Red From Green
Malie Maloy, 2009
The summer she turned fifteen, Sam Turner took her last float trip down the river with her father. It was July, and hot, and the water was low. Hardly anyone was on the river but them. They had two inflatable Avon rafts with oaring frames—Sam and her father in one, her uncle Harry and a client from Harry’s new law firm in the other. In the fall, she would be a sophomore, which sounded very old to her. She’d been offered a scholarship to a boarding school back East, but she hadn’t accepted it yet. Applying had been her father’s idea, but now he looked dismayed every time the subject came up. Everyone said what an opportunity it was, so much better than the ...view middle of the document...
Sam stayed with the rafts, and Layton volunteered to stay with her—to keep her safe, he said. They sat on the bank with the gear, sliding the coolers along the grass as the sun moved, to keep them in the shade. Sam was reading (…)Layton took out a shotgun to clean and oil it. “I bet you’re a crack shot,” he said. “Montana girl like you. I bet you’ve got your own guns.”
Sam shook her head and kept reading, and he brought the gun over to show her the sight, which was just a notch of steel on the barrel. He crouched close to her shoulder, and she could smell the oil on the gun.
“You don’t need a fancy sight for a shotgun,” he said. “You ever fire one?”
“No,” she said. Her father had guns, but he hadn’t been hunting since her mother died (…) She sometimes wondered if her father had quit hunting because he’d been busy taking care of her, or if he’d just stopped liking to shoot things.
“Ho, boy,” Layton said. He stood up. “We gotta take care of that. Get you a pheasant.”
“It isn’t bird season.”
“No one’ll know out here,” he said. He ran a cloth over the barrel.
“There are houses on the river,” she told him. “It’s not very remote.”
Layton laughed. “Re-mote. That’s a good word.”
She felt her cheeks heat up, but didn’t say anything.
“I don’t need very remote,” he said. “Just a little remote.”
Sam knew that her father wouldn’t tolerate poaching, so she left it for him to take care of. But when he and Harry drove up, her father just looked hard at the shotgun and started loading his boat.
They put in that afternoon, and in spite of the low water they got to the first campsite before dark. Her father had a two-man tent for himself and a burrow for her—a waterproof sack just big enough for a sleeping bag, with a mosquito net at the top. She set up the burrow with her sleeping bag inside, and Layton and Harry built a fire and talked about the case.
The next morning, Layton was in the water before breakfast, fishing in waders, which no one ever brought in a boat on the river—you just waded out in shorts. He caught a little brown trout, clubbed its head, and threw it in the raft. Sam’s father held the fish to the marks on the raft’s rubber bow, and said it wasn’t big enough.
“Pull on the tail a little,” Layton said. “It’ll stretch.” (…) Sam saw Harry give her father a look, and her father put the fish in the cooler.
They packed up early and got on the river. (…)
At camp that afternoon, her father went fishing and she walked away from the river (…)thinking about boarding school. She had a sense that she wasn’t equipped for it. And she was wondering if she really had perfect teeth, and if anyone but adults would ever care. When Layton came through the trees, she knew she’d wanted him to show up, though she hadn’t known it before. His attention was different from other adult attention.
“I brought you something,” he said.
She waited, but he kept on up the trail, and she followed him. They got over the first hill from camp, and up a second,...