Last weekend was our Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada, held the weekend on or before May 24th, Queen Victoria's birthday. It's often the time for spring's first camping trip,or opening of the family cottage. With at least one case of 24 beers.
The challenge was to write about that weekend, when family and/or friends gather, when hugs and punches are exchanged. Mine is 993 words.
Two on the Two-four
George swiped at his face. "Eww, cobwebs"
Jess pushed past him and opened the front door. "Always such a wuss. Here, let your little sister through."
He hadn’t wanted to come up, but it was the long weekend in May. Celebration of the Queen’s birthday, May 24th, and official opening of the family cottage. Complete with a traditional case of 24 beers.
He wrinkled his nose. "Stinks in there too."
"Whatever," said Jess. "Probably mouse poop. I’ll open the windows and you can bring everything in from the cars."
They’d driven up separately from the city. He’d left his wife and young daughter behind, Jess had left her girlfriend at home. He hoped maybe with just the two of them his sister and he would be more relaxed and resolve some issues. Like dealing with their mother’s cancer and selling this damn cottage.
By the time he carried in the last load, Jess was stretched out on the couch. "As usual, I do all the heavy work," he said.
"Give me a break," said Jess. "I’ve been sweating it too. Mom’s not here to do everything for us."
He had to admit the little cabin did look more livable. The curtains were swaying in a warm summer breeze, the floor was swept, and the covers were off all the furniture.
"Looks okay, I guess," he said. "Break time. Where’s that two-four?"
"I left it in the cooler. The propane stove works, but fridge and water are still off. Must be a breaker somewhere."
George found some lawn chairs in the cluttered shed, so they were soon relaxing in the sun, shoes off, sipping their cold beer.
He closed his eyes. The wind rustled through the leaves, waves broke on the sandy beach, and a loon laughed out on the lake. He sniffed—pine trees and a nearby barbecue.
"You’re finally smiling," said Jess. "Enjoying yourself?"
"Just relaxing," he said. "But it’s a lot of work to keep it going. And we just fight when we come up."
"Not so much this time. Perhaps because it’s just us."
"Or we’re older. We have bigger worries anyway, like mom. I just hope they got it all in the operation."
Jess reached over and touched his arm. "I’m sure they did. And thanks for nagging her to see the doctor, too. Another beer?"
By six o’clock they’d each had several beers, plus a large bag of spicy Doritos.
"I’m getting hungry," said George. "I guess we should find that breaker box and get things running."
"I’ll do it, big brother. I’m betting lots of spiders have moved into it."
They found the switches, hidden behind a panel. "Lights. Outlets. Water Heater. Pump. That’s it," said Jess. "All on now."
They finally figured out how to prime the water pump, once they found the manual, but the fridge remained silent, dark, and warm.
Jess peered in behind it. "Aha. No plug."
"Really?" He peered past her. "You’re right, there's just a gas pipe. I heard about these kind." He lay down on the floor. "I bet there’s a pilot light."
There was, and he managed to light it with only slightly burned finger tips "Grab two more beers, while we wait for this to cool."
Unfortunately, the fridge remained still not a fridge.
"I give up," he said. "I can go out tomorrow and buy more ice, I guess."
"How about the guy next door?" she said. "Maybe he knows fridges."
"He seems to know everything," said George. "Remember, that’s why we stopped going over. He never shut up. Could you go?"
Twenty minutes later, his sister was back, with a big smile. "Well, Gus—that’s his name—is still is a talker. He doesn’t seem as bad as before, though. And he had a solution." She paused.
George glared at her. "So, tell me, what do we do?"
"Stand it on its head."
"Come on, sis. I’m tired and hungry."
"Yes, honest, that’s what he said. Said our mom did it almost every year. Something about vapour lock and a clogged orifice—honest, I’m not making this up!"
Together they unhooked the gas and turned the fridge upside down.
"Look, there’s a note taped to the bottom." Jess opened the envelope.
"Hi kids," she read. "If you’re reading this, I assume I’ve not come up to the cottage. Hopefully, I’m still alive. And you’re likely both there because it’s a two-person job to turn this beast upside down. Propane is handy, because the power does often go out several times a year. Candles are in the bottom kitchen drawer, with matches. I hope you to keep the cottage, and share it. You loved it as kids, and I think you can grow back into that. Hugs and kisses. Mom."
She sniffed. "Well, that was a surprise."
"Wasn’t it?" said George. "She’s a smart gal. So, lets get this thing back on its feet."
"Wait, I need a photo first," said Jess.
Once the fridge started to cool, they grinned at each other and high-fived. They loaded it with food and beer and combined some of their groceries into a big supper.
"Gus, next door, made me an offer," she said. She smiled and held up a hand. "Not for me, you pervert, or the cottage. No, he offered to open up and close the place for us every summer. I said I’d think about it. But we’re selling still, right?"
"I don’t know," said George. "I’d forgotten how nice it was up here. And as nice as it was for him to offer, we managed to get things sorted out on our own without killing each other. Maybe we should just try it for one more summer. We could bring our families, and alternate if you want, so we’re not in each other’s hair. What do you think?"
Jess nodded. "I’d like to try. We could bring mom up too, for the July 1st weekend. Another beer?"