Friday, April 22, 2011

Changes for Camille (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by the talented Yvonne Blake over @ her blog, My Back Door. Click here to read and share more great fiction! 


Author's Ramblings: I have homework. And tests. And finals...and oh yes, this is dead week. LOL. No, am not quite dead--but my brain is pretty scrambled as far as fiction is concerned. This was supposed to be an Easter piece, but I don't think it quite came out the way I wanted it to. Still, it's a bit light and fluffy, 'cause I wanted to write about these two. Enjoy the read!


“Is she back yet?” Camille grabbed at the tassels hanging off of her grandmother’s slippers. It was more of a distraction than a game as she lay on the front porch, making half-hearted swipes towards the puffy blue pom-poms as her grandmother rocked back and forth on her ancient rocking chair. 

“No. If she was, I’d have heard it and you wouldna be asking.” Grandma Luna turned the page of the morning newspaper with a deliberate calmness. “Stop doing that.”

“But I’m bored!” Camille whined, rolling over to lie on her tummy, propping up her chin with two hands. “It’s Easter and I’m not doing anything at all.”

“Anything like what?” Grandma Luna muttered. “Cavorting around in fancy new dresses you can’t afford, chasing plastic eggs with candy?” The older woman gave a rather unladylike snort. “That’s not what Easter is about.”

“I know what Easter is about.” Camille sniffed. “It’s about Jesus rising from the tomb and bucketloads of hope.” She thumped her head lightly on the wooden porch. “It’s also a holiday where people get off work and can come home.”

“She’ll be home when her shift is over. You know they don’t close stores like that for a simple holiday.”

“Easter’s not a simple holiday, Grams.” Camille murmured. “And I really am bored!”

“Then why don’t you go into the kitchen and-”

“Not that kind of bored!” The eight-year-old hastily interrupted. “I just mean…I wish she was home. Is she back yet?”

“She isn’t back yet and I doubt she ever will be!” The growled words came from the second rocking chair to Grandma Luna’s left. Grandpa Berr was stirring from the threads of his usual afternoon nap and their voices had been the trigger to bring him back to life.

“Berr.” Grandma Luna said, warningly, folding the newspaper, the calm having left her. “Go back to sleep if you don’t have anything good to say.”

Camille’s lower lip trembled. “Grams, she’s gonna come, isn’t she?”

“You’re both gettin’ yer hopes up for somethin’ that shouldn’t even be-”

“Berr!” A sudden sharpness had come to her voice. “The child’s got a right to hope just like the rest of us. If Aleana decides to-”

“She’s done enough deciding for everything and everyone.” Grandpa Berr said, harshly. “She runs around doing nothing, leaving us to care for some little brat that can’t even earn her own-”

The crunch of gravel in the driveway announced the newcomer as a dull red Toyota pulled into the front drive.

For a moment, there was pure silence.

Camille stared, her little eyes lighting up with every emotion in her eight-year-old self as she scrabbled to stand up straight. Grandma Luna placed the folded newspaper beside her rocking chair and tugged her baby blue apron ruffles straight. Grandpa Berr squinted, coughed and squinted again.

The driver’s door opened and a pale, skinny girl popped out, her black pixie cut matching her outfit of black jeans and a baggy T-Shirt. She cast a quick glance to the porch and flashed and smile, accompanied by a wave. “Yo!”

“Dami, Dami!” Camille was off the porch and down the stairs, meeting the figure halfway to the porch. “Dami!”

“Hey, hey, little sis.” Dami gave her an awkward hug, her arms laden with overflowing plastic bags. “Give a girl a hand, eh?”

Camille released her, standing impatiently while the plastic sacks were juggled so that she could carefully carry two up to the porch. “Happy Easter! I didn’t think anyone was gonna come. I was getting so bored and-”

“Grams, Gramps.” Dami dipped her head lightly, setting the bags down on the wooden floors and raking a hand through her spiky hair. “Mom and Pop say hey. Things got complicated so they couldn’t come.” She nodded towards her younger sister eagerly pawing through the plastic bags. “I came for Camille.”

Grandma Luna stiffened and Grandpa Berr sat up straight. “N-now?” He huffed, taking a wheezing breath. “Isn’t that a little soon?”

“Pop’s says it’s fine and safe now.” Dami shrugged. “Mom’s been missing her like crazy and I know she can be a handful.”

“I’m not a handful.” Camille pouted. “Are any of these mine?”

“Greedy.” Dami returned. “And why would I bring you presents when I’ve spent the night in three different airports over the past four days just to stand here?”

“Three airports?” Camille perked up.

“Four days?” Grandma Luna stared for a moment, then began to rouse herself from the rocking chair. “Sit down, child. I’ll get some-”

“Cami, leave the bags alone.” Dami’s head snapped to the side. “Go get whatever it is that Grams was going for.”

The little girl blinked in surprise, her hands halfway to another plastic sack. “Get…?”

“Thirsty, hungry.” Dami traced a few shapes in the air with her hand. “Go now before I-”

Camille immediately sprang into action, darting towards the front door and letting it bang loudly behind her as she took off towards the kitchen.

“So yer takin’ her back?” Grandpa Berr’s shoulders slumped, resigned. “Tomorrow?”

“Tonight.” Dami said, quietly. She dropped to sit on the front porch steps, rummaging through the plastic sacks and their contents. “They sent some stuff and wanted me to grab the rest.”

“T-tonight?” Grandma Luna swallowed. “Isn’t that a bit soon?”

“Not soon enough.” Dami pulled out a package of marshmallow peeps. She tore through it easily and folded one confection into her mouth, handing the rest over. “Here. Happy Easter.”

“What’s happy about it?” Grandpa Berr snorted, turning away from the offered candy.

“Everything’s alright then?” Grandma Luna took the peace offering, swallowing one with a grimace. “The site and everything?”

“The dig’s fine.” Dami shrugged. “The expedition was successful and all of that. Mom is all excited thinking that we’ve found something huge, Pop’s trying to remind her that things like this don’t just happen normally that it could be a fluke.” She shrugged. “You know them.”

“and what about you?”

“I’m fine, Grams. I’m always fine.” Dami quirked a smile, turning at the sound of Camille’s hurried footsteps returning. With some effort, the little girl backed out of the front door, balancing a plastic glass with pink lemonade and a paper plate filled with apple tarts. “Wow, is all that for me?” Dami’s eyebrows arched appreciatively. “Thanks, Cami.”

The little girl handed them over, taking up a position sitting cross-legged beside her older sister. The reason was apparent in two ways, one, to share the treats on the large paper plate and two, to snuggle into the arm that soon rested comfortably over her shoulder.

Silence reigned again.

“A-am I going back?” Camille asked, at last.

“Yep.”

“Tomorrow?”

“Tonight.” Dami swallowed the last of her lemonade. “Brought some stuff for you.” She nodded towards the plastic bags. “You find them?”

Camille’s head bowed, the earlier smiles gone. “When tonight?” Her voice was very soft.

Dami shrugged. “I could spare a few hours to visit with Grams and Gramps, but you’d have to be getting ready. Can’t keep a plane waiting—or a bunch of planes, for that matter.”

“I thought you came for Easter.”

“Hmm?”

“Easter! I thought we could dress up and go to church and have the nice lunch and-” Tears began to pool in the corners of her eyes and Camille’s quiet sniffles filled the afternoon air.

Dami polished off the last bit of apple tart and set the paper plate beside the empty plastic cup. She wrapped her arms around her younger sister and hugged her tight. “Shhh, come on. It’s been a while, but not that long. Don’t you wanna see Mom and Pops again?”

The quiet sniffles turned into loud sobs.

“Aww, Cami.” Dami bit her lip. “They miss you.”

“She hasn’t seen ‘em in three years!” Grandpa Berr snarled. “and you expect her to-”

“Berr.” But Grandma Luna’s voice trembled even as she spoke.

Dami took a deep breath and let it out. She fumbled in the pockets of her black cargo pants and pulled out a cellphone. “Cami, look—it’s a video.” She pressed a few buttons and within seconds, a small, video clip was playing on the tiny screen.

Cami’s cries became hiccupping wails when it was over and her tear-stained face said more than her mouth could have. Grandpa Berr shifted uneasily and Grandma Luna made no more from her rocking chair.

“They miss you.” Dami murmured, tousling the small head. “But the campsite is closer to the city now and it’s alright for you to be there—plus, you’re old enough now. It’s going to be a great adventure.”

“I hate Easter.”

Dami’s hand stilled in stroking the soft tawny-brown curls. “No you don’t.”

“Yeah I do!”

“Camille, is Easter dressing up in fancy dresses and eating egg-shaped chocolates?”

There was no answer.

“Camille.”

She sniffled.

“Yes or no?”

“…no.”

“Is Easter going to church and eating brunch and-”

“No!”

“Good. Then we've established that it is none of the above which leads us absolutely nowhere.” Dami caught her younger sister by the shoulders, holding her up to look her straight in the eye. “You know what it’s not, so tell me what it is. You can't hate something unless you know what it is and what it isn't.”

Camille glared at her.

Dami pulled her into a hug. “and if you don’t want my theological side to come through, why don’t you tell me what’s really wrong?”

“I don’t wanna leave Grams.”

“And Gramps?” Dami added, helpfully.

Cami buried her face in the soft black shoulder. “’specially Gramps.” She hiccupped. “I don’t wanna go anywhere! I want to stay here. You’re always in Bible school, Mom’s always busy and Dad doesn’t even come-”

“Things changed.” Dami looked up as Grandma Luna handed over the box of marshmallow peeps. She took one of the treats and folded it over, holding it up to Camille. “It’s different now. I’m doing an independent study on Biblical archaeology finds, so I’m at the dig most of the time—right there with Mom and Pop. It’s kind of quiet and boring without you around.”

Small hands fisted in Dami’s shirt, Camille accepted the sweet treat, tears still trickling down her chubby cheeks.

“We’re going to come visit for Christmas though, so it’s not like you won’t see Grams and Gramps again.”

Grandpa Berr snorted.

“I also brought a laptop and a webcam.” Dami winked. “The hours I can spare are for setting it up and explaining how things work. I know Gramps will pick it up quick, that way we can stay in touch a little easier.”

“Really?” Grandma Luna gave a teary smile.

“And guess what? Josh is even there.” Camille stirred at the mention of her older brother.

“He is?” Grandma Luna placed a hand over her heart. “I’m so glad.”

“Yeah. He gets on my nerves a bit, but he says that he’s turned over a new leaf and all of that. Mom and Pop are okay with it, so he’s coming to stay for good. We’re all together now—‘cept for you, Cami.” Dami poked her cheek with one finger. “We’re all waiting for you.”

Camille looped her tanned arms around her older sister’s neck. “I don’t hate Easter.” She whispered.

Dami’s laughter rode on the wind as the sun began to set. 

© Sara Harricharan

3 comments:

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Wonderful story!

Yvonne Blake said...

Interesting...I like how you stretch things out, so the reader doesn't know everything at once. You keep us reading to learn more about who and where everybody is. Well done!

Kristina Rohder said...

Awww! That was sweet! I loved it! <3
As usual you kept me guessing until the very end!