We are at my grandma and grandpa’s property at Chain Lake near Princeton. They bought it so the whole family can come here on weekends to camp with them. I’m wearing my flowered flannel pjs and I have my Holly Hobby sleeping bag pulled up right up to my chin. My dad likes to turn the heat off in the travel trailer. He says it’s good for us to sleep in the fresh air . I’m sleepy and very comfortable, but I drank a lot of Pop Shoppe orange pop while we sat around the campfire tonight, so now I really need to pee. I wait until I have to go so bad my stomach hurts and I’m afraid of peeing the bed like a baby. Then I slide off the top bunk like a garter snake slithering down rocks. I don’t have to worry about waking up my little sister on the bottom bunk because she sleeps like a log, but I try to be quiet as a mouse so that my mom doesn’t yell it sounds like a herd of elephants in here even though that’s super funny since we are at the lake, in the forest, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have elephants in Canada. Not even at Stanley Park. I pull on my rubber boots, but I don’t put a jacket on – I won’t be cold because I am going to be fast like the Roadrunner, and I’m out the door. As soon as I hear the click of the door closing, I turn and look left and then right into the dark night. I hear only the whisper of the trees and the sound of water at the dock that sounds like our big black dog, Mikey, drinking water. The coast is clear so I walk-run—walk so I don’t trip, run so I go fast, toward the outhouse my dad and uncles built. They had to move it a little while ago because it was filled up with all my cousins’ poop and pee, but I know the way. Getting lost is not what I’m worried about. I’m just reaching for the outhouse door when I hear his voice RIGHT behind me say, “Shoot it, it’s movin’!”
Even though I knew he would do this, I jump, and a little bit of pee leaks out.
“Grandpa! I told you not to do that,” I shout as I open the outhouse door and let it slam behind me. I HATE it when he does that, but he thinks it’s really, really funny and mom says he’s just teasing. When he was a soldier, he learned how to walk in the woods without making any sound and now he walks around at night when he can’t sleep.
“Don’t fall in!” he says. I roll my eyes even though he can’t see me.
When I come out, I can smell the smoke from his Players Extra Light cigarette and see the shape of his straw cowboy hat in the tall trees by the trail. I pretend I’m mad ― I cross my arms over my chest and stomp like a herd of elephants right past him.
This was like a game we played, my grandpa and me. The details differed but like that night, he always got the last word.
He would laugh and say, “oh now, don’t go away mad.”
And I never did.
About the Author
Cari-Ann Roberts Gotta is an English instructor in Selkirk College’s School of Academic Upgrading and a student in creative writing classes. She enjoys writing creative non-fiction and is currently working on a novel. This is her second publication in the Black Bear Review.