Caleb kept track of the days on the calendar on the wall. When Saturday rolled around, I found out why. “There’s no school on weekends, Mom. And no work, either.”
He knew how to get what he wanted. Learned it from his mom so I couldn’t complain. “Do you have something that you want to do?” As soon as the words were out, I wished them unsaid because of course the house at the end of the road would be involved.
About that, it seemed I was wrong. “We should learn more about where we live now. What it’s like,” he said. “It’s the country and there’s a lot of it out there.” His eyes danced and who can resist a kid with dancing eyes? “Let’s spend the day exploring.”
The area. The countryside. Not the house at the end of the road. “Good idea.” I said we’d start right after breakfast.
That suited him. “We’ll be gone a long time.” I waited because there would be more. There always was with Caleb. “I’ll bring my backpack and you bring yours.”
“Okay.” Since when did he prepare for anything? Was this a new Caleb?
Must be because he planned carefully. “Lots of food, of course, so we won’t starve during our travels.” As casually as possible he added, “Cake, of course. The one you baked after Lucy left because we were on a chocolate cake kick and we ate hers in one afternoon so we needed another one so we made one a couple days ago.”
I laughed. “Chocolate cake it will be.” We packed the cake carefully along with healthy snacks and thick sandwiches because cake alone wasn’t enough. I added sunscreen and made sure we had hats to protect us and light jackets to shed weeds and we were ready.
We set off, my heart singing because life was good and would get better with each passing day. I just knew it would and the butterflies and songbirds that surrounded us agreed with that sentiment, along with the scurrying small animals that we never saw who added their input to the day. I’d made the right decision when I bought the house in the country, never mind that there was a house at the end of the road that didn’t fit any definition of normal no matter what I’d told Caleb.
“Almost time for lunch,” I said after a couple hours of wandering.
“Not yet,” was Caleb’s reply. “Can we go just a little farther?” He pulled my hand. “Over that hill?”
“Okay.” Why not?
So we went over the hill and guess what was on the other side. The house at the end of the road. I sucked in my breath and wondered how Caleb knew his way around his new surroundings well enough to have managed to get us where he wanted us to be exactly when he wanted us to be there. I had no illusions about the time because as I stopped in shock and stared at the house, he turned his backpack around and rummaged inside.
“We have a cake this time so we can introduce ourselves and give the owner a cake as a gift.” He blinked innocently as if this hadn’t been planned from the start. “Because that’s what neighbors do in the country.”
I gazed at the house, my heart sinking and wished I knew what would happen when we knocked on the door. I wanted to turn around and run. But I knew Caleb wouldn’t follow. He was determined to enter the house at the end of the road, no matter what happened. Good or bad.