really your favourite place in the world?” Michael asked. I guess you’re keeping it then. from what I’ve heard it’s hard enough taking care of a new baby without adding school or work to that.” “You could always go back to school.” “I can’t go to school.” said Dom. He knew her family had moved last year after she went away to university. there’s always second semester. Jesse tried to laugh at him. I can swim all the way across to the other side. confused. She had once raved to him about Disney World. Michael gritted his teeth. I’d be due in the middle of exams. “Why this place. which she’d visited twice as a child. “Smack that kid for me. “So. but it hurt too much to breathe. grimacing.it’s familiar. “That’s a nice place to visit. “How could it not be?” “Even better than Florida. “Even better than Disney World?” he asked.” his mom warned. Jesse. you adults are such winos. Immediately the look on Jesse’s face told him he’d said the wrong thing. I’ve spent every summer of my life here . and you can see the stars at night. It’s always cold. and was surprised that her aunt would push her to take on so much at once when she obviously didn’t want to.

She was sure he meant to drown her. I’m keeping it. She was spun around and struck full force by the remorsefulness in Michael’s face. as though to applaud his companions for their awesome performance. from his shaggy wet hair to his sandal-tanned feet. eventually. and the third. sending waves into her mouth. nimbly negotiating the awkward stairs and flying out the door. She covered her mouth and nose with her hands. though. They moved slowly and said nothing. Instead of yelling or splashing water in his face. and quickly covered the last few feet of wood planks. she gave him an evil glance. then swam away. but swimming closer. “I have to go.” He still stood before her. but with him beside her she just kept going. Their black and white patterns almost blended in with the water. She shivered. It was a while before Jesse stopped. The breathless humans watched silently and patiently while the strange birds came ever nearer. and kept going. “When I hear those loons. But all she said was. with his ebony wings flapping. and as the waterfowl glided noiselessly past them. though. She didn’t mean to go very far. lifted his white body out of the water. occasionally one of them ducking his head under water for a few moments. “I’m ok. She ran out. or I never will. wiped the water from her eyes so that she could open them. and her face felt as though it were on fire. she was able to answer. in a moment hearing footsteps behind her. tremendously happy with himself. Worry emoted from every feature. Aunt Sandra will forgive me.” said Jesse. Michael said reverently.” Sandra’s mouth was set in a grim line. I suppose you will be going to live with your parents. “Well then. because he was almost smiling. I can understand why the Natives believed that animals have spirits. “It’s ok. There was something like regret in his eyes. He called her name. accompanied soon after by its own echo off the cliffs.” she said. patting his wet back. panting. Michael followed. Michael’s words rang a familiar chord with her .unaffected by the cloud of steam that rose up from it. They didn’t talk. “Look. Then it was over. motioning with her chin while treading water. When they were quite close.” Her skin was sizzling.” she said. The lake was very calm. “Loons. and dove in. suddenly not wanting to disturb the serene peacefulness that had descended. He bobbed up a moment later. Don’t worry about it. Then another took up the wild song. far away to their right in the middle of the lake.” she said. “I’ve gotta jump in now. She screamed as he cannon-balled a few inches in front of her. “Yes. but they were no longer so mournful. before he could apologize. and all she could think of was making him feel better.” There were three. and caught her hand. stretching its neck up high. the only ripples on its surface caused by waterbugs and the two swimmers. the middle one unexpectedly raised its head and let out a hauntingly beautiful call. After some breaths. It took Jesse a few seconds to adjust to the new temperature. so she reached up and hugged him. “I would have had to tell them soon anyway. trying to overcome her hesitancy to breathe in the scalding mist. they just swam. cold and dripping. When she pulled away it seemed to have worked. really.” Jesse did not take her eyes off of them.” she said soothingly. and was greeted by the sight of a body hurtling through the air towards her. She surfaced a short distance from the end of the dock.

but made a game of going in and out with rapidity. even Michael admitted that he was starting to enjoy it. She was madder even than she’s ever been at me. During their last steam.” he said with a smile. the mountains on the opposite side appeared to be so close. had an effect on the senses not unlike the rush of a roller coaster. amazed.own thoughts.” Jesse sighed. “I don’t think they even consider it a possibility. surprised that such a small lake could suddenly look so large.” Real tears were streaming down her cheeks.” Michael concluded easily.u Jesse smiled too. By the time Jesse’s feet touched the rocky bottom close to shore.” “Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?” he quoted. Jesse knew he really meant that she shouldn’t try it.” he said. and there’s a lot of strange stuff in there. there must be something to it. The swim was nice. “We can turn back now or go the rest of the way. She even talked to your mom when she was here about it not being too late for a second-term abortion. They really want what’s best for me. She was cold and feeling heavier in the water than usual. “You should have seen her when she found out you weren’t going to. at least. The change from hot to cold. in their own way. Now my mom thinks it’s your parents that are making you keep it. when they were all beginning to tire. then. “They weren’t happy when they found out I was going to carry it. she was more than ready to re-heat her bones. going out that far. now the camp looked small. only from the opposite end of things. “Where’s Aunt Sandra?” Jesse asked him when he came near enough.” She looked apologetically at Dom. and after their next dip.” “Well. but she didn’t argue. even. They’ve never said anything to me about it.” Michael tread water beside her and looked around him. From camp. They chatted comfortably but briefly in the sauna. He worried about Jesse. “Do they not want you to keep the baby?” he asked.” said Dom. too. “It would be easier to take the criticism if I didn’t know that they actually love me. “She got called in to work. “It’s Ecclesiastes. before the opportune ring of the pager had called her away. “I don’t think we should try it.” “I know my mom did. but it was also hard work. but the hills didn’t look any closer. but she was getting cold. Michael couldn’t help apologizing for unwittingly breaking the news earlier. though. Before they had backtracked more than a few metres. The sauna welcomed the three of them into its cozy warmth. . “Animal spirits are usually a taboo subject for Christians. but I’m sure they tried to convince my mom to talk me into having an abortion.” she said. and it’s hard to stand up to that and say that I know better than them. quickly forcing themselves out by pouring buckets of water on the rocks as fast as the poor stove could handle them. with its ups and downs and sudden turns.” He said nothing of the words that had been exchanged between them. Jesse looked at him. and back again.” Jesse responded. “We’re in the middle of the lake. I don’t think your mom took it too well. and then Dom and Michael wrestled in the water while Jesse stood by laughing and cheering them on. Dom emerged from the sauna and swam out to join them. “It’s the same thing with the other side of my family. “It’s one of the few things that can remind me that I have a spirit. because my spirit cries with them. too. “Sometimes I think they must. though. They took no more long swims.

they weren’t there to talk to the way Michael was. but can I really know what will happen after she’s born? So many people have told me I won’t be able to love her. “Maybe I’m wrong to think I could raise her on my own. Last weekend there had seemed to be nothing but love and laughter between them all. Michael built a fire for them in the pit by the beach. and they sat around it for some time. without a father.” She stopped then. talking. They played cards while they ate. that I shouldn’t even try. And Jesse felt the same kind of pressure from the rest of her relations. which wasn’t difficult. and Michael was doing his best to reassure her. holding her hand as she tried not to cry. and was apparently incensed over the thought that she would actually keep it and raise it herself. “I think I do. and yet here Jesse was giving the most unforgiving speech he’d ever heard from her. mustering up her composure. Her parents and her sisters still didn’t know. Then Dom.” “It seems to me like you already do. gambling with nickels and dimes.” were his parting words. too. but it was getting colder and they only lasted for a few short dips. as she shared things with him that she might not have shared with anyone else. and Michael. spoken mischievously before tearing out of the driveway. to herself as well. . had to go. The doctor-aunt who had cared repeatedly for Jesse and her baby was trying to convince her to kill it. you know. They swam again later in the evening. This afternoon in the sauna was the first time she realized that she’d told Michael her decision to keep the baby before anyone else. He couldn’t help wondering at the ‘him’ part . In the end Jesse came out on top. and I’ll hate her for it. at least. There was a loaf of homemade bread Nana had left for them.Everybody’s pulling at me. and hadn’t wanted to say anything to her family until she was absolutely sure. and I’m not going to let him do that. She’s mine. was decidedly the loser. “Be good you guys. too. being new to the game. except maybe from Dom. even her own family. Jesse rummaged through the fridge and threw quite a few things out that had been left past their prime. “But I can’t give her up. But then. sending them with Dom to the garbage at the public beach so her Nana wouldn’t find out. but it sounded like she knew which one was the father. and if I gave her up it would be like he’d forced me into giving away a part of myself. he guessed. Sometimes I want to scream. He seemed to be a trusted friend. Maybe I’m stupid to think I could even love her. He’s taken enough away from me. she was second-guessing herself. and it was only this past week that she’d become firm in her resolve. as he had made plans with some friends in a neighbouring town.” said Michael tenderly. She tended to keep things to herself. She’s my child. Now that her aunt knew. as well as leftovers. trying to explain them to him and. The young people shifted for themselves in the way of supper. spinning gravel as he went.he knew Jesse had been raped by three men.” Michael wondered about this strange family. She’s bound to remind me of him. despite their differences.” Her voice quavered and she wrapped her arms around her abdomen protectively. Jesse was aware of their conversations growing more and more intimate. listening in awe as she wrestled with her feelings for this child. Michael was all sympathy and support. She was still confused.

And they’re very serious. No one could doubt that. content to leave it for some other time. sensing that there was more to it than that. “and he will. but my dad’s . and they aren’t too keen on single mothers.” he reminded her gently. My mom’s family are heathens. “I don’t even want to think about what I’ll do if it’s a boy.” There was bitterness in her voice. “Look at me.” “And with boys?” He glanced around before answering.” She choked out the last word. “My dad’s family are Christians. anyone. I wouldn’t know what to do with a boy. if it’s a boy. “I don’t really know if it’s a girl. the poverty. before continuing. She gave in. If I got married. But according to her. “whatever happens. “You’re right.” “They don’t think you should keep it?” “Not as a single person. “One of the condoms broke. only my mom.” At this she laughed. God is with me. A girl would be more like me.“Remember. She wouldn’t let herself ask him what he thought of her case. Instead. It would be easier to forget the. Jesse had to laugh.” “You haven’t met the other side of my family. leaning in conspiratorially. offering a little affirmation. “Oh..” Michael had no idea what she was talking about.” she said caustically. we talk about kids being raised by single mothers.” She thought about that for a moment as the fire crackled. The father. I’ve started referring to it as ‘she’. intrigued.the father. “Of course he can. someone.” said Michael. but through her choked throat it came out as a half-sob. They glow. in spite of herself.” “And?” Michael prodded. Michael raised a quizzical brow. my dad predicts the sex of babies. it will be harder. “He says the mothers light right up when they’re carrying a girl. I’m serious. though. You’ll be a great mom. I’m just hoping so hard that it is. you’re not alone in this. agreeing with her. isn’t it? I mean.” Michael said.” There was a second of silence. “God hasn’t left you alone..” He swallowed. “You know.you know who the father is?” She looked down.” he assured her. “I think it has something to do with the male hormones. “And. I’ve got you saying it too. that would be different.” he confessed.” she said.. I’m not alone.” he whispered. he’s never been wrong. “They get ugly. hating to bestow such a name on the beast she wanted so much to forget. she left the subject. “You can’t be serious. the problems that come from not having a male role model. I don’t know anything about boys. He’s given you a love for this baby and I don’t think he’ll take that away after she’s born. “That’s the most important thing. but don’t you think God can make up for that?” It occurred to him that she really just needed to hear another voice. not meeting his eyes.” she explained. “You. “He does?” “He never tells. and get more beautiful the bigger they become. “I had all sisters. He grinned..” “How does he tell?” Jesse asked.

and her eyes looked deep into the fire.are not. at least the way they look at it. someone to love me. “you are.” She tried to argue. and the worst part is. you know. They don’t believe in single parent families. and how lucky it was for her that her birth mother was unselfish enough to give her a better life. lighthearted interlude. My Gran keeps trying to introduce me to her friends’ grandsons. she was too independent. “Never.” Michael sat quietly. and they just totally ignored it. She held firmly that May was the best. and I’m choosing not to get married. Gramps and my preacher uncles have long discussions about how all the evils of society can be linked to the breakup of marriages and the kids that are raised by their mothers. But it’s not like this was your decision.” she pointed out.” she maintained. “Are you serious? They actually said that to you?” Jesse appreciated his consternation. . I never even knew it until a few months ago. “I almost think I’d prefer it to all the hints.” “But I do have a choice. It’s yours.” “You’re not being selfish. the best cabin leader Rocky Bay Bible Camp has ever had. Then he grew serious. guys from church. His thoughts had been churning during their brief. I wanted someone to take care of me. “You know it’s true.” was all Michael would allow. “Well you’re the best I’ve seen.” “Well I’m all for two parents. And all the sudden it’s all out in the open. clenched tightly in her lap.” said Michael She didn’t seem convinced. I was considering adoption. but had to be honest. and they made me feel guilty for holding on to them. Then she looked down at her hands. “you would never really consider that. but it’s hard living under their disapproval. It isn’t your fault that you’re about to have a kid. now. they’re not so cruel.” he said hesitantly. She never wanted to get married. I don’t. more so because I know they really love me. so I can’t really blame them for trying to influence me that way.” Michael was floored. but I’ll admit this is a hard one. after all. “I can forgive my family for just about anything.. and they do have a point. and I know you’ll be the best mom you can possibly be. “I was never like. too. “I’m choosing to keep the baby.like May. and she supposed she had to. But they knew how I felt about getting married. I could never handle being alone. but Michael would hear none of it. and everyone’s saying what a blessing she is. They didn’t consider my feelings at all. I suppose most people do. So really.. imagine that.” “No. the single parent thing is my fault. grinning. I wasn’t strong like her. because they’re Christians. I feel like I should respect their opinions. mostly.” She reflected on the ways her father’s family made their opinions known. So I started dating in high school.” he said. “You have every right to keep this baby.” she said. would you? Getting married for the sake of your child?” Jesse’s shoulders slumped. “No. barely above a whisper. They wouldn’t say something like that directly. waiting for her to explain. too.” “But you don’t have to agree with them.” This she would not accept. and I’ll bet that’s better than most two parents combined. but her jaw was set unyieldingly. no one ever talked about it. “I’ll never even begin to approach her level. “About that marriage thing. One of my aunts was adopted. They were all nice Christian boys that my parents approved of.

” Michael said. and that she loved him.” Something like tears stung his eyes. “I thought you said your family knew how you felt.” she agreed with a soft chuckle. and everything he felt. It made her so very sad. and so proud all at once. “They did.” “And you shouldn’t.” she said quietly. I would likely end up an old maid. he didn’t kiss her lips. appalled. and in his look.” Michael’s eyes softened. and he had to stand and turn from her.” She paused for a moment. with only a trace of sadness. I thought she didn’t understand because she didn’t want to get married.” she continued. There wouldn’t be any doubt. “Even now. When anyone asked about my latest break-up. because when God sent the right one along.. They danced with firelight in the dark. after that. Then I started to see that I wasn’t so different.” Michael commented. remembering the book she had borrowed the line from. unblinking. and I was quite at peace with it. with the prospect of raising a child alone?” “More so.she told me never to settle. looking unconcerned. After a minute she took a step back. She smiled appreciatively. “I’ve seen what men are capable of. His gaze remained sure. He didn’t touch her face in a soft caress. but in that one word he poured all his love. She stood.” “Quite a declaration for a sixteen-year-old. but made no comment. even though she never said anything. “Jesse. She said I didn’t need to look for love. And I realized I couldn’t live with anything that wasn’t real. We were kids trying to convince ourselves that we were in love. until right before she left.” she said. She found her feet. in his stance.” he said. *********************************************************** “What do you want to be when you grow up?” May asked her sister. meeting his eyes. “Jesse. and she could not help but hear it. “I never told anyone this.” There was something wonderfully noble in his words. and I knew I didn’t want to become like that.” she admitted.” And she knew. She swallowed. When he faced her again. I just said I didn’t want to date anymore. She knew that he loved her. but the feeling of his sleeve stayed on her fingers. that close to him. “I dunno. “I thought a lot about what she’d said. “I know I can trust you. “But you see I’m almost nineteen. “Some men you can trust. which had been so sure and steady a moment before. She said.. “Quite.” he said.” said nine-year-old Jesse. now. I didn’t take her very seriously at the time. thoughtfully. I’d know it. he didn’t lift her up and swing her in a wide circle. was unaccountably trembling. He just said her name. The question went unasked.” said Michael. honestly. and her hand. his voice was gruff. and in an instant she felt a change in them. and laid a hand on his arm. . “You don’t wanna be a bum. and it was all fake. and as only the very deepest love would ever tempt me to marry. That was all. Her hand dropped. “First I saw my friends differently: they wanted so desperately to be loved that they’d take it from anywhere they could find it. and I’ve kept to it. “Well you gotta think of something!” said May. something she didn’t understand.But I always had the feeling that May didn’t. and searched his face. Jesse looked up in concern. “Not all of us are like that. but I didn’t tell them the whole story. But then she died.

” Jesse was starting to get interested.” “I’d cry for you. “I’m gonna be a nun. “Well you better decide quick then. or even God. That’s in Europe. She had seen The Sound of Music. that’s just for starters. “first I’ll go to live in a big old church. “What do you wanna be a nun for?” “What do I wanna be a nun for! Don’t you know what a nun is?” “Course I know what a nun is!” said Jesse indignantly. And they speak their own languages. so that her face was even with Jesse’s. May?” she asked prettily. thinking. “Well. I don’t think. There’ll be fountains and courtyards all over the place. cause they don’t know any better. They’re called cannibals. as long as they kill me quick.” “And that’s all?” “No. Everything’s big and old there. And everyone back here would cry for a really long time.” “What if they get mad and kill you then?” “Well. Then I’ll get sent away somewhere. There’s lots of tribes in Africa where they don’t know anything about the Bible.” promised Jesse solemnly. and I’ll sing in a big choir with organ music. Whatever it was. They probably won’t have ever seen a white person before.” said May. “I guess I won’t mind too much. after all. or Jesus. That didn’t sound like much fun.” advised her older and wiser sister. That’ll keep them from killing me. and probably a dungeon.” May rolled onto her stomach. and to give money to poor people. May looked down at her from the pile of cinder blocks she was perched on. There was a wicked gleam in her eye. it didn’t sound nice. “But they’ll probably be too afraid of me. “Won’t you be afraid of the dungeon?” “No. until I can tell them who I am. She definitely did not want to be a bum. probably in Italy or France. “What’ll you do when you’re a nun. “Won’t you be scared that they’ll kill you and eat you?” “They might. May.” said May. probably somewhere like Africa. till I learn how to be a real nun.do you?” Wide-eyed. You’re almost ten. and maybe take care of some orphans. and they go around killing people with spears and eating them.” said May.” “Ohh!” said Jesse. or anyone wearing clothes. when they do that.” said May. like a missionary. and practically falling down. “A nun?” Jesse repeated doubtfully. But people will come and ask me to pray for them. for she was dying to tell somebody. “You don’t have much time left. “They don’t use the dungeons anymore. so there isn’t even any Bible they can read.” “Where do you think you’ll go?” “Oh. .” “What’re you gonna be?” she asked. and I’ll have my own room.” she said. and at first they’ll think I’m an angel or something. I’ll go to Heaven anyway. Jesse shook her head. She liked the idea of fountains. “Can you keep a secret?” “Sure I can. who was standing below in the shady corner behind their garage. “Would you cry an awful lot?” May asked.

And I’ll need it.. “Well.” “So you get special attention?” said Jesse.instead of getting married to a boy. if I’m going to Africa. so she tried a different approach. We’re not married to him like you could marry a boy. “Then God is your only husband. Well. “I don’t want you to die. waiting for Jesse to come to the conclusion herself.” she said.” nodded Jesse. that’s fine.” May said in a whisper. and he’d have to take care of us himself.” said Meg. and hugged her around the neck.” “I didn’t know you could marry God. So we have two fathers. “They probably won’t kill me. God lets him take care of us.” “Oh. so May finished. cause God is like your husband too. because he wants the cannibals to learn about him so they can go to Heaven. May!” she exclaimed. “But remember.” May paused here.” said May. we’ve got Dad. but it’s a little bit like that. A husband wouldn’t be much good there. You’ll get married and your husband will have to take care of you. unsure. a metaphor.” she assured her. “Wait until I actually do die. just a little bit. the cannibals would just eat him first.” “Good. you know how God’s our father? Good.” “So if we’re all married to him.” said Jesse. then extricated herself. But if we didn’t have Dad. He just helps out now and then.” “Ok. Besides. “You’re gonna marry God?” May became a trifle embarrassed. you can’t tell Mom and Dad. why do you have to be a nun?” She thought she was starting to understand. “Then I’m glad you’re going to be a nun.. “But that’s kind of what nuns are . “Nuns are Catholic. Dad won’t take care of you anymore. But have you ever seen God?” Jesse shook her head. But when you grow up. But if you don’t get married. you’ll have two husbands. We’re called ‘the bride of Christ’. because I’ll be married to him.” “Even boys?” “Even boys.” “Why not?” “Because. “Right. then God would be our only father. all Christians are sort of married to God. and even as she nodded her eyes filled up. trying to explain a concept to her little sister that she didn’t really understand herself. I don’t want you to get killed. “That’s cause we have Dad. they’re married to God. he’ll be taking care of me special. not really. .” “Would we see him?” “No. see. and he’s our father too. “Don’t cry now. “Well. So instead of having two Dad’s.” But this only produced new tears. She didn’t like thinking about this. She just stared.” ************************************************************ Jesse went through the motions of getting ready for bed that night. proud of her sister at last.” Jesse was shocked. “Very special attention. too. She didn’t. but her mind was far away. But we’d get special attention.” “I think I’d rather have Daddy then.” she admonished. That’s beside the point.“Mmm-hmm. It’s like a. Are all the nuns married to him at once?” “Well. “God will protect me. too. She brushed her teeth. she changed into her pajamas. But God could stop them from eating me. she even read a chapter of Job in bed before turning the light off. May allowed her sister to hold her for a second.

they began passing a folded piece of paper back and forth behind the backs of two campers. While her campers were eating snack . her latest attempt to keep Michael away from Jesse had failed. Also. And when he said goodnight. but when asked. as they could not be trusted to keep it from the kitchen girls. He was only more attentive. when whispers of it had spread through the dining hall and some could not keep their wellwishes to themselves. discreetly. By some manoeuvring she had caught the beginnings of a conversation between Mark and Peter at ‘intro chapel’ lineup that sounded interesting. When their talk was cut short by the call to enter the chapel building. though they’d sat outside for quite a while. None of the maintenance crew were told. first one. When she’d stepped back from him. and all married men were definitely out of the question. which every staff member there could have recited by memory. was actually a well-guarded secret. she looked at him. Those entrusted with the information were sternly impressed with the importance of preventing any leaks to the female segment of the camp. After the boldness of that first morning. she couldn’t say what exactly it was that she had been thinking about. Later she would say she was thinking. And now she couldn’t sleep. she’d been expecting to wait a lot longer. she saw him drop it in the garbage can at the back of the chapel. There was something very unreal. There could be no other Michael. But she didn’t know the whole truth of it until Sunday night. He was it. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:42 AM 0 comments Chapter 23 Chapter 23 The news that the head male cabin leader was in love with the head female cabin leader. Michael’s plans were kept very hushed up. it was like she’d stepped inside herself. more affectionate. and she would listen. the first day of Intermediate II. but it stopped there. and most often in private. and when they were finally dismissed. then five. It was Michael. till the fire was left to die down. again it was as though he had said ‘I love you’. She lay awake for what certainly seemed like hours. and they went inside. and yet very peaceful about it. Their attention was on the campers in the beginning. and more flirtatious than ever. Zeb and Peter to most of the male cabin staff. She’d known in an instant that it was. but when Bob began ‘introducing’ the rules and procedures of camp. that Jasmine came into this information. The realization stunned her. Encouragement was now given quietly. Every once in a while he’d say something. but she kept her thoughts to herself. and she told him he could sleep in the middle room. It took no extraordinary effort to see that despite a promising beginning. she didn’t want anyone else and she never would. she saw Mark finally crumple it in his hand. She wasn’t ready for it. that he was the one her sister had told her to wait for.Michael. So it was with great difficulty. They watched the stars come out. Somehow. and much eavesdropping. and that he was going to ask her to marry him. then more than they could count. It spread from Keith. she managed to seat herself across the aisle from the pair. Jasmine watched it travel between them. She didn’t say much else that evening. a talent for disappearing into the background.

Just wasn’t the right time . The scrap of paper. . Jesse McDougall had sold her soul to the devil and was now reaping the rewards. His hands were in his pockets. he wasn’t tall. however. It was time she faced reality: guys like that didn’t fall in love with girls like her. He was nineteen. They sat very close and talked of little. The world was conspiring against her. she found Michael waiting for her on the field.You think he’s scared? .Yeah. that’s harsh. as though she were worth something. a cheater. . which were shuffling and kicking at dust boyishly. He wasn’t handsome. There was only one way she could get a guy. a guy who had actually seemed to care about her. However. when Jasmine crept out into the moonless night to meet Ray Jansen in the church basement. and he didn’t listen to her when she talked.Dude. a liar. if only for a few seconds. Jesse had to personally enforce quiet time in more than half the girls’ cabins. But he looked at her. smoothed out carefully in her hands. because despite everything . . Wouldn’t you be? . They were asleep in their respective cabins. you didn’t ask her to marry you. Sunday night rounds were a killer. interrupt an unauthorized inter-cabin pillow fight. though. the only guy who had ever looked at her as though she were a human being. she should have known it all along. confirmed more than she had suspected.Did he say why? .Keith says Mike hasn’t asked her yet . harmlessly intimate. but he lit up when he saw her. she excused herself to retrieve the Bible she had ‘forgotten’ on her chair. It began with Peter’s writing. don’t worry. and this was his second week as a cabin leader. there were no latenight hospital runs. and he put his arm around her. She knew that now. let him take her hand. And she gives Zeb extra desserts all the time. so I wouldn’t let it go to your head. Life’s going to be harsh.He’ll do it. When she finally decided it was safe to leave the cabins on their own. you got her to give you an extra bowl of ice cream. She’d played it safe. Ray was no Michael. and for that she was grateful. she was fat and the most perfect guy in the world was about to propose to her: a guy so great he seemed to have come from another planet. and almost sent two campers home for being outside after second bell. and he led her to their picnic table. . They stayed that way for quite a while. and that way wasn’t going to work with Michael Brown.Dude. She met him there. standing in a patch of light.that evening.He does realize there is only one weekend and two weeks of camp left? .Probably. and she’d been depressed enough by seeing Michael and Jesse’s growing closeness to let him kiss her in the staff room. and she could tell he liked what he saw. and when she grew cold she rested her head on his shoulder.As if! Did you see me with Amy Laverly last week? . How else could this be happening? It didn’t make any sense! She was a hypocrite. and his head looked down at his feet. well you’re short. The universe hated her. He’d flirted with her last week.

but no. It was an uncalculated look. From the first she felt. leaving her physically exhausted. or how to go about doing it. Worse. At Samantha’s suggestion. that Jasmine would not want to talk to her. she received a look that she could only describe as that of pure hatred. Nevertheless. Jesse was sitting at the dark-haired girl’s table. Now she realized where her neglect had led her. She looked like she hadn’t slept at all last night. Even without taking care of a cabin this week.she still held out hope. exactly. If any of the other girls had suddenly appeared as wretched as Jasmine did that day. and she was lost as to how to offer it. she liked her .. but there was pain behind the hatred that was even more frightening. She had met very few people who disliked her so completely. as if the girl were simply too weary to hide the darkness in her soul behind a mask of civility. If only she could find out what was wrong. and needed extra time off once in a while. The baby was keeping her up more at night. And then there was Michael. A remarkably small amount of food was actually making its way to Jasmine’s mouth. but the memories that were brought up in helping him with it couldn’t help but hurt. If only she had made more of an attempt earlier in the summer. devoid of meanness. she didn’t speak and rarely even looked up. she couldn’t let her past mistakes ruin her chances now. Yet none of them gave her any trouble.. she could hardly ignore the fact that tomorrow was her birthday. never tried to be her friend. when Jesse tried to talk to her. But she never went beyond the superficial duties. Her responsibility was to the female cabin staff. On the surface she treated her the same as anyone else. Here was a girl in need of support. To make it even worse. Susannah was not lazy. but she could have Ray. and worrying about their future didn’t help matters any. She would have talked to her. and some had developed a cold that was going around. intimidated her. and even inquiring personally after her health and well-being once in a while. and she wasn’t sure what she could do. and she now saw what Sam had been so concerned about. because there was no basis of trust. There seemed to be little of her left over for her girls. Her skin was paler than normal. Then there was Keith’s project. and done what she could to help. and never had anyone at Bible Camp been so openly mean to her. quite correctly. and because they weren’t friends she didn’t notice her moods and movements the way she did the rest of her staff. but more and more of her emotional energy was being drained elsewhere. leaving her to her own devices. giving her regular evaluations. It was clear that she couldn’t have Michael. Now there was no reason to hold out.. She was a good assistant cabin leader. Any overture she made was bound to be met with outright disdain. found out what was wrong. and she had great confidence in most of them. Jasmine. putting an encouraging note in her mailbox every week. in a way. but she knew she had overlooked Jasmine. Many were tired and worn out from running on adrenaline all summer. Jesse felt sure she would have noticed it right away and done something about it. Jesse was chastened by the fact that Samantha had noticed Jasmine’s despondency before she had. in either direction. There had to be something she could do. or to be helped by her. and worried that she wasn’t doing her job properly.. It scared her. she felt distracted. most of them were doing fine. So it was not surprising that she soon learned to let Jasmine alone. that he was doing it. It made her glad. however. Jesse watched Jasmine push her lunch around her plate.

“Maybe she’s not hungry today. whether it’s something I’ve done or not. being friends with Jasmine. She hadn’t heard her approach. sitting on the porch beside her. that Jasmine’s behaviour indicated .” Jesse was surprised. “Well. “I don’t know her very well. I know she doesn’t like me. She felt a little bit like a traitor. and liking Jesse as much as she did. so as long as she was visible and somewhat aware of her surroundings. drawing her knees to her chest.” she said. and she reluctantly sat up. what?” she hedged. “It’s about Jasmine.” she said. It was during such a time on Monday afternoon. nor her interference in their games. She prayed for them and did her best to be a good Christian example. She was sharp-eyed. hi. Her head cabin leader had no complaint to make against her. “Hi. She couldn’t understand what Jasmine had against her. She was always happy to have her campers come and talk to her. as she was sunning herself on her cabin steps (she was on duty in the girls’ cabin area that day). and could often be seen lying on the grass or on a picnic table during swim and free time. Susannah squinted in the brightness that surrounded Jesse’s silhouette.” Hannah did know more than Susannah. but she isn’t eating or talking today. I haven’t talked to her today. “Like. but she’s been eating and talking. but it wouldn’t hurt if you prayed.” said Jesse. but in her opinion they did not require her constant vigilance.” Susannah’s face blanched. “I couldn’t say. She’s been kind of gloomy for a while.” she said. but she shook her head. I know she’s never the cheeriest person. I need to know if something’s happened since yesterday. she also knew how great she looked with a tan.” Susannah wasn’t sure what she meant.” Susannah let out a sigh. does she seem different to you? Today especially.” said Jesse. “What’s up?” Jesse leaned over to look in her eyes. I wouldn’t worry about it.” she suggested. “Do you think it’s anything really bad?” she asked. at least not around me. “I need some help. “but I don’t care about that. I know you and Hannah are her friends. “but I’m concerned about her. that she opened her eyes and saw the now noticeably pregnant Jesse. “Oh. even to her.campers. worry clouding her pretty face. and knew before breakfast that something was amiss.” said Jesse. I don’t know if anything’s happened. I could ask Hannah. and gladly yelled at kids if she happened to see them doing anything nefarious. either from relief or regret.” Susannah was game and quickly agreed. but she felt it when she sat down. I only want to help her. She also had her suspicions as to the cause.” “It’s ok. since she felt allowances should be made for differences of personality. and they liked her. “I’m sorry. I’ll talk to Hannah. “I don’t know. she was free to do as she liked. It was obvious. “But thanks. and she seemed alright yesterday. but she wasn’t about to tell Jesse.” She smiled and got up to leave. “I hope not. and I thought you might know if there was something I should know about. However. shrugging her shoulders. or she has cramps or something.” said Jesse. but Susannah stopped her. “I think she talks to her more. precluding an objection from Susannah.

but has she ever talked to you. every once in a while. incriminating herself in the process. Maybe it’s too late. if there were any. She was sorry to have to do it. hanging her head in shame.who will hold him to account.. If he or his demons see an opening. accepting the criticism as though it were a fair one. she had become more sure of there being something wrong. Somewhere. She’s not talking. She couldn’t let Jesse do something stupid.” Hannah tried to ignore the pained expression on Jesse’s face. Jesse went to bed early that night. “She just doesn’t like you very much. “I understand if it hurts your feelings. if she did that. and she prayed also that he would give herself the strength and the wisdom for whatever part she might have to play in it. I know there’s something wrong. there is yet in him the knowledge of a Creator . but it’s nothing new. making evil appear good. just as she’d ignored Jeremy. she prayed for forgiveness. Few have seen the full and unmasked face of the Devil. But when Jesse simply sat down. She could see only pain for both of them. like confront Jasmine. and tempts only as far as he thinks he is likely to succeed. and she would never be the same girl she had once been.and he is capable of much. as far as a man’s ‘conscience’ will allow him.. “I know. Jesse was one of them. and I really do want to help. in the blackness of a cellar. and only then is the most awful depravity made possible.. Her body was .” she said grimly. There was nowhere to go. and disguises himself. I didn’t try hard enough to get to know her. she almost took back all her harsh words.” “You mean she’s not talking to you. and prayed very earnestly. You haven’t concerned yourself with it before. The darkness eclipses the light. surrounded on all sides by concrete walls. Three times she faced him.” Hannah had to harden her heart. Mostly. He uses lies. ************************************************************ Some depths of evil go beyond what man is normally capable of . and demonic influence becomes demonic control. but I’m trying to make up for it now. or maybe to cry. and he craves even more power. were covered. Jasmine would likely say some very nasty things. Satan knows this.whether he recognizes him or not . Though she’d failed to get any closer to Jasmine through her friends. and get herself sent home. She asked God to forgive her for ignoring Jasmine. even if she could have twisted free of the ropes that held her.” Then she left her alone.” said Jesse. “I don’t want to be rude or anything. “It is too late. whatever it was. “I think there’s more to it than that. and much worse than what she was inflicting now. why start now?” She expected Jesse to get angry.problems far beyond a stomach ache. voluntarily?” Jesse didn’t have an answer to that. they are swift to take it. “I think you should leave Jasmine to her real friends. and I didn’t love her like I should have. She prayed that God would somehow help Jasmine to get through it. for the doors were locked and the windows. but it was the lesser of two evils. Yet the Devil is more wicked than any man. which is what he is best at. a line is crossed. “I’ve neglected her. Bent toward wickedness even from birth. though. She would face him.” she said as gently as possible.

The paramedics that came with the ambulance were the first to recognize that she was alive. and by that time she was unconscious. but she didn’t talk to her parents for a week. The vehicle screeched to a stop and backed up beside her. and while one of the men doubled over at the sight of her. taking little bites out of her. She lay there for an hour before a car drove by. In this one. her mind altered. She said and felt nothing when she missed her first period. like a log that . Her first. went unfinished. and then came hordes of tiny fish. but she couldn’t move to stop them. and it kept her alive. feeling betrayed by them. because she was not alone in that cellar. She had been gone only one night and a day. She stayed in the hospital for three more weeks. She saw them. though. but was convinced that she was whole. torn. except that she refused to let the male doctor anywhere near her. mangled thing. but she wasn’t dead. because Jesse wouldn’t sleep without her there beside her. that held her bones and sinews together when they would have fallen apart. Now awake. It wasn’t her time to die. the other used his cell phone to report the body of a young girl on rural route #1. for surely they were all sleeping peacefully. and likely her last year of university. She felt the still unfamiliar scars. she rapidly pulled herself out of the suffocating sleeping bag and felt all over her body. they packed her in the truck and threw her in a swamp. There was a part of her. Not a sweet ebony-coloured infant that one could wrap in a blanket and love. arms. that did not die. She said goodbye to the little church she’d attended for eight months. face down. but a twisted. with no bites taken out of her. Eventually a female doctor took over.used. She struggled to gain control of her breathing. Jasmine dreamed that night. till she reached the side of a road. her mother stayed. but the pain told her that she was alive. Until then the nurses were the only ones to cry over her. and to the ambitions of higher education. When she was well enough. though she wanted to die. But she was not the only one who had nightmares. Still. though they asked the same ones several times over.the little black baby. She didn’t choose a major. she went home. No one even knew who she was until the third day. and over torturous rocks. and she didn’t want to wake anyone. She saw the mud on the bottom. and to suppress the sobs that threatened in her chest. She was cut. She calmly answered the police officers’ questions. even when her own parents sided with him. the same dream she’d had the night before. She stopped fighting almost completely. and she went home. She could not go back to school. a charred black monster. legs and neck. She gave up the room in the seven-bedroom house that she would have shared with six of her closest friends the following year. There was a spirit within her that gave her strength when she had none. When they thought she was dead. to calm herself down. she had been drowning in a swamp. which she remembered in great detail. It was still the middle of the night. and felt them. through the grass that cut like knives. because her mind needed time to recover as much as her body needed to heal. The spirit of God was with her even in that place. The doctors performed tests that she was mercifully unaware of. and bleeding. ************************************************************ She woke up in a cold sweat from a horrible nightmare. but she did not wake for eight days. when her roommate reported her missing and her parents came to identify her. her soul overcome. So she crawled through the mud that sucked at her wounds. It came to her again . The fishes would soon have picked her bones clean.

It was a foul. she began to approach her. as though she hadn’t really seen Jesse standing . or scratches. She recoiled from the frightful image and covered her ears against its accusations.. because she’d done it again. She reached the edge of the grassy bank. anyway. Jesse had to push down a sudden jolt of fear. Jesse heard a scream. though she had never seen a sleepwalker like this.but it wasn’t coming from her.. She didn’t want to startle her. As she came closer she could see black hair being whipped crazily by the wind. It sent shivers up Jesse’s spine that had nothing to do with the cold. and then a gaunt. It was her baby. the corners flapping behind her in the wind. upright figure outlined by paper-thin pyjamas blown against her skin. but something about the scene gave Jesse an eerie feeling. and spit in her face.marker. and fought to think rationally. Her face was streaming with tears. Her senses were heightened. and it knew this time. and even as Jesse watched. It seemed to be covered in something. she emitted another unearthly wail. The bottom buttons of her pyjama top were undone. Whore! Slut! Who could ever love you? Liar! Murderer! You should have never been born! You were rotten from the moment of your birth! It screamed at her unrelentingly. she moved slowly. unsure if she should go further or call to Jasmine from where she stood. It knew the first time. That wasn’t the wind. and she slowed from a run to a walk. treading cautiously.had been burned in a fire. Jasmine needed help. and it was growing. She leaned forward to look out her window and saw the bushes and long grasses blowing wildly on the steep bank. Still. the one she had killed. It knew everything she had ever done. There was a movement over on the beach. especially if Jasmine were sleepwalking.. Panicking. and why it came to her now. the one she’d had ripped from her womb and thrown away so that no one would ever know what she was. Not knowing what else to do. In the faint glow of the moon she seemed to be some tormented spirit-ghost. unholy thing . but she didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger. and she ran toward it. a stain that wouldn’t wash out. Soon she could see that the girl wasn’t holding her stomach. A deathly pale face turned toward her... Throwing her head back. It had no eyes. It pointed a black finger at her. and her hands seemed to be clutching her abdomen. a dark spot on her stomach. she was pounding it with her fists. She knew what this was. and it was there to remind her of it all. and her fist continued to beat her own stomach in sickening rhythm. she covered her own mouth with her hand to smother the sound. but she could not escape it. and Jasmine didn’t seem to notice her. searching for the source of the sound. It was coming! Everyone would know! She couldn’t let that happen. “Jasmine!” she gasped.but then she heard it again.a corpse that would not stay buried. Jasmine stood at the edge of the water. it was a person. But then Jasmine turned away suddenly. It looked like Jasmine from the back. with eyes that looked straight through her. one step at a time. She was alone. She had to stop it. but it had a vile mouth that spewed horrible things at her. She dashed outside without even grabbing a sweater and looked about frantically. and the sand was cold and unpleasant on her bare feet. The scream might have just been the wind. But now it was back. recounting all her sins and calling her filthy names.. maybe. The noise was outside. her shoulders convulsed in a fit of sobs.

she was now cogent. and saw her. but this time she answered. Jesse couldn’t leave her. reeling at the sight of the red blood covering Jasmine’s middle. and she collapsed. It was an unreal night. but she remembered Kim’s anxious expression when she appeared. then closed her eyes. Jasmine’s head and shoulders ended up in her lap. Jesse decided to try talking. and then her face contorted painfully. but couldn’t remember falling asleep. She ran and leaped at the deranged girl. She was aware that she woke up in the waiting room. “My ba-by. look at me. She gasped quickly. taking a step towards the girl. “Jasmine! No!” There was no time to think. but it was too late. but he wouldn’t say anything else. Jesse was obviously upsetting her. like a nightmare invading the earthly world. She wasn’t fighting anymore. and only hit herself harder.there. After the screams that had already been uttered that night. “Who do you want to go away?” Jasmine clenched her teeth against a guttural moan. though. because he was close and because she needed him. but had no idea how she got there. Jasmine looked at her. Jesse half-caught her. “Who’s here? Jasmine?” Her voice sounded nervous and hollow to her own ears. as though she were surprised to see her there. But Jesse thought she had heard her. Jesse would have thought herself asleep. the whole camp should have been awake. She didn’t remember running to Bob and Kim’s house or banging on their door to wake them. but she still had a death-grip on the knife. as if trying to shake Jesse’s voice out of her head. Jesse took a deep breath. or if she was even alive. “I killed you! You’re supposed to be dead!” Jesse took another step toward her. “Jasmine. Jasmine had already plunged the knife into her own flesh.” she said loudly. but Jesse didn’t think she was talking to her.” she sobbed. seeing a glint of metal. “God. stumbling and landing in the sand herself. or removing her hand from the handle of the knife to wrap his t-shirt around it. She heard the doctor tell them that Jasmine was going to be ok. She only remembered him gently lifting Jasmine from her arms and carrying her toward the nurse’s cabin. “Go away!” she screamed. Jesse covered her hands with her own. Somehow she knew. with her head on Michael’s chest and his arm around her shoulders. “You’re dead! Leave me alone!” she cried to some unseen thing over the water. so she called for help. “I didn’t!” she cried defiantly into the wind. she really did. but it was better than nothing. that he would come if she called him. which was lodged just below her belly button. but there was no sign of anyone. Dry sobs racked her thin frame. “Oh God. but calmly. “You?” she said. wrapped in a pink housecoat. how could she have done this?” Jasmine looked up at her for one brief moment. But for the very real human contact. preventing her from drawing it back out. “Who. . Whether the pain or Jesse’s voice had finally broken in and shocked her out of her trance. She shook her head fiercely. She remembered telling the nurses at the hospital what had happened. but she couldn’t carry her either. Jasmine?” Jesse yelled at her now. grasping for her wrist. She didn’t didn’t see him running out to her in pyjamas and bare feet. but managing to keep one hand on the knife. then stopped short. “I didn’t know you had a baby.” Jesse murmured. she hoped.” And for once. or where they had taken Jasmine.

and she meant to tell her all along.” said Jesse. Jesse told herself. “What if I knew something about Jasmine that you didn’t know. Jesse felt immediately that Jasmine would be made to feel how much her actions had humiliated and embarrassed her parents. Hannah asked Jesse to tell her exactly what had happened the night before. “She was dreaming. Had she been dreaming. “I’m not negotiating. “Bob told you what happened. “I won’t be mad at her. Jesse never divulged everything that had happened that night. They looked cold and walked briskly. “It’s not my story to tell. truthfully. She would say. Hannah. She’d tried to talk to her. and Jesse followed. That slimy little.They left when Jasmine’s parents arrived. not yours. She’d never trusted him. an obvious fraud. She wondered if they knew how the memory of it haunted her. she wondered what had driven her to the madness she had witnessed. She’s my responsibility. She didn’t feel she had a right to. What did she say?” Jesse knew she couldn’t evade her anymore. She wondered if they knew about their daughter’s abortion. “Are you going to help her?” asked Hannah. hardly acknowledging Bob and completely ignoring the rest of them. but their faces betrayed no worry. to come near the end of a summer already fraught with more shocking tales than anyone felt was necessary. She’d known all along that he was no good.” Hannah knew she could trust her. or if she had done it to hide her pregnancy from them. sleepwalking? Hallucinating? Did she know what she was doing. Would you want me to tell you?” Jesse set her jaw firmly. “I need to know that you’re not going to get mad or make things worse for her. sensing that it was something important. She marched straight towards him through the crowd . When they reached the dining hall stairs. Most of all. she doubted if she would ever know. Hannah boldly motioned her away from the evening campfire.” She was going to kill him. Now she could tell her. Her face and voice were serious. Only one person asked her if there was more to the story.” Hannah looked her over warily. If you know something that could help her.” Jesse answered. It was shocking enough news. that she had woken to Jasmine’s screams. but Jasmine had given no rational answer. and then stabbed herself in the stomach before Jesse could stop her. I’ll do whatever I can to help her. “She didn’t know what she was doing. “Jasmine slept with Ray Jansen. You talked to her. and what he told the rest of the staff. This is what she told Bob. They had to know what had happened to their daughter.” she confessed.she couldn’t think of a word bad enough. and found her apparently sleepwalking on the beach. “I can’t tell you that. had she been in control of herself? As she walked out of the hospital. “But you’re the one who was there. she didn’t deserve this.” said Jesse. I need to know. and if Jasmine would ever be able to have a child after this..” Jesse softened. if they had talked her into it.. but she’d needed Jesse’s word so that she’d remember not to get angry.” Hannah surmised. honestly.” “She’s my friend!” “Then tell me what you know. He was creepy. Just tell me.” “So she did say something. After everything she had been through.

Phil sought her out. but she just took another step closer.” he said. just as Jasmine was hers. If he asked her to tell him. She had no intention of stopping. An icy glare was on her face that frightened those who saw it. and I’ll be out of your way.” That was it. nothing more. then headed for the office. For the next few days she barely went through the motions of her job.” she whispered in his ear with deceptive calmness. then turned and left for his cabin.” “Ok. “Just a quick question. He didn’t seem to mind it at all.” she said. but until then she was going to keep it to herself. and this time she couldn’t put it back together. and Ray knew better than to take it. “Yes. trying to think of something to tell Bob that would convince him to send Ray home. and he went inside. maybe a little taller. The torment she had witnessed in Jasmine stayed with her.” She gave him one final look of violence that dared him to disobey her. “Do you want me to tell Bob?” She breathed a sigh of relief: he trusted her. I will. then made a decision. He took another step back. Besides. and as much as she loved being in a cabin. Jesse had moved one of her girls from a cabin that had three leaders to take Jasmine’s place. Jasmine had suffered enough. and found no joy in it. but it lingered still.” He had a right to know. For half a second he wondered if she was going to hit him. and the boys didn’t seem to miss Ray too much.thronging to the dining hall for their nighttime snack. she would have to. Michael looked at her warily. Ray didn’t see her till she was a few feet away. Ray was gone. She had tried to expel the evil of that night by banishing Ray. She left. standing close enough that she could whisper and only he would hear. “Go back to your cabin and pack your bags. so he had to more or less throw himself between her and the office door to get her to answer him. Kim .” said Jesse. but when her friend didn’t talk. The next morning at flag raising. so Jesse’s despondency was unusual. The truth would do it. she wasn’t sure she could handle it right then. she settled for giving her more hugs than usual. if only briefly. Michael caught up with her at the office steps. For some reason she felt that Ray was the more guilty party. and in his surprise he raised his hands defensively and had to take a step back or she would have plowed right into him. either. “Do you want to tell me why?” “No. “Whoa. and she was as mad as she’d ever been in her life. casting a shadow over everything that had once seemed good. “Did you just send Ray Jansen home?” “Yes. He waited. there. but a part of her wanted to protect Jasmine. Jesse was just as tall as him. and Michael stood with the cabin that had lost a counsellor. Jesse watched him for a moment. “I’d appreciate that. Jesse’s near-depression did not go unnoticed. Her bubble had been broken again. “Then bring them to the office. The entire camp was affected by what had happened. Ray was his responsibility. You’re going home. It didn’t make sense for both her and Michael to take on extra work if they didn’t have to. “Alright then.” he promised. looking at her as though he had no idea what she was talking about. as if he was afraid she was going to walk right through him. which always produced a smile. rather than fill it herself. but to them it was a tragic and freak accident. but she offered no explanation. plaguing her thoughts.” he said nervously.

but it was so awful. for being there. “You’re perfect! You’ve never done anything bad. “I know.” she said. Jesse entered the room with some reservation. “Hi. “And you still think your precious Jesus wants to forgive a whore like me? A murderer? I should have never been born! I’m useless!” She was still talking when Jesse gathered both her hands in her own and closed her eyes. and sent her home on Friday night. and to talk with her if she could.Jesus Christ died to pay for the sins of the whole world. There was so much about this girl that was still a mystery. but her parents had left. She was greatly relieved at the answer. but not because I’ve never done anything bad.. You know this . Those evenings did seem to lift her spirits.I’m paying for them myself! God hates me.. until Jasmine dared to ask what Jesse had told the others about that night on the beach.” said Jesse. She knew she didn’t deserve Jesse’s kindness. with long awkward silences in between.Owen had her over to the house on two evenings. and suggested she visit with her while they were there.I don’t want to die. “I know you had an abortion. “I don’t. Jesse didn’t answer.” she said simply. and he’s going .. Jasmine lay on a bed with her head to the side. Bob told her to take Saturday morning off.. She was startled by Jesse’s entrance. “Hi. and she had to stop at the hospital before heading out to camp. I don’t want to hurt myself. pulling her hand out of Jesse’s.killed myself. leaning over her. “Mind if I come in?” They exchanged a few words about camp and hospitals. “Thank you. “Tell me what you know!” So Jesse told her. How could you know?” “You’re right. That includes yours. and I know about Ray.it’s like there’s this dark spot inside of me that won’t go away. but also with a deep longing to see the girl who’d caused her days and nights of worry. not like me. “Do you remember?” Jasmine nodded.you’ve been teaching it to kids all summer. “I’m going to hell. I might have. “I don’t understand what it’s like. I don’t have that dark spot because I know I’ve been forgiven. I’ve heard you do it! Your own words .” “You don’t know what I’ve done!” “Yes.” said Jesse.” “You didn’t want to kill yourself. and that’s where I belong! There’s nothing I can do.” Jasmine smirked. No man dying on a cross can pay for my sins . “What happened to me?” she asked desperately.” agreed Jesse. I do. and tears slipped out the corners of her eyes as she lifted them to look into Jesse’s face. no matter how big.” she said quietly.. giving her tea and cookies and ‘grownup’ company... but Jesse never revealed what was troubling her.. “And thank you. Her aunt Sandra picked her up on her way in from the city. but she had allowed herself to hope for it. and I can’t live with it. “But you don’t know!” she said. did you?” Jesse couldn’t help asking. “What do you know?” she asked fearfully. Jasmine’s eyes widened. looking at the window on the far wall. Finally. She surprised Jesse by saying that her friend Jasmine was still a patient.” Jesse grasped Jasmine’s hand impulsively.

” “No. Jesse opened her eyes and looked at her. and Jesse did likewise.” Jasmine closed her eyes. weaker.” she said out loud. He gave his own son for you. God. “What did you say?” “I said no!” “No what?” Jesse pressed her. she prayed. I don’t know what to say. “Jasmine. Open her eyes. help her see. Tell her yourself. she won’t listen to me. Let her see the truth and believe it. “Why are you praying?” “Because I don’t know what else to do.” “That’s a lie. he loves us because he’s God.” God. out of breath. “No. Jasmine wavered. finally. Jesse’s eyes remained closed. there was no answer. break into her heart. Jesse opened her eyes. She doesn’t even know what love is. “You said you loved me. because he is love. “God loves you.” God.” she said. “God paid for you. “The devil has no right to you. “I’m praying.” she said spitefully. “Yes you did. and she still grasped Jasmine’s hands. “I know more than you’ll ever know. show her your love.” Jasmine looked at her intently. “I don’t deserve anyone’s love. and she eventually stopped.” . She’s hurting so much. “You still believe children’s stories.” Even as she spoke. God. I love you. “He loves you.” said Jasmine. Show her. “No. but clear.” “The devil owns me!” she declared.to punish me!” Her angry. in a quivering voice. please! I can’t do this. Jesse clung to her hands.” she answered truthfully. please! She’s heard this so many times.” “Why would he want me?” “Because he loves you. I love you. “What are you doing?” she asked. “No one deserves love. show her that you’ve freed her.” said Jasmine. God doesn’t love us because we deserve it. Jesse’s voice was haggard. Make her hear. she felt Jasmine stiffen beneath her. despairing words failed to move Jesse.” “And you believe the devil’s lies. “I didn’t say anything. God loves you.” Again. she knows it! Why won’t she believe it? “Do you love me?” Jasmine whispered.” “It’s the truth!” Jesse said.” God.” Jasmine said again. “What are you praying for?” “That you’ll stop believing these lies.” Oh God. Jasmine. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell her. what’s happening? “What did I say?” Jesse asked. “Yes. and tears and drops of sweat fell on them. God.

“I believe you! I believe you. Aunt Sandra walked down the hall. I’m sorry! I’m so sorry. looking for her. “Ready to go?” she asked.” said Jesse. not knowing what to think. She was safe. Someone knocked on the door. to the end of the dock. Oh God. She broke. and her fierce resistance melted away. It only became worse when he realized she wasn’t there. “I’m right here. and it was unreal how much it bothered him not to see her face in the morning. “Forgive me. he looked out at the hills . Jasmine frowned. He paced nervously. Thank you. He played bump and assured the kid that his parents still loved him. Jasmine. the minutes ticked by with agonizing slowness till he pulled into the driveway at her camp.” Jesse shook her head. in front of you! Did you see my lips move? It wasn’t me! You know it wasn’t me!” I love you. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:41 AM 0 comments Labels: Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Michael’s heart raced as he drove a mere ten kilometres over the speed limit on the highway to Hanger. surprised at the steadiness of her own voice. and you’re the only one in the room. “I didn’t say that. so he was stuck. “Listen to him! If you can’t believe me. “Oh God. “There. and even back up the road.” “Well someone said it! I’m not going crazy! I heard it.” She was shaking. Finally on the road. from one end of the lot to the other. Jesse turned around to see her aunt in the doorway. God!” She clung to Jesse’s hands now. Jesse left her that way. but knowing that the burden on her heart was lifted. “Just a minute. “Oh God. Then he had a camper whose parents didn’t show up.” said Jesse excitedly.” Thank you. “God’s speaking to you. “You said ‘I love you’. I love you.” Jasmine. I love you.“What exactly?” Jesse insisted. Thank you.” Jasmine gasped. and his assistant cabin leader had to leave because his ride was going.” she whispered. then joy. Jasmine. and Jesse looked again at Jasmine. Waves of relief washed over her. “He can’t. Just like that. I don’t want to die. please forgive me. Jesse prayed. She was sleeping soundly. you said it again!” “I didn’t say anything!” Jesse protested. She waited there until Jasmine’s breathing slowed. a look of terror on her face. I don’t want to die. Finally. Jesse had left on Friday evening before he had a chance to say goodbye. believe him!” I love you. up to his car again. “Alright!” cried Jasmine. on one foray out on the dock. until they arrived very casually at noon.

. but a lot has changed. he could truthfully report that he’d scrounged an old mattress from Bible Camp. he prayed. surprise . for as long as you give me breath. and they’d come along. It was not until after nine that they decided to head for home.” Jesse said more quietly.” “We weren’t.” said Michael to Jesse. “Wanna walk me home?” he . I’ll love her with all the strength that is in me. not the one being rescued. Thankfully. Please help me to show her that. setting her bags down on the counter. concerned guardians by any stretch of the imagination. “Come help us carry this stuff from the car!” “Where’ve you been?” he asked Jesse as they carried bags to the cabin. Jesse’s grandfather eyed him narrowly during the meal. “She’s better. and would be sleeping at his aunt’s house.” she said. “At the hospital.” she replied. I suppose I should go. She would come.” “Does she get to go home any time soon?” “I don’t know.” He grinned at her.” “How is she?” he asked with real concern. When she told her Nana what they were doing. remembering her parents’ behaviour at the hospital. they’ll be keeping her in the hospital for a while. the odd couple finally left. he told himself. and from it emerged Jesse. too. it’s cold outside and I think they’ll fit you.and her grandmother. Stop the madness. and her spirits are definitely up. her grandparents said to wait. I love her. in Jesse’s arms. felt the sun beating down on him. “Well. He closed his eyes.” she said convincingly as he opened the door for her.and realized his insanity. “Jasmine’s still there. but this time I was the one doing the rescuing. “Really? I never thought you two were great friends. I’ll be good to her. Please make her say yes. “She’s in some pain. bleeding. Give me the right words.” For this he received a beaming smile.” He stayed for supper.” He raised his bushy blond eyebrows. and the light faded from her eyes. “I think she’ll stay there as long as she can. His breathless plea was barely uttered when he heard a car pull in the laneway. “Hello little boy!” Nana called. and Jesse makes a new friend. Jesse’s grandfather asked Michael where he was planning on staying that night. Just let her say yes. With a final goodnight to their granddaughter. They hadn’t impressed him as loving.” she said proudly. he asked her if she’d like to take a walk. Just wait for her. Nana came out of the bedroom holding two sweaters. “It’s nice of you to visit her. try these on.” “Yes. He would never forget the sight of her that night on the beach. That seemed to appease everyone.” called Nana from the corner bedroom. and breathed. “If you’re talking about that girl that stabbed herself.tragedy strikes. Oh God. It was the most gruesome scene he’d ever witnessed. but she’ll live. God.” Michael nodded. “Little girl. making him nervous. and let her say yes. “I think I might be enjoying it more than her. “Well surprise. which he washed and Jesse dried. and as they were leaving. “It sounds to me like she has a rough time of it at home.. When they finished the dishes.

“By the way. Jesse set her mouth in a thin line. Boys don’t know how much a girl feels.he slept with one of my girls. why wasn’t the girl sent home? “Were they in love?” he asked hopefully. Wow. but it’s almost expected of boys. stuffing paper and birchbark into the nooks and crannies of her wood creation. and she gave in.. though he couldn’t see that being the case with Ray..” said Jesse.” said Michael. “I can’t really talk in front of my grandparents. “Now how could I resist that offer?” he said with a grin.” she said. she put a hand on his arm. “The world is absolutely sexist. he just. “You couldn’t have known. “What?” She’d expected some defence of the male population. luring the naive little boy off the straight and narrow.. he thought.” she told him. The girl is always the temptress. “Is she alright?” “She will be. where she began making the promised fire. right. Ray never struck me as a particularly horrible guy. trying to light a match. She eyed him suspiciously. revealing her inner feminist.” he agreed. Oh.” she said.” “Just a little. She shut the door. “Why don’t you stay for a while?” she suggested. “Fine. and he took advantage of that. girls always get blamed far worse than men do for things like this. “But I don’t think he has any idea what he did to her. then . She smiled back. “He used her.” “You’re right.” His eyes still questioned her though. “That’s bad. but then quickly moved away from him and went into the living room. and straightened again to face the only boy in the room.” he said. Standing. I was just curious. who says all the right things just to get what he wants.. “I’m sorry. “With all the talk about equality and women’s rights. and Christians can be the worst for it. and then breaks her heart. gently. and she touched it to the paper. “Don’t you have your car?” she asked.asked playfully.” He looked deep into her eyes. “He did something horrible. then gently blew on the flame until some of the twigs were lit. to his great relief. I wanted to talk with you. Happy now?” “Happy isn’t the word I would use.and they don’t care. Girls get called easy. played with the flu.” Michael stammered. you know. “I trust your judgement. and it kind of bothers me that he turned out to be one.” Jesse immediately seemed remorseful for her hard words. “It’s kind of cold out. which seemed unaware of how appealing she was. She was looking for someone to love her. “He didn’t do anything vicious.conducted himself very badly.” he agreed. He was a hypocrite. She shook her head.” She turned back to her fire-making efforts. Is that enough?” “Of course. “Most guys aren’t taught how to treat women right. or worse.” she admitted while choosing various sticks from the woodbox and arranging them to suit her fancy. “Actually. But then.” A match finally caught. and they can get away with a lot . and this week at camp has been kind of strange. But no one ever says anything about the guy who pretends to love her. or dangerous. apparently contemplating her answer.” he said. are you ever going to tell me why I sent Ray Jansen home?” he asked. and I could build us a fire in the stove. “They’re not taught.

“Not really.” Michael laughed and sat down in the couch beside her. silly. you got Ray. Now? Was it the right time? Was there a right time? “But if I can’t do it for you.” He couldn’t hide his curiosity. She laughed at him.” “Well. probably because my walking rocks her to sleep. Then . “Does it make a noise?” She nodded. and Jesse giggled at him. The world is nuts. I . Tentatively. Wait a minute. but when it touched her skin he drew it away quickly. “I can’t even imagine what that feels like. I want to be there for you. She reached for his hand.” His . “I want one of those!” he declared. Ray wasn’t supposed to be a part of the world . rolling around in there. She waved it off.” “Wow. It was amazing.. “Now! Come here. cause she’s just little. I want to be with you. and he wondered if his hand felt cold to her. as he felt another wave of pressure.” began Jesse.I love you. “Yeah. gesturing. “That was a somersault. well. he was a hypocrite. it just startles me. showing more skin than Michael would have thought her capable of. grinning from ear to ear. a movement! It was like nothing he had ever felt before. Then he saw Jesse flinch. and he put his ear to her belly button.” he said.he was supposed to be a Christian. “Satisfied?” she asked. and she guided it to the appropriate spot. for all of it.” Michael was intrigued. “Put your hand right there.” she agreed. A few seconds ticked by as Michael watched.” he agreed.” she explained. She sat up and drew her sweater back down. but you wouldn’t be so excited when it came time to deliver. He put both hands on her. though.” “Yeah. It can get uncomfortable at night. I’d at least like to be there when this one’s born.” she said. you know that.there it was. She keeps me awake. But that’s the world. wait.no. he gave her his hand again. “I mean. “no.” “Ray was a hypocrite. Nothing. “She’s got a lot of room in there still. Michael shook his head. you know.” he smiled. “What’s wrong?” he asked worriedly. “You say that now. “I can feel it!” he exclaimed. Soon he was rewarded with a definite gurgle.” Jesse looked at him strangely.more than girls can. But I got Ray.” And so saying. “Oh.” she promised. Most of them are scum and they don’t even know it. she lay down on the rug.. maybe if I lie down. she’s stopped now. just a kick. Then when I stop moving she wakes up. “You can’t be responsible for all of them. didn’t I?” she said delightedly. amused by the shocked look on his face. “It won’t bite. and he came and knelt by her stomach. Jesse slumped into the chair beside the fireplace..” “Why at night?” “She sleeps during the day. nothing.” “Maybe you’re right.. fascinated.. which now had a lively fire crackling in it.. “Does it hurt?” he asked.” “I know.” She pulled her shirt up over her rising belly. nearly covering the small round bump. “I wish there weren’t so many of those. Her skin was warm. “Yeah. He pulled back in surprise.” Michael corrected.

talking. female cabin leaders and male cabin leaders. “I love you. she didn’t have a dress. Then the girls wanted to hear all the details. particularly Keith and Zeb. Some of the boys. she hugged him around the neck. and at least half of the campers had been on staff at some point in the summer. they didn’t know what. They both laughed.” she said. He should kneel.heart was pounding right through his chest. pleading her with his eyes.no. She saw things she didn’t want to. taking a deep breath. but he already was. and insisted on kissing the bride-to-be on the cheek. and she felt a tear slide down her face. The boys rolled their eyes and suggested that they split up ‘into departments’. maintenance. It was the happiest moment of both of their lives. and Phil jumped up on a bench. which was usually kitchen. The wedding date was two weeks from yesterday. gave each other knowing looks. she was very happy. planning... she couldn’t resist his eyes. Jesse. maybe. who talked to her dad..it seemed too personal. He wouldn’t say something like this unless he really meant it.. But his eyes were different. He cupped her cheek and brushed the tear away with his thumb. and she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. mobbing Jesse and demanding to hear the whole story. hugged Michael around the shoulders. Samantha hugged Jesse protectively. but wore broad grins.. and all the boys headed out to the kitchen steps. It completely obliterated the staff meeting on Sunday afternoon. No. His parents had given them the stone house where his aunt used to live. They smiled at each other. Many of the girls screamed. she wasn’t nervous. No.or a minister. She never liked meeting people’s eyes for more than an instant . or were little brothers and sisters of staff .or a marriage license. Yes..” he said. it just didn’t seem necessary.somehow they hadn’t thought to. until and unless she really wanted to.” He was trembling. She wasn’t saying anything. They made her want to stay in them forever. Today. She took his hands. exactly. except exactly how he’d asked. who had never heard anything officially. and Jesse was as giddy as any of them. No. “Please. She called her mom. Yes.marry me?” Oh. everyone from camp could come. they hadn’t kissed. then shook his hand. and called him a ‘beautiful boy!’. they didn’t have a church. didn’t seem at all surprised. No. and if there had been any doubt in his words. After she’d accepted. that had come out badly.” she said calmly. do you think.. She laughed and giggled. and felt somehow violated. Yes. He had ordered her not to work at anything but being a wife and mother. and kissed them. They would get them.and she gave up pretty much every detail. as though they’d never let go. they split solely along gender lines. The truth was she could hardly remember. they’d held each other tight. “Yes. you’d like to.yet. looked Michael over skeptically. Bob and Kim. “I’ll marry you. Impulsively. “I mean. however.. Amy Laverly held Jesse’s hands and jumped up and down.. she loved him.. and then Michael asked her dad for her hand over the phone. strong but gentle. herself. The girls’ questions came one after another.. The week flew by. shouted hearty congratulations. He hugged her back.. making her feel safe. taking only what she offered. They stayed up for hours. too intimate. Their news rocked the camp. “will you marry me?” She knew him too well to doubt his meaning. kissed him on both cheeks. It was High Teens: a very small camp. He was going to find a job . she shook all over.

They still met at night on the picnic table by the beach. and one more thing: she and her intended had never actually kissed. laughed with her. Her sisters bought pale yellow tea-length sundresses to wear as bridesmaids. her mother and sisters helped her with the necessary shopping. or if you had ‘chemistry’. She . or show them to her guests? She told herself she was being silly. It was a plain white dress. or in her heart. She had been led to believe that the whole kissing thing was somewhat important. without adding any more tension. Considered rationally. and she was marrying the man who just happened to own the house that she had always believed would solve all her problems. She would have missed him more if she weren’t so busy herself. Her own dress was harder to find. as they propelled the boat slowly away from the dock. anyway. but every night either Keith. She did. but they had everything to look forward to. For the next week Michael sequestered himself in their new home. so her hormones were going crazy. “Do you remember when I shared at Testimony Campfire?” he asked her. she didn’t want anything to mar these last. and it looked lovely on her for all its simplicity. the day he came by to take her for a paddleboat ride. and order them off to their own cabins. or if you were right together. making plans and talking of dreams. She was glad she was not yet terribly large. Jesse thought they were adorable. Michael and Jesse had almost no responsibilities. but she was kept so busy that she had very little time to even think about him. Her family arrived on Tuesday. and she just knew that he was it.though not together. but eventually she found what she wanted. and while her father spent time with Michael.members. and held her close. She was so happy. He talked to her. Oh. It had been early in the summer. that it was the best way to tell if he loved you. and it wasn’t really goodbye because practically everyone was going to be at the wedding. they hadn’t made some kind of a rule about it or anything. perfect days. And without saying anything. and she was sure she would want to. She was hard put to explain why they hadn’t kissed yet. Her heart fluttered just to be near him. helping him with the work. Despite all these things. The end of camp was bittersweet. and she suspected she was emotionally unstable. Michael always seemed to know the right thing to do. It was so sad to say goodbye. and at times was amazed at her sureness in her own decision. in the last six months she was pretty sure she’d witnessed demonic/supernatural forces at work on earth at least three times. and pushed the thought out of her mind. Jesse felt that she grew more in love with Michael every day. She hardly saw Michael at all during this week. and Corah and Marnie approved because they were dresses they could wear again . Zeb or Bob would come out and shine a flashlight on them at exactly 11:45. but couldn’t help wondering what she would think of the wedding pictures. Jesse wasn’t allowed anywhere near the house while he made it ready for her to move in. but that was all. she had every reason to doubt herself: she had known her fiancé for a total of four months. Would she be able to display them proudly on the walls of her new home. but fully participated in camp activities and were not often seen alone together. Perhaps she felt her emotions were raw enough already. including two last summer when they’d hardly spoken. She trusted Michael completely. In fact she saw him only once. and it was a ‘Prodigal Son’ testimony. Jesse had no doubt in her mind. she was six months pregnant. and when they embraced she never wanted to let go.

” Michael smiled. Jesse. he’d always kept his clean-cut image. occasionally at college or university. We were thieves. the ones on the student council and from youth group. but it wasn’t. “I’m not marrying that person. He hadn’t elaborated on his sins. it doesn’t matter to me. “I did a lot of things. asked Jesus into his heart at a young age. “If I hadn’t. but he made sure they were decent. Why was it so important to you that I know about yours?” “It’s not just the sins. had known all along. “No! Not that. Jesse listened to his confession without interruption. but now she saw that they weighed heavily on him. He kept his unsavory associations strictly after school hours. Fell in with the wrong crowd – it usually happened in highschool. “You’re not him anymore. was who I was. Whatever he did.always put testimonies into categories. do you think I would have told you?” The day of the wedding dawned perfectly. I stole from a lot of people. Eventually hit a low. “Worse than anything I ever did. I was a bad person. Behind bars. and ‘recommitted’ himself to Christ. but somehow God kept me from that. and he’d believed he kept them separate.” He took a deep breath. They never seemed terribly important. When he got to highschool he didn’t hang around with his friends in the smoking area where anyone could see. God knew what he was. His was one of the most typical: raised in a Christian home. came to his senses. What of the in-between years? Did the childish faith count? Were they saved or were they lost? Had they ever really been saved in the first place? It brought her to the tricky question of whether it was possible to lose one’s salvation. He’d been two people. and so far had met with surprisingly few types. and she’d never asked him about them.” he said. and eventually I ended up in jail.” “Then why? I’m not giving you a list of my past sins. I wasn’t a good kid caught up in something I didn’t understand. and he played on the basketball team all through highschool. Michael’s story had been particularly vague for a Prodigal Son testimony. I started smoking marijuana when I was in grade seven. he’d seen what he could become. though he didn’t really want to. It was me. He found out that though he had fooled a lot of people. until the day he had to phone his parents from jail. I thought you should know the truth about the person you’re going to marry. whatever they were. because whatever he had been messed up in.” she said finally. I don’t know why I didn’t. “Are you trying to tell me something?” There was both sadness and forgiveness in her voice. then she asked one question. His grades were never stellar. when his parents thought he was with his official friends. She’d often wondered about this kind of testimony. kind of like a gang. he hadn’t fooled God. but turned away from it when he grew older. I knew what I was doing was wrong. “I don’t like talking about what I did. what he was on his way to becoming. Jesse and her sisters dressed at her Nana and . She couldn’t find it. having never gone through a rebellion phase herself. but he quickly put that concern to rest.” He hadn’t said anything about jail in his testimony. He also had a very long chat with the prison chaplain. and I did it anyway. And you should have known it wouldn’t.” She searched his face. I – I got mixed up with some kids at the highschool. and I did a lot of bad stuff. That was a surprise to her. “I feel like it was someone else who did those things. His arrest had been a shock to his parents. And he was going to tell her.” he said. looking for a trace of the person he had described.

and they drove to a tiny little church in Hanger so packed full of people that every seat was taken. rocking comfortably.” “I’m glad to hear that. the Baptist minister. She had her swing on her very own porch. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:39 AM 0 comments Labels: Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Jesse and Michael sat beside each other on the front porch swing. which was held at the Eagle’s Nest on the Conference Centre. Not everyone could come on such short notice.” She put a hand on his arm to stop him. “Are you tired?” he asked.” She rocked the swing a little. with her very own husband. Don’t you believe me?” Jesse sighed. the sight of Mark Saunders asking Corah to dance was priceless. and he sat back down. “None at all. and they said their vows before God. I mean. and performed his duty so enthusiastically.” Michael said. Michael was nervous about their first kiss. .Papa’s house. “The sun’s down. “Are you cold? I’ll get a blanket. that the old people clapped and the young people in the room cheered. a wedding present from all their friends from camp. but it was also right that their family and friends should get to celebrate this day with them.” Michael smiled.” She wanted to say more. “It’s just nice. After all. for he was already getting up. I love it here. Jesse could have died happy. “Are you hungry?” “No. “Do you really like it here? By the lake. Jesse’s aunts on her father’s side had filled it with flowers. For the first time. but it was beautiful. attached to her very own stone house. but in the end Jesse was glad she had agreed to her parents’ insistence on a real wedding. She nodded before she had a chance to think about it. And besides. “I guess I’m just not used to anyone liking what I like. and others stood along the back and side edges. It was true that the marriage was more important than the wedding. instead of eloping. sitting outside this house after dark and not being scared. Michael immediately showed concern. “I’m not cold. It was not expensive or in any way fancy.” she remarked. she was nervous. but couldn’t think of anything. “No more creepy feeling?” She shook her head. they were not alone in the world. The groom and his bride were whisked away to their reception. Michael waited for her at the end of the aisle. but when the time came he was so happy. She almost took it back. and everyone else. looking out at her favourite lake. That was going to take some getting used to. You wouldn’t rather be in town? Or back in Saskatchewan?” “You’ve asked me that a hundred times. and no one on her mother’s side complained once about gathering together again so soon. “Are you?” She shook her head. as she’d wanted to at first.” she assured him.

“Yes. and wrap around her back. kissing him back shyly. Without saying anything. .” said Michael. then took a few breaths. gently. It was.. and he had the most beautiful smile. he saw a tear on her cheek.safe. His face was shadowed. “I don’t know how I’m going to do it. this time more deeply. “I loved you the minute I first saw you. It was even possible that Michael was tired. She let him kiss her again.” he said. She couldn’t recall seeing a more beautiful one. with kisses that gradually became more intense. Michael was startled. But he saw the panic in her eyes as she hurriedly pulled her shirt down. I’m going to make you believe in how much I love you. It wasn’t frightening. He didn’t look it. It felt natural. his eyes asked her if it was a good tear or a bad tear. not knowing what was wrong. She smiled. more passionate. He liked the sound of that. stood up. It didn’t tickle. Forcing herself to think cogently. Was it really her he was talking to? Did she really have her arms around him? It didn’t seem possible. being taken care of like this. and took both her hands in his to help her up as well. She felt his hands circle her scarred wrists. this man holding her. “Jesse.” Michael said. There was nothing threatening in it. and I’ve loved you more and more every minute since.” “I meant the first time that I really saw you. Jesse opened her mouth to him.” she started. He took her face in his hands.” he said.” she said. When the kiss ended. or smothering. “You’ve had a long day. She didn’t mind his touch. “What are you doing?” she asked finally. Michael still held her hands. but his eyes sparkled. They both had. but she didn’t want it to stop. It was strange and frightening. and good. she had.. what’s wrong?” “I. She felt. and she didn’t want to squirm away. and she relaxed just a little bit.something tingly and made of light. “Do you really love me?” she asked him. and he kissed her slowly and gently. Jesse realized that Michael’s hands were wandering up her back . and she rolled her eyes.” Jesse’s breath caught in her chest. trying to tell if he was. He hugged her again possessively and kissed her once more. “and I will love you more every minute of my life. She looked at him. He continued drinking in the sweetness of her lips and tongue. “The first time you saw me I was nothing more than a kid. “No problem.” Yeah.” “You hardly know me.” she said.under her shirt.” he said. He stopped the swing with his foot.“It’s kinda late. thinking. “but somehow. Then he leaned in towards her and kissed her on the forehead. her hands still held in his. It felt nice. She was pressed. almost crushed to him. too.” she protested half-heartedly. “Thank you. and leaned her forehead on his chest.” he clarified. Then he kissed her.. she hastily wriggled out of his grasp.” “That’s a lie. obviously distraught. and she had to agree. then move up her arms.” she said. smiling. “I guess we should go to bed then. stepping backwards and nearly falling over the swing. too. and felt like something had exploded inside of her . At some point.. “You feel like home. He was anything but shy. He was too wonderful. “Did you really marry me?” she asked.

Trust me. Calm. actually.I even asked a doctor. You have a little person growing inside you. just to be sure.... “we won’t traumatize her. as if trying to understand what she was saying. once I’m better. Michael was still working hard to control his breathing.to be.” he said. She was confused.” “And that doesn’t. Jesse shook her head. sleep together. She looked like a deer caught in headlights. and his brows came together in confusion.romantic. really. I mean after a while. trying to be taken seriously. “You have read that part. she told herself. What was he doing? “I was kissing you..Michael’s mouth hung open. breathing deeply.” she said quickly... then we’ll probably. “Oh. “But.. She tried to calm herself.. it’s perfectly safe. . fairy certainly... She looked so serious when she said that.‘turn you off’?” Michael looked like he was going to laugh again at her awkwardness and embarrassment in using that particular phrase.. She began to panic. amused grin of his. if she was scared. “Yes. “It says so in the Bible!” she declared. Don’t yell.” “What?” “That doesn’t. or even to want to. “What?” he asked.. “don’t you want…our first time.. Michael pressed his eyes shut for a moment. you’re not fat. “Jesse.” “Why would they want to?” “Why wouldn’t they?” She grimaced. incredulity in her voice. “Yeah. remember?” Her expression didn’t change. I know you’re pregnant. but until a moment ago she hadn’t seemed scared at all. taking another step backwards. releasing a large breath he seemed to have been holding up until now. Michael thought.. after what she’d been through. His arms hung limp at his sides. glancing down at it and then looking back into her eyes. “Don’t worry. fat... He was willing to wait for her.” she said.” Then slowly he smiled that lopsided. just a little sarcastically.” he admitted. then. She began again much more quietly.” Jesse looked confused. Michael looked at her like she was crazy.you can’t. “I’m pregnant!” she protested. “Very pregnant. haven’t you?” she said..” “What? What’s wrong?” “I’m pregnant!” she repeated. I promise. after the baby is born.” He stepped towards her and placed his hands on the prominent bump on her stomach. sort of?” He still didn’t look like he understood at all. “I am really. People have been doing this for thousands of years. “Do you think it’s bad for the baby?” he asked. “Joseph didn’t sleep with Mary until Jesus was born!” she burst out. He’d been prepared for some hesitancy on her part.” he said. as if she hadn’t expected him to touch her at all. “I was touching you.. he had to laugh.” “Have sex?” he interjected. You don’t want me to touch you?” He was confused. trying to make her smile. Jesse. “We’re already acquainted. all the time. “You were touching me!” she accused. come on. “But we can’t. “Yes.” Now Jesse really looked shocked.really? People do that?” He nodded vigorously. “I know. Stay calm. “I mean. and was being as gentle as he knew how to be. Now she sounded shocked.

because I love you.. She was as limp as a rag doll in his hands. not sure why. or this baby. Now will you let me touch you?” he asked. and will give birth to a son’. and almost started to believe him. I became not only your husband. I’m filthy! I’m. She heard her own voice. other than that he had to say something.” He waved his arm as if to wipe away the stain of him. Before she knew what was happening.” he said with more fortitude. this isn’t your baby. and her ranting stopped.. do you understand? You were raped. “That beast rotting in jail has nothing to do with us. I’m not going to be the father.” What was she thinking? She answered without thinking. resisting the urge to shake her for her own good. He grimaced. Jesse felt overwhelmed. He doesn’t exist. “I still don’t know why you married me. “nothing. with the dramatic flare of an explorer planting a flag in rich new soil. I thought. though she was biting her bottom lip and near to tears. and he could see she was about to cry . and go straight to his heart.” Jesse listened. He quickly stood up. There were tears in his eyes. this time with conviction as well as volume. “How could you want me at all?” she screamed into his shirtsleeve. “In every way that matters. “And then he gave you to me. clutching his arm.is . he took her and embraced her fiercely.” she started. then tore her from him and held her at arms length. “It is mine!” he said again. She drew a sharp breath.” She looked scared to death. then looked straight into his eyes with remorse. She hung her head for a moment as silence hung between them. she opened her eyes and looked at him. I’ve read it. “I’m the father of this baby. He didn’t want to interfere with God’s plan.” he assured her. it’s just.but that wouldn’t do. She broke down. “Do I have to decide right now?” .” he said. Ignoring her protests about him touching her. Do you think I care one bit about where God decided to get his genes from? This is mine. “Look at me!” he demanded. and I’m holding you to it now.“Yes. and the contents thereof.” His voice cracked a little..” “Jesse. “But. but unable to pretend it wasn’t true. He kissed the shirt that covered her skin.. not on their wedding night. “He’s nothing. “Joseph didn’t sleep with Mary because the scriptures said ‘the virgin will be with child. this baby is mine. with her stomach still in his hands. at first. “It’s mine!” he shouted. he declared. I’m not clean. I am the father.I’m ruined! And my baby .his. That’s all. God made this child. “There. Her fingers felt warm. Michael couldn’t stand to see her apologize for something like that. Thankfully. but this child doesn’t belong to him. God gave him to you.” Oh no. “but what do you think that has to do with us?” “Well.” he insisted. he was down on his knees. but the father of this child.” he said.” Michael felt unbelievable. and couldn’t believe she had said that to him. “Look at me!” he said again. “I hereby claim this womb. “I wish it were! But it isn’t!” she cried. “I’m not Mary! I’m not a virgin. “but you did. paralysing pain rip through him.” he insisted. as my own!” He could feel her belly shake as she laughed silently. laying his hands on her stomach. as though apologizing for hurting him. Then. her head turned to the side and her eyes shut tight. “He doesn’t matter.

. “What?” “So am I. They looked into each other’s smiling eyes. She lay on her side. The comforter was the same cream colour as the curtains and filled with down. with a large mirror above it. After what they had just done. There was a warm. she noticed that the sheets were silk. He hadn’t seemed nervous earlier. against the outer wall. He had a way of doing that. and grinned from ear to ear. The slightly rough skin on his hands delighted in the soft smoothness of her. was open. what could you say? And she was so tired. After something like that. Please?” She did trust him. have to do something you don’t want to. and cream coloured curtains were flapping at its edges.. They felt rich and luxuriously warm. “I. He fell asleep content with her tight against him. because her face was up against her husband’s chest. her shyness lost. She couldn’t see it at first. but instead of retrieving it. She woke up before him. On the ceiling above their head was a single light bulb. through hers. Two night tables rested on either side of their bed.” “Want to know a secret?” said Michael. Their window. and wrapped a weary arm around her underneath the cover. and between blinks that grew longer and longer. now that she had told him her fears and he had soothed them. “I’m not afraid of you.” Jesse was surprised.” She couldn’t help smiling at that.” He tipped her chin up to him. glistening with tears. “I won’t make you. He pulled the blanket up over them both. He took her in his arms and kissed her. soft blanket waiting at her feet.” Jesse trembled and looked up at him. don’t you?” She nodded. that needed words. the same colour as the floor. and a cool breeze washed over her. his stomach sensing. don’t you. She made a mental note to replace it with an energy-efficient one. looking at this man of hers and not minding that he was looking at her. There didn’t seem to be anything to say. was her cedar chest. or that they weren’t saying anything. and her response was all the answer he needed..” “I’ve heard only good things about it. “You never. but I’m asking you. All she wanted was to be near him.” she said. She didn’t need to say anything. . the others were wood. Jesse felt absolutely free. she snuggled closer to her husband. the movement of their child. ever. You don’t have to be afraid of me. looking out over the lake. It smelled freshly (but not too freshly) sanded and varnished. but she peeked up and around him to get a better view. The window was still open and letting the chill in. with light just beginning to brighten the room. “Then what’s wrong?” He could feel her shaking. or something like it..I guess I’m nervous. On the wall facing the window was a dresser. Trust me.“Of course not. He picked up her hand. “But you still want to. totally bare and supporting her head with her left hand. But I love you. and for the first time.. and on her side. “But you understand me. She remembered that now. he saw her giving in to drowsiness as well. so she stayed snuggled under the covers. The walls at her head and to her right were outside ones and made of stone.and I’m your husband.

and a door to a bathroom. Michael had done a good job with this room. He’d done it all himself, and it was perfect: simple and clean, but warm at the same time. She still had to move a lot of her things in, but she didn’t think she would change anything otherwise. It was a lovely room, and she was happy about that. Of course, it would be hard to ruin any room in this house. She had picked it out, after all. But it surprised her to learn that her husband had good taste. Satisfied with her surroundings, she settled down again beside Michael. His eyes were still closed, and he breathed deeply without snoring. He didn’t look like he was going to wake up any time soon, but she didn’t know if he was a light or deep sleeper. She needed to get out of bed: she had to go to the bathroom, and she wanted to brush her teeth before he woke up. Slowly she inched away from him. The feeling of silk sheets slipping over her skin reminded her that she wasn’t wearing anything. When she got to the edge of the bed, she paused. As delightful as she felt this morning, there was no foggy euphoria making her feel as free as she had last night. She couldn’t take a blanket or a sheet off the bed to wrap herself in, and her clothes were a long way off. She glanced again at her sleeping husband. Then she rolled skilfully off the mattress and onto the floor. Crawling to the foot of the bed, she found her clothing and hastily put it on. Once she was properly clothed, she stood up confidently. Michael was still sleeping, but she didn’t want to take a chance of waking him, so she slipped out to use the upstairs washroom. Besides, she had to grab her overnight bag, which was still in the living room, along with all her other boxes. When she had gone to the bathroom, brushed her teeth, and taken a quick shower, she realized she had a decision to make. She could get dressed for the day, or she could put on some pyjamas and get back into bed. Part of her wanted to go back to her room and watch her husband sleep, or even cuddle up next to him and wait for him to wake up. But then, she had a routine. She didn’t want to give that up just because she was married. She took her Bible and her journal out to the front porch. The swing turned out to be a perfect spot for her morning devotions. Though it moved, it was far more comfortable than her rock at Bible Camp. She felt a little different that morning, reading a passage of scripture. She had changed, in a very real way, since yesterday. She had become one with another person, the man she was now sharing her life with. God hadn’t changed, but her relationship with him had altered just a tiny bit. For her whole life, her father had been the one responsible for her. Before God, she knew he had been in some way accountable for her actions, and she was under his authority as well as under God’s. As she’d grown and spent more time away from home, that sense of hierarchy had weakened, but it still existed. Now, she knew that authority and responsibility had been transferred to her husband. She was no longer under her father’s roof, literal or figurative; she was under Michael’s. He was now the head of her family; her head. She had to trust him to lead her on the path God had chosen for them. She didn’t think that would be a problem, but she wondered just how much she was supposed to rely on Michael, and how much to exercise her own judgement. Michael awoke to the sweet aroma of coffee and pancakes, and the unpleasantness of a lonely bed. He would have gone searching for his wife in any case, but the combination of her absence and the smell of food drove him out of bed and into the kitchen in record speed. His horrified wife shoved him back into the bedroom to get dressed, and refused to kiss him before he brushed his teeth. In less than a minute he was back, wearing boxer

shorts and emitting minty fresh breath, though his hair was still an absolute horror. Having thus acquiesced to his beloved’s wishes, he allowed no further protests to deter him, and hauled her onto the kitchen counter and kissed her so soundly that her last pancake burned. Still sitting on the counter, she finally extricated herself long enough to turn the burner off and move the pan to a cold element. “How’s the baby this morning?” he asked, teasing her. “Did she survive the traumatic experience of last night?” The reminder of last night - both her outburst and what they had done afterwards embarrassed her. Michael could tell even though she didn’t blush, because she smiled nervously and looked down. He was hungrier for her than he was for food, but it was hot now, and he didn’t want to hurt her feelings...and he really was hungry. Jesse broke off a piece of pancake and fed it to him. It was good, but it tasted different. They were buckwheat, she told him, with some oatmeal. There were also orange slices, and blessed coffee. Then they both sat down to eat, and Michael said grace. It made her think of how many family meals he would pray over in the years to come, and she couldn’t help smiling as she ate. She liked the way he prayed. But when he teasingly asked her where the bacon was, she surprised him by becoming serious. “Do you really need the bacon?” she asked. “Of course I don’t need bacon. This is a great breakfast,” he said, afraid he had unwittingly hurt his new wife’s feelings. “But you like it, don’t you?” she said, sounding almost heartbroken. “Well, it’s not good for me anyways. I probably shouldn’t eat it at all,” he said chivalrously, but not really meaning it and hoping she didn’t intend to hold him to it. But this news excited her. “Really?” she exclaimed, plopping herself onto his lap and wrapping her arms around his neck. “You’d do that? You’d give it up?” Michael laughed. “I didn’t know you had such strong feelings against bacon.” “Michael, I’m a vegetarian.” The laughter stopped. “You’re a what?” “I don’t eat meat. You didn’t know that?” He was shocked. “You don’t eat meat?” he repeated. She shook her head. “At all?” he asked, incredulously. “I eat seafood, but other than that, no.” She tried to be matter-of-fact about it, to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal. She never made a big thing about it, so she wasn’t too surprised that he didn’t know. But she wasn’t sure how he’d react. When she’d made the decision a year ago, her father just about disowned her, and even her sisters made their disapproval known. Only her mother had remained silent on the issue. Oh no, she thought, what if he tells me I have to eat meat? She had a feeling her father would have done so, if she hadn’t already been away at school. He didn’t think it was healthy, and was afraid she was falling in with anti-Christian animal-rights hippies. Of course, she had, in a way, but that was beside the point. But Michael’s reaction was much worse than she feared. “I can’t believe I didn’t know that,” he said. He sounded like a kid who just failed a test he’d figured he had nailed. “I mean, that’s a big thing, isn’t it? Being a vegetarian? That’s an entire lifestyle.”

Jesse kept trying to make light of it. “It’s just food,” she reminded him. “I guess we just had more important things to talk about than what we eat. We’ll probably find out lots of stuff about each other that we didn’t know.” But he wouldn’t let it go that easily. He continued to grill her on the subject. “Does meat disgust you? Can you be around other people when they eat it? Can you cook it?” She assumed the shock had interfered with his memory, because she had sat across from him most of the summer while the entire table they were sitting at ate chicken, ham, turkey, etc. So she kindly assured him that it didn’t bother her. Then he wanted to know why. Did she think it was wrong? Did she believe animals had souls? She knew he’d jump to the wrong conclusions if she explained it entirely right away, so she just assured him that she didn’t think it was wrong to eat meat, nor did she believe animals had souls. “Let’s just call it a dietary decision for now, ok?” Michael didn’t know what to think. Jesse was a vegetarian? He was the kind of kid who’d worn shirts that said: “SAVE A COW - EAT A VEGETARIAN”. He was a Canadian man, a barbecue-er, a meat-eater. He believed in it like he believed in sunny days and family gatherings. Vegetables were an obligatory side dish at best. He had a sinking feeling that it was all going to change. What really bugged him, though, was that he hadn’t known. How could he have so totally missed something this major about the woman he loved? He who had watched her almost constantly for two months. Who had talked to her every chance he had, who thought he knew everything there was to know about her, and loved it all. It made him second-guess his powers of observation, which had served him so well in the past. “I have no idea what you like to eat, you know,” Jesse said. She was still sitting in his lap. Suddenly, it didn’t matter to him if she were a vegetarian, a vegan, or a fruitarian. For an instant, he almost understood how some men could marry women of different religions; because all he wanted to do was kiss her, vegetarian or no. Half their breakfast remained on their plates, but he wasn’t hungry anymore. Jesse saw the look in his eyes change. One minute they were teasing and laughing, and maybe slightly concerned, and the next, they looked a lot like they had looked last night. They moved from her eyes to her mouth, and as if drawn by his gaze, she leaned in to touch her lips to his. “Never stop yourself from kissing me,” she whispered in his ear. “You might be sorry you said that,” he whispered back. Then he kissed her back, and when he was sure she was too lightheaded to resist, dragged her back into the bedroom for a repeat of the previous night’s escapade. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:37 AM 0 comments Labels: Chapter 25

Chapter 27
On December 19th, nine days past her due date, Jesse lay in a hospital bed, in the hospital that stood on the same spot as the old hospital used to, the one in which her older sister, her mother, her mother’s mother, and her mother before her had been born. She prayed

She had been naughty. her parents. and that she ought to know if she were going to die or not. holding her hand and looking as scared as she was. She was crying. but Jesse only screamed back that Sandra was not the one being “split in freaking two!”. going in the water without asking. Jasmine had been overjoyed when Samantha made the offer after High Teens. “You are one dirty little girl!” she declared. her sisters. and they both looked wonderingly at their baby girl. but she had come back. but she was very much alive. and a few more of the McDougall clan who had already arrived for Christmas. In between contractions. Jesse was happy to see Jasmine becoming a confident and godly woman under Samantha’s influence. and told him that if she were to die. She hadn’t wanted to make a production of this. and the girls were no strangers to their stone house. but at the sound of her mother’s voice Marta turned and ran back to her without need of retrieval. so Jesse only gave her a little scolding. and she was exhausted.she had Michael to help her now. Michael kept asking her how much it hurt. Michael and Jesse visited them whenever they were in town. Michael’s fears were somewhat alleviated by these assurances. but at least they weren’t all in the room with her.” said Jesse. Her aunt Sandra stood at the foot of the bed. Hearing her talk like this alarmed him deeply.but she prayed for a girl. and her husband of three months stood beside her.” “Thanks. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:36 AM 0 comments Labels: Chapter 27 Epilogue “Marta!” Jesse called to the wandering two-year-old. and she did not die. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do. He stopped asking when it got really bad. Mom. Jasmine was living with Samantha in an apartment in the city. where the older girl attended university and Jasmine finished high school. Jesse couldn’t help smiling at the sight of her daughter’s dark curls bouncing against her rosy cheeks. She would probably be glad that they were here later. her mother peeked her head in. who was getting her feet wet in the shallow water. and Marta understood that this was a good . “There’s a girl named Samantha who wants you to know that she and Jasmine just got here. and she was almost sure that the effort would kill her. telling her how brave she was. but at the moment she was a little preoccupied. She stood up from her weeding and wiped the dirt off her hands to go after the little girl. and Jesse was called on to give her all. Michael kissed her. he could get married again after a while. and they’re in the waiting room. and Sandra had to assure them both repeatedly that Jesse was not going to die. and had argued with her parents until they agreed to let her go. as long as he didn’t like his second wife as much as he liked her.for a girl. and she was of half a mind to try to show him. and her nightmares had gradually stopped . But when at last the moment came. She clung to Michael for dear life when she wasn’t yelling at him. and then lifted her high in the air. She knew now that she could love it if it were a boy . making her giggle. In the lobby were her parents-in-law. but she couldn’t get out of it now. she gave it.

and was saved by the sound of a car pulling in the driveway. we do.” the little girl agreed.thing. “how would you like a baby brother or sister?” Marta squealed in obvious delight. “Your face is as dirty as Mommy’s hands. wiggling out of her mothers grasp.” “Can I help?” Marta asked. But I would be particularly interested in hearing your answers to the following question: after reading "Jesse". February 19. There was no room for his smile to grow wider. “Daddy!” Marta shrieked. while their daughter wrapped one chubby arm around each of their necks. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:36 AM 7 comments Labels: Introduction Newer Posts Home . Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:34 AM 3 comments Labels: Epilogue Monday.it will stay here as long as I have anything to say about it. “Mommy’s hands are dirty. proud to have come to the logical conclusion herself. and her hair tied up in a bandana. Michael listened intently. it would make everything just so much easier! Thank you for your support. Jesse laughed. and held one up for her daughter to see. her knees and elbows covered in dirt. would you want to buy the book if it were published? Don't worry. and his rapt attention could only be drawn away from his daughter by the sight of Jesse in overalls. who was chattering away about everything she and Mommy had done that day. then opened her mouth and eyes wide in delight. Jesse took his face in her dirty hands and kissed him soundly.” she said. this will not affect the availability of the story online . Jesse let her go. but as he walked toward her his eyes grew brighter. Jesse doubted that the two-year-old would be able to tell the difference between the weeds and the vegetables. However. but first Mommy has to pull these weeds out of the peas and carrots. bouncing her in his arms when his wife released him. I would like to have the time to continue writing. “We need to go swimming!” she exclaimed. 2007 Finished reading? Vote here! Feel free to comment here (as anywhere else on this page). (so many ideas in my head just waiting to be put to paper!) and if I were able to convince a publisher that my book would sell. “Yes. “Marta.” he said. and soon Michael came around the side of the house with the little girl in his arms.

Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive • ▼ 2007 (30) o ▼ April (1) Decisions she isn’t ready to make. o ► March (28) Jesse Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20 Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 27 Epilogue o ► February (1) Finished reading? Vote here! About Me Corin Gillis . A life that no ...

* Urgent Update! "Jesse" has now been read by at least 2 people (of extremely good taste) totally unrelated to myself! Thank you jj and prophet313! View my complete profile . It is very good .Corin Gillis: Christian writer extraordinaire! Welcome to my blog .which is not really a blog. but a free online novel.and I'm not the only one who thinks so. My mom and my sister like it too.

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