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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

Jesse rolled her eyes. Phil trying to comfort her but nearly hysterical herself. Peter! I’m joining you two!” Will and Phil’s discussion was getting more and more heated. “It’s true. He doesn’t like company. Phil and Will were there in an instant. There wasn’t time to do much. eager to avoid getting caught up in the new argument. with no way of stopping herself. You can see them lying on the front porch sometimes if you canoe past.” she whispered. and admittedly they did have her laughing a few times. “Guys. Life was beginning to look good. Peter and Zeb tried to keep her mind occupied by talking about birds. and he reached her just as she hit the last step. Will tried to carry her but she wouldn’t let him. however. to see not boxes.” said Jess.. She was only a little worried about what was going on inside her. “Oh God. looking at the triangular beach house.” Peter laughed. No. “You’re not serious! Don’t we just tell that to the campers to keep them from trespassing?” “No. “Have you no better way to spend your time?” They looked at her for a second. leaving Jesse to cope with the quarrelsome children. and the other was wrapped around her stomach. “Is this really that important? Is it worth the pain and suffering?” she implored.” she said. feel like going down and talking to someseagulls?” asked Zeb. The two took off down the 20 steps or so to the first landing and began giving the birds names and interesting personalities. “Hey. bumping and bouncing her way toward him. “I think that guy has dogs. this one just seemed silly to her. she was tumbling down the stairs headfirst. when he heard a commotion coming down the road.” said Jesse. When they reached the edge of the Conference Centre property. Peter caught her at the bottom. The accident didn’t happen in slow motion. blinked a couple times. he definitely didn’t miss the boys’ washroom. guys!” she cut in.” suggested Will. “Just this once won’t hurt anybody. She groaned. They walked slowly back to camp. and went back to their argument. and Phil holding her hand and trying not to cry again. All she did was stand up and try to walk. they had to turn away from the beach to go around the small private property. “Maybe we should just go around. please. she insisted. The kind that had pressure and sometimes hot water. Phil and Will looking very sheepish. but Jesse. That was one nice thing about this job: getting to use the ‘good’ showers in the chapel basement. She was alright. with gestures and raised voices. agreeing with Phil. with both Will and Peter behind her ready to catch her should she fall. It wasn’t that much farther. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Lo . the next thing she knew. While Jesse usually loved a good debate. really. 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. “Why don’t we just cut across?” Peter suggested..” “What kind?” asked Peter. “I’m there!” agreed Peter. One arm was covering her face. He’d just turned around at what sounded like a pile of cardboard boxes rolling down the steps. “A big kind.” Phil looked wary. Michael came out of the chapel feeling a little more awake. Jesse was feeling fine anyway. So she leaned on Zeb a little bit while climbing back up the stairs.“Hey Pete. but considerately said nothing).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it happens. But oh. he was giving her no hints. see you all later. The outside door opened and Zeb walked in wearing purple shorts and an orange t-shirt that matched his hair. I meant his clean underwear.” Then he was gone. and was a better liar than she thought him to be. Well. that could be it.” he said thoughtfully. how he’d hoped. a little patronizingly. Jesse got the impression that he might be going through something that he couldn’t talk to her about.” Zeb said in his usual slur. it’s cabin cleanup time. nothin’ else I can think of.” and he left. yeah. “I haven’t noticed anything. “Are you sure? He’s gone to bed early two nights in a row. then turned his attention back to colouring between the lines with a fat marker. 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. But if Keith knew anything about it. though. while letting him know she was there for him. “he just left it all over the floor.” Jesse rolled her eyes. “Hey Zeb. “Do you know if anything’s wrong with him?” Keith looked up from the poster he was making. Maybe Jasmine had been right about it not being ‘official’. you noticed anything strange about Michael lately?” Zeb stopped to think. “Michael’s acting strangely. He’s usually a very clean person. gross. but it wasn’t like him. “Well. It could just be the beginnings of a long friendship slowly turning into something else. 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. so she tried to give him some room. but he had thought he was close enough to both of them to be privy to information like this. as if searching the recesses of his brain. “Uh.” Keith shrugged.” he said. by any standard. He just did his laundry. just as he opened the door to leave.” said Keith. but today. I’ll be going now. a very clean person. not bothering to stop colouring. You might wanna check his cabin. But a second later the door opened again. Not like him at all.” he gestured with his hands. Sort of like what he’d thought he might have with Jesse. “Anyone seen Mark?” he asked. “Oh.” “No. as though he didn’t expect that anyone had. and there really wasn’t anything to tell.were true. Yeah. . which was pointing in all directions. I didn’t need to know that.” “That it?” asked Keith. no. Keith stopped him. Oh and don’t tell him that I told you that. “I hope you don’t hold that against him though. Jesse was silent for a minute or so before trying again. “not his dirty underwear. Zeb looked up and around.” Jesse looked down. “He doesn’t usually do that. and he stuck his head in. “Oh. Halfway through the summer. and there was more than just that.maybe they didn’t even know their own minds yet. buddy. “Yeah. but maybe just a little less personal. Jesse. Not unfriendly or unkind. He usually folds it all nicely and puts it in his dresser. distracted.” Zeb returned groggily. he left his underwear on the floor this morning.. “So he’s tired. He’d been acting distant.” Jesse said to Keith while making some photocopies on Thursday morning..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 knew now that she could love it if it were a boy . 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. and she was of half a mind to try to show him. He stopped asking when it got really bad. Michael kissed her. and Jesse was called on to give her all.for a girl. but at the moment she was a little preoccupied.but she prayed for a girl. holding her hand and looking as scared as she was. Mom. She would probably be glad that they were here later.” “Thanks. she gave it. but she couldn’t get out of it now. but she had come back. Michael and Jesse visited them whenever they were in town. and Sandra had to assure them both repeatedly that Jesse was not going to die.” said Jesse. as long as he didn’t like his second wife as much as he liked her. But when at last the moment came. he could get married again after a while. and she was exhausted. but Jesse only screamed back that Sandra was not the one being “split in freaking two!”. She had been naughty. Jesse was happy to see Jasmine becoming a confident and godly woman under Samantha’s influence. and had argued with her parents until they agreed to let her go. but she was very much alive. and they’re in the waiting room. In between contractions. Jasmine was living with Samantha in an apartment in the city. who was getting her feet wet in the shallow water. and her nightmares had gradually stopped . her mother peeked her head in.she had Michael to help her now. going in the water without asking. She was crying. She stood up from her weeding and wiped the dirt off her hands to go after the little girl. “There’s a girl named Samantha who wants you to know that she and Jasmine just got here. Jesse couldn’t help smiling at the sight of her daughter’s dark curls bouncing against her rosy cheeks. and Marta understood that this was a good . and a few more of the McDougall clan who had already arrived for Christmas. Her aunt Sandra stood at the foot of the bed. and she was almost sure that the effort would kill her. where the older girl attended university and Jasmine finished high school. so Jesse only gave her a little scolding. She hadn’t wanted to make a production of this. She clung to Michael for dear life when she wasn’t yelling at him. but at least they weren’t all in the room with her. and then lifted her high in the air. Jasmine had been overjoyed when Samantha made the offer after High Teens. Michael’s fears were somewhat alleviated by these assurances. making her giggle. It was the hardest thing she ever had to do. In the lobby were her parents-in-law. “You are one dirty little girl!” she declared. and she did not die. Hearing her talk like this alarmed him deeply. Posted by Corin Gillis at 11:36 AM 0 comments Labels: Chapter 27 Epilogue “Marta!” Jesse called to the wandering two-year-old. and told him that if she were to die. and they both looked wonderingly at their baby girl. and that she ought to know if she were going to die or not. her sisters. her parents. Michael kept asking her how much it hurt. and her husband of three months stood beside her. telling her how brave she was.

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

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 .Subscribe to: Posts (Atom) Blog Archive • ▼ 2007 (30) o ▼ April (1) Decisions she isn’t ready to make..

which is not really a blog.and I'm not the only one who thinks so. but a free online novel.Corin Gillis: Christian writer extraordinaire! Welcome to my blog . It is very good . * 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 . My mom and my sister like it too.

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