The south fork of the Hausis River, on a late summer day, is a slow and gentle river. It bubbles over rocks worn smooth from a 1000 years of water pouring past them. Tess and Rie loved to hike up the river shore and wade out to where it was thigh deep. They would put one foot out in front and lay back on the water and let the current push them down for a distance. They could feel the river bottom through the ripples and bubbles of the water, a gentle massage from the old women of the river. Before the fork joined back into the main body of the Hausis River, they would wade to shore and enjoy a picnic they had left for themselves. This was something the two sisters had done since they were old enough to venture off alone.
Today was not a late summer day. It was the first day of summer. Tess and Rie and rushed down to the river’s edge, together, to enjoy this first taste of summer. They stood side by side and looked at the Hausis River, full in her banks with fresh melted snow run off from the mountain peak above. This early in the summer, the Hausis Mountain was still covered in snow. Tess looked at Rie and they began to set out their picnic lunch. Tess spread the little blanket out on the sand as Rie unpacked the sandwiches the girls had brought. This was their kingdom. The forests surrounding them and the river beside them was as familiar to them as their own bedroom.
The sisters sat enjoying their picnic and as they picked flowers they talked about the coming summer and all they planned to do. They ate their sandwiches and relaxed in the early afternoon sunlight. A small bird came near to them, to pay homage to its queens, and took a crumb in return. The girls loved this place. They liked to pretend that this was their realm. Queens in this land, they ruled it with a firm but loving hand. Tess touched Reis arm and pointed to a mother deer and her young fawn across the river. They had come to drink at the waters edge. The girls admired the grace and beauty of the deer.
Suddenly a flock of birds took flight from the forest behind them, a disturbance in the brush had upset their forest subjects. It sounded as if a large bear was headed towards them. Except bears don’t talk loudly about how they are better than the other bears and laugh obnoxiously at body sounds. The girls also knew that bears don’t travel in packs. Tess looked at Rei and they both sighed. Their peace was about to be shattered by the adolescent nomadic male.
Tess and Rei were very familiar with this species. They had even devoted hours to the capture of this particular animal. But, they were not interested in playing the games girls and boys play today. They had no time to giggle and flirt and they had enough of boys boasting and bragging during the school year. This was their space and their kingdom, and they didn’t want to share it with some posturing boys. This was not what they had planned.
The boys burst into the forest glade with snorts and dust, their path through the forest marked by bent branches and disturbed rocks. It seemed they were not even capable of fully picking up feet to large for their bodies. When the girls walked through the forest they liked to pretend they were indian girls. The always endeavored to leave no sign that they had been through the forest at all. These boys at least, didn’t care what they stepped on or the impact they had on the forest they walked through. They didn’t even notice that they had scared away the deer across the stream.
“Oh like wow, dude man, that water is so high but I could totally swim it if I wanted to” Tommy Anderson said. Tommy, was tall and lanky boy whose growth spurt had come before his voice had changed. It was always amusing to hear his tenor voice coming from such a tall frame.
Todd MacDurment shoved Tommy good naturally, “No way man, you couldn’t beat me, I am like the best at that stuff.”
Just then the boys noticed Tess and Rei. Billy Quan ran over and snatched up the girls cookies, “Oh man like girls it was cool you brough us lunch”. He took one and then tossed the cookies over to Tommy who proceeded to put his grimy hands in the bag.
Rei eyes turned steely cold, quit the accomplishment for someone with such deep brown eyes, and she said, ” Give them Back!”. Tess, the fire part of this fire and ice duo ran over and said, “Give them back now or I will…I…”, to mad to think she ran over and started jumping up trying to grab Tommy’s arm. She accidentally landed on his foot. She was always prone to act first and think later.
“Owwww”, Tommy yelped as he hoped up and down holding his foot in both hands. He slipped and fell backwards landing on his butt and howled louder. Todd and Bill practically fell down laughing at Tommy. Tommy, now embarrassed dump out all the cookies on the ground and stomped on them. Todd and Bill moved to take possession of the rest of the picnic.
Tess, now so angry all she could do was cry, went to run back over towards the boys. Rei reached out and took Tess by the arm. Rei, moving her blonde braid off her shoulder, squared them and put her hands on her hips. Tess calmed down as she realized Rei had thought of something. Tess looked angrily at the boys, her face red, tears in her eyes. Rei smiled coldly, “So – you think you can swim across this river? Well I say Tess and I can do it twice as fast as you”.
“No freaking way man” Todd said. “you girls think your so hot, we are right behind you!”
Tommy added, ” Yeah, you think your so smart – we are right behind you”.
Todd was the leader of this group of juveniles. Also know as “Todd the Bod”, he was captain of the swim team from the high school down the mountain an hour. Rei and Tess had seen him before at local swim meets. Rei knew that they only came to the mountains once and a while. Tess and Rei had been swimming this river since they could hold their breath on their own.
Tess flipped both of her brown braids over her shoulders and the two sisters, without another word, flipped off their tennis shoes and plunged into the water. Angling themselves upstream and towards they opposite bank they swam with all their might. The water was freezing cold and fast. Just as they planned, the girls emerged from the river a good 200 feet down stream. The strode out on the only smooth patch of sand for a mile up and down stream and turned around and smiled at the boys. A huge smile spread across Tess’s face as Rei taunted, ‘Thought you were right behind us boys. If a GIRL can do this, I am sure you big strong boys can!”.
The boys looked at each other and knew what they had to do. If they didn’t swim this river now, the girls would tell everyone at the next swim meet that they had chickened out. They took of their shoes and headed towards the water gingerly in their swim trunks. Their tender feet couldn’t handle the rocks along the shore. They had not really planned on swimming the river. They were just planned on splashing around a bit. They had not expected the river to be so full and fast. A trip up the mountain is all they had planned. They hadn’t put much thought into it beyond that. All three boys plunged in and immediately gasped and shrieked out loud. Tess and Rei couldn’t help but giggle as they watched the boys flounder and swim towards the shore. They made the rookie mistake of heading straight across the river. As the current pushed them swiftly along, they passed the sandy shore the girls stood on before they were even half way across. Tess and Rei weren’t worried, the boys were all strong swimmers. Eventually they pulled themselves out of the foliage covered rocks that was the typical shoreline for this side of the Hausis River. Tess and Rei grinned. Tess now mimicking her sisters stance, hands on hips, sang out “Leaves of three let it be, leaves of tree let it be”. The boys looked down to find themselves sitting in poison oak.
Angry the boys tore up the shore line towards the girls, intent on dunking them in the cold water. The girls jumped in the water and swam quickly back to the opposite side. Tess smiled and yelled at the boys as they finally made it to the sand bar, “Next time boys you’ll treat us right. Your in our kingdom now”. Laughing they scoped up the boys shirts and shoes and ran back through the forest towards the boys car. They deposited the boys stuff there and delighted in the thought that the boys would have to make their way back through the forest bare foot. They jumped in their beat up jeep and headed up the river to another spot they knew. They could finish their afternoon without any more interruption from the adolescent nomadic male.
Note: HAUSIS, HAUSISSE: Algonquin Indian name meaning old woman.