It really sucks that your parents won’t let you join us until tomorrow evening. I mean, I was surprised when mine decided to take me away midweek but still, it would have been nice.
The cabin is HUGE! Just as well, really. It has two doubles and two twin rooms, so we won’t be all crammed in together. That’s a relief, huh?
Mum almost burnt the place down within minutes of us getting there. She was trying to toast some marshmallows but almost ended up toasting herself – you should have seen her face! Luckily, the parent who can actually cook stepped in that that point, so we won’t starve.
We haven’t been here long, but it looks like there’s lots to do. I have to warn you, don’t challenge Auntie Siobhan to the horseshoe game – she has a competitive streak.
See you tomorrow!
“Lorcán? Put down your phone for a minute and help me with the plates, ok?”
Lor pressed the send button and stood up, brushing the grass from his trousers. “I’ll be right there!” He walked over and the smell of the pine needles began to mix with the scent of grilled fruit. His tummy rumbled, and he smiled sheepishly as he took the plates from Lissa.
“It’s a good thing I didn’t take longer, isn’t it? You’d probably try to eat the furniture – or worse, marshmallows.”
“Why would that be worse?”
“You’re related to Morgan, love. I’m not taking any chances until I have a fire extinguisher within reach.” Lissa laughed at his affronted expression, and shooed him inside. “Food’s ready, everyone!”
“Coming!” Verixe called back, and turned to look at Sergio. “Are you two going to join us, or-”
“ARGH! Almost got it.”
Sergio chuckled and looked affectionately over at his wife before turning back to Verixe. “I think I’ll stay for a bit longer.”
“Are the others not joining us?” Morgan said, peering out through the glass doors as Verixe shut them behind her.
“Not quite yet. I think they want to finish their game.”
Lissa thought for a moment, her face screwing up slightly in confusion. “Momo? How exactly do you finish that game?”
“You don’t know, do you?”
“Love, come inside. You need to eat.”
“I can’t, Sergio, I need to get three more points!”
“Well, at least have some of mine.”
“… I love you.”
Five o’clock. In the morning. On. Holiday.
So this is what school does to you, Lor thought as he walked down the stairs and into the kitchen. Goodbye, lovely lie-ins.
“Any chance you’re making enough to share?”
“I’m making plenty, I’m just not sure how edible it will be. Do you really want to risk it?”
“Hmmm…” Siobhan said, a mock thoughtful expression on her face. “Yes Lor, I think I do.”
“You are a brave woman, Auntie.”
Lor sighed with relief. Breakfast was nearly over and so far no-one had keeled over from food poisoning. He’d only ever cooked for himself before, so it had been quite nerve-wrecking. His heart almost stopped when he heard a choking sound from his left.
“Ha! Got you.” Morgan said, smirking as Lor put his head in his hands. “It’s lovely, don’t worry so much.”
“You’re so mean.”
“You love me, though.”
“Sure mum, sure.”
Lissa looked around her and breathed deeply, relishing the crisp breeze filtering through the branches of the trees.
This was the life. Serene, beautiful, quiet and-
Lissa stood frozen the spot, whimpering. She could have sworn she heard the bear laugh as it walked off. Turning, she ran back to the cabin.
“Siobhan! You were right! I never believed you about the bears but I saw one and it was huge!”
Siobhan looked up and stifled a laugh at the terror on her sister-in-law’s face. “Lissa, do you remember the end of our bear conversation?”
“That they like to sneak up behind people and scare them?”
“After that. I said that the only bears around here are people in bear costumes.”
“Oh…” Lissa blushed, biting her lip. “I forgot that bit.”
Ok, she thought as she went back outside. Attempt number two.
“I’m going to go fishing for a bit. Mama said it was how you met her, so I want to know why she was doing it.”
“I’m pretty sure it was for food, starboy.”
“Then why were you doing it, too?”
“Ah, now that was for fun. I might join you later actually.
“Not right now?”
“Your grandma wants to try marshmallows, I’m going to keep an eye on her.”
Talk about the blind leading the blind, Lor thought as he walked towards the lake. At least he’d be able to keep an eye on them from over here.
Lor smiled as he set up his fishing rod. Verixe had been glowing happily all day and it was wonderful to see. He wondered if he would glow one day. He’d seen his mother glow in pinks and blues and purples, and he wondered what it would be like to feel that way himself. He’d never glowed though, not even once.
There were far worse ways to spend a day, he thought as they packed up their equipment. He looked up at the sky, and felt excitement bubbling up in him. Malik would be here soon. Hopefully Mama wouldn’t be too embarrassing…
She was. Lor groaned and closed his eyes as Lissa reached the grand finale in her story. It had started out well enough, with a pirate ship and a treasure hunt, but somehow it had ended up with a fight to the death between a rubber chicken and a mutated potato. He would have suspected that juice was involved if it weren’t for the fact that his mama never drank juice. He opened his eyes a little and peeked out at the faces around him. There was Siobhan, hiding her cringes and amusement with a carefully placed hand. Grandma seemed to be genuinely loving it, but she was Lissa’s mum so it didn’t count.
“Your mum is pretty funny.”
Lor looked over at Malik, not bothering to hide the expression of disbelief on his face. “Seriously?”
“I mean it! My parents never mess around like this anymore.”
“…and so the potato was slain, ne’er to terrorise the chicken sanctuary ever again!” Lissa finished, then looked around expectantly at the crowd. “So, how did I do?”
“Very well, love” Morgan said, reaching for Lissa’s hand. “It was very creative.”
“See?” Malik whispered into Lor’s ear “They’re so happy – how could I not be having fun?”
“You are far too good for your own… well, your own good.” Lor said, grinning. Want to go grab some food?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“Dude, I didn’t know you wore glasses.”
Malik turned around to see Lor behind him on the balcony. “I wear contacts normally, but I take them out before bed. Don’t tell anyone, ok?”
“Don’t tell anyone?” Lor asked, confused. “Why? They look good on you.”
“They don’t really fit my image though, do they?”
Lor looked his friend up and down, considering the question.
“I don’t know. Maybe if they were in pink they would.”
Malik laughed and turned back to look over the lake. “Lets put it this way. If you tell anyone about my glasses, I’ll tell them about your bunny slippers.”
He gasped. “You wouldn’t”
Malik raised an eyebrow and grinned over his shoulder. “Do you really want to risk that?”
Lor shook his head and joined him at the railings. “You win. Lets take a photo though.”
“I want to remember this. Plus, potential blackmail material.”
“Only if you send it to me, too.”
“Having fun, you two?”
“Hey, Uncle. We’re going to head to bed now, I promise.”
“Good, good…” he said absently, looking around. “Have either of you seen Siobhan?”
“I’m right behind you, dear. I have been for the last five minutes. Are you wearing your hearing aids?”
The couple carried on talking and laughing before finally heading inside, hand in hand.
“I like your family, Lor.”
“I like them, too. We really should head to bed though. I’ll see you in the morning. Oh, I almost forgot to ask! Is there anything in particular you want for breakfast? I’m on cooking duty.”
“Everyone meet back here in three hours, ok? We’ll need time to pack before leaving.”
Lissa didn’t even wait for a reply before running off into the forest. She’d been dying to find more plants for her garden – whether she knew what they were or not didn’t matter. She’d find out eventually, she just wouldn’t eat them in the meantime.
Verixe decided to do some snooping. It wasn’t technically snooping, she reasoned as she rummaged around the cabin. The sign outside said ‘public’, and she was part of the public.
She looked at the frogs and insects displayed on the surfaces, watching them move and listening to the sounds they made. She was entranced. She still had two and a half hours left, maybe she could catch some and take them home.
“Ok, so if we follow this map, we should be able to find the cave!”
“It looks pretty far away, Lor. Are you sure we can make it in time to get back?”
“…Ok, you might be right.” Lor put away his phone and sighed, then turned to look at his friend. “Anything else you want to do?”
Malik grinned and spread his arms out, falling back onto the ground with a soft thud. He laughed at Lor’s worried expression. “It’s fine, I know how to fall safely. I used to do judo.”
“Are you going to join me? There’s a pretty cool cloud up there that looks like a rabbit on a snowboard.”
“How could I resist?” Lor joked, and sat down. He looked up at the sky, tilting his head back as far as it would go.
“You’ll get stuck like that.” Malik said. Lor looked down at him, bemused. “Come on, the ground is fine. I’ll tell you if I see any bugs.”
“I’m not afraid of bugs!”
“Sure you aren’t.” Malik teased, and Lor laughed, lying down on the grass.
“You’re right, though. It does look like a snowboarding rabbit.”
“It’s a shame that we have to go home so soon” Morgan said, toasting her treat under Lissa’s watchful gaze. “Maybe we can do this again some time.”
“I’d like that” Lissa smiled. Siobhan and Sergio were returning, holding hands and giggling like teenagers.
“Lissi? Where’s Verixe?”
“…and that’s when I decided to live in this lake.”
“That’s a really lovely story, Mr Bear.”
“Sure, sure. Now get out of the way will ya?! I’m trying to reel in this fish.”
“I’m sorry, you’ll have to ‘bear’ with me for a while. I’m talking to this lady.”
“… I hate you.”
“Rude. Now, where were we? Ah yes, I’d just moved into the lake. It wasn’t easy trying to catch food with these big clumsy paws, I can tell you.”
“I give up.”