BY NANCY BOYCE
Copyright is held by the author. This story was first published in the October 2012 issue of Canadian Stories magazine as an entry in their Photo Story Contest.
“WHERE are the sleeping bags?” my nine-year-old daughter Lori asked.
“Pardon?” I was curled up on the sofa deeply absorbed in a murder mystery by my favourite author.
“Sleeping bags,” Lori repeated. “Do we even have sleeping bags?”
“They’re in the storage area downstairs,” I replied without looking up.
A little while later Lori stood in front of me trying to command my attention. “Do we have a flashlight?”
“Sure, front hall closet in the emergency box,” I said. “Are you camping out in your bedroom again?” Lori loved to make forts in her bedroom, but I thought that phase had passed.
“No, this is the real deal. Steph invited me to sleep over in her backyard. They’ve got a tent and everything!” Lori said, excitedly.
I put my book down. “Well then, we better make sure you have everything you’ll need,” I said.
My mind wandered back to my one and only camping experience. We were already at the cottage, but my friend’s parents had pitched a tent in their backyard and Carole invited me to sleep over. I don’t even remember the fun stuff, just not being able to get comfortable all night and the fact that her parents didn’t serve toast and tea at bedtime like my mom always did. Honestly, I don’t know what people see in camping!
“Why don’t you use this Coleman lamp? It’s battery operated,” I explained.
“Naw, I don’t think you can make very good faces with that,” Lori said.
“Faces?” I asked.
“You know, faces.” Lori picked up the flashlight and put it under her chin and shone it up towards her eyes with her lower jaw jutting out. “Um, it works better in the dark,” she admitted.
“Oh yeah, faces,” I said, starting to remember us doing something similar.
“Do we have cards?” Lori asked.
“You want playing cards? I thought you kids only played electronic games now,” I said.
“No electronics. Those are the camping rules,” Lori announced proudly.
This camping was sounding better and better. “Do you know any card games?” I inquired.
“Well, we’re getting a bit old for Go Fish, so Steph is going to show me a game called Crazy 8s.”
Crazy 8s. We played that for hours on rainy days at the cottage. We might have even played it when we camped that night.
“Do you know any good ghost stories?” Lori asked.
“Hmm, I think ghost stories are your father’s specialty. Maybe he can tell you some before you go,” I suggested.
I think we did tell a few ghost stories in the tent, but for the life of me I couldn’t remember them.
I pulled the sleeping bag out of the plastic bag, untied it and unrolled it on the bed. “I’m going to show you how to roll and tie a sleeping bag, so that you’ll know how to do it in the morning,” I said.
I folded the sleeping bag lengthwise and then rolled it up tightly. I tied one of the strings around the bag, looping it twice before tying it in a bow. “This is the important part,” I explained, “if you loop it twice it won’t slip while you tie the bow.”
“Wow Mom, I didn’t know you knew how to do camping stuff,” Lori said, sincerely.
“Your father taught me that in our old boating days,” I said. “He was a boy scout.”
After dinner we walked Lori over to Stephanie’s house. As I sat in the kitchen that night having a cup of tea, my husband noticed my deep-in-thought look.
“What’s up? Are you missing Lori?” he asked.
“I think we should start camping,” I declared.