HOT CHOCOLATE

MSL23XP18

A little girl sat perched on a dining room chair peering out the window into a billowing storm. Wiping her breath’s condensation off the window, she began to conceive of harrowing adventures that could occur on a stormy day like this one. It had rained all day; this fact kept all the five Moore children indoors. But it wasn’t going to be long before the enticing storm would capture two little girls for an afternoon of excitement.

She sat there a little longer before she got up and went to the bedroom she shared with her six-year old sister.

“What are you doing, Donna?” her little sister, Linda, asked while Donna changed into overalls. Eight-year old Donna looked at her sister thoughtfully. Linda was a beautiful little girl with long, brown curly hair which her mother kept in braids.

“Where to?”

Donna eyed her sister, thinking what benefit could be had dragging Linda along. Then it occurred to her that Linda kept a substantial amount of change in her piggy bank.

“Well,” Donna said in perfect recitation of lines she had prepared, “do you want to come with me?”

“Oh, yes, where are we going?” Linda gleamed.

“I want to take a walk in the storm and get some hot chocolate at Quik-Stop, and maybe some french fries. Still wanna come?”

“Oh, yeah, I’ll go ask Mommy if we can go.”

“No,” Donna grabbed her arm, “don’t bother Mom, she won’t mind. I already asked her.” She lied so easily.

Linda threw on some clothes, Donna took a whiff of some socks on the floor and decided they were clean enough for another day’s use.

“Oh, by the way,” Donna said cautiously as they put their keds on, “I don’t have any money, do you?” A seasoned snoop, she knew perfectly well the exact contents of Linda’s piggy bank.

“I have money in my piggy bank, we can use that.”

“Sounds good, let’s go.” Linda emptied her bank, and Donna pocketed the change.

They grabbed their identical green rain jackets, wrapped their scarves around their necks and made their way to the front door. Their mother was in the family room watching “General Hospital”, and their brothers were in their room playing “Battleship” and listening to Beatles records. Their baby brother was fast asleep in his room. The coast was clear.

“I want to say goodbye to Mommy,” Linda said sweetly.

“No, don’t, don’t bother her, she watching her show. Come on, let’s go now before the storm passes.” Donna opened the front door and they went out.

The wind whistled and whipped around them as they stood on their small porch, the rain splashed at them, they covered their heads and made their way toward Vallejo Street.

Alvarado Avenue was the small and quaint block they lived on. It was a wonderful community. All the children knew and played with each other. Most attended the elementary school around the corner. It was a block of about ten houses on each side of the street. Every 4th of July, the families would throw a block party. Picnic and ping-pong tables were set up in the middle of the street, there were best-decorated bike contests, egg throwing contests, and watermelon eating contests. Everyone would be outside where all the families would pile lots of food on the picnic tables.

But, summer had passed, and during the winter, everyone stayed inside when it rained. And, on this day, the young Moore girls embarked on a great journey, a journey of about a mile and a half to the Quik-Stop.

“Are we going to walk past Sabin’s house?” Linda asked with a shy hope, blinking through the rain. “He lives by the bridge, and if we go that way and around the corner, maybe I could see him?

“I don’t know, I guess we could.” Donna replied nonchalantly. She had her mind set on hot chocolate and french fries.

As they continued to walk in the pouring rain, Linda began to act nervous. She had a crush on Sabin for over two months since they started school. After walking three blocks on Vallejo, they turned left onto a small muddy trail that led to the bridge that crossed the creek. Sabin’s house was two houses away from the bridge.

“Do you want me to see if he’s home?”

“No, no, I couldn’t see him, I like him too much.”

“But, you said you wanted to go this way. Golly, don’t be so stupid, if you like that boy, don’t you think you would want to see him?”

“I guess so.”

“OK, I’ll go to the door and ask for him. Maybe Matt’s home.” Donna was harboring a little crush on Sabin’s brother herself.

Linda began fidgeting as they approached the door, “Shut up,” Donna said, ringing the doorbell. Sabin answered.

“Hey Donna, what’s going on?”

“Uh, nothing,” Donna replied, “uhm, me and my sister are goin’ to Quik-Stop. Hey, do you know my sister, Linda?” Donna turned around and Linda was gone.

“I think so, she’s a grade below me.” Sabin asked. Linda was hiding behind one of the entry pillars.

“Linda, comeer..!”

“Uh..uh, hi.” Linda stuttered.

“Hey,” Sabin smiled, “can I come with you guys? I’m so bored.”

“Sure,….is Matt home?”

“No, he’s at Gene’s…hold on let me tell my sister.”

“Ewww, he’s coming with us…” Donna teased her sister. Linda waited angelically for her prince. Sabin returned and grabbed his coat and baseball cap.

Together they headed back to the bridge to get to Hoen Avenue. Linda was so enamored with the very presence of Sabin, she couldn’t walk straight.

“Hey, Linda,” Sabin asked, “isn’t Joe Miller in your class?”

“Oh, yes, I do.” she said breathlessly, “he sits right behind me. He gets in trouble all the time when he pulls my braids.”

“Oh, so you’re that girl, I think he likes you.” Sabin smiled.

Repulsed, Linda said, “He’s an ugly boy, I don’t like him at all. I like someone else.” She added with a twinkle in her eye.

As they approached the bridge, the trail became muddier. Linda was trying to step over a big rock when her foot slipped, and she fell down the side of the trail along the bank of the creek. She screamed, and grabbed some plants halfway down the bank.

“Donna, Donna….” she yelled.

“What are you doing, you’re gonna get dirty.” Her sister was annoyed.

“I fell,” she began to cry, “I’m slipping, help me.”

It was too slippery for Donna and Sabin to make their way down the bank, then Donna remembered when her brother was stuck in a sewer drain, her mom called the fire department.

“Sabin, run back to your house and call the fire department, I’ll wait here with Linda.”

“Do you want me to call your mom too?” Sabin offered.

“Nooooo, just the fire department.”

Sabin ran off, and Donna tried to comfort her sister. The fire engine arrived in less than 15 minutes with Sabin running behind. Two tall fireman jumped out of the truck and made their way to Linda. Donna immediately fell in love with both of them. In less than a minute, they pulled Linda up and she forgot all about her romantic pursuits, these guys were her heroes.

“Thank you,” she said to the fireman with blue eyes. She wiped the mud from her face and jacket.

“You’re welcome, little lady; but, what on earth brought you and your friends out on a day like this?

“Well, ” Linda began all flustered because he spoke directly to her.

Donna butted in, “We came out today to get some hot chocolate and french fries, and maybe have a little adventure. She’s my sister, and this is our friend, Sabin.”

“You’re not going to tell our parents, are you?” she added with feigned innocence.

The firemen had daughters of their own and could spot foul play from the beginning.

“I think we should call your parents,” said the other fireman.

“My mom’s not home,” Sabin said without any worry.

“Uhm, uh, couldn’t we go get some hot chocolate and talk about if you need to call our parents,” Donna nervously negotiated. “It’s raining and I’m cold, and I sure could use some hot chocolate, and poor little Linda must be really cold after falling in the mud.”

The firemen laughed out loud, but it was Linda’s tender look that stole their hearts, so they agreed to the older girl’s plans.

“OK, we’ll take you for a ride in the fire truck, get some hot chocolate and then drop you guys off at your homes, how does that sound?

All three jumped up and yelled, “Oh yeah…that would be a blast.”

As they drove to Quik-Stop, Donna was thinking how to avoid getting in trouble when she got home.

After they had hot chocolate, the firemen dropped off Sabin.

“Thanks for a great adventure, Donna. Thank you, Firemen.” Sabin waved as he went into his house.

“You can drop us off here at the corner, OK?” Donna suggested.

“What for? We’ll take you girls home.”

“Please,” Donna begged.

“Only if you promise to tell your mom the truth when you get home. Is that a deal?”

Yea, that’s a deal,” she agreed and they shook on it.

The girls climbed out of the fire truck at the corner of Vallejo and Alvarado, the firemen gave their mother a call from Quik-Stop so she was standing at the porch waiting for her daughters.

She waved at the firemen, saying “Thank you.”

Donna told her mother everything, and to this day, the punishment she got was worth the adventure she had on the day they went for hot chocolate.

The Bear

bearDonna Moore

November 26, 1984/Tweaked October 9, 2016

Creative Writing

Mr. Rose

Barely Based on a True Story

Living in California for all your life and not ever going to Yosemite National Park was like living in Hawaii and not going to Waikiki. That’s how Mary and I felt. Both of us were native San Franciscans, raised entirely in California, and have never been (in 1980) to this Mecca of the post-sixties hippies. We were a disgrace to the hippie world we had belonged to.So in the summer of 1980, we determined to right the great wrong and discover Yosemite.

In reference to our backpacking history, Mary was a seasoned pro having backpacked with her family. Two weeks during the year they would go on vacation where they hiked, and in the winter, they would cross-country ski. Hiking was a hobby to Mary and her family.

I, on the other hand, had never donned a backpack on my tender back. If walking and hiking were the same, then I had done my fair share of “hiking”. But, Mary set me straight, hiking was a lot harder than walking. Wonderful! I already had a tough time walking. Some people say it’s laziness, I think maybe a bad heart.

Well, the big day finally came. I packed up my new Kelty backpack with all the necessary supplies for a long jaunt in the woods. Tossed the backpack and my new vibram-soled hiking boots into the back of my snazzy Ford Capri named Simon and set out around 4:30 a.m. to pick up Mary. Whenever we’d go on our adventures, whether it be Yellowstone or Washington State, we’d leave very early in the morning. When I got to her house, she was up and ready to go. It was still dark and the San Francisco chill hung on the air.

“Mary, Mike said there were a lot of bears. What are we gonna do?”

“Your brother’s right, but they stay in the high country. We’d be lucky to even see one. Don’t worry about it…..I told you, you don’t need boots, your tennies are fine.”

“All the wilderness school kids have vibram-soled boots.”

“Donna, you’re not a wilderness school kid. Did you break them in?”

“Huh?”

We packed up the rest of the camping equipment and Mary’s backpack and headed out. Around five we were ready to head to the Bay Bridge. As was our custom, we stopped on Geary for some coffee and donuts.

“Can you believe we are finally going to Yosemite? I’m so excited.”

“Me too…except maybe those bears. We have to stop and see the Ahwahnee and pay homage to my grandfather’s work.”

“Was he the actual contractor?”

“No, he was a foreman, we still have his supply lists….like how many mules they used!”

“That is so cool.” Mary sipped her coffee as we hit the Bay Bridge and made our way east.

“Did I tell you this was my first real backpacking adventure?” I smiled.

“What?” she spit out some coffee. “What do you mean your first real backpacking adventure? You’ve never been hiking before?”

I nodded sheepishly.

“I thought you went backpacking all the time with your brother’s friends from Skyline.” Mary said.

“Uh, not really. I just hung out with them.”

“Shoot, Donna, I hope this trip won’t be like our fishing trip last year. I really thought you knew what you were doing. You always talked about fishing, I thought you were a pro, and then you couldn’t bait the hook, and when you caught that fish…”

“I couldn’t kill it, I could feel his heart beating in my hand.”

“Yeah, in your industrial gloved hand, I don’t know how you could even feel anything in those gloves. Admit it, Donna, you’re a wimp.”

“I know.”

The sun rose in a beautiful display of reds and oranges while we drove through the flatlands of Central California. We arrived in Yosemite around ten. As we parked the car, we could see Half Dome. We walked around the village for a while, stopped at the Ahwahnee and took pics of the great rocked hotel my grandfather was a part in building.

Mary bought a trail guide, and we decided to take the Twin Falls trail. We wanted to get out of the Valley before it became overrun with tourists. We grabbed our backpacks and set out for Twin Falls before noon. I laced up my new, unbroken-in boots, and flung my backpack onto my tender shoulders, strapped the hip belt and I was ready for my first authentic backpacking adventure. Mary didn’t seem amused, she was all business.

“Let’s go.” And off we went.

That day we climbed six miles up the trail only to find out there were no sleeping areas and no water supply. We took a break before we trudged back down the hill.

“I think I have blisters.”

“Did you bring your tennies?”

“No, I left them in the car.”

Spying a pile of dung, I asked the expert, “What’s that deer poop?”

“No, that’s too big for deer….I wonder if it’s bear poop.”

“Really….that looks pretty fresh. Maybe we should hit the trails.”

“Yeah, good idea.”

Quickly, I adjusted my socks to minimize the blister pain, tied up the unbroken-in boot and grabbed my backpack.

In hindsight, I realized hiking didn’t turn out to be such a leisure sport after all. I always thought hiking was an extra strenuous walk, but I was sadly misinformed. Not only does your backpack shift around and give you a painful backache, but the armies of mosquitoes were the last straw.

“So I take it you don’t like backpacking?” Mary asked as we hiked down.

“Mary, honestly….I’d rather be by a pool, reading a book, drinking a soda….I don’t know why I think I’d like these things.”

“Donna, I think you like the idea of backpacking and fishing. It’s OK. Next trip, we’ll go to Reno and sit by a pool.”

“I love that idea.”

When we got back to the campground it was well into dusk. We got out the gear from the car and found a campsite.

“Be sure to keep the food separate…there’s a food box over there.” Mary pointed to a metal box.

“Why…the raccoons?”

“No, the bears.”

“Mary, you said the bears stay in the high country.”

“Yeah, but at night they come down here for food, that’s what I heard.”

“What? I missed that part of the conversation. Do you think we’re gonna see any?”

“I hope so…”

“Speak for yourself.” I mumbled.

We packed the food in the metal box, and then set up the tent facing the creek. We crawled in our sleeping bags and soon we were being lulled to sleep by the gurgling creek. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw something move across the creek. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but, much to my horror, I realized the big, round, burly animal coming across the creek was a bear. I turned my head ever so slowly and mouthed the words in Mary’s direction.

“Mary,” I whispered inaudibly, “Mary, there’s a bear coming.”

She didn’t move.

“Mary…..” I said again, hardly perceptible, “a bear…” I was beginning to become paralyzed with fear, the thought of being some bear’s dinner was a real threat at the moment.

“Mary….” I urged….

Suddenly, Mary sat up and said quite loud…

“Donna, look, there’s a bear!”

THE END

me-and-mary