The Cantrell family had not been back to Granite Falls since Sophia had died there in a horrible, grilling fire. So, when Marc suggested he’d made reservations for the weekend, they sighed, but packed their dufflebags and went. Both of his sisters had been invited, but only Megan came along. This troubled Marc, wondering what was up with Janeille? Getting out of their transport, they looked around for a campsite, only to end up in the campsite. Practically hallowed ground to this family. What was surprising was the charred earth near the grill on the site they had used that fateful vacation so many years ago, now.
“Man, you’d think by now the park rangers would have done something to clean this up. How can anybody even feel comfortable using this particular camping site?” Joseph nearly shuddered. “Dad, you’re not suggesting we stay here. On this spot.”
“No, as a matter of fact there’s a more pleasant spot on the other side. Follow me.” Marc took them around a copse of trees to the camp site just opposite, but several yards away. Due to the trees and the distance, the original site was difficult to see. “Look at this. There’s these nice carved log-benches around the fire ring. A picnic table, grill over there,” he pointed the few feet away. “And it’s not too far from the bathrooms, either. Ah, wait, before you guys get comfortable, can you help me pitch the tent?”
Marc had purchased the “tent-in-a-bag” since there were so many of them along on this trip. It was cumbersome, but with help they soon had it set up. Problem was, there was still a lack of room inside. Next time, Marc told himself, I’ll get two. Better too much room, than not enough. The group settled into the weekend. Josiah read a book on herbalism and made it a point to harvest a few of the wild plants around them. He also found some basil and was happy that at least one of those wild plants was, in fact, the noxious elderberry needed to make a bug repellent. The bathroom was a joke, completely infested with biting bugs! He quickly managed to brew up a batch and tried it on himself before making any more.
The others milled about, having a good look around. Marc, who had purchased a guitar for the occasion, regaled them with his lack of singing abilities. After a time, however, he perceived his audience was merely being polite and changed out his entertainment for some story-telling, instead. Karly made breakfast and they devoured it.
A Sim, masquerading as a bear, came loping into their campsite, which made Marc bristle. He was big on privacy and this ‘bear’ didn’t seem to acknowledge personal space. Not only that, but he, she, it, shamelessly flirted with Karly. This, once again, caused Marc to become enraged. He used his mind powers on the bear to show his displeasure, since he perceived the bear already realized he was an alien. Once the ‘bear’ walked away, Marc, still being fully ensconced in the rather negative and powerful emotion, ranted and raved at Karly, as if she somehow were at fault. The hair dye covered the gray just fine, but Marc was feeling his age.
Karly did her best to not react, wanting and needing this vacation as much as the others. She talked to Marc in quiet soothing tones and before long, he was filled with the majesty of the forest surrounding them and she offered him a shoulder-rub. Finally, his ire passed and all was well again. And Karly felt better for not playing the victim and allowing her husband to bully her. She knew, this time, for a certainly, she had done nothing to warrant that Sim/bear’s undue flirtation. She was not Marc’s problem. Marc was his own problem. He had a bad temper, and was easily sparked into jealous rages.
They spent a nice time in front of their campfire that evening. Story-telling became the entertainment for this trip and those who couldn’t fit into the tent, found a place to nap, at least, until the others were fully rested.
The second and last day of their vacation was Sunday. All three boys emerged from the tent ready to take on the adventure they’d planned. They were going to head off for the National Park in Granite Falls and do some exploring. According to the pamphlets supplied by the Ranger, there were some unique things about this place. Could they find that exotic bug? What other gems or collectibles might they find? Off they went, after apprising their parents where they were headed. They were gone all day.
When they finally got back, the family broke camp and went home, for hopefully a good night’s rest. Happily, all three boys had finished their homework before they’d left for Granite Falls.
The next morning was Monday. Marc crawled out of bed, showered, shaved, ate and headed to the medical clinic. There he discovered Janeille, and why she had opted out of their family vacation.
“Good morning,” he said, entering the exam room, his back still to the patient on the table. Turning, “Janeille, what’s wrong? Why are you here?”
“To find out what’s wrong. You’re a doctor, you tell me.”
“Same ol’ Janeille. Maybe I should help you out and remove your tongue.”
“You wouldn’t dare, little brother. You’re too dedicated a doctor. You remember that oath you took, ‘First do no harm’, remember?”
“Ah, you’re just no fun at all,” he said with a broad smile. “So, tell me, how have you been, health-wise, lately?”
Janeille described her symptoms and when they began. Marc ran her through the basic exam; eyes, ears, scan, getting a swab of her throat, taking her temperature. He smiled as he left the room, to analyze her specimen. When he came back his look was grave.
“Marc, what is it?”
“We can do it, now, the operating rooms are open. I’ll get you fixed up in a jiffy.”
She put a hand on his arm. “Don’t do a rush job. Not like you used to clean the kitchen on your night. I may be getting up there, but I'm not quite ready to check out just yet.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you,” he said, leading her into the operating room. The surgery was a success and Janeille got dressed and went home to finish recuperating.
Marc was pleased he could help her, but now he understood why it wasn’t standard practice to allow physicians to treat their relatives. He was an emotional wreck and very exhausted.