Quilly is a good teacher. She gives us hard words and expects us to turn them into interesting stories. She is also kind and generous and really, really, funny. When she moves to the mainland, her old community will definitely be the poorer for it. But her new community will be richer, so I guess it all balances out!
She hosts Three Word Thursday and you can play! Just visit her site through the link above. This week the words were operopolist, phalerae, and stibogram.
Here's my story:
Alice spent the night snuggled in the tent next to the car with two really big dogs and a small boy. She didn’t start out snuggled with Adam. He was very wary as they settled down for the night and made sure he was out of reach when he snuggled into the sleeping bag she gave him. In her exhausted slumber Alice heard the rumble of thunder sometime during the night, and when she woke in the half-light of pre-dawn, Adam was curled up next to her, breathing deeply.
Extracting first her left arm and then her right, Alice tried to right herself and shake sleep from her brain. “Coffee!” her brain was screaming. She struggled out of her cramped position, marveling at how the little boy shifted without waking and how the dogs rolled in to keep him secure and warm. Hobbling over to the camp stove Alice made ready to light it and get some water heating. As she squinted her eyes at the match to light it she heard a noise that made all of her senses come instantly awake.
Cassius and Cicero were instantly on their feet and on point protecting their human charges. Adam was slower to wake, but once he realized the dogs were alerted, his keening began. “Eeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiii!” he started as he rocked his body back and forth. Without thinking through the ramifications Alice dashed to his side and grabbed him up into her arms, holding him tightly and making shushing and soothing noises.
“Stand down,” she heard from outside their campsite. The dogs shifted nervously and wagged their tails a bit but did not relax. “You stupid dogs, I said stand down!” Luke’s voice resonated through the clearing.
Cassius and Cicero remained on guard but the very tips of their fur started to ease a bit. Alice held tightly to Adam and called out, “Luke, what do you think you’re doing here?”
Luke, ever the smart-ass prone to putting his foot in his mouth responded, “why are you and the dogs so defensive? You with another man?”
Alice was furious but kept her voice low so as to not frighten Adam. “They’re taking their direction from me. I have a wounded child here and you’re making things worse!”
Luke’s voice was immediately contrite. “Aw, Alice, I’m sorry. What’s the injury and how can I help?”
He moved further into the clearing and unslung his backpack. He started taking things out in order to get to his medical kit. By the time he finished, the pile of plums in front of him made him look like an oporopolist. Alice couldn’t help herself. She started laughing. “What on earth did you do? Harvest an entire tree?” He grinned a little sheepishly and admitted, “it’s a bribe. I know you like plums.”
She relaxed her arms a bit on Adam and asked the little boy, “do you want some plums?” His eyes sparkled a yes as he nodded. “Two plums please, served on fine china with linen napkins.”
“Well ma’am, I ran out of fine china and linen napkins just before I headed up here. Will a fabulous presentation suffice?” Luke began juggling the fruit. It worked for a minute or two but then one fell to the ground and then another. He picked them up and brought them over to Alice and Adam.
As he approached, Adam could see a big man with yellow hair. Cassius and Cicero clearly wanted to go to him, but Alice had not released them. Oddly, Adam did not retreat from Luke. At this, Alice gave in. “Okay,” she said, disgust plain in her voice. “Go ahead, Cass and Ciss.” The two wolfhounds joyfully bounded over to the man and engulfed him in doggy-love. Their tags slapped against his chest like phalerae on a Roman soldier.
Adam couldn’t help himself. A giggle escaped as he saw this big man, at least 6’2”, pinned on the ground with those dogs licking him on every exposed part. Adam felt he would be safe if the big dogs could pin a guy that size. He whispered to Alice, “they must know him pretty well!” Alice responded, “in his case they were always lousy judges of character.”
After order had been restored Alice casually introduced Adam to Luke. “He’s an old friend that I don’t see very much anymore,” she explained to the boy. “I guess we can let him have some breakfast with us, don’t you think so?” Adam agreed.
As they enjoyed their repast of plums and oatmeal over the camp stove, Adam blossomed talking to Luke. It was clear from his conversation that the boy had not been in the forest for long. He talked about seeing a movie that Alice knew had just come out the previous month.
After everyone was satiated she rose and gathered the campsite. She walked over to the trunk of the car to put everything away. When she got there she froze. There were footprints on the ground on the far side of the car that were so clear an agent could make stibograms for a blind jury to follow. She knew Luke had come from the opposite direction. From this Alice knew someone had been watching them during the night. Only the presence of the dogs had deterred someone coming closer. She shivered, wondering whether it was whoever Adam was afraid of.
She went back to sit down with the guys and the dogs. When Adam’s chatter died down Alice asked, “so Adam, what do you want to do? I have to get back to the farm so the dogs can have their food. I’ll offer the same thing as yesterday – you can come with me if you want, but I’m not going to force you.”
Adam looked at Luke and asked, “are you coming too?” Alice groaned inwardly. This kid was going to start her parents on their “happily ever after” trail again for her and Luke. Luke looked at Alice questioningly. She nodded, resigned. Luke responded with a gleeful grin and a cheerful, “Yeah, Adam. I guess I am!”