Will stuck his head out of the tent, aroused by the smell of bacon, white earphones peeping out from his blue hoodie. His first peek into morning sun forced him to fumble for his sunglasses. He put them on, fully unzipped the door and crawled out on his knees. A faint tinny drum beat filtering out into the fresh Cumbrian morning.
“Make me some food, now.”
“Don’t talk to your mam like that William, you’ll end up with a smacked arse.” Said his father, Tom, draining a coffee while he sat studying an ordinance survey map.
Will shuffled in flip-flops over to his mothers’ side, letting the sizzling smoke waft up his nostrils. “What’s that muck? Can we not go for a McDonalds?”
“Will, that’s enough. We haven’t come all this way just so we could go there. I’m cooking, you will eat what I cook.”
Alice plated up enough sausages and bacon for the three of them. When he was finished, Will asked if there was any more.
After they had cleaned their plastic dishes at the communal sink facilities, they took time to decide what to wear on their walk around the lake. Tom and Alice in almost matching hiking boot and cagoule combo, rucksack filled with provisions for the way and extra clothing just in case. Will skulked off into his tent again. When his parents were ready, it took six attempts to get him to re-emerge.
They made their way to the northern end of the lake, it was only a half mile walk from the campsite, bought one-way tickets to the next stop, and waited for the boat. Thirty minutes later they were exiting at their destination, halfway round the lake.
“What we doing? You said we were going to the village on the other side of the lake.”
“Yes, we are.”
“That’s not this stop, there’s nothing here.”
“I know son, we’re going to walk the rest of the way, around the lake.”
“God. How far is it?”
“Come on, seven miles, won’t take too long.”
Alice and Tom were off down the jetty and heading up the lakeside track in double quick time. Will trailed well behind them for the first half mile. After climbing a small rise that had zig-zagged through some trees, they came to a clearing that looked out over the lake. While his parents took in the sight of the steamer heading towards its next destination, and people windsurfing or paddling canoes. Will ambled straight past them, the tinny trap-beat emanating from his earphones.
“I love this,” said Alice, breathing in the smell of nature. “Can we not just live here forever?”
Tom smiled, lifted her hand up to his mouth and kissed it gently. They moved on, following their son down a wide path cut through fern that sloped back down closer to the lake. Above them, grey rumbling clouds from the west tumbled down over the mountains to hang ominously over the lake. The unrhythmical beat of rain hitting supersize leaf played up. The light drizzle turned into a downpour within a minute, leaving the family to scramble for a tree to shelter under. They all huddled close.
“This is shite, this,” said Will, arms folded across his hoodie. “It’s freezing.”
“Put your coat on; you’ll catch your death.” Alice rubbed the back of her sons’ shoulders.
“It’s in the tent.”
“Then what’s in your backpack?” asked Tom.
“Just some stuff.”
Will glared at his father then turned away, back onto the path, into the pouring rain. His parents watched him walk away, hunched against the elements.
“He takes them everywhere he goes, keeps them in that bag,” said Alice. “Pictures, birthday cards, gig tickets. He never leaves them anywhere.”
“Ah, right. Well…” Tom took off his backpack and opened it up.
“He’ll get over it,” said Alice. “They always do.”
“Yeah.” Tom lifted out a rolled-up rain jacket, put his backpack on. They resumed their walk in the rain. When they caught up to their son, Tom offered the jacket, which Will took, then they upped their pace. Ten minutes later, the sun broke through cloud.
It took them longer than they thought it would to walk around the lake, and it was difficult terrain at times. But it was nice, thought Alice, and, after all that had happened, just what they needed.
Hopefully, they would soon be back on track.
Brief #16 Like the Prose 2021: 2Pac
Copyright © 2021, Ray Hopkins, All Rights Reserved