Yet again, Charlie read the entry in the guide book out loud. “… beyond the footbridge, the trail descends, switching back and forth along the sides of the adjacent hills…”
Isaac smiled and looked down at the book they were reading as a bedtime story. He hadn’t read any of it, because Charlie was busy reading to himself, excited about the hike.
“…and then we get to the water fall. We’ll have a picnic there, right?” Charlie asked.
“That’s right. Now it’s time to go to bed.” Isaac put the book back into its place on the shelf.
“What?” Charlie sat up and looked down from his loft bed. “But we haven’t read a story yet. We always read a story.”
“We read the story of tomorrow’s hike,” Isaac said.
“That’s not the same thing.” Charlie crossed his arms. “Besides. I read that. You have to be the one who read the bedtime story. It’s the rules.”
“I don’t remember there being any bedtime story rules.” Isaac chuckled as he stood up.
“There’s rules, because that’s how we always do it. I won’t get to sleep without a bedtime story, and then I’ll be tired for the hike tomorrow.”
“It’s late,” Isaac said. “I’ll turn the light out and let you try to sleep. In a half hour, I’ll check on you. If you’re still awake, I’ll read you a few pages.”
“I’ll get to bed quicker if you read to me now.”
“We’ll see.” Isaac turned out the light and left the room. When he returned fifteen minutes later and peeked inside the room, Charlie was already asleep.
The next morning, Charlie was the first one awake. He ran around the house, filling the end of Isaac’s dreams with herds of elephants. As he’d been dreaming of building card towers, it was an odd way to end things.
Isaac shuffled down the hallway in his pajamas and looked at the bulging backpack Charlie was carrying looped over one shoulder. “It sounded like you were running a 5k inside the house. What did you put in your bag?”
“Stuff I’ll need.” Charlie held out the backpack, and Isaac looked inside.
“First aid kit, sunscreen, board game, towel, swimsuit, change of clothes…” He dug through the bag. “You won’t need all this for a day hike. We won’t be swimming, and there won’t be time for board games or card games or writing letters.”
“I was thinking maybe on the drive there…”
Isaac frowned. “You get car sick.”
“Fine, fine.” Charlie held out his arms for the back pack. “I’ll go through all this again. Are you sure we won’t go swimming?”
“It’s not safe to swim there.”
Charlie sighed and put his swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes in a pile. He added the games and the writing materials. “The guide doesn’t say all the stuff you can’t do.“
“Maybe there were too many things to mention.”
Charlie grinned. “Like baking cookies? Or going surfing?”
“Or playing golf or vacuuming or planting sunflowers…” Isaac added.
“Or petting dinosaurs or going ice skating or building a house…”
“Or forging a sword or piloting a UFO or traveling through time…”
Marianne shuffled into the living room, still in her pajamas. “Are you trying to pick a movie to watch? I thought we were going hiking today.” She looked down at the piles of things on the floor. “You know we can’t go swimming, right?”
“Or vacuuming or surfing,” Charlie said, kicking at the pile with his swimsuit. “The hiking guide wasn’t very helpful.”
“Vacuuming? Who would go vacuuming out in the woods?” Marianne shook her head. “I’m going to go get dressed. Can you clean up the stuff here?”
Charlie looked up at Isaac. “So what do I need to bring on a hike?”
“Am I your hiking guide now?”
“Well, you seem to know more about what I don’t need than the book did.”
“Honestly, I think you have most of what you need, except for the water and the picnic food. Let your mom and I take care of that.”
“Wow. I guess didn’t need a hiking guide.”
“Well, I think it made a nice bedtime story.”
Charlie frowned and zipped up his backpack. “No. I want a real story tonight.” He looped the bag over one shoulder and started picking up the piles of extra things.
Isaac picked up a few things to help put away. “Fair enough. We’ll save the hiking guide for special occasions.”