Hello friends & readers,
I've been busy during the virus days, writing mornings and evenings. My imagination took me back to MG days and what a virus induced quarentine would be like for a seventh grader, his friends, and family.
Andy makes the cross-country team, the only seventh grader besides his new friend, Samantha. The virus that is sweeping the globe has come to the US, his school, and home. Andy survives the virus, has an amazing adventure with his sister during quarentine, but loses his closest friend.
Viral bandits is a tender look at middle school friendships through the lense of a global pandemic. Enjoy.
A Walk to the Hill
Sam and I walk down the dirt path, the Black Walnut and Oak trees providing a canopy for the smaller Pines and Dogwoods that flank the trail. I kick a large, still green black walnut down the path, enjoying Samantha’s hand in mine.
“This feels like a big deal today. Has a girl ever been to the hill or am I the first?”
“Andrea used to come here with her friends. Charlie, Rikki, and I would spy on them. That’s how we found this place. Once they quit coming, we made it ours. You’ll see, it’s a special place. A lot of places outdoors frightened Charlie, but this wasn’t one of them. He loved the hill.”
We’d come to the creek and made the turn into the cow pasture, following the cow track along the water. I show Sam the elbow in the creek where we liked to swim in the summer, a shallow pool with rocks we could sit on in the middle. The day is warm, one of the last sweater days before Thanksgiving and winter. We walk without any hurry, tossing stones in the water and navigating the sometimes muddy or rocky path.
We leave the creek path walking across the meadow, the hill rising up out of the flatness.
“Wow,” Sam exclaimed. “That’s a hill.” It was more of a grassy lump that rose at a very steep incline with boulders and scrub at the top.
We navigated between the rocks to get up, sitting on one of the larger flat stones to view below us. The panorama included the creek, the woods, the meadow and far off, our neighborhood and the school.
“I can see why you guy’s love it up here.” Sam exclaimed. I take out our drinks and we eat our lunches. I’d made pb&j sandwiches, cut up an apple, and brought the bag of Cheetos, Charlies favorite.
"Charlie loved these.” I pour a handful on the grass in front of us. Samantha reaches in the bag and munches one.
“I’m not a big fan to tell you the truth, but I’m glad you brought them. Where do you think he is? Do you think he’s here with us?” A hawk circles above us and cries out. We both look up, following the bird. It cried out again and we laugh. Charlie is not a hawk.
“I don’t know. I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about what happens at death. Lately I’ve been scared of it and losing the people I care about. It’s funny to be a kid and dealing with this." I pause. "I just hope he’s happy and not scared.”
We both get up without speaking or thought of each other, missing the one person who could no longer be there. We each walk to opposite sides of the hilltop. I study the clouds and wonder about Charlie and where people go after they leave us. Sam gathers wild flowers: Buttercups, Daisy’s, and Queen Anne’s lace.
I meet Sam back at the Cheetos pile. She shows me her flowers.
“I like Buttercups best.” She holds one to my chin. “I can see yellow. That means you like butter.” I don’t really know what that means but I like the way she said it and the way she tickles my chin with the flower petals. I like butter. We sit and she places the flowers next to the Cheetos. Sam takes my hand again, resting her head on my shoulder. “I could stay here all day.” Her words float to my ears and heart like the feathery clouds above us.
We stay all day.