© 2012 Terry

The story you are reading is fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are purely from imagination and are for pleasure and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, events or locality is entirely coincidental.

I hope you enjoy this story. If you do please let me know. I write to give something back for the pleasure I have received.

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Lying precarious on a branch halfway up a tree impaled on a branch with a broken leg was not a good start to a 2 week hiking trip. My brother and me were on what was about to become our summer break excursion. As far as brothers went, we got on great. That doesn't mean to say that we didn't argue . . . we did, but mainly we only had playful disagreements. He was my younger brother, well you'd think so. I'm 13, nearly 14; he's eleven and a half. He would kill me if I didn't say the half. So that makes me the older brother. Right? Wrong. He was always the one trying to look out for me. He seemed to take over the mantle of big brother from the start.

How did I get into a situation like this you ask? Well, this seems as good as any place to start the story. Thinking about my life so far seems apt for the situation I'm in right now.

I'm William Foster. Billy, if you please. Up until last spring I was in an orphanage in Vancouver. I was 4 years old when I was placed into the system. My mom was good to me . . . I was never mistreated, but she couldn't afford to keep me at home with little or no income. I saw my mom a lot the first year, but then gradually she never came at all. My dad I never knew.

I'm not a prize asset by any means, the trouble was that all of the adults that came to the orphanage must have thought the same thing. I mean, I was 12 years old. An old man?? Nope, can't feel sorry for myself, got to stay positive.

I was fostered out a few times, even adopted once, but my new mom couldn't cope with me, so I was sent back. I was the outsider looking in. Every year we, us kids, would be taken away for the week. Donations from the public and private businesses paid for the trip. We never went to the exciting places like Disney, but we had fun.

Moving to get comfortable again, I screamed. I again tried to move my leg but couldn't. Blood covered my t-shirt and there was the odd patch of white. "Ben, where are you?" Ben's my brother, by the way.

I was saying . . . last spring we came here to the Canadian Rockies. If When God created the earth in his own image, then he must have spent a good many hours thinking on how to get this place to look so good.

The orphanage decided it would be educational and fun to spend time here. Saturday morning we all got into the bus and made a loud and singing introduction to the roads of Canada. Mr. Bartholomew managed to stay sane and, I think, in control of us and the bus for the journey to the camp.

We were to spend 3 days in the cabins and 4 days camping out under the stars. This was going to be my first time sleeping outside. Well, it'd be an adventure. The cabins were good, but as I found out, sleeping under the stars was a whole new world.

I'd never heard of what they call light pollution, but man was there a difference when it went dark. I swear I saw a star wink at me. Giggling at the thought.

Getting tired now, but got to stay awake. My leg seems to be getting numb, but I can still feel it with every breath. The stars seem to be looking at me, as if trying to keep the night at bay. Looking around I can still see a silhouette of the trees. There's a blueish/grey mist surrounding the sky and it looks eerie and scary. An Owl's screech nearly scared the life out of me. "OUCH!" That woke me up again.

On the fourth day, after we'd been walking for a few hours, Mr. Bartholomew decided to stop for lunch. We were on a steep incline just near where the water had settled down to a trickle. We sat under the trees while we were shown the finer points on how to make a fire. Coming over the ridge were a man and woman with a little dude walking behind. "Hello there," they shouted. The kid dropped down on the ground and in a complaining way asked if they could rest. All of us kids started to snigger and that made the kid sulk.

Feeling bad for him, I walked over. "Don't look so glum, we're only messing with you. So, does Mr. Happy have a name?"

Looking up so solemn, "Ben Foster," he said.

"Hello, Mr. Ben, I'm William Young." I said with a smirk on my face.

"William," he sniggered.

"Billy, if you know what's good for you . . ." I said giving him a scowl. Ben Looked at me as if he'd just committed the ultimate sin.

"So, how come you're out here in the middle of nowhere?"

"Camping," he said, matter of factly.

"I only asked." I said pouting, then giggled.

"So, what are you doing out here? Scouts?"

"In a way." That's Mr. Bartholomew and those other kids are my friends."

"Oh! Okay. I like this place," he said. "My mom and dad like camping, so, of course, so do I," he said, then laughed.

"This is my first time, but it's cool."

"Must be cool to get away from your mom and dad not telling you what to do all the time?"

"Yeah" I said, trying to make it look that way. He must have noticed the look.

"Sorry. I like my parents, but it's good now and again to be away from them."

"None of us have a mom or dad. So, you out here for the week?" I said, trying to change the subject.

"Huh, yeh, sorry." Then he got up and left.

Shaking my head, I got to my feet, "It's okay," I said, having to raise my voice. Ben then started talking to the other guys. It seems we'd picked up a hitch-hiker - that sucks for a joke.

My head started to spin but no headache. I need to stay awake. First rule, never go to sleep. The mist had started to drop as it got thicker. I started to get cold. Trying to keep warm was getting harder, because every time I moved a pain shot through my whole body. I know I kept drifting in and out, but I tried really hard to stay awake.

We stopped for a late dinner. Us recruits were good at starting a fire. The thought tickled. When we settled down to eat Mr. Foster offered to help, which Mr. Bartholomew accepted with a smile on his face. We roasted some marshmallows over the fire, then started telling ghost stories. Ben told a story about a cat that ate an octopus and then became a cat-a-nine tails. After we all complained, we gave him a slap around his head. The following day Ben stuck to me like glue. I can't remember ever having to answer so many questions. It was like getting the third degree. One kid started to get antsy and mouthed off at me. I think he was just getting bored. After he started mouthing off, Ben went into protective mode. I told you he was doing the big brother thing. Unbeknownst to me, his parents were taking in everything he was doing.

When everyone was told to zip-up and shut-up, Ben's dad came over and sat down beside me. It seemed as if I was the topic of conversation . . . more questions. Some Ben had already asked. Some I didn't want to answer, but he seemed to understand. He was nice.

"Why are you being nice to me?" I said, then felt guilty for saying it. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it the way it came out."

"I didn't mean to upset you. Ben has taken to you and I just wanted to know who his friend was." He squeezed my shoulder, smiled, not to worry he said, then left. Do you know how good it feels when someone takes notice? I mean really takes notice of you? Are 12 year olds meant to cry? It felt warm. This feeling that went right though me . . . it felt warm.

As I moved I slipped over to one side, which made the branch embedded in my side move. I must have passed out. I woke up sometime later cold, very cold. I called out for Ben, but no reply. I hoped he'd gone for help.

The following day Ben was again my shadow. We talked and laughed until we were hoarse. His mom and dad stayed close, but only close enough for us to be in vision. In the tent that night I felt alone. You know sometimes you're tired but whatever you do you can't settle?

Saturday - time to go home. No sleep, but still felt wide awake. Ben talked all the way back to the bus. I mean he never shut up. Ben, his mom and dad waved to all the guys as they drove past. I can't explain it, but I felt like I was losing my best friend. On the way back to the orphanage I sat huddled against the window, quiet all the way home. I was different. Things were different.

A few weeks went by. Me still moping around. I can't say I thought of Ben and his family, because I didn't . . . just the camping out and what it felt like. Something had changed, but what??

After breakfast I finished my chores, then wandered off into the garden. I was sitting on the swing when I heard a commotion and looked around.

"Mr Foster, Ben??"

He said nothing, he just stared at me and started walking toward me, being something he wasn't normally - quiet!!

"What are you doing here? I mean why are you here? I mean . . ."

"Sit down," he said, "I want to become your big brother."


"You don't want me to be?"

"Ahh no, I mean . . . Then it clicked. 'My big brother'??" I should have known he was winding me up. I gave him a real evil grin.

"Oh, I didn't mean big brother. I should have said little brother," he said with something that looked like a grin, or was it a smile.

"When I came back from the camping trip something was missing. I didn't know what it was until I saw you just now. Yeh, I'd like to be your big brother!! What about your mom and dad? I only met them and you a few weeks ago. I haven't even spoken to your mom. I can't even remember what she looks like."

"You'll be coming to our house for a few weeks to see if it works out. You know, to see if you like us and stuff, if you want to?? My dad spoke to my mom. I always wanted a brother. Well, a sister . . . but you'll do." I felt my eyes start to get moist.

Next thing his mom and dad came walking over.

His mom walked over taking my hand. "He told you then?" I just stood there. I put my arms around her and cried. I cried for goodness sake.

You know when you're just dropping off to sleep, how relaxing it feels. I let go and went to sleep. Before I slipped into the never never, I looked up to the sky one last time. It was amazing. If you're going to die this would be the perfect spot. "Look after mom, dad, and Ben. I'm gonna miss you little brother."

I was awakened to "Billy, Billy." I tried to open my eyes, but the light was too bright. Next, these arms wrapped tight around my neck.

"Let him breathe, Ben," I heard dad say. "Let him breathe."

I tried to sit up but a hand stopped me.

"I'm sorry, dad, I didn't look after Ben." I was crying when Ben squeezed me tight. His eyes were moist, same as mine.

"I thought he looked after you?" Well, what could I say? Ben started waving his finger in front of my face as to say, 'I told you so'.

"What happened? You nearly died out there."

"We'd been messing about in the cave and after we settled down I put a blanket over Ben. When he went to sleep I got up to go pee. I must have gone too close to the edge. When I came to I shouted for Ben. At first I thought he was still asleep." All this time Ben never loosened his grip. "I'm sorry, Ben." He looked up, kissed me on the forehead, then forced his head onto my shoulder.

I looked over to my dad. "The cave was on an incline and looked like the perfect spot for our first night under the stars. I spotted the cave when I first met you on the trip from the orphanage, it seemed safer to be high up - with the bears and my little brother being afraid of the dark. I didn't want him getting scared." That earned me a punch.

Mom laughed. "Now, now, boys, be nice."

The doctor must have been hiding or slipped in when I wasn't looking. "You are a very lucky young man. I hope you'll be more careful the next time you need to use the bathroom." I broke my femur and cracked two ribs. The branch pierced my side, but missed all my organs. I was one lucky boy.

We made plans to go camping again, this time it was a family affair. Instead of going blind, we mapped the trip. The first week was on the Rocky Mountaineer for the 'First Passage to the West' tour. We boarded the train in Vancouver, then on through Kamloops, Banff, and Calgary, with stops on the way. We stayed over at a hotel and joined the train the following day to the next destination. It was a journey back in time, where all the early explorers had gone before. Paradise on earth. The second week we were going to retrace our steps back home, but on foot. Next year we're going on the Journey Through the Clouds. Dad said he'd teach me how to ski. I wonder if I'll come back in one piece?


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