6

368 10 31
                                                  

Ellen laid out a large blanket under some trees near the motorhome.  She placed the different items she'd made for lunch, and called her grandchildren over to sit with her.  Anna peeked her head out of the motorhome, drying her hair from the shower she had just taken.

"Mom, do you need anything else out of the fridge?" she said.

"No, just come and eat some lunch," she said patting the blanket near her.  "Where did your father wander off to?  He wanted to ask the man that runs this place about the fishing here."

"Oh, boy," Anna said.  She sat down next to her mother and started putting together plates for her kids.  "I have a feeling we're going to lose dad for an entire day."

"Well, that's what vacations are all about, right?"  Ellen said.  "Getting to do things we like to do that we sometimes don't have the time for."

"I can get behind that," Anna said as she munched on a grape.  "Speaking of lost people, where did Ophelia get off to?"

"I think she said she was going to take a run along the river," Ellen said.  Her mother sighed.  "She can act so silly sometimes but deep down, I can tell she's really hurting."

"I agree with you," Anna said.  "I've been worried about her since we started this trip but she's trying hard to seem ok.  You never know with her."

"She doesn't fool me," Ellen said, taking a bite of a sandwich. "She's got more going on than just losing her job.  She's been seeing someone, hasn't she?"

"I don't know for sure," Anna said turning her head, wincing.  She didn't like lying to her mother.  "She hasn't shared anything with me and she didn't want to talk about it."

Ellen nodded.  "Well, I guess she'll come to either you or me when she's ready.  She's always been so independent and free-spirited.  I guess it's why I always worried about her the most.  I'm not sure she'll ever really settle down," Ellen said.  "Not like you.  You've always been so responsible.  Your dad and I were so happy when you got the things we asked God for - a family of your own and a career.  We were confident you were settled, but then . . .  Well, I couldn't be more proud of you and how you've been handling everything."

"Thanks, mom," Anna said. "I can't spend the day in bed all the time, as much as I'd like to sometimes.  So I just have to keep moving forward and hope for the best."

"Oh, there he is!" Ellen said looking across the lawn.  Anna looked up and saw that her father was talking with Hank and flanked on the other side by Phillip.  They were headed directly for the picnic blanket.  Anna's heart and stomach did a flip at the same time.  She tried several sitting positions to give her a more relaxed appearance than she felt, but she ended up looking like a stunted mermaid.

"Hank, this my daughter, Anna," Art said.  "These are my two grand-monsters, Brody and Zoe, and my beautiful wife Ellen."  Hank shook everyone's hands cordially.

"And Ellen, this is Hank's nearly-son, Phillip.  He's an Army man," Art said proudly.

"Nice to meet you, ma'am," Phillip said as he shook Ellen's hand.  He smiled over at Anna.  "And I've already met Anna."

Anna smiled up at him trying to act natural.  She prayed silently that he didn't feel the need to share the adventure at the BoxMart.

"It's so nice to meet you all," Ellen said. "I've got plenty here if you boys are hungry."

Art sat down next to the grandkids which left a little room for Phillip right next to Anna.

"Thank you for the invitation, I hope I'm not intruding," Phillip said as he sat down.  "I'm starved."

SweetwaterWhere stories live. Discover now