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  • Chapter 4, part 1

    Ami brought a large wool blanket and the red and white checkered tablecloth. She spread the blanket on the little beach and then the tablecloth on top of that. She put down her famous egg-salad and a loaf of crusty pumpernickel. Peggy brought a huge green salad, Rheta had a homemade strawberry rhubarb pie and Dorothy had an ice cream maker with milk, sugar and ice carefully wrapped in aluminum foil and a blanket. Rude set down a galvanized pail full of ice and cokes. Glenn had hotdogs that he’d cooked on a fire and wrapped in tinfoil and a wool blanket to keep warm, Garrett had paper plates, napkins and cups and Billy Owens had a bag of potato chips and a little bottle of Jack Daniels he’d filched from his Dad’s liquor closet. And ketchup and mustard. Rude’s Dad and Phip had each learned of their plan and insisted they not build a fire on the island.

    They ate first. Everyone was hungry and the food tasted great. Then they walked over to the nesting area along the shore. Already, they had made a trail going back and forth with their notes and pictures. They sat in the bird-watching alcove among the rocks, a sort of natural blind that Simon had discovered on their second visit. It even had rectangular rocks at the perfect height for benches. They talked and laughed and watched the birds fly in and out. They shared binoculars, the spotting scope and the camera that Phip had loaned them from school. Rude has his Dad’s camera and Ami had her Mom’s camera with a long lens. Billy passed the bottle of Jack Daniels and they all took small hits on it.

    Ami announced she had to take a leak and climbed out of the bird-watching alcove, carrying her camera. She headed for the trees, carefully skirting the nesting area. Fifteen minutes later, she had not returned.

    “Do you think she’s okay?” Billy Owens asked. “Should I go look for her?”

    “She probably found some wildflowers and is taking pictures,” Dorothy said, stretching her legs out in the sun and hiking up her shorts a little so the sun fell onto more of her thighs.

    Rude looked at the white skin that had been covered by the shorts and something stirred in him. He had thought of no one but Ami for so long that he had forgotten there were other girls in the world. Dorothy was nice. Her hair was dark blond with gold streaks and fell in a pageboy to her chin. The hair fell back away from her face as she laid her head back on the rock. She closed her bright blue eyes and Rude studied the line of her chin and neck and the flat tanned part of her upper chest and the way her chest swelled, the pale edges of her breasts at the V of her white starched blouse. Her breasts weren’t as big as Ami’s, but they were nice-looking, rising and falling as Dorothy breathed. She was wearing blue eye-shadow, which he never liked, but he thought maybe he could get around that. But would she like him? She seemed to like him as a friend, but so did Ami. And Ami just laughed whenever he asked her to the movies or to a school dance. She was happy to work on Biology homework with him or ride bikes, but nothing romantic. Maybe if they were alone together, he and Dorothy, he would invite her to the prom. Just in case.


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