Chapter 18: Card Games and Dinner
“Yes, an ace!” Lizzy exclaimed. She went up to five, removing her pile’s top card. She flipped the next one around, which revealed itself as a ten. She made it up there too. Her next card was a four, but she needed another ace and three to reach it.
“Your luck will get you so far, for I can get to my three,” Oliver said.
“Luck? Skill. You’re just jealous of me.”
“Watch your ego young lady.”
“Watch your game or I’ll beat you again.”
“All I hear is talk, talk, talk,” Oliver said. He inverted the next card on his pile. He received a queen, but he didn’t have a seven or a ten, so he put one card down.
“Some challenge. I got two cards off my pile and you got one,” Lizzy said.
“Don’t say that too quick next time.” Oliver smiled in take-that fashion. “I got both cards I needed.” He placed a six on the pile and went all the way up to the queen. He peeked at Lizzy. She grinned and they both giggled.
“I’m winning too easily,” Lizzy said. “You’re not even competition anymore.”
“Oh really,” Oliver said.
“Yep. I’d watch out if I were you or you’ll become the embarrassment if you lose to me…again.”
“You watch what you say.”
“You watch how you play. I won’t stop talking until you beat me.”
The game intensified like lightning. When Oliver got one card off his pile, Lizzy got two on her next turn and vice versa. When one person had a break in aces, the other did as well. Both of their piles never split more than a two-card difference. This continued to the end when Lizzy turned over her last card. A two appeared, but she needed an ace. On his next turn, Oliver flipped his last card, a queen.
Lizzy grabbed her next card from the pile. “Come on, please!” No luck, a useless three.
“Is that defeat I hear?”
Oliver needed a jack, seven, and four, but he picked his fifth five. He scratched their heads and sighed. On his next turn, Oliver received a four. And five turns later, a jack.
“I need a seven to win on my next turn,” Oliver said. “I’m getting closer. Watch out.”
“Please. I’m not worried. You don’t stand a chance against me.”
Lizzy curled her fingers over the red card. She slid it off the deck and folded it up. An ace indeed! She placed it on the floor and put the two on top.
“I win! I win! Ha!” she said. She sprung into the air and shot her fist in the air. She hopped in a circle and couldn’t keep the smile off her face.
“Dang it!” Oliver tossed his cards to the ground. “I guess I have to clean up now,” he said.
“I suppose. See you later,” Lizzy said. She departed from the cave and met Charlie halfway down.
“Oh Charlie,” she said. “I won the card game. You wouldn’t believe it.”
“Yes. We both got down to one card and it took at least ten turns for me to pick up the winning ace and prevail.”
“Ha, Oliver lost, and he makes fun of me. He’s a stinker,” he said.
Oliver stood on top of the hills. He sculpted all sorts of little things; snow flowers, toys, and even an apple.
He put snow together for his next sculpture, one of Coco. He formed four little paws and set her fingers and toes flat on the ground so they could hold the rest of the body. Next he added stumpy legs and formed her stomach and back. He lifted the light ball and wiggled it on the paws.
He formed the shape of the head and added the features. He secured cone-shaped snow for ears and grabbed a twig to circle eyes, carved a nose, and mouth. He attached the head right on the rest of the body. Ice Coco appeared perfect.
He admired the Ice Coco, bringing back memories of previous sculptures.
“I didn’t know he built this on his own,” James said.
“Do you like it?” Oliver asked.
“Like it?” His mother grinned.
“Why, it’s magnificent,” James said.
“Oliver, it’s lovely,” Evelyn said. “I never thought I’d see any of our children do this at age six.”
“Neither did I. I hope he’ll move on from snowmen and make something more interesting. Something that will sell,” James said.
“Not everything’s business, James,” Evelyn said.
“Seeing as he’s the oldest, he will do business,” James said.
“We mustn’t worry about what they will do. They will become fine children, all five of them.”
“Fine children, but that won’t do anything as adults. We should prepare him.”
“But he’s six, and creating things like this. Doesn’t this show his creativity and gift? When he’s grown, things will work out,” Evelyn said. She shook her head at James. “I don’t even want to think of it. He’ll be my sweet six-year-old forever.”
“Of course, but I want to teach him responsibility and a little leadership,” James said.
“Yes, that will do, but I don’t want to decide his fate.”
“Neither do I. He’ll choose his future when the time comes. We should show him options early on.”
“Of course,” Evelyn said.
“Are you coming to see it up close?” Oliver asked.
“Yes, dear,” Evelyn said.
“So…what’s business?” Oliver asked.
“Nothing of importance for now,” Evelyn said.
“Keep sculpting and you’ll do great business,” James said.
“Thank you dear,” Evelyn placed her hands on James’s shoulder and looked him in the eyes and grinned.
“Lizzy! Charlie! Jeffrey! Ellie!” Oliver said.
“What?” Lizzy asked.
“It’s time we all head into the cave. It’s getting dark and I’m sure you’re all hungry,” Oliver said.
“Yes, I am!” Charlie said.
“Me too,” Jeffrey said.
“Let’s go,” Ellie said. They traveled the route to their home for the next two nights. They marched halfway around the hills and ducked single-file into their cave. Two furry creatures followed in last.
“You don’t even know how hungry we are. Why, we haven’t ate since this morning,” Lizzy said.
“Well, gee, tomorrow if you guys get hungry in the day then go grab some fruit.”
“Charlie, can you cook the pasta?” Oliver asked.
“Sure.” Charlie grabbed the box.
“You’ll need to retrieve some water. I’ll see to setting up the fire. You three should leave for a few minutes,” Oliver said. The three youngest tossed some snow while Oliver gathered wood and sticks. Charlie wandered down to a pond and caught some water in the pan. In a few minutes time, the flames had grown and the children returned inside.
“Who wants to play Go Fish?” Oliver asked.
“Me! Me,” Ellie and Jeffrey said.
“Well, grab a seat and I’ll shuffle the cards,” Oliver said.
“I’ll deal them,” Ellie said.
“I’ll receive them,” Jeffrey said.
On the other side of the fire, pasta pieces plummeted to the bowl. Charlie stirred it back and forth.
“So I heard you two found a monkey,” Oliver said.
“Oh yes. He’s the cutest and so sweet,” Ellie said.
“Ew. Stop calling everything cute, it ruins it,” Jeffrey said.
“I can’t help that he is.”
“You two need to stop all this arguing and get along,” Oliver said, “and Jeffrey, it’s your turn.”
“Oliver, do you have a three?” Jeffrey asked.
“Go fish. Ellie, do you have a ten in your hands?” Oliver asked.
“Go fish. Jeffrey, do you have a seven?” Ellie asked.
“Aw nuts. How ever did you know?” he asked.
“Your turn, Jeffrey,” Oliver said.
“Hmm…” he said. He looked to Oliver, and back at Ellie. He tilted his head in closer into her cards.
“Hey! No peeking,” Ellie said.
“I didn’t see anything!”
“Well good,” she said.
“Be a good sport, Jeffrey,” Lizzy said. “There’s no point in winning if you cheat.”
“I will, Lizzy,” Jeffrey said.
“Next time you cheat Jeffrey, or try to, you will automatically lose and I will take your cards and put them in the pile.”
“It’s perfectly fair, not ‘buts’ about it. In fact, if you cheat again, we won’t invite you to play with us. And that would be a shame because I love spending time with you. Understood?”
“Yes,” Jeffrey muttered.
“How’s the pasta cooking?” Oliver asked.
“It’s coming,” he said.
“Oliver, do you have a two?” Jeffrey asked.
“Oliver, do you have a nine?” Ellie asked.
“Darn it, I do. Here,” he said.
“Hey, Charlie,” Lizzy said. “How much longer until dinner?”
“A few more minutes,” Charlie said.
“I’ll set up the plates,” Lizzy said. She unzipped the backpack and set the two plates and utensils down.
“Jeffrey, do you have a six?” Ellie asked.
“Yes…” He paused.
“I win. Yay!” she said.
“Who’s hungry for pasta?” Charlie asked.
“Me! Me! Me!” Ellie and Jeffrey said.
“Well then,” Lizzy said, “you’ll have to find a seat and wait patiently.” Jeffrey tried to perch himself in front of a plate first, but Ellie and Charlie got there first. Jeffrey pouted and scowled.
“Now.” Lizzy poured pasta for Charlie and Ellie. “When everyone’s finished, I picked some berries for dessert,” Lizzy said.
“Yum.” Ellie said.
Charlie’s plate had one bite left. Charlie scooped up his last bite and handed the plate to Lizzy. She grabbed the pasta bowl and gave Jeffrey his share.
“Here, Jeffrey,” she said. Jeffrey snatched his plate and scooped a spoonful of yummy penne.
“Why don’t you say thank you?” Oliver asked.
“Thank you,” Jeffrey said, chewing with his mouth open.
“You’re welcome. You should eat neater though, we don’t have napkins.” Lizzy laughed.
“I’m done, Lizzy,” Ellie said. Lizzy scooped some pasta and handed the plate to Oliver.
“Thank you, Lizzy,” Oliver said.
“Finished! Can we have dessert?” Jeffrey asked.
“Not yet!” Lizzy said.
“Everyone has to finish dinner first,” Lizzy said.
“Since when are you so excited to eat fruit?” Charlie asked.
“Dessert is dessert,” Ellie said.
“True,” Lizzy said. She scooped the last of the pasta for herself. Oliver finished his dinner and soon after, Lizzy did too.
“Dessert time. Today we have fruit,” Lizzy said, setting the basket in the center. Charlie and the youngest two dipped their hands in. Jeffrey smeared red berries on his lips and chin. Charlie juggled berries between his hands and Ellie smacked her lips together.
“Wow, this is some of the best fruit I’ve ever tasted. Let me tell you guys, it doesn’t get juicier or sweeter than this,” Oliver said. He and Lizzy took turns grabbing a couple berries. A hand peeped into the basket and plucked a few. More hands reached in until they had ate all the berries.
“What game do we play next?” Jeffrey asked.
“No more games. It’s time for bed,” Oliver said.
“I don’t want to go to bed now. Later,” Jeffrey caterwauled.
“It’s late enough,” Oliver said.
“No,” Jeffrey said.
“How ’bout I read a story first?” Charlie said.
“Yeah,” Ellie said.
“May you?” Jeffrey asked.
“Oh Charlie, please do tell,” Lizzy said.
“Go ahead. Read it, Charlie,” Oliver said.
“Yay,” Jeffrey and Ellie said.
“Gather round,” Charlie said. He patted a seat for Ellie and Jeffrey. They scampered over to the story. Charlie started reading them The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “Once upon a time,” Charlie said. Both Jeffrey and Ellie leaned on their brother’s shoulders.
Oliver prepared their spots to sleep and grabbed two blankets and pillows. Lizzy wiped all the plates and bowl clean and plunked them in the backpack. She visited outside to see Coco and Bongo as Charlie wrapped up the reading.
“We’re done for tonight,” Charlie said.
“Time for bed,” Oliver said.
“I’m not tired.” Jeffrey yawned.
“Yes you are. You yawned,” Lizzy said.
“There ain’t no maybe about it,” Ellie said.
“Ain’t isn’t correct grammar, Ellie,” Oliver said. “Come on now,” Oliver said. He scooped his younger brother and brought him to his spot. Charlie hunkered down with Jeffrey as Ellie cowered along with them in her own blanket.
A few birds flew in. Lizzy tucked everyone under their blankets as she sang a goodnight song.
Goodnight, Oliver and Charlie,
Goodnight to Bongo and Coco,
Goodnight to the birds,
Goodnight, little squirrels,
Goodnight to e-very-one!
Shut your eyes,
And fall asleep,
About the very next day,
And last, may I wish a pleasant night to all.”
By the time she finished, everyone slept without a sound. The birds traveled back to their nest. Bongo slept on the tree and Coco returned inside. Lizzy gazed over them and ducked under her blanket next to Ellie. She turned to Oliver. Poor Oliver. He only has a coat for cover.
“Goodnight, Oliver.” Lizzy grabbed the water and splashed out the fire.