We got to the end of the trail and ate our lunch. We were at a ledge along the mountain that was more like a hill. The sun was high overhead and we could see over the trees for miles. Sam quickly downed his lunch and we let him run off into the trees.
“Not too far,” I warned him. He obeyed, and we could always see him. From the rock where we sat, I watched Sam while Charlie went to the bathroom. I watched Sam pick up sticks, swing them at bushes and tree trunks until the stick broke, then pick up another one. He picked one up that was too short to be swung, but he smiled wide at it and ran around with it in front of him, using both hands.
Finally, he ran over to me and said “Mom! Feel this stick! It feels so cool!”
“Oh yeah?” I grinned, taking the stick from him. It was in the shape of a Y, and when I grabbed one of the sides of the Y, it was perfectly smooth. It looked like someone had taken a knife and whittled a bigger branch down into this smooth, sling-shot shaped stick. The two sides of the Y were curved, almost like bicycle handlebars.
“That’s very smooth!” I said to encourage him. He looked at me funny, then ran back into the woods to keep playing.
We packed up lunch, stuffed everything back in the backpacks, and announced that we were ready to hike back. Sam came back without a fuss, and we began walking down the trail.
Instead of running ahead, Sam lagged behind, still clutching the Y stick. He held it in front of him with both hands as before, and was swinging it around slowly, as if it were a magnifying glass and he were searching for something.
“Come on, Sam,” Charlie encouraged gently when he stood in one place for too long. We both had to stop because he had fallen so far behind. He was pointing his stick into the trees, arms outstretched. He kept looking from the stick to the trees, as if trying to line something up.
We both waited patiently for a few seconds, but the heat was getting to us and we were ready for an air-conditioned car.
“Sam, honey, let’s go,” I called.
“Okay,” he called back, but didn’t move.
Charlie sighed and walked back to him. He put his hands on both of Sam’s shoulders and guided him down the trail. The whole time, Sam kept both hands firmly on the stick and tried his best to point it back towards the trees where he’d been looking. He didn’t point it towards where he had been standing, I noticed later, but at a spot past the trail and into the trees. Always at one position.
Charlie finally got him to where I was, and we kept walking. Sam eventually stopped pointing his stick, and instead kept it down in front of him, both hands still being used to hold either side of the Y.
To Be Continued…
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