Chapter 13: Campers
Amarea’s parents were more than happy to see her try out camping. It wasn’t fair. No matter how much she tried to get them not to let her go, the more they wanted her to go! Mrs. Dustin even called Mrs. Moore and made of list of things to get before she picked Amarea up.
Mr. Moore showed up at six sharp. Joey was full of energy and the trunk was full of stuff.
“Ready?” he asked.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Amarea replied. Are you sure this is a good idea?
I think it’s a great idea! He replied.
After a short drive to Aunt Judy’s house and fifteen minutes of unloading the car, they were left alone to be one with nature. Aunt Judy was away for the night at a teacher’s convention. Chris was spending the night with his father. Aunt Judy left the house unlocked and a pan of cookies on the counter with a note to “have fun.”
Joey began to set up the tent. It was a musty old thing that looked better than it smelled. After an hour of failed attempts, Joey decided to hang the tent between two trees.
You really expect me to sleep in that? Amarea asked incredulously.
Why not, it’ll cover all the important stuff, Joey replied.
Just not my head or feet. Amarea shook her head.
Exactly, all the important stuff, Joey replied.
Amarea laughed. She had been gathering wood for the fire. “Did you bring matches?” She asked.
“Um,” Joey started, “no.”
“Genius,” Amarea said, heading into the house to get matches.
Joey began stacking the wood in the fire pit. He stuffed newspaper around the edges. He had seen something like that on a survivor show. He waited. When Amarea didn’t return, he went into the house to find her. She was sitting in front of the television in the family room. She was eating a bowl of ice cream and watching a cooking show.
“What exactly are you doing?” Joey said.
Amarea jumped, “Nothing.”
Joey crossed his arms and tapped his foot on the ground.
You look like Mr. Crockett, she said eating another bite of ice cream.
I thought you were looking for matches, he said.
I was, she admitted, and then I found some ice cream and decided to have a bowl.
You were looking for matches in the freezer? He asked.
You never know where your aunt might hide them, she replied.
Joey reached down and took the bowl of ice cream.
“Hey,” she said, “That’s mine!”
“Not until after supper,” he corrected, as he walked to the kitchen and put the bowl in the freezer, spoon and all.
“Fine,” she said, throwing him the matches, “if I really have to.”
“We have hot dogs and marshmallows,” Joey said cheerfully.
“Yum,” Amarea said.
The newspaper burned hot, but failed to ignite the wood. Joey used the entire Sunday edition, but no luck. “Maybe we need smaller logs,” he said removing the large chunks of wood from the pit.
“I’ll go find some,” Amarea said as she headed to the house.
“I’ll come with you,” he replied, taking her arm and leading her away from the house and back into the woods. Several twigs and leaves later, the fire was going strong. Amarea was roasting a hot dog over the flames.
“Lovely,” she said as her hot dog bubbled and burned.
“You have to turn it,” Joey said, as his own hot dog bubbled and burned. “Crispy!” Joey burned his mouth on the blackened hot dog.
Amarea picked off the burnt parts, only to discover the middle was still raw. “Lovely,” she repeated. By the 4th hot dog, they were beginning to get the knack of it. Amarea’s turned out the best, a nice lovely dark brown. It really wasn’t all that bad.
“Isn’t this fun,” Joey asked.
“A blast,” she replied.
“Come on, give it a try,” he said handing her a marshmallow.
Amarea took the offering and pushed it onto the end of her stick. She watched the marshmallow turn a nice toasted brown color.
“Mar,” Joey said from behind her.
She turned to look at him, “yes?”
“We need to make sure the fire, FIRE!” he exclaimed.
“What about the fire?” she replied.
“NO! FIRE!” he yelled pointing to the fire pit.
Amarea turned to see her marshmallow had become a glowing ball of fire. “Ah!” she screamed as she tried to shake the fire out. The marshmallow flew off her stick and landed on the tent. The tent began to smolder as Amarea and Joey watched.
“Holy crap!” Joey exclaimed running to the tent, trying to stomp out the quickly rising flames.
Amarea calmly walked to the house. She returned a moment later with a fire extinguisher. “I found it next to the matches,” she admitted, as she extinguished the fire.
“Pizza?” Amarea asked after the fire was out.
“What?” Joey asked.
“Pizza,” she replied.
“What?” Joey asked again.
“This could go on all night,” she replied.
“What about pizza?” Joey asked.
“Your aunt left some in the fridge, want some?” she replied.
Joey laughed, “What else did she leave us?”
“A banana crème pie, mango salsa and chips, and a large bowl of cookie dough,” she replied.
“I love my aunt,” Joey said.
“So do I,” Amarea replied, “so do I.”
They spent the remainder of the night watching TV and eating really delicious junk food. Amarea fell asleep first. Joey watched her sleep. She looked so small and frail, lying on the oversized sofa. She was his best friend. He knew that now. Amarea was someone who he could depend on and she was someone who needed him. He guessed that’s what being a friend was all about.
The next morning Joey awoke to Amarea humming and cooking pancakes in the kitchen. His stomach growled.
Smells delicious, he admitted.
Amarea smiled and handed him a plate full of chocolate chip pancakes. The syrup was dripping off the edges.
“Thank you,” he said.
“No,” Amarea began, “thank you. I owe you.”
For what? Joey asked, his mouth full of pancakes.
“For not letting me feel sorry for myself,” she replied.
Joey just grinned, You know I’m going to collect on that someday.
Amarea rolled her eyes, I know, someday.