Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | July 19, 2008

No Trespassing

Conanicut Bay, Rhode Island. July 21, 2007.

This is the third chapter of the middle grade novel I am writing. Chapters 1 and 2 have changed somewhat since I posted them here, but reading them will still help with the flow of the story.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Aaron had never been awake at 5:00 in the morning on vacation before. The sounds and colors inside the house were reduced to a few snores, pale light filtering through the curtains, and some lonely piles of water shoes and life jackets on the porch. One of the lifejackets was moving.

“What was that?” Nora poked Aaron in the back. They were sneaking down to the water, where the skiff and Dutch Island lay waiting.

“Surprise!” Ollie shouted and the life jackets scattered all over.

“Shhh! You’re going to wake everyone up!” Aaron hissed.

“It looks like everyone’s already awake.” Ollie adjusted his baseball cap, which had apparently escaped the bushes and reattached itself to his head. “Where are you sneaking off to?”

“None of your business.” Nora made a face. “Did you sleep on the porch or something?”

“Maybe. You locked me out, remember?”

“Come on, someone let you back in.” Aaron turned to Nora. “I saw him inside when I went down late to get a snack.”

“Nooo, I slept out here cold and alone while you smooched upstairs!” Ollie’s voice went up several octaves in a whine that would have given Nora’s twin sisters (Aaron called them the little princesses) something to work towards.

“Shhh!” Nora grabbed for Ollie’s hat again, but he just ducked and started giggling.

“Come on, Nora, let’s get out of here.” Aaron started walking down the steps. Across the lawn and down another set of stairs, the ocean sparkled in the pink dawn light.

Ollie got up and trailed a few feet behind them.

“Go away,” Nora insisted.

“I’m coming with you.”

“No you’re not! You can’t come with us.”

“If I can’t come, I’m going to wake up your dad and tell him you’re sneaking down to the beach every morning and smooching.”

“That’s not true!”

“So?” a tear squeezed out of one squinty blue eye, “you never let me do anything fun!”

“I think we’d better let him come,” Aaron said, finally. Ollie had that look in his eyes. If they let him out of their sight, who knows what kind of trouble he’d get them into? Waking up Nora’s dad would only be the start.

“What?!” Nora somehow managed to shout and whisper at the same time.

Ollie wiped his eyes. “Really? Oh man, this’ll be great! Do you want to look for hermit crabs?”

“Shut up and you’ll be lucky if we let you live, Ollie,” Nora grumbled, and elbowed Aaron in the side. “He can’t come with us, you idiot!” she whispered.

“But we can’t leave him here, either.”

Aaron almost felt sorry for his youngest cousin. He did look as if he’d slept on a porch, maybe more than once. His black Iron Maiden t-shirt could have come straight out of a church basement give-away box, and he smelled funny.

Ollie stayed quiet as Aaron and Nora untied the skiff. He skipped rocks while Aaron ran back up to grab a few lifejackets. He even helped carry the skiff down to the water, and didn’t say a word the whole time. Aaron told himself they could have done it alone, but he wasn’t entirely sure.

When they pushed off, Ollie finally broke the silence. “So, do you know where you’re going?”

Nora didn’t say anything, so Aaron answered, “Dutch Island.” He was rowing, pulling the oars back like it was nothing.

“You know nobody’s allowed.” Ollie grinned.

Dutch Island lay in the middle of Conanicut Bay, a straight shot across from sentinel rock, near the Jamestown bridge. Even at five in the morning, the bay was full of boats. Most were moored at attention like flocks of long-necked birds resting on the waves, but a few sailed or motored between the pilings of the bridge or around the island. Aaron’s stomach fluttered as they pulled up to land. He was sure one of the boats would turn towards them, ask what they were doing, maybe even call the police. Did police pull over boats? He wasn’t sure. Maybe that was the Coast Guard. They tied up the skiff to a driftwood log, and nothing happened. No flashing red lights, and no strange blue lights, either. From the beach, a barricade of tangled vegetation completely blocked the wall of windows from view. A solitary yellow plastic sign at the edge of the woods read:

No Trespassing

by town ordinance

The small print was a little more specific. Absolutely no hiking, camping, fires. Violators subject to $500 fine. Asbestos and open cisterns. The sign had only been up since last year, and already the poison ivy had started to swallow it up. The land was its own barbed-wire fence, thought Aaron.

“I’m not sure this is a good idea,” he said.

“Aaron, come on. It’s only five o’clock in the morning. Who is going to come looking for trespassers at five AM? We’re just going to find that window and then leave before our parents wake up. It’s simple.”

“Yeah, simple! What window?” Ollie asked.

“Shut up,” said Nora.

“It’s not important,” Aaron added.

“Fine, don’t tell me anything,” Ollie grumbled. “I hope you both fall in a cistern filled with asbestos.”

They walked along the beach for a good ten minutes before finding a place where the weeds and branches were thin enough to let three kids worm their way through.

“This used to be a path,” Aaron said, trying to get his mind off the sign. “We used to come here all the time to explore, and this was a path. It’s amazing how fast things grow when there aren’t any people around. You know if everyone in the world disappeared tomorrow, it would only be a few years before New York City would start looking like this.”

“I bet the subways would make great caves. Maybe coyotes or bears would move in! And the birds would just take over all those skyscrapers.” Nora could see poison ivy and sumac growing out of abandoned taxis. “Did anyone survive, Aaron, or is this, like, total extinction of humanity? An asteroid collision? A flood?

“No, a plague,” Ollie said. “Probably the black death like what killed off half of Europe in the middle ages. It was the rats, they—“

“Geez, Ollie, Stop it with this plague stuff. I was just rambling.” Aaron paused. Blackberry prickers blocked their way like a thorny spider web. Nora knew this was the path they used to take to get to the wall of windows.

Aaron grabbed at the prickers with one hand, pulled back, tried to duck under, then exhaled in exasperation.

Ollie took a knife out of his pocket, flipped it open, and squeezed past his tall cousin. “You guys really didn’t think this through, did you?”

Aaron waited for Nora to make some sarcastic comment, or whack their little cousin across the head, but she was nowhere in sight.

“Nora?” He called.

Then he saw her blue hair, off to the left where the shade of a tall maple kept the weeds to a manageable height. She ducked under a low-hanging branch and whispered in her cousin’s ear.

“We’re not the only ones here.”

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