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Critical Error (16)

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Brandon was a slender young man with dark brown hair and eyes.  He worked for the forest industry.  Eilea was impressed by his understanding, compassion and caring.  Christina was lucky.

Cliff was about the same height, with blue eyes and getting him to talk was like pulling teeth since he was both quiet and timid.

He could run like the wind and she often wondered why he hadn’t become an athlete.  She had been so surprised the first time she’d seen him, he could fly!

He was currently waiting to be accepted to a college in Nanaimo, but there was a two-year waiting list so he was working at a local hardware store until then.

“Ok, everyone grab a parcel and let’s go.  You guys taking Andrew with you?”

“Yeah, he can come with us.”

“Let the adventure being!” she crooned.

Brandon took the groceries to the van and loaded them into a small fridge while the rest of the group completed the task of loading the luggage into the car.  A brief stop at the gas station and they were on their way.  She heard a whoop from the van and shook her head laughing.

The forty minute trip between Port Hardy and Port McNeill passed almost without notice.  They were nearly to the Port Alice turn-off when she noticed the van’s head lights flashing.  Pulling off to the side of the road, she waited.  Andrew was out of the van and running toward the car.

“Hi.”

“I couldn’t stand the noise.  They’re blasting the stereo and it’s giving me a headache.  Besides, they make me ill.”

“Here, I’ll turn the music off, for now, let me know when your headache is better, we can listen again.  By the way, if you need them, there is a package of Tylenol in the glove box.”  She flicked the left-hand signal light on, checked the mirror and moved back onto the highway; the van followed.

A pleasant silence ensued.  Andrew finally spoke, “Mom, I”m glad we’re doing this.  I haven’t been past Campbell River since March.  I’m really glad you suggested this and I can’t wait to get to the beach.”

“I’m with you, Andrew.  Do you remember Black Creek and how beautiful it is there?”

“Yeah, I remember.”  It didn’t sound as though it was a happy memory for him, although it had been a fun time for them.  It was the last camping trip the family had taken before they broke up.

They planned on stopping in Woss for bathroom breaks and the kids inevitably bought a variety of snacks.  Some things never change, she smiled reflectively. The second leg of their journey would take them to Campbell River and the lat leg to Black Creek.  That should give them ample opportunity to wander the Mall before it closed and still allow adequate time to take in a movie if they so desired.

The trip went smoothly and as they turned into the Ironwood Mall entrance, she pulled into the first available parking slot, stopped the car, turned the ignition off and said, “Well, we’re here.”

The kids pulled the van into the parking stall beside her.  She waited until the engine stopped before opening her window.  She called across, “I figured we could wander through the Mall for a while, maybe take in a movie later. They close the gates at 10:30 at the campground so we need to hustle to get to Black Creek before then.”

“Sounds good to me,” Cliff eagerly responded while the others nodded in agreement.  They quickly piled out of the van and Eilea locked the car as she and Andrew headed to the Mall she asked, “Did you want to go with the others?”

“Naw, it’s alright.  They don’t want me around,” he informed her, a dejected look on his face.

“Christina, wait a minute.”  Christina walked back to them, and Eilea said, “I think Andrew would really like to go with you.  I don’t think he wants to be stuck with me all day.”

“Come on, squirt.  You can come with us.”

“Hey, who are you calling a squirt?  I’m 5’9 and I’m taller than you!”

“You’ll always be a squirt to me because you’re still younger than me.”  She laughed at the pained expression on Andrew’s face before adding, “Come on, we’ll show you around.”

“I know my way around.”

“You know what I mean.”  She brushing his hair affectionately.

“Hey!”

“Let’s meet at the ABC Restaurant for a late lunch  . . .” inspecting her watch, Eilea added, “say, two thirty!”

“Have fun!” she called after the kids.

Inside, she walked through the grocery store, bought a watch for Andrew’s birthday, then headed down the Mall.  Spotting a card shop, she hustled inside.  Heaven, pure heaven, she thought.  She loved scouring through greeting cards to find THE one special card for each member of her family and friends.  She could literally spend hours at it and usually did.

Spotting a novelty shop, she walked in, “Jackpot!” Andrew had always loved that square thing she could never remember the name of, made out of pinheads and which conformed to whatever shape was pressed against it and she began searching, surprised when she found one.  That took care of Andrew’s Christmas present.  Of course, she had to buy the stuffed Mickey for Christina.

Ah, a jewelers store, right on!  Ambling from display to display, she couldn’t take her eyes off a particularly unique necklace; its design difficult to pin down for it was delicate, yet bold and altogether beautiful.  She glanced back for a last look and didn’t realize the man in front of her was so close.  The mirrors had distorted their reflections and she misjudged the distance between them and literally walked right into his arms.  “I’m sorry.”

“I’m not.  I got an armful, all woman.”  Eilea blushed.  She hadn’t heard a line like that in a while.”

“Don’t tell me, you’re visiting the area.”

“That’s either a clever guess, you have a crystal ball up your sleeve, or I have visitor tattooed on my forehead,” she quipped good-humouredly.

“I live in the area and newcomers tend to stand out.  Or it could be it’s because I’m observant, or it’s because you have visitor tattooed to your forehead.”  Eilea could help but laugh spontaneously.

 

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