By Christina Dotson
“I found one!” I picked a small shell off the ground and held it up for Jaimi to see. “I told you we could find shells on Lake Erie. Who needs an ocean?”
“I don’t think Jaimi’s going to earn her badge with a collection of zebra mussel shells,” Andy said.
“And I think there’s still something alive in that one,” Rachel added.
“Gross!” Quickly I tossed the mussel back into the lake and we continued our stroll along the water’s edge.
“This is utterly futile,” Tony said. “We’re not going to find anything, and it’s getting cold out.” My brother stuck his hands deep into his jacket pockets and hunched his shoulders. “Nature,” he muttered bitterly.
Jaimi’s face lit up. “Oh, yeah!” she exclaimed. “You promised you were going to finish your story about why you hate the outdoors and camping—the honey story.”
“Oh, man! Did you have to remind him?” I groaned. “We’ve heard that story a million times!”
“I haven’t,” said Jaimi. She turned back to my brother. “You said you were camping in the winter, and the cabin was about to fall over, and you were frostbitten and bleeding.”
“Ha!” I laughed.
Tony ignored me. “That’s right,” he said. “Our Pathfinder group was a lot bigger back then, and we were all crammed into this cold little shack. That was bad enough, but then they showed me the restroom. We had to hike about another 11 miles to get there—“
“Try 200 yards,” said Andy.
“Same thing. Anyway, when we finally arrived, it was just this hole in the ground with a little outhouse stuck on top. The smell was horrible, the door wouldn’t lock, the wind blew through the cracks—it was the most revolting, uncomfortable thing imaginable!”
“Can’t argue with him on that one,” Rachel admitted.
“What about the fire?” Jaimi prodded. “You said you got set on fire.”
“No one set him on fire!” Andy exclaimed. “He stood too close to the campfire and got a little singed, is all.”
“Excuse me,” Tony said, “but my coat sleeve was in flames. I had to stop, drop, and roll.”
“Were you hurt?” Jaimi asked.
“Just his pride,” said Andy.
“So why do you call this the honey story?” Jaimi asked.
“That happened after the fire,” Tony said. “Remember how I told you the cabin was crowded? Well, we had this teacher who was camping with us—we called her Miss A—and she liked to put honey on everything. So she brought this big bottle of honey with her. At breakfast we were all sitting around eating, and Miss A was standing behind me pouring honey into her cereal, only she wasn’t paying attention to whether or not it was actually getting into her bowl. The next thing I knew I had honey dripping off my head and down my face!”
“Seriously?” Jaimi exclaimed, laughing. “You’re not making this up?”
“On my honor,” said Tony. “So then I had to find a way to wash it off. That involved hiking to the river, which was at the base of this massively steep hill.”
“He rolled half the way down,” Andy interjected.
“Of course the water just about froze my scalp off,” Tony continued. “And I couldn’t get all the honey out of my hair.”
“That does sound awful,” Jaimi said.
“It gets better,” I interjected.
“It gets worse,” said Tony at the exact same time. “So I washed myself off, crawled up the steep, muddy hill, got back to the cabin and was trying to finish my breakfast when . . .” Here he paused for dramatic effect. “It happened again!”
“What happened again?” Jaimi exclaimed.
“Miss A dumped honey on my head again! She swore it was an accident and she tried to wash it off, but I knew at that moment that I would never go camping again!”
Jaimi nodded, her eyes wide. “Tony,” she said solemnly, “I think you made the right choice.”
The next chapter will be posted online Thursday evening, March 28!
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