Small as an Elephant

By Crystal Scott,2014-11-04 20:23
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Small as an Elephant

    Elephants can sense danger. They’re able to detect an approaching tsunami or earthquake beforeit hits. Unfortunately, Jack did not have this talent. The day his life was turned completelyupside down, he was caught unaware.

    He was in a little Hubba tent at Seawall Campground, on Mount Desert Island. The night had beencool, and Jack had been glad he’d insisted on taking his warmer sleeping bag when his momtried to talk him into the other one, the one that was lighter and easier to scrunch up.

    But now it was morning, and he was hot. His sweat-soaked hair stuck to his neck and forehead.Clothes dryer — that’s what the tent smelled like: a trapped-heat smell that filled hisnostrils and told him the sun was high. It’s gotta be lunchtime, he thought, kicking off his

    sleeping bag. Why hadn’t she woken him up? He raced the tent zipper around its track andscrambled out into fresher air.


    The rental car was gone! He stood there, rooted, as if his eyes just had to adjust to thelight, had to let forms take shape, and the car would be there, right where she’d left it. Butthe car was really gone. So was the little tent his mother had pitched on the gravelly groundnext to his.

    Jack tried to take a deep breath, but the air outside was now as heavy and suffocating as theair inside the tent had been.

    Had she moved sites? Maybe the ground beneath her sleeping bag was too rocky and she’d decidedto find a better site. Which would make sense, he suddenly realized, because the camping gearthey’d spread across the picnic table was no longer there, either.

    All that was left on the site was Jack and his Hubba.

    He fumbled for his phone to call her. No reception in the campground — at least not in thisspot.

    Relax, he told himself. It probably had nothing to do with what had happened yesterday. Asofter site — or one closer to the ocean — had probably opened up. She’d jumped on it andwas now sitting there, looking out at the Atlantic, waiting for him to show up.

    From what they’d been told, cars lined up every morning to get a spot at this campground —first come, first served. But Jack and his mother hadn’t come at dawn. In fact, they hadn’tarrived until late last night, and the ranger who explained the system said they were lucky —a family had just left because of a sick kid. Jack figured his mom got back in line first thingthis morning to see what else was available. This was their summer vacation, and they wereplanning on camping here in Acadia National Park for three nights. She’d want it to be extraspecial.

    Question was, should he pack up his tent and take it with him? Or find her first? His stomachgrowled; he’d look now and pack later.

    Like most campgrounds, this one had lots of looping roads twisting through the woods. Jackbegan with Loop A and Loop B, figuring those would have sites on the water. But unless he wasmistaken, or had missed a road or two, none of the campsites had ocean views. So he scoped Loop

    C and Loop D, slowly enough to get a good look at the sites, fast enough to not looksuspicious. Lots of places had a single tent, and since Jack’s mother had borrowed both of thetents they were using, and because they had pitched them in the dark, Jack couldn’t even sayfor sure what his mom’s tent looked like. So he stuck to looking for the rental car.

    His mother had specifically asked for a Prius. Not just because they were traveling all the wayfrom Boston to Maine and gas was expensive, but because she believed in doing what she could to<