Snowshoeing With Ingrid and Joey
He turned – a long way up the path, already way past the old treehouse Dad had built for Ty and Ingrid when they were little – and said, “Cool, huh?”
“You’ll have to shout,” Ingrid said.
Because you’re so far ahead. But Ingrid left that unspoken. Instead she tried copying his stride, longer than hers, and viola! (as she’d heard Meredith O’Malley say more than once instead of voilà) thudding turned to swishing and her speed picked up. She began to feel more at home on the snowshoes, and at the same time more a part of the woods. The path, marked here and there by ski tracks, went up a long rise, the trees growing more closely together, dark and still. Breath clouds rose above Joey’s head, hung in the air for a moment or two, then vanished. Ingrid caught up to him at the big rock – spray-painted Red Raiders Rule! – where the Punch Bowl came in sight. His face was shining.
“They used to run trap lines,” he said.
“The pioneers,” Joey said. “In woods just like this.”
“What’s a trap line?”
“With bait,” said Joey. “A muskrat steps into it, or maybe a deer, and … “ He glanced to the side of the trail, saw some tracks and pointed. “Bet that’s muskrat right there,” he said.
Ingrid went closer. She had only a vague idea of what a muskrat looked like, but she recognized these tracks: five-toed imprints in front, four-toed imprints behind. “Gray squirrel,” she said.
Joey turned to her. “Yeah?”
Ingrid explained how she knew.
“Hey,” Joey said. He took off his baseball cap – Echo Falls boys kept their ears uncovered no matter how cold the weather – and scratched his head, scratched hard, in a way that reminded her of her dog Nigel. That stubborn cowlick, like a blunt Indian feather, stood straight up. He caught her looking at him and the expression on his face changed. Joey took a step forward. His face seemed to get a little heavier. Was a kiss coming? Possibly, but Joey’s next step banged down on the front of her right snowshoe, a surprisingly loud sound in the woods. He backed away, flailing a little for balance. After some awkward shuffling around – doubly awkward on snowshoes – they got back on the trail.
“They ate squirrels, too,” Joey said over his shoulder after a while. “The pioneers.”
“We’ve come a long way,” said Ingrid.
From Into the Dark.
Tags: Echo Falls Series
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