There was a time when it was just me and The Boy.
Young, poor, inclined to eat breakfast for dinner and drink far too much Kool-Aid, we had it made.
One year, when The Boy was 12, I managed to put away $20 here, $20 there, and come up with a cabin on a lake Up North. A full week in their last available cabin for the summer. Nothing fancy: a small living room, three tiny bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen. We had a small boat (outboard engine available for an additional cost) and a dock just outside the front door.
That June, I packed a dozen books, The Boy packed his cousin Kyle (just a year younger) and we drove six hours’ north.
The first night there, of course, the boys insisted that they sleep on the dock.
“What, so you can roll off it and then I gotta explain to everyone how I let two kids drown on my watch? No way.”
“What if only one of us drowns?” The Boy counters. “What if Kyle, specifically, is the only one that drowns?”
Significantly smaller than The Boy, Kyle cuffs him on the back of the head. The Boy picks him up and squeezes him until he squeaks.
“You’re funny,” I say, “and yet I’m still thinking “no”.”
The rest of the first day is taken up by driving into town for groceries, venturing into the out-of-doors in a swimsuit for the first time that season, convincing Kyle that even if The Boy did give him a dollar eating a minnow is disgusting.
You know. All the usual.
Around midnight, the kids went to bed, one to a tiny room, reeking of popcorn and elaborate plans for capturing more minnows in the morning.
It was at 2:00 a.m. that first night that I started hearing the whispering.
Pssss psss psss.
Hee hee hee.
I set my book down. Well those little…
I slide out of my little double bed, bare feet on cold linoleum. Opening my bedroom door, I ease into the dark hallway.
Kyle’s room is empty, save for the suitcase that appears to have exploded in the center of it.
The Boy’s door is closed.
And like so many good women before me, I press my ear to it.
“Pssss. Pssss. Psss. Hee! Hee! Hee! and he took the cigarette from his mom’s purse and she never even knew! Hee! Hee! Hee!”
I pull away from the door and frown. Hmm.
I push my ear back against the door as The Boy begins to whisper. In such low tones, surely this is seditious material. Cigarettes first! Now what? Booze? Sex? Drugs?
Holy moly, a gang?! Is that it? Are the boys going to join a gang?!
“You know what the greatest thing in the world is?”
There is the sound of The Boy sucking air into his lungs, blowing it out. Oh, my baby! My heart skips a beat as I picture him blowing smoke out of his bedroom window.
The Boy sighs in exaggerated bliss.
“Mentadent toothpaste. My teeth are so clean. Man, that stuff is tight!”
I turn around, go back to bed with a smile on my face.
I let them sleep on the dock the next night.
17 hours ago