Yes, the story finally comes to an end. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.
School was finally over. Mark and Jamie had each participated in the 8th grade graduation ceremony. Mark had held a pole marking the archway for the graduating students to pass through with one of his classmates opposite him. Jamie had tossed confetti along the path that had been taped across the gym floor. Jamie looked so cute in the dress Anne had made her. After the ceremony, there was the usual reception with refreshments provided by the community. Zach had almost spewed punch clear across the cafeteria when he noticed Jamie ‘hunting’ her brother. She had stalked him from across the room using various groups of adults for cover. Eric and Kate just smiled.
Summer school started in two weeks. Pat and Tammy had promised to take the kids for a week so that Eric and Kate could relax a bit. It was a good plan, but between Eric’s first call out on a Search and Rescue mission that required ‘Max’ and Suzanne taking a week of vacation, life stayed hectic. Before they knew it, it was Sunday night.
“Jamie and Mark, get into bed!” Eric hollered for the third time. Both children were bouncing up and out of bed like jack-in-the-boxes.
“What happened to your great ‘sleepy-vibes’?” Kate asked Eric as he plopped exhausted into a chair.
“How about a cup of tea?”
“I’d love one.” He headed downstairs one last time to try and get the kids in bed.
By the time he was back, Kate had tea and gingersnaps on the kitchen table.
“Heaven in a cup,” he said between sips. It had taken what seemed like forever to get Mark and Jamie settled down. In the end, Eric did resort to sleepy vibes for Jamie. It was the only way to get her to stop talking.
Kate smiled and handed him a cookie. Tomorrow they were going to drop the children off at school and then head up into the hills for the few hours of summer school. Both of them were looking forward to running in the hills. They finished their cups in silence and then headed to bed.
“Oh that was fun!” Kate exclaimed. They had just rounded a tight curve and stopped for a moment before continuing down the valley.
Eric looked over at her and smiled. They had been taking the Subaru higher and higher up the valley each day. He usually drove, but today had been Kate’s turn. She was nervous about driving the narrow rutted road, but was gaining confidence. “Told you it was doable.”
“For you, yes. However, I never thought I’d get past that one really steep part where it feels like the road falls away.”
“You did really well. When we get down to the big meadow with the old cabin, let’s park.”
Kate nodded and started down the road. It wound down the western side of the valley and through thick stands of aspen. A small meadow opened up and then a bigger one appeared as they rounded to the east. Here Kate pulled off the road and they got out to stretch.
“That has got to be one of my favorite views in the whole world.” She looked back up the valley they had just driven down.
“It’s one of mine as well. I’m so glad that I was able to get the time off to spend with you up here every day. It’s worth the chatter we have so early in the morning.” He was thinking of Jamie and her non-stop monologues on the morning drives.
“Yes, it is.” Kate leaned up against Eric. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight. They had had some lovely picnics over the last two weeks. Kate had even managed to shift with Eric one morning and they had run clear up the valley. The only unsettling bit had been Eric trying to explain where Kate was when he went to pick up the kids. After dropping them off at the Maes ranch, he’d gone back up the valley to pick her up. Kate had managed to shift back and was wading happily in the river waiting for Eric. He was glad that he’d had enough forethought to leave her clothes with her.
Eric let go of Kate and turned to reach in for the water bottle on the back seat. After taking a drink, he handed her the bottle. She finished off the last of the water and handed it back to Eric.
“Are you sure you can’t have Zach pick up the computer parts in the morning?”
“Yeah. The supplier is being a pain in the ass. Something about Zach changing all of his passwords to Satan last time he was in the shop.”
“That was three years ago! You’d think the man would get over it.” Kate was exasperated.
Eric just smiled. He glanced at his watch and saw that they had thirty minutes before summer school was over for the day. “We need to get moving Kate. I’ll drive.” They moved to get into the car.
Kate smiled as he re-adjusted the seat. He was trying to pretzel himself in before moving the seat back. In the end, he gave up and got back out to adjust the seat. Kate looked away before she burst out laughing.
The trip down the valley to the school was fast and bumpy. Kate swore that Eric tried to hit every puddle possible. It was a contest lately to see who could muddy the Subbie the most. Eric was winning as usual. They pulled into the parking lot of the school just as the kids were lining up by the front gate. Eric and Kate got out to meet the kids. Other parents were doing the same thing.
“Don’t forget to be careful tonight,” said a voice behind Kate.
Kate turned to see one of the older kids grandpa behind her. He smiled at her and she returned the smile. “Now why should we be careful tonight Joe?”
“Ah, it’s a full moon tonight, and there will be werewolves and witches out you know,” he said in all seriousness. “Them creatures come out on nights like that and you never know what’ll happen.”
Eric who had been listening bit his lip trying not to laugh. He managed to turn towards Joe and nod. “That’s the truth Joe. You never know what you’ll find up in the hills around here.”
“Yep.” Joe turned to grab his grandson by the shoulder and headed off down the road.
As he walked off, Kate turned to Eric. She rolled her eyes and bent over giggling. Eric joined her and they were still giggling when Jamie and Mark ran over to them.
“Why ya laughing Mama Kate?”
“Oh, Grandpa Joe said something funny.”
Jamie smiled. “He came and tolded us stories about peoples who turn into wolves and coyotes today and ghosts and witches.”
“Ah, that sounds interesting.” Eric scooped Jamie up and carried her upside down to the car.
Jamie giggled and every time she tried to talk, Eric gave her a bit of a shake. When they got to the car, he turned her upright.
“Shall we hunt triffids on the way home?”
“Yes! We gots to hunt triffids! Lots and lots of them got away last time,” Jamie said excitedly.
They all got in the car and prepared to keep an eye out for triffids. Kate wondered just how many sunflowers, also known as triffids they would be pulling out of the grill this time. So many of the yellow flowers were hanging over the road edge that it made it almost impossible not to hit them. On the way home the first day of summer school, Eric had started making a game of it to hit the sunflowers and send the heads bouncing across the hood of the car. Kate had made a comment about triffids and the name had stuck. Every afternoon they tallied their ‘kill’ and wrote it up on a piece of paper in the kitchen. As Eric swerved close to the edge of the road to bag the first triffid of the day, Kate though about how tomorrow would be a victory for the triffids as Eric was headed to town while Kate came up here by herself. The thudding of a large triffid across the windshield caught her attention and she started to tally hits and misses as they drove back into town.