Thursday, May 31, 2007

One (Continued)

Late afternoon found them at an old campground by a mountain lake.

After the animals had been cared for, the young people threw themselves into the cold water, as much for horseplay as to wash off the dust of the road. Some of the wilder boys dunked the girls, setting one of them to shrieking loud enough to be heard on the other side of the lake.

"Maybe we should put a stop to that," Amalia said to no one in particular.

"Five minutes," said Harley, the unit commander. "The water's pretty cold. Build up a fire and they'll be out soon enough."

"As much as they carry on, it's a wonder there aren't more babies," a camp supporter sniffed as she left to hunt for firewood.

"I sometimes wonder that, myself," Amalia said. "I know Macy can't have children after that botched abortion, but some of the others..."

"There’s only so much we can do," Harley pointed out. "It's not like we've got experienced soldiers waiting in line to join us."

"We’ve got a lot of supporters in the villages," Amalia reminded him. "But yes, it's hard to find people who are willing to live like nomads. I guess that's why we always end up with the young ones. Get to be a certain age, and spying from the comfort of home looks a lot better than traipsing around the countryside."

"It's a young person's job, that's for sure." Harley stretched and rubbed a spot on his lower back. "I know I can't spend all day in the saddle like I used to."

Amalia nodded in agreement. Like her, Harley was almost fifty and had a lot of the same aches and pains. "I made a new liniment the other day. I can work on your back after dinner, if you like."

"That'd be nice."

Amalia went to the wagons and began collecting blankets. When the young people came out of the water, they would be cold. They were adults in years and in the way they performed under pressure, but in unguarded moments like this, they still behaved like overgrown children and needed to be looked after. She stacked the blankets on the beach, wondering where Harley had gone.

Finally she caught sight of him, waist deep in the cold water, trying to relieve his aching back. She wondered if he would want anything else tonight besides a back rub, and sort of hoped he would.


Alice Audrey said...

This takes me back to some camp outs I've been on. Playing in the water is always half the fun.

Alice Audrey said...

I'm quoting from here today. Hope you don't mind.