Chapter 8

The rain set the tone for the morning. Ally, already mourning their departure, was quiet when she came out of the bedroom and Ellie was bummed that it was raining and they couldn't go out.

Clive wasn't looking forward to packing up in the rain but Mrs. McAdams tried to put a positive spin on the circumstances by repeatedly singing 'Rain Rain Go Away, Come Again Some Other Day!" as she made waffles for the group.

Mrs. McAdams was all smiles toward Clive who couldn't help but feel humbled and bashful about last night's lovemaking but Mrs. McAdams (Elena?) was acting like a schoolgirl so he guessed everything was okay between them.

"Mom, why are you acting so happy?" Ellie protested. "It's raining and it's our last day."

"I'm happy because we're all together, Sweetie," Mrs. McAdams said, kissing the girl on the top of her head. "I'm happy because it's been the best vacation ever."

Ellie laughed. "Well, that's true," she said.

"Wouldn't you agree, Ally?" Clive asked knowingly.

"Yes," Ally admitted sadly. "It has been the best vacation ever. I wish it didn't have to end so soon."

Her mother took center stage in the middle of the kitchen and began to orate:

They sing their dearest songs—

He, she, all of them—yea,

Treble and tenor and bass.

And one to play;

With the candles mooning each face...

Ah, no; the years O!

How the sick leaves reel down in throngs!

They clear the creeping moss—

Elders and juniors-—aye,

Making the pathways neat

And the garden gay;

And they build a shady seat...

Ah, no; the years, the years;

See, the white storm-birds wing across!

They are blithely breakfasting all—

Men and maidens—yea,

Under the summer tree,

With a glimpse of the bay,

While pet fowl come to the knee...

Ah, no; the years O!

And the rotten rose is ripped from the wall.

They change to a high new house,

He, she, all of them—aye,

Clocks and carpets and chairs

On the lawn all day,

And brightest things that are theirs...

Ah, no; the years, the years;

Down their carved names the raindrop plows.

She finished reciting the poem and she looked at her two awestruck dumbfounded daughters, laughing at their reaction.

"That's Thomas Hardy's During Wind and Rain," Mrs. McAdams said with a smile. "I had to memorize it for a high school English class."

"You still remember it?" an impressed Ally asked.

"Oh, no, the years! The years!" Ellie cried melodramatically, placing her hand across her forehead and throwing her head back.

Clive laughed. "The years! The years!"

"It's not funny," Ally protested, trying to remain miserable but she couldn't help but laugh herself.

"You have to laugh during the wind and rain," Mrs. McAdams told them. "Don't let the weather ruin our day. It's been a good vacation."

"Thanks for letting me be the fourth," Clive said with affection and emotion.

"We're glad you came," Ally smiled.

They played a board game after breakfast and then sat on the porch and watched it rain while Mrs. McAdams stripped the beds and cleaned the kitchen and bathroom.

Clive went down to the dock and dragged the rowboat onto the shore, flipping it over, and he pulled the canoe back up the hill and returned it to its sawhorse mooring on the side of the cottage. He put the fishing pole and tackle box back on the porch and he dragged the trash to the barrels out behind the cottage.

Mrs. McAdams was standing in the kitchen screen door when he returned to the cottage.

"Was last night a one and done?" Clive asked.

"I hope not," Mrs. McAdams answered truthfully. "The girls like you. I like you."

"Won't I be too young for you when we get back to Greenville?" He worried.

"You're not as young and I'm not as old," Mrs. McAdams replied. "Let's see how it goes, okay?"

"Okay," Clive agreed as she stepped back and let him through the door.

Ally was sitting on a chair on the porch when Mrs. McAdams and Clive emerged from the cottage.

"Danny said they'd come say goodbye after church," Ally said sadly. "I told him we had to be out by noon like you said, Mom."

Clive took a chair next to her and leaned in close. "Make sure you get a kiss goodbye," he said quietly.

Ally blushed.

"Go for it if he doesn't," he advised.

"Clive!" She said with embarrassment.

"You don't want to regret the opportunity," he said. "You have his text and e-mail?"

'Yeah."

"Get a kiss too," he said.

She looked at him and slowly a smile came across her face. "Keep floating?"

"Keep floating," he nodded.

The rain let up a little which allowed them to load up the minivan. All the chores were done and they were ready to leave, waiting only for the Davidsons to show up for the final farewell.

"Oh God," Ally said when she saw the Davidsons walking toward the cottage with umbrellas and goulashes. "This is it."

She left the porch first with Ellie and Clive following behind. Mrs. McAdams locked the door to the cottage and stepped out into the drizzle where the two families exchanged goodbyes and well wishes.

Ellie climbed into the car and Ally hesitated for a moment as she stood in front of Danny who awkwardly looked down at his feet.

"Hey Danny?" Ally asked.

"Yeah?" He said nervously as he lifted his head up to look at her.

"Goodbye," she smiled, leaning in and giving him a smooch right on the mouth.

Danny's eyes went wide and he turned to join his waiting family.

Ally started to get in the back of the van but Clive stopped her by taking hold of her arm. "Why don't you sit up front with your mother?" He said, not mistaking the water on her cheeks as tears instead of raindrops.

"Thanks, Clive," she said. "It will be nice to talk to her."

Ally got in the passenger seat and Clive joined Ellie in the backseat. The Davidsons stood by the side of the driveway under their umbrellas waving as Mrs. McAdams backed the van out of the drive.

"Oh, no, the years! The years!" Ellie cried melodramatically, placing her hand across her forehead and throwing her head back and the others laughed and cried at the same time as they left the lake.