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“You can’t be wise and in love at the same time.” — Bob Dylan
Nestled in the woods of Essex County is a small two-bedroom camp. It’s situated on two acres of land and overlooks picturesque Douglas Lake. The camp was built by my father and his father almost ten years before I was born. They intended it to be a place to go in the summer to fish and to hunt in the winter. Then once us kids started arriving it became a place for us to go camping each spring and summer.
Those weekends at the camp with my parents, brother and sisters are some of the happiest memories of my life. Every July Dad would take a week’s vacation from his job at Hewitt’s Hardware in downtown Mason Springs, where we lived. I especially looked forward to this extended stay at the camp each summer. We would help him load the station wagon with sleeping bags, blankets, boxes of canned food and everything else we needed for the trip.
For ten days every summer we would spend our days swimming, hiking or paying cards and board games if it rained. Dad had built a barbeque pit in back of the camp where he cooked chicken that Mom had packed in bags of ice. Sometimes Dad caught a few trout in the lake and we had those as a treat. Then some nights once it grew dark and we didn’t feel like playing Scrabble or Monopoly us kids would sit on the floor in front of an old plaid couch that Dad had bought at a yard sale and he would tell us ghost stories by the light of a kerosene lamp. Mom would sometimes scold him for frightening us, but I loved hearing those creepy tales of ghosts or escaped lunatics whom Dad swore roamed those woods at nights.
Once I reached twenty I came to believe that our little camp really was haunted by ghosts. No, not the kind like poor Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by on Christmas Eve, nor the type that terrorize families whose houses are built on ancient burial grounds. These ghosts were the kind that dwell in our own minds and haunt us day and night, but are of our own creation.
They say that Heaven is full of people who are forgiven and Hell is full of people who can’t forgive themselves. The latter applied to me, and I was only eventually freed from the hell of my own making by the love and understanding of my younger sister, Lori. She felt responsible for my plight, but I honestly never blamed her. Still, I will be forever grateful for her having shown me how to forgive myself and love her in a whole different way.
By the time I was twenty-five there had been many changes in our family — not all of them welcome ones. My grandfather had been gone for fifteen years and Dad had died of a heart attack almost two years previously. Mom was fifty-seven and still living in our childhood home. My older brother and sister were thirty-somethings. Justin was a lawyer, married, with a two-year old son and living with his wife in Austin. Michelle was married too. She and her husband, Gavin, lived a few blocks from Mom. She was a nurse and Gavin was a veterinarian. They had a daughter, Kelly, who was four.
Lori, the youngest of us kids, was twenty-two. She was still living with Mom while she completed her final year at business school. Lori wanted to move out, but was forced by finances to remain at home. I was happy about this; I think Mom was too. Mom wasn’t getting any younger. Her arthritis had gotten worse over the years and she was glad to not be living alone. I was very glad that Lori was there with her.
I had fulfilled my strongest ambition once I reached my early twenties. When I was twelve my parents gave me a camera for Christmas. That began my life-long passion for photography. I had gone to art college in Kensington after finishing high school and earned a B.F.A. in Photography. At twenty-four I began working with a portrait photographer in town. Eventually I started shooting weddings and other stuff on my own most weekends for extra money. I had a small apartment, a car that I leased. I was making a pretty good living. Life was good. Life would have been perfect were it not for the tense relationship I had with Lori. Then one Saturday my mother told me something that ended up changing that for good. It was the second week of July and I had stopped in to visit Mom, like I always did once or twice a week.
“David, I’ve been thinking about selling the camp,” Mom said. We were sitting at opposite ends of her kitchen table. She was having a cup of tea and I was eating banana bread she had made and drinking a glass of Pepsi.
“Uh… okay,” I said, somewhat surprised.
Mom let out a heavy sigh. “It’s just that we haven’t used it since your father died and probably won’t,” she said. “I’ve talked it over with your brother and sisters and none of them want to buy it and they agree with me. Soon it will need repairs, so it’s best to sell it before then.”
I nodded, feeling a lump growing in my throat. Memories of summers past flashed in my mind. The thought of letting the camp go saddened me. But once I reconsidered it I admitted küçükçekmece escort to myself that I only wanted to keep the camp out of sentimentality. The cold hard reality was that I hadn’t wanted to go up there in the past year or so. Neither had anyone else. Even once the camp was sold I would always have my memories and photographs of the times we had spent there. There was also one other important consideration: Mom needed the money that selling the camp would bring in.
“I think that’s a good idea, Mom,” I said. “It’s only going to be a money pit in a year or so anyway. It’s best to sell it now, while it’s still worth something.” When I saw a smile on my mother’s face it relieved me. I thought for a few seconds, then said “But before you sell it, I’d like to go up there one last time. There are some things I’d like to take out of it. None of it is really valuable — mostly pictures and stuff, but it all reminds me of my childhood. Plus, it would be fun to spend one last weekend there. You can come if you want.”
Mom reached inside the sleeve of her purple cardigan. She pulled out a piece of Kleenex and wiped her teary eyes with it. She shook her head. “No, I don’t want to go back there,” Mom said. “I want to remember it as it was. But you go ahead, David — stay as long as you want.” She gave me a weak smile.
“Thanks, Mom,” I said. “I can probably go up there next week. I have some sick days accumulated at work, so I could stay about five days.”
“Go where, Dave?”
I turned my head and saw Lori standing in the entrance to the kitchen. Her hands were in the pockets of her shorts and she looked curious. Her blue eyes were glued to me.
“Up to the camp,” I told my sister. “I want to get some things out of it before Mom sells it and I thought it would be fun to spend a little time up there while I’m at it.”
Lori thought about what I had said for several seconds, then smiled. “Cool!” she exclaimed. “That sounds like fun. When are you going? I want to go too.”
I winced, then hoped neither Mom nor Lori noticed. I forced a smile. “Sure. If you want to,” I said half-heartedly. “I didn’t think you’d want to go though.”
Lori walked over and pulled a chair away from the table. She sat down between me and Mom. “Are you kidding? I loved that place when we were kids,” she said. “I’m sad that Mom’s selling it, but I understand why.” A frown appeared on her face for a moment, then vanished. “And one last camping trip would be a blast,” she added, sounding excited once more.
“I thought I’d leave on Wednesday and come back on Sunday. If I can clear it with Malcolm,” I said. “Things have been slow at the studio, so he shouldn’t have a problem with it.”
My sister nodded. “Okay. Whenever you want to go is fine with me. I’m sort of at loose ends till school starts again,” Lori said with a nervous laugh. She gave Mom an apprehensive look. Lori hadn’t found a summer job and that had been a sore point between her and our mother. I thought that a few days apart might do them both good.
“Okay. I’ll give you a call once I make some plans,” I told my sister. I got up and fished my car keys from my pants pocket. “I should get going. I want to take some photos on the beach at sunset.”
Driving back to my apartment I felt disappointed with myself. No, I had not told Lori that she couldn’t come with me to the camp, but I probably didn’t make her feel especially welcome either. How long could I punish her for my guilt and insecurities, I wondered, mentally scolding myself. She hadn’t been so excited about going to the camp since we were kids, and here I was wishing she wasn’t going with me.
I felt like a turd. It wasn’t Lori’s fault that I was apprehensive about spending a week alone with her. I promised myself that I would do my utmost to make sure she had a good time. I wanted her last memories of the camp to be good ones, and I wasn’t going to let my hang-ups spoil that. I loved my sister. That was sort of part of the problem though. Over the years that love had turned into desire. I knew exactly when I had begun to feel that way about her too, and she would know as well if I was perfectly honest with her about how I felt. But I couldn’t even be perfectly honest with myself, let alone with Lori.
After discussing the situation with Malcolm, the owner of the portrait studio where I worked, he agreed to let me take half of the week off. I think he was actually secretly glad because business was so slow that month. I called Lori that Monday night and told her. She was even more excited now that plans had been made.
“That’s great, Dave,” she said. “I can’t wait. This is going to be so much fun!”
My sister sounded like an excited girl a few days before Christmas. I smiled as I listened to her animated voice over the phone. “I’ll pick you up Wednesday morning around ten,” I told her.
“Okay, I’ll be ready,” she promised. “What should I bring?” she asked.
“The kurtköy escort usual stuff we brought when we were kids,” I said.
“Like that big orange squirt gun I had?” she teased.
“Uh… you can leave that behind, Lori.” I smiled as I spoke, thinking of how my little sister used to chase us around, or lie in wait behind patches of alders and blast us with streams of lake water with that plastic gun. “I’ll be bringing food and stuff, so all you’ll need is clothes — those sorts of things,” I told her.
“Well, not too many clothes. I’m going to spend most of my time swimming or getting a tan,” she said, then let out an excited giggle. “Maybe I’ll just pack my bikini.”
My cock pulsed and began to harden as I recalled the last time I had seen my younger sister in a bikini. She had been eighteen then. The bikini was turquoise and barely covered her where it should have. Actually, it didn’t cover her very well if she bent over, or lept from the lake suddenly. More than once I saw a good portion of her firm ass or an errant nipple peeking from her bikini top as she waded out of the water, dripping wet, or rolled over while sunbathing. Mom admonished her for wearing something so revealing more than once — “almost indecent” was how she referred to it. But Lori laughed defiantly and said she saw no harm in her bikini, since we were all family and she knew she was safe around Dad, Justin and me. Mom glowered, and in retrospect I think she was shrewder than Lori.
“Okay, whatever you think you’ll need. We’ll be there for five days,” I reminded Lori. Now I was excited, but in a much different way than my sister.
By the time I hung up the phone my cock was tenting my trousers. I rubbed it through them. Lori’s haunting voice echoed in my head and images of how she had looked in her bikini flashed in my mind. I began to mentally prepare myself for five days of torment. I would have to be careful to not let my little sister realize just how horny she made me. But her mention of bringing a bikini told me that was going to be difficult, if not impossible. The last time she had caught me with a hard-on had almost destroyed our relationship. I began to worry.
I got up early Wednesday morning to finish packing and load the car. The night before I had tossed some clothes, a few toiletries and other things in a duffel bag. I had also half-filled some two liter pop bottles with water and put them in the freezer. Now that they were frozen they would keep the chicken and cold cuts I was bringing cold. Still, those items would have to be eaten first. I put the perishables and ice in a Coleman cooler. I loaded the boxes of food and other things in the back seat of the car — along with empty boxes to bring things back from the camp in. I took one final look inside the car and gave the list of items to bring that I had written another scan. It seemed as though I had packed everything.
I drove to Mom’s to pick up Lori with a little trepidation. When I arrived there Lori was waiting in the kitchen for me. She was sitting on a chair wearing blue shorts and a red tank top. Her legs were crossed and she was impatiently swinging one foot. Her brown hair flowed over her shoulders and she was wearing a baseball cap. She looked very cute, but I tried not to dwell on that aspect of her.
“I haven’t seen her this excited since Christmas Eve when she was six,” Mom teased. She was drinking tea and eating a bagel with cream cheese. Although she seemed amused, I got the feeling that underneath that she was a little annoyed with Lori’s impatience.
Lori shot Mom an irked look and stood up. At her feet was a purple and black nylon duffel bag. When I picked it up I was surprised and even somewhat relieved to feel how heavy it was. Maybe my little sister had packed more clothes than I expected her to after all. Hopefully she would wear them and spare me a lot of torment.
“You guys have fun,” Mom said as she handed me the key to the camp and followed us to the door. “But be careful. You’re in the middle of nowhere. If you get hurt, help might not arrive in time.”
I tried not to roll my eyes. “We’ll be just fine, Mom,” I assured her. “I have my cell phone if there’s an emergency.”
Mom gave me a relieved smile. I hugged her and kissed her cheek, neglecting to add that there was no cell service in the middle of Harrison County, deep in the woods. Mom stood at the door waving as Lori and I drove off. She was acting like we were explorers setting out for The New World.
I had only driven to our camp once. That was when I was seventeen, and Dad had actually only let me drive half way there. But I had made the journey enough times with the family to know it well. It was about a forty-five minute trip outside of Mason Springs, to the east. You head down Greenway Road, then left on Bishop Road for about five miles until the pavement ends. Then turn left and drive almost another two miles along a dirt road that’s maltepe escort all mud in the early spring once the snow melts and a sheet of ice in the winter. The sign beside the gravel road says Jackson’s Glen, but there isn’t even a post office there, so I don’t think it’s an official town. But that was where the camp was — down a cow path that served as a driveway.
We had only been on the road about twenty minutes when Lori began to seem bored. She was punching the buttons on the car radio, jumping from one station to another. Static greeted her with each push of the button, except once. Eventually she gave up with a loud sigh of frustration when she discovered that the only station that came in clearly played nothing but country music. She switched the radio off and slumped back in her seat, arms folded as she stared at the oncoming road.
“Want me to take you back home?” I asked, turning to grin at her.
“No — don’t you dare,” she said, looking at me wide-eyed and worried. “I was just hoping to find some good music on the radio instead of that hillbilly stuff.”
I laughed. “You’ll have better luck once we get to the camp,” I told her. “You can get stations from upstate New York there. I bought one of those wind-up radios that doesn’t need batteries a couple of days ago. It’s in my duffel bag.”
Lori twisted in her seat and her face lit up. “Thanks,” she gushed. “You really do think of everything, Dave.”
I smiled, feeling a little smug. “Well, someone has to, since you’re such an airhead,” I teased.
My little sister pouted. She reminded me of when she was eight and Mom would scold her for something. “Am not!” she spat out and gave my arm a swat, then laughed. She turned her head my way a little and smiled. It was almost a flirtatious smile and made my cock began to stiffen. I returned her smile, then focused on the road again.
When I saw the sign that said Jackson’s Glen I was relieved. That meant that we were almost there. It also meant I hadn’t gotten us lost. There had been little rain that summer and the road was packed as hard as asphalt, but full of potholes. I dodged as many as I could but it was impossible to miss them all. Lori let out a few grunts as the car hit especially deep potholes. She braced her right hand on the dashboard, leaning forward a little. I took a quick glance at her and noticed how her breasts bounced inside her tank top as I navigated the rutty road. My cock hardened again and I let the wheels drift a little to the left, towards a big pothole as I stole another look at my sister’s quivering mounds.
When I pulled up in front of our camp I smiled in relief. I stopped at the edge of the gravel driveway rather than venturing closer and risk starting a fire in the grass with my hot muffler. My back was sore and my legs ached from sitting in the car. I needed to get out and walk around a bit. I think Lori did too because I heard her groan as she gingerly swung her legs out of the car.
I stood beside my car, looking the camp over. I didn’t see any broken windows or anything else awry. I was relieved, because people sometimes broke into vacant camps during the winter, hoping to steal whatever they could, or even cause damage just for the sick fun of it. Our little white camp with blue trim looked just as we had left it.
I began unloading boxes of groceries from the back seat and brought the cooler from the trunk. The grass was ankle-deep and I walked through it towards the verandah on the front of the camp, facing Douglas Lake. I climbed the three steps and sat the box down by the door, then went back for another. I met Lori carrying our duffel bags. She followed me back to the car and we carried the last two boxes and the cooler to the camp.
The rusty hinges of the screen door squeaked as I pulled it open. I unlocked the inner heavy wooden door and gave it a push. It was stuck a little, but a kick made it swing open. I stepped inside and looked around. The place smelled musty from having been closed for so long. I put the box I was carrying on the counter and opened the window behind the hand pump. Fresh air began streaming in. I drew in deep breaths, thinking the air smelled better here than at home.
“This place looks exactly as I remember it,” Lori remarked, sounding surprised.
I turned around towards my sister. She was standing at the front half of the camp, which was covered with old green carpet. In the far corner to my right was a wooden shelf. She was scanning it’s contents as though for the first time. It contained books, magazines, old copies of Reader’s Digest and board games. Those things had kept us entertained many rainy days and nights during our camping trips. Beside the shelf was a card table with Scrabble and Monopoly games on it. Four folding aluminum chairs were arranged haphazardly around the table. Off to one side was an old gold-coloured platform rocker where Mom often sat reading books or magazines.
The front door was flanked by large picture windows on either side, providing a perfect view of the lake and surrounding woods. Upon entering the camp was the old plaid couch to the right. I looked it over, thinking of the many times I had slept on it. A few feet in front of it was a low rectangular table. There was a cribbage board and a deck of cards on it.
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