The backyard behind the Forest Foster House was huge. Bordered by a vast forest to the east, playfully called the 'One Hundred Acre Wood' by the children. The woods were dotted with dozens of tree houses and dozens more half-finished forts and hide-outs. Countless miles of trails and nature paths crisscrossed the forest floor. With rumors of a pet cemetery located somewhere deep within the forest. To the East of the yard was a vast section of marshland. Here the countless brooks, streams, and springs that were born deep within the forest gathered. Nobody dared to venture too deep into the marsh, only a few brave boys and girls and that was to catch crayfish that made their homes in the shadow pulls or fish in some of the deeper ponds that formed in the deeper parts. The marsh was also home to a dozen or so rumors. Rumors that included ghostly Will O' Wisp appearing over the tall sea of reeds and cattails and of a demonic, man-eating tree located in the center. Those where of course just rumors.
The yard was now filled with children and dotted with lawn chairs. The bitter, smell of burning charcoal filled the air along with puffs of white smoke that billowed from the half dozen grilles that dotted the yard. The men of the house stood around these grills, all of them dressed in pleated shorts and short sleeve polo's most of them wore red aprons that had the words Grill King sewn across them.
The women of the household gathered around the small patio tables that dotted the yard. Bright red Dixie cups, a brand of cheap paper cups rested upon the tables in front of them. Most were filled with chilled fruity wine and ice. All of them wore light cotton sundresses and plastic flip-flops.
The teenagers and children were scattered about the yard. Though most of them seemed to collect around the brick paved patio section. Here the tables were filled with chips and dips of all kinds and a four or five ice chest held ice cold pops and bottled drinks. Pitchers too filled to the brim with Kool-Aid in all its flavors, lemonade and tea, sweeten and unsweetened could be founded here, each pitcher was also filled with tiny cubes of ice that chilled the drinks to perfection.
There where also yard-games to be played, one of the most popular turned out to the 'Pitch and Burst' a game that was kind of like a dunking booth. But instead of the person sitting over a trap door of five hundred gallons or so of water. The person sat under a folding chair with a big, fat water balloon hovering over there heads. A target was set up next to the person with a switch at the center of the target. A person would smash a tennis ball into the center of the switch, that would cause a nail to pop the balloon, and the person sitting under it would get a nice cold shower!
Sitting in the 'Hot Seat' now was Katherine, the oldest teenager of the lot. She was soaking wet and blushing as she gripped the edge of the seat. A good half dozen popped balloons littered the ground beside her. One could even hear the teen's teeth chattering together as she watched with bated breath as the last ball tossed by Matthew strikes the target, a few seconds later a sudden downpour of ice cold water came down and hit her on the head. She screamed and stood up.
"OKAY!" She called out. "My turns up! Its Jane's turn now." She said slipping on her plastic flip-flops. She stood up and pouted. Being the oldest teen had pretty much painted a target on her back. Katherine was also pretty much soaked to the bone, that had been the longest thirty minutes of her life. Most of the children agreed to take at least fifteen to thirty minute turns sitting in the chair. After the teens, and children had there fun, some of the adults agreed to take there turns too. But only the young at heart, the game was mostly for the teens, tweens, and children.
"We'll go find her then. I think she's somewhere around here. Last I saw, she and Sue were having a pokemon battle with the rest of the squirts." Matthew said as reached over to a nearby table and picked up an extra large towel. He handed the folded towel to Katherine who took it with a smile. She quickly wrapped the towel around her and sighed.
"Of course, I swear that girl is like spending all of her money on that game. Like she has filled four or five binds with cards." Katherine said as she took another towel and started to dry off.
"Well, she is attending the local Pokemon League. And She's doing really well like she earned six badges of the Kanto set so far. And the local league manager is cool with her being you know 'Jane' so it's kind of her safe space. I think it's pretty cool. She even starting to talk with a few of the boys there. Plus, the league manager is a friend of the families. So, of course, she'll be going a little overboard." Matthew Said with a small smile.
Katherine took another towel and wrapped this one around her hair. She knew that being 'Jane' meant a lot to her new sister, who was still trying to figure out that side of her. Rolling her eyes she started the search, she soon found the girl sitting at one of the tables, sitting across from her was another one of her sisters, Susan, the cute brown-haired tomboy. The two seemed to be in the middle of an intense pokemon game, judging by the looks of things.
"Hey, dork," Katherine said as she peered Jane, who had gone the more girly-girl route today. While most of the girls wore shorts, tank-tops or teeshirts. Jane had chosen to wear a sundress, a pink sundress at that. Complete with bead bracelet and pink flip-flops. She had even dyed her hair, going from a brown to a sandy colored blonde. It kind of suited her.
Jane blinked and turned around and blushed as she noticed Katherine standing there, dripping water, a few stray pieces of plastic still clung to her hair.
"It's your turn in the 'Pitch and Burst' followed by you, Susan. Matthew is starting to get the balloons ready." She said smirking a little. "And I'm going to get first dibs on soaking you. So come along brat." Katherine said as she reached out and offered Jane her hand.
Jane blushed as she reached down and took the offered Hand, Katherine then pulled her to her feet and gently guided her across the lawn. Susan followed and smiled softly as she bounced behind the two.
"So Jane." She said in a teasing tone of voice. "This is like total payback for you sneaking into my room a few days ago and borrowing my favorite nightgown without asking! Would have totally let you use it, all you needed to do was just ask."
"I thought she was given a clothing allowance? Like on top of her normal allowance?" Asked Katherine as she turned around and peered toward both Susan and Jane. Jane was about to answer when Susan butted in and answered for her.
"She is, Joe is giving her a clothing allowance of like, two or three hundred dollars or so. Joe just holding it till there a big sale at the mall. Then where all, like going to go there and smash the place." Susan chirped.
Katherine smirked and peered toward Jane.
"Oh good, I'm glad Josephine's holding it, otherwise I'm sure that money would be spent on pokemon cards, pizza, and hot pockets." She said sticking her pink tongue out as they drew nearer to the attraction. She released Jane's hand
Jane blushed and peered toward Katherine then toward Susan.
"Like any of you could hit the broadside of a barn." She said with such sass as turned and gently started to walk over the soaking wet ground that had grown damp from a dozen of busted water balloons. Taking a deep breath she eased her bottom down upon the seat and folded her hands in her lap and gave the two girls a big smile.
"Come on then, give me your best shot!"
Katherine turned toward Susan and smiled as she handed her a white softball. Susan took the ball and wrapped her fingers around it. The two exchanged a knowing glance. Susan stepped to the side and Katherine stepped up to the throwing line.
"We're about to make you eat those words," Susan said as watched Katherine get into position.
Jane took a deep breath as her eyes focused in on Katherine who was getting ready, Katherine took her position and then drew in a deep breath as she drew her arm back, she released her breath as she threw her arm toward the target, the ball left her hand and sailed through the air and smacked into the trigger. A loud popping sound as the balloon was pooped and a shower of water fell down upon Jane's head. Soaking her, the water being groundwater was quite cold and the sudden coldness took her breath away!
"Wow.," Jane said blushing as she reached up and parted some wet strains of her hair from her eyes. "I guess you can hit something, but can you do again? Like for real, I'm going to mark that down as beginners luck." She teased
"Somebody feeling a little sassy today," Susan said as she folded her arms across her chest and watched as Katherine picked up her second and last ball. "Think we should enter her into the Soak a Princess attraction at this years renaissance fair?" Susan suggested. "She'll be perfect." The Soak a Princess was something of a junior version of renaissance fair classic Drench a Wench. The two were pretty much the same, only one was open for those fifteen and under and the other one was for the sixteen and over the crowd. The Male version was, of course, Soak a Prince and Soak a Bloke respectfully.
"Nah." Katherine with a shake of her head. "She far too sassy to be a princess. I'm thinking, let's sign her up for the Pie Pillory. She'll make a cute court jester. Sign her up for like Pie Pillory. She'll make a cute court jester for royal courts." She said with a smirk as she tossed the ball. This time the ball fell short of the target and rolled on the ground. As the ball rolled, Jamie pumped her fist in victory and Katherine turned to Susan and shrugged her shoulders.
"Your turn sis." She grinning.
"I told you, that first shot was beginners luck! But I'm going to give a solid 'B' because you got me the first time." Jane teased as she watched Susan step up and take her place. The glint in Susan's eye made her shiver as she swallowed hard and took a deep, deep breath.
Susan then drew back her arm and released the ball in a smooth, fluid motion, the ball traveled through the air and smashed into the target, a second later a wave of water was pouring down on Jane. The cold groundwater took her breath away.
"LUCKY SHOT! AT LEAST YOUR THROWING ARM IS BETTER THAN YOU POKEMON GAME." Jane shouted across the yard, a last-ditch attempt to hold the high ground and keep the sass train rolling.
Susan just smirked as she picked up the second ball. She waited till Matthew had placed another big, fat water balloon in the net before releasing another ball. Once more the ball sailed through the air before smashing into the target. Sending another sudden downpour of frigid water down upon Jane's head.
Jane made no comment this time, she just sat there, buffing and huffing as she flipped a few strains of her soaking wet hair from her eyes and gave Susan a look that could kill.
Katherine then smirked and picked up another ball. Susan bowing to her older sister allowed her to take the place behind the throw line. Once Katherine was in place, Jane started to tease once more.
"Like, you think you could hit the target again? I mean come on, you missed with your last throw? Do you really think you can hit the thing this time?" She hoped to make Katherine blush and throw her off her game.
Katherine only smirked as she drew her arm back and released the tennis ball, the ball sailed through the air and smacked dead into the target. Sending another sudden downpour upon Janes' head.
"Where soaking the brat!" Susan cheered as she walked over and held up her open palm. Katherine smiled and slapped the open palm. Both girls then turned and smiled toward Jane who had playfully crossed her arms and turned her head to the side, her cheeks were burning a bright red, then from the crowd game a woman with honey blonde hair, she wore a pastel colored sundress and matching pink sandals. She offered Jane a gentle smile as she reached down and picked up a ball.
"No, honey," Josephine said in a mock scolding tone of voice. "That no way for a lady to sit. Sit properly for mommy please." She said as she tossed the ball into the air and caught it before it touched the ground.
Jane felt her cheeks flush with color, now her mother was getting in on the game. Taking a deep breath, she brought her knees together, folded her hands and placed them on her lap. She then straightens her back and gave her mother a big smile. Josephine grinned and tossed the ball high into the air before snatching it down again.
"Good girl!" She praised as she drew back her arm and tossed the ball toward the target. The ball smashed into the trigger, releasing a downpour of ice-cold water down upon Jane. Who at this point could only giggle as she water washed over her. At least it was better than cake.
"Good shot!" She called out as she raised up her face and cleared some lose strains of hair from her face.
"All-State," Josephine said as she picked up her second ball and sent it flying toward the target again. The ball smashed into the trigger again, releasing another sudden downpour of water upon Jane. Who now looked quite comical.
"Right.." She said as she stood up. "Is my shift up?"
"One more toss," Katherine called out as she tossed another ball toward Susan. "Then its Susan's turn," Katherine said as she turned toward Susan and winked. "Wonder if Little Jane will soak you as much as you've soaked her?" She said in a teasing tone of voice that made Susan blush.
"Sorry to be a party pooper girls. But after this toss, were about to eat. The steaks are about to come up, so, once you're done, give Jane a nice warm towel then you lot make your way toward the table. You can soak Susan once your done eating. Where not shutting this party down till twilight anyway." Josephine said as she walked over and took two warm towels into her hand.
Susan nodded her head and peered toward Jane who was starting to shiver a little. Susan frowned and walked over to Jane. Jane blinked and blinked again as she was handed the tennis ball. Susan smiled and kissed her cheeks. Jane nodded her head, understanding what was being asked of her. She stood up and Susan took the seat and smiled toward Jane. As she walked toward the throw line. Susan smiled as she drew in a deep breath, her eyes traveled up for a minute as she eyed the big, fat water balloon hanging above her head. She released her breath as she focused her eyes on Jane, who was drawing her arm back now. With a big smile, the girl tossed the water balloon toward the target and it smashed into the trigger. Causing the balloon hovering above Susan's head to pop and sending down a sudden downpour of icy cold water.
Susan shrieked as she felt the water land on her head. Susan blushing stood up and gently picked her way across the now soaked ground. The two smiled at each other, then without thinking the two embraced each other and hugged. Teasing and sassy remarks aside, the two still loved them. Katherine who was standing to the side smiled and joined the hug. After a solid minute or two, the three broke apart and Katherine always the tomboy said.
"Okay gals. Its time to eat. Those steaks are smelling mighty good!" And with that Katherine trotted away. Susan followed her and Jane just stood there smiling. There was something special about being Jane, something very special. Maybe one day she would be Jane twenty-four seven. But that day was far away, right now, she was happy being Jane only one the weekend and for special events.
The Adventures of Jane and Family will be continued in 'Melodies of the Heart: The Renaissance Fair'.