Jul 112018
 

By Patty Wilber

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CALLIE’S STAR by Patty Wilber

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapters 5 and 6
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14

CHAPTER FIFTEEN–THE EVE OF THE ROUND-UP

“I’ll get the canteens, if you get the sleeping bags out of the closet,” Callie said.

“In a minute,” said Jeff, his voice floating down from upstairs. “I’m packing my clothes.”

“Oh!” said Callie, setting down the canteens and running upstairs. She stopped at Jeff’s room. “I think I’ll pack my clothes, too. How many long sleeved shirts again?”

“Two cotton, ‘to keep from getting sunburned”‘ said Jeff, imitating Aunt Martha. “One flannel and one sweater,” he said in his normal voice,  “Plus, don’t forget a windbreaker. It’s cool at night even though it’s boiling during the day.”

Callie finished stuffing clothes into a duffle bag in 15 minutes.  Then she hurried to gather up the canteens she had abandoned and find a few more.  She checked the list of other equipment Uncle Bob had given them. Finally, she had a pile of things in the living room, and she handed the list and an old headlamp to Jeff. “I’ve got everything on here, except a headlamp that works.”

“Cool,” said Jeff. “Trade you the sleeping bags for the headlamp.”

Callie sifted through the pile once more and pulled her new hat off the top.  She put it on her head, and pulled it down low and snug, and smiled.  Then she went into the kitchen. She leaned against the refrigerator and rambled happily to Aunt Martha about Cloud and Flower and the round-up. Aunt Martha listened with a tiny smile at the corners of her mouth. She didn’t need to reply.  Callie was talking for three.

Jeff burst into the kitchen, swinging the headlamp. “I think its the batteries,” he said. “Hey, Mom, do we have any new ones?” He set it on the counter.

“In the freezer, Jeff,” said Aunt Martha.

Callie and Jeff reached for the door at the same time, and swung it wide open. They both peered in.

“Where are they, Mom?”

“Right here,” said Callie, snatching them from the door. She swung the freezer door shut, and Jeff had to jump to get out of the way.

“Let me have them,” Jeff said, extending his hand. He opened the refrigerator door and poked his head inside. Callie gave him the cold batteries.

“What do we got to eat, Mom?” asked Jeff, picking up a yogurt container that he knew was full left-over icing.

“Have to eat,” corrected Aunt Martha.

Have to eat,” repeated Jeff, sticking his finger into the chocolate frosting.

“Nothing,” said Aunt Martha. “Dinner is in fifteen minutes. Are you all done packing?”

“I think so,” said Callie, helping Jeff taste the icing.

“Good,” said Aunt Martha, wiping tiny beads of perspiration from her brow. “Jeff, put away the frosting, and shell these beans. Callie, you can help him.”

Callie and Jeff looked at each other, quickly slid the frosting back into the fridge, and closed the door.

Aunt Martha handed Callie a shiny stainless steel bowl and Jeff a paper sack full of fresh beans. The two of the them sat at the kitchen table and went to work.

It kept their fingers busy, but their mouths didn’t slow down much.