Walt sat shivering by the wood stove in the cabin. He was so thankful to have found the rest of his family. He could handle being lost for a while, but what recently took place was almost too much for a young boy to bear.
To think his sister was being held as a hostage, her screams still ringing in his head. He remembered her legs thrashing and those little fists hitting Danny. That's when Walt had run into the clearing.
He knew he had to save his sister.
He didn't know that Danny hadn't hurt her, just trying to hold her from running away. As soon as Danny saw Walt he had let her go.
Why was he doing this to them Walt wondered, all this chasing and hiding and being terribly mean? It just didn't make sense.
Did he hate them all that much? Was his anger about this whole situation as bad as that of Walt's? If hate does this to you, then Walt didn't want any part of it. Not any more.
To be mean and hateful was not nice.
At the time Walt looked back fearfully, wondering if Danny would chase them. Walt hefted his stick once again with a menacing wave. It was only a short three-foot staff, but had the weight of a baseball bat. He was sure it must have hurt when he whacked Danny across the back of the leg.
And some of his karate chops showed the stranger that Walt knew how to protect his sister.
Walt had seen the other boy limp away after getting tangled up with a wild boy protecting his sister. When Walt walked away cradling his sister in his arms, she had looked so fragile, and helpless.
Susan knew it was okay now that her brother was here to protect her.
"Hello, anyone." The voice had come from the woods as a robin in search of a worm. Except it was emitted from the mother of the roost. Anne hurried towards the two forms huddled on the ground.
She had heard yelling and in the deep woods sounds carried easily. "Who's there?" She shouted over and over, her voice getting hoarse.
"Me! Me!" Walt remembered answering rather loudly. His shoulders shook with relief as he gave his sister a huge brotherly squeeze. "Who's you?" he asked with a practiced family recognition signal, aimed at the darkness of the trees.
"Me-me," Anne answered happily. It was an old game she and Walt played when he was much younger. Anne was surprised he even remembered. His response made her feel proud.
She then strode into the clearing like a goddess. Except this one looked a little worse for wear. Her journey of search for her family had taken her across one ridge, then another. Her feet knew how to arrive at the correct destination. After all, this was her family and she now found part of it.
"Everyone okay?" she asked settling down beside her children. Their wrapping arms and hugs were her answer. The only sounds, quiet sobbing as the two youngest sought solace from their mom. They both looked as dirty and unkempt as she did.
Now to find the other two, she thought. With darkness coming on she should consider returning to the cabin and the three of them simply wait out the night. Their journey had headed in that direction until sounds of combat escaped from over the next collection of trees.
As luck would have it they stumbled on Larry and Danny. It was a difficult moment for all of them. The newly arrived trio watched as father and son wrestled then rested together, as if they wanted to have a little chat. Except this one was serious.
Larry’s quest was finally over.
He had found his own flesh and blood son.
Each person stared at one another with mixed feelings. At first Anne considered saying something nasty until she acknowledged the shake of her husband's head.
No, it wouldn't do to stir up anything more right now, she pondered. She had already checked on the physical condition of her children. Everything was fine, except for a few bad bruises and several cuts, which looked worse than they were.
She gathered her children to her and whispered softly, "Let's do what your father suggests and stay at the cabin until he joins us. I have a feeling Danny will be coming too. Then we can all head back to the mainland in the morning."
Both children breathed a sigh of relief and allowed their mother to take them by the hand. "That's if the Police don't have other plans," she said more to herself.
A boy and girl, brother and sister ambled along beside their mother. They felt secure and comfortable in her presence. She had proved she was really a mother bear when she was upset.
Susan didn't mind being half carried, this time by someone who only had her best intentions in mind. She was very tired and her thoughts drifted in an erratic pattern, from tiredness and exultation, to sleepy-eyed bedtime. It left her in a dreamy state with strange thoughts chasing round and around.
Susan didn't mind having asthma, at least it wasn't diabetes like her friend Jacqueline had. The needles really bugged her friend. And Susan couldn't dream of not being able to eat chocolate on Christmas or Easter. Now why was she thinking these thoughts? Was it because she was stressed out? That's what mom used to say when her asthma acted up. Right now Susan was stressed out.
She knew God must have given this problem to her for a reason. She'd had it since about two years of age. At least she could eat all of the foods that she mostly liked. She especially liked her mom's lasagna. Sometimes at school they had treats like ice cream and she knew it wasn't as good as her mothers.
Susan couldn't wait to get back to their campsite on the mainland. Maybe she could talk her mother into making some lasagna. And maybe even some of that delicious homemade ice cream.
Everyone was in a fog as events captured their time, their thoughts and weary selves. The police had arrived by boat and helicopter using flashing lights to highlight the forest area.
It wasn’t long before the children were bundled up, taken back to their campground and the warmth of their trailer. Larry insisted the family spend one more night together at the campground before heading home.
Danny was taken into custody amid tears from his newly found family. “I’m sorry…I’m sorry,” he kept saying. His huddled frame was wrapped in a blanket as he was led away.
After a hearty breakfast the next morning, Larry and his family headed home.