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Adventures in Akadia

Chapter 12

Everything We Had


     Wink’s prediction for the weather was spot on. The children were greeted the next morning with clear skies and the familiar embrace of Akadian sunshine. The area surrounding their campsite seemed like it had been plucked out of a painting or photograph. With all the rainfall the day before, everything seemed that much more vibrant and lush. Between their good night’s rest, the fresh air, the warm sun, and the breathtaking scenery, the kids were filled with a renewed energy.

     As the children emerged from their tents, Wink’s familiar voice called out from beside an inviting campfire, “Mornin’ kiddos!”

     The kids approached the campfire and sat in the same arrangement they had the night before. Looking toward the fire, they could see that Wink was making a dish they had tried at Mystiboo. They couldn’t remember the name of it, but it was a dish that looked like blue scrambled eggs.

     Lukas, curious enough to speak up, asked, “Why are these eggs blue?”

     Wink had a puzzled look come across his face as he looked up at Lukas. With his body language, he was asking 'why wouldn’t they be blue?'.

     Gabriela, sensing his confusion, attempted to clarify, “At home, when someone makes scrambled eggs, it's more of a yellow color.”

     Wink gave a slight nod but still looked a little confused, having never heard of scrambled eggs before.

     In a joking voice, but also genuinely curious, Jamari asked, “What kind of a bird laid those eggs?”

     Wink smiled and replied, “This from bird we call big bluey.”

     Whenever the kids were introduced to a new animal in Akadia, Lukas was guaranteed to have questions. 

     “What does it look like?”, he asked.

     Wink set down the spoon he had been using to stir so that he could use both of his hands to explain. Making a big sweeping motion above his head he said, “it is big, beauty bird with lon’ shiny blue feathers.”

     Lukas followed up, “How big is it?”

     Wink pointed to the pan and replied, “This from one egg.”

     The kids sat in stunned silence. They all stared at the pan, trying to imagine how large a ‘big bluey’ would have to be to lay an egg that big.

     Jamari looked at Wink, still astonished, and asked, “How did you get the egg?”

     Wink explained, “Big blueys leave a egg in the forest every morning.”

     Elizabeth remarked, “My family has chickens in our backyard. They do the same thing, except their eggs are much smaller.”

     “Do you think we’ll ever see one?”, Lukas asked Wink excitedly.

     Wink scratched his beard and replied, “Hmm, I don’ know. We don’ see them so much.”

     Lukas was disappointed at first, but then his imagination quickly brought back the excitement as he wondered what a big bluey looked like.

     Wink served the eggs, or rather the egg, to the kids as he told them more stories about creatures that live in Akadia. After breakfast, and without needing to be prompted, the kids tidied up their tents and belongings and quickly had their packs secured on their backs. They each returned to Wink, ready for the next leg of their adventure.

     Wink, who was just finishing up cleaning up from breakfast, gave the children an approving nod and said, “Almos’ ready, then we get hikin’”. 

     As Wink was stowing his belongings into his pack, Elizabeth asked, “So how far are we going today?”

     Wink paused for a moment to look up the mountain side and responded, “I thinkin’ we get past the top of the mountain today.”

     Each of the children looked up toward the peak, attempting to get a sense of how much hiking that would require.

     The hiking that morning was difficult but far more enjoyable than the day before. Today, there was no slipping, sliding, or falling. It was also nice to no longer be surrounded by dense storm clouds. Another key difference from the day before and today was how much more conversation was taking place between the kids, especially between Jamari and Elizabeth.

     Jamari and Elizabeth’s relationship appeared to have changed overnight. They now spoke to one another much more naturally and their conversations sounded like they were ‘catching up’ on lost time. They talked about mutual friends, what they remembered from kindergarten, and other similar memories that they had never talked to one another about. Eventually, their conversation came around to what they thought about 1st grade so far.

     “So what do you think of Ms. Quinn?” Elizabeth asked.

     Jamari thought for a moment and then responded, “She seems nice enough. I just get so bored at school.”

In the past, Elizabeth’s response to this statement would likely have consisted of some variation of telling Jamari that he needed to stop goofing around so much. Instead, she tried to understand him better and she asked genuinely, “Is there anything about school you do like?” 

     This question caught Jamari off guard. He was still getting used to this new way that he and Elizabeth were talking to each other. He thought about it and answered, “I love recess.”

     After a moment of silence, Elizabeth followed up, “Anything else? Are there things you like to learn?”

Jamari quickly replied, “Oh sure, there are lots of things I like to learn more about. I just don’t like how we have to sit at our desks all day to do it!”

     Elizabeth nodded and said, “That makes sense,” a smile came across her face and she added, “Maybe you should be a teacher when you grow up. Then you could make it so the kids don’t have to sit at their desks all day!”

     Jamari laughed at first, thinking that Elizabeth had been joking. 

     “I’m serious!” Elizabeth said with a chuckle.

     Jamari’s face became thoughtful as he imagined himself as a teacher someday. He had never given much thought to what he wanted to be when he grew up.

     As these conversations carried on, Gabriela was quiet and she was having mixed feelings. She was relieved and happy to have everyone getting along so well. On the other hand, she wondered if she would fit in. A lot of the things they had been talking about were either about people she had never met or memories she wasn’t there for. She began to worry that everyone else in the group would soon be best friends and that she would be left out. 

     The group reached the peak of the mountain around midday. The kids instinctively set down their packs to rest and take in the scenery. From where they stood, they had an unobstructed view of Akadia in every direction. The kids had known that Akadia was big, but it wasn’t until this moment that they realized just how large it was. 

     Wink gathered the children to point out a few things, “Righ’ there is where you came to Akadi.” The kids looked where Wink was pointing, unable to see the door at this point but able to make out some of the key features they remembered from when they first arrived.

     Wink’s finger moved downward toward a green valley and he said, “And that’s where Relly lives.” Wink’s finger was now pointing almost parallel to the slope of the mountain as he pointed toward a forest below and said, “and there is the Quotidi camp where we do Mystiboo.”

     The kids stood in silence as they began to comprehend how far they had traveled. They felt a sense of pride in what they had accomplished by traveling this far. Naturally, they began to wonder how much farther was left in their journey. Sensing their interest, Wink turned to face the other direction and said, “An’ this where you go nex’.”

     The kids were now looking at the unexplored portion of Akadia where they would complete their journey. This side of the mountain range was just as green and beautiful, but looked as if it had terrain, plants, and trees that were somewhat different from what they had seen so far. The most obvious difference was the ocean, or what looked like an ocean, that surrounded everything on this side of the mountain.

     Wink pointed off to their right and said, “Out there be our big village. Lot’s of Quotidis live there.”

The children focused intently in the direction Wink was pointing but the village must have been too far in the distance to make out anything specific.

     Wink continued, “Just pas’ there is where your challenges be.” This piqued the kids’ interest even further and made the challenges feel much more real. Each of the kids felt their own version of nervousness as they were reminded that the challenges were the ultimate destination of their journey. 

     The group stayed at the peak long enough to rest before starting down the other side of the mountain. Later in the day, their path came alongside a large and swift river. Wink found a spot along the riverbank where the water was more calm and slow moving and said, “We res’ here for a bit.”

     Glad to be taking a break, the kids set down their backs and found a place to rest their feet and legs. Wink reached into his pack and pulled out a simple snack for the kids, some crackers and what looked like Akadia’s version of cheese.

     With how much easier the hiking was going, especially now that they were going downhill, the children were able to recover their energy more quickly. Lukas stood and began collecting smooth stones. As Jamari looked around, he noticed something looked different about the horizon. About the same distance as it was from one side of their schoolyard to the other, it seemed that the land and river just stopped. Pointing to what he was seeing, Jamari asked, “Wink, what’s over there?”

     Wink followed where Jamari was pointing and answered, “Ah yes. That is the big beauty waterfall.”

     Already standing up, Jamari asked, “Can I go look?”

     Wink nodded and responded with a more serious tone, “Yes, but be safe.”

     “I will!” Jamari shouted back as he ran alongside the shore of the river.

     At this point, Lukas had finished collecting stones and was now standing at the river’s edge. He left one stone in his hand and set all the others down near his feet. He slowly brought his arm past his side and then, like a bow and arrow being let loose, launched his arm forward. He released the stone and it began to skip along the water’s surface.

     “Seven skips!”, Lukas exclaimed excitedly. 

The others had been watching and Elizabeth called out, “I’ve always wanted to learn to do that! Will you teach me?”

     “Me too!” Gabriela added. They both stood up and began walking toward Lukas before he had a chance to respond.

     Lukas, a little embarrassed, responded, “Oh. Okay. Sure.”

     Lukas handed both Gabriela and Elizabeth a rock from his pile. He then showed them his technique in slow motion a couple of times. He showed them how to hold the rock and how to snap their wrist at the last second. He then stepped back and let the girls try a few times. Their first attempts were unsuccessful and resulted in some pretty spectacular splashes. 

     After a few more attempts, Elizabeth got a rock to skip three times, “I did it!” she exclaimed.

     “Good job,” Lukas said with a smile. 

     On her next try, Gabriela was able to get her rock to skip as well. 

     “You did it!” Elizabeth said excitedly.

     As they went back to Lukas’ pile to pick another rock, they were stopped by the sound of a muffled shout in the distance. They looked up to see that Jamari was trying to get their attention. They couldn’t quite make out what he was shouting over the noise of the river, but they could see that he was waving his arms and motioning for them to come toward him.

     They looked to Wink and he gave an approving nod and reminded, “Be safe!”

     They ran toward Jamari and once they were within earshot he called out, “You gotta come see this!” 

     As they approached the ledge where Jamari stood, they were able to see that the river was cresting over a cliff to become a large waterfall. 

     The kids looked on in wonder as they took in the view. A few moments later, Wink approached from behind and said, “Pretty neat, huh?”

     Gabriela responded, “Yeah. It’s beautiful.”

     The group stood in silence for a few moments until Elizabeth saw something out of the corner of her eye. 

     “Look at that!” she exclaimed while pointing back to where they had set their packs down by the river. In the distance, a group of about a dozen Quotidians had emerged from the trees and were headed directly for their backpacks.

     These Quotidians didn’t look familiar and Wink sensed the kids were wondering if he knew them.

     “I don’ know those Quotidis,” Wink said in a voice that showed he was just as curious as the kids. 

     As they continued running, the Quotidians appeared to only be interested in kids’ backpacks.

     Now somewhat worried, Elizabeth asked, “Wink, what are they doing?” 

     His eyes became wide as he replied, “Uh-oh. I thinkin’ I know.”

     Jamari asked urgently, “Wait. What’s uh-oh? What are they doing.”

     Wink gritted his teeth and said , “You best be saying bye-bye to your packs.”

     “They’re stealing our backpacks!?” Lukas asked desperately.

     Wink, now seeming somewhat humored, replied, “No. Not stealin’.”

     The Quotidians surrounded each of their packs and worked together to pick them up. With the kids’ packs in tow, the Quotidians headed for the river, giggling the entire way.

     “What are they doing?!” Jamari called out, “We gotta stop them!”

     As he took his first step, Gabriela grabbed his arm and held him back.

     “Wait!” She said, “We’re supposed to trust them.” 

     Jamari exclaimed, “Trust what?! They’re about to throw our stuff into the river!”

     Gabriela immediately let go of his arm and the group followed Jamari as he ran to stop the Quotidians.

     Jamari was fast, but not fast enough to stop what was happening. The first Quotidians to reach the river’s edge were holding Elizabeth’s bag. Faintly, the children could hear the Quotidians call out “one, two, Wee!”. As they yelled “wee”, they hurled the backpack and let it fly into the river. They cheered as the backpack splashed into the water and started flowing down the river. The other three backpacks met the same fate.

     The kids watched helplessly as their packs flowed quickly down river. The bags soon made it to where the kids were standing but they were too far out into the river and the water was moving too fast for them to do anything about it. All they could do was watch as each of their bags tumbled over the waterfall.

     After the bags and their belongings disappeared from sight, the kids turned back to see the Quotidians running back into the trees, giggling and giving each other high fives the entire way.

     Quietly, Wink muttered, “Silly Quotidis.” 

     The kids noticed there was something strange about how Wink had said this. The way he had said those words made it seem like he might even be proud of the Quotidians.

     Still in disbelief, Jamari asked, “Well what now?” 

     “It be okay,” Wink responded.

     “But how?” Elizabeth asked, “That was everything we had.”

     “Come come, see,” Wink said, motioning the kids to follow him back to the ledge where they had just been standing. He pointed down and past the base of the waterfall. He was trying to direct their attention to something down the river and said, “See tha’?” It took a moment, but the kids could see a group of 4-5 small houses in the distance. 

     “What is that?” Gabriel asked.

     Beaming with joy, Wink responded, “That’s where my sissy and her Quotidis live. They will take care of you. Come come, let’s go say hi!”

     Wink picked up the pace as he led the kids down a trail to meet this new group of Quotidians. Perhaps the only nice thing about losing their backs was that it was now much easier to keep up with Wink.

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