I stared at him as he walked with us to our tent. My mom and dad seemed to know him but who was he? I sure didn't recognize him, he seemed to be too clean . He bent over and shook my hand,"Hello Natalie."
"Let go please," I said, no one ever shook my hand. He was surprised but just smiled and released my hand. We all stopped and stood in front of my tent. He looked disappointed but I didn't get why. "You live here," he asked obviously disgusted. "Let's sit down and talk." He said gesturing to the forest and lake. "You can't raise 3 children like this,"my mommy looked at him with pure anger and my daddy stormed away. I was about to ask Elias what was wrong but he ran after my dad leaving a dusk cloud behind him.
"I will make you a deal." He said trying to pick Damon up but he cried. "I will rent you a house but you have to come visit me and Nancy in Fort Lauderdale first."
"Dad that's almost 8 hours away," she said dumbfounded. "I will rent you a car, one condition you must pack up and leave tonight." I wanted to scream no, but I ran instead. I needed to say goodbye to Henry first.
"Henry!" I screamed almost muffled by tears and breathlessness. "They are taking me away, I can't leave I don't want to." He looked at me puzzled,"Who darling."
"The old man, he calls himself grandpa, he says we have to leave." I sat with Henry for what seemed like years. He told me story after story til my tears dried up. I felt at peace and that's when they came. Our tents had been pitched to the ground for so long I almost cried seeing them rolled up in bags. I hugged Henry one last time and my parents promised we could visit. Elias said bye to Issac and the rest of the campers wished us luck.
It took a few days to get a suitable rental but eventually we did. I had never been in a car so new before, or while my dad was driving.
Grandpa Jack lived in a huge house, the drive way was nearly half a mile long. The guest house was bigger than anything I'd ever seen but that was before I truly looked at the house. "Mommy you grew up here!?" I whispered not wanting Jack to hear me. (I still rarely call him grandpa even today) "Why don't you kids explore," he said.
I was afraid I'd get lost so I begged Elias to come with me and that's when I met them. Nancy and my moms half sister Jessica. They both wanted hugs but I couldn't, I was too afraid. "Jessica let them be. Just give them time." With that we ran off, I explored every bedroom, there were 11 in all and 10 bathrooms. There was a 20 foot long pool in the backyard with a small waterfall going into the pool and a hot tub. As I wondered into the back yard 2 dogs ran at me. I pet the bigger one and then Nancy stepped outside,"Her name is Lucky."
I couldn't bring myself to say anything so I just said,"Hi Lucky." "We live on 6 acres you know, Lucky loves to play fetch. But don't let her go into the lake." I looked up shocked. "There's a lake! Can you show me?" I said finding the courage to talk to her. She led me inside and Elias and Jessica decided to follow, we went out of a side door and down to the lake. "we can fish if you want." Jessica said but I shook my head no.
We spent nearly a week there, I had never seen a tv so me and Elias watched all the shows Jessica showed us. At the end of the week my parents left and said they were going to search for a house in Tallahassee and they could only bring Damon with them.
"Do you have to go?" I said, I'd never been on my own before. "You can sleep with me and your grandpa!" Nancy said in an attempt to ease my nerves. My mother hugged me tight and kissed my forehead.
"I will see you soon," she said then hugged Elias and got in the car. My dad waved as they drove away. I was alone, I could feel my heart break and the tears started to flow.
"Bye Mommy." I whispered.