Macy was excited for the weekend! Weekends are always exciting. A couple of days away from the drudgery of teachers and lame students who didn't understand her.
She had no time for school. She knew what she wanted to do with her life, she'd known that since she was 10yrs old. Her art was her life. She could draw or paint anything just by looking at it. She enjoyed art throughout middle school, learning about the early artists and style. But it wasn't long before she surpassed anything her teachers should show her.
Her parents constantly complained that there always more to learn. So, they bought her a computer and from there she decided school was no longer necessary. Macy spent every free moment online when she wasn't drawing or painting.
So, if she could finish these last six hours of her sentence at "Jefferson High School Prison," she'd be free. Her mother called upstairs, "Macy, if you don't come down, you'll have no time for breakfast..." Her mother really bought into that whole "most important meal of the day" thing.
"It's ok, Mom," Macy replied, "I ate pretty last night, so I'm good." Ah, the logic of the teenage mind. In the car, they discussed the weekend plans. "Now, Macy," her mother began, "this trip will be different from our other trips. We know how attached you are to your computer, but we will be out of range for a lot of service providers. Your father thought you should know before we got there."
This news hit Macy like a splash of cold water first thing in the morning. She was completely unprepared for it. How could this be? They had discussed this trip for weeks and it had never come up about no connectivity? "Wait," Macy said, pulling her earbuds out- this was important." I thought when you all said we would be 'way out', you meant, no cable! No cell, no internet, no nothing?" She finished in a huff.
"Well, we thought it would be a good opportunity for us to reconnect to each other. Besides, it's only for a couple of days," her mother said distantly. Claire Harrington was Macy's mother. She'd always wanted another child. But after Macy's hard delivery they decided they didn't want to risk it.
So, Claire and her husband, John, had always indulged their only child. She was spoiled and they both knew it. It may have been cute as a child. Now the difficult teenage years were demonstrating the error of their ways. Macy was introverted and her artist streak added to her parent's stress. So, this trip was hopefully going to be the opportunity for a reset. They would talk, spend time together, help her to set some goals that were bigger than herself. Claire dropped Macy off at school and finished shopping for the trip.
John finished work early and packed the Range Rover for the trip. He recalled his own childhood. They would spend weeks in the wilderness, camping, hunting, and living off the land. That was the life. The city was a big change for him but that was where he met Claire and he would follow her anywhere. Married life suited them both and they loved being parents. But these last few years had been a struggle.
As a family, they had discussed the trip to the cabin. He had to admit, it had been decades since he'd been there, but his memories were fresh. Sleeping under the stars, the fresh air, and the peace and quiet were what his family needed. Claire and Macy shared his enthusiasm. He had only shared with his wife that they would be completely cut off from civilization.
When he was growing up, it was "inconvenient." But back then nobody had cell phones or laptops, he felt he needed to warn his daughter. She checked her emails and social media accounts before she made it to the bathroom in the morning. This would be a challenge, but one he was sure, they could get past.
About an hour into the trip, Macy had to speak up. "Ok, Dad," she asked exasperatedly, "can we at least turn the radio on? I understand we'll be cut off, but do we need to start now?" Her dad had suggested that they try it out to show they can go without outside media as they travel. Despite her normal rebel attitude, Macy was always up to a challenge. She knew it was "Parent Psychology 101" when she saw it. He hinted that he doubted she could go a few hours without the technology. But she wanted to prove it to him wrong.
John smiled into the rearview mirror and turned the radio on. "I'm easing into it," Macy confessed. "This weekend will show you both I am the master of my destiny," she said triumphantly. Her mother smiled back at her. Despite the difficulties of their relationship, they were a loving family. Claire was proud of her daughter. She had a boyfriend, but they were both serious and planned to get married after schooling. That was part of this weekend's challenge. They would be out of contact for 48 whole hours! It was a fight to get her to ignore Peter's texts during meals.
Claire asked, "How did Peter take the news?" She knew that discussing the matter straight forward was the best way.
He wasn't thrilled with it," Macy said. "I told him, this would give him a chance to prove his love for me. Don't they say, 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder'?"
Her dad spoke up, "Love," he muttered under his breath. "I forget, how old are you, Young lady?" He asked glancing at her again. "I'm seventeen," she said emphatically! "If I remember right," she continued, "the same age you guys were when you first started dating," she finished.
"Things were different then," her mother joined the conversation. "We got to know each other in real life, not through 'likes' and 'emojis,'" She said, taking her husband's hand. John winked at her as he turned on the windshield wipers. "Your mom is right. It's easier now to get awfully close to someone really fast. All that "instasnap", "facegram", or whatever they call it out there. It takes time to get to know someone," he said seriously. "Well, looks like the weather's not going to cooperate this weekend," he finished.
"It wasn't supposed to snow," Claire checked her phone for the latest feed. Macy was quick now to change the subject, "Aha, you can't ignore technology either! How else would we know the weather?' They all had to laugh at that.
By the time they reached the cabin, Macy had been proved right a few times. They had referred to the weather app constantly. The snow kept falling and her dad had to adjust his driving to accommodate it. They were well behind schedule. It was dark and the snowflakes were large and wet. It didn't help that the GPS didn't work because of their location either. John's memory of the directions wasn't as clear as his memory of all the good times he'd spent at the cabin. He recalled that his dad always did the driving while he and his brother would persecute his baby sister.
Nerves were on edge, but spirits were high as they unloaded the truck. They were all soaked by the time they got inside. Again, they had to use technology for the flashlights on their phones. The plan was to arrive in the daylight. The cabin had no electric lights but Claire found candles and John started a fire that illuminated the small front room.
"Well," Macy said sardonically, "this is roughing it." Her dad had started a kerosene heater and some lanterns, so the place was now comfortable. He recounted an experience when his parents had brought them here, no candles or wood in the shed. "This is nothing in comparison. When I was your age this was normal. The snow was 2 ft high..." Macy interrupted him.
"I know, Dad," she said, "the snow was 2ft high and you had to walk 4 miles to school, uphill both ways!" They shared a laugh. The night was otherwise uneventful. Drying off, and as Macy's dad called it, "rustling up some 'vittles!" He was a real hillbilly. She had to admit, the franks and beans cooked in the fireplace weren't half bad. And after the long drive, snuggling under the covers made for a restful sleep.
Macy awoke without her alarm. That was unusual, she always needed her alarm to rouse her from sleep. The sunlight bursting through the window like some Rockstar made her alarm unnecessary. She fumbled for her phone to see what time it was. Oh no! That's why there was no alarm, her phone was dead! The last thing she remembered before dozing off to sleep was "how am I going to charge my phone?" She must have been exhausted if that thought didn't keep her up all night!
She found her parents downstairs already busy preparing breakfast. It smelled delicious and they both seemed so happy. They usually shared a weekend breakfast, but this was somehow different. No TV blaring out the latest bad news. No rushing about and listing all the things needing to get done today. No complaints about how late they already were!
"Phone's dead," Macy said in a voice showing none of her enthusiasm for the beautiful day outside. She couldn't let them win that easily.
Her mother responded, "Good morning, Dear. If you need it, you can use the car charger. But it's not like you can call Peter or anyone." She finished with a wry smile.
Macy rolled her eyes, "I just want to know the time." She said shaking her head.
"It's morning time," her dad quipped as he flipped a pancake that almost landed squarely on her plate. "Later, when we get hungry, it will be lunchtime. After a fun-filled day, we'll eat another hearty meal, and it will be nighttime. Isn't life simpler out here?" John gave his wife, Claire, a quick squeeze around the waist as he moved toward the breakfast table.
"Fun-filled day, huh?" Macy began, "and what is on my agenda for today? Oh wait, I can't check it, my phone is dead!" She exaggerated the gesture, waving the phone back and forth.
Her mother shook her head. "There's plenty to do without your phone. I took a walk earlier and there's a few deer down by the lake. I'm sure they wouldn't mind being subjects for your next masterpiece. I swear I watched them for a good 15 minutes and they never moved. That should long enough for you to get a sketch that you could finish up back in the warmth of the cabin." She took a sip of her coffee.
"You've already taken a walk?" Macy asked incredulously. "All this sunshine and fresh air is causing some serious issues here." She began buttering the warm pancakes. The butter melted on contact and her mouth watered. There was something about this place. Even the simple things seemed extraordinary. "That does sound nice, I'll have to check it out later...whatever time that is," she smiled at her dad.
After breakfast, they all took a hike and found the lake and the deer as well as other beautiful sites. Macy committed them all to memory to add to her growing portfolio. Her memory was near photographic, not so much with numbers and facts. But especially with pictures and scenes. Her art teacher attributed that to her unusual drawing abilities. Her simple answer was that she drew what she saw.
Macy spent the afternoon sketching and playing cards with her parents. How long had it been since they had done that? She couldn't remember, but she had to admit, she was enjoying herself. The silence was comfortable, and the laughter was genuine. She had forgotten how much fun her parents could be.
By the next afternoon, she was sharing secrets with them! "You know, Peter asked me to marry him..." She wasn't sure if that was a statement or a question. Her parents exchanged looks. "I didn't answer him...yet. It's not that I don't love him, because I do!" She interjected, not quite giving them a chance to respond, they waited. This is what they had wanted from this vacation. Open and honest communication, without all the outside chatter.
They had waited this long; they could wait a little longer. "It's just that..." Macy started again slowly, "it's just that, when I do decide to get married, I want it to be just like you two." She blushed as she finished. "Is that silly?"
"Of course not, Sweetheart." Her dad said looking her straight in the eye. He continued, "What is it that you see when you look at us?"
Macy was deep in thought, "I see the way you look at each other. The way you treat each other, the way you talk to each other...it's so different from other couples. And I want that too. That's not asking too much, is it?" For some reason, she felt tears welling up in her eyes. She hadn't cried in front of her parents in years!
Her mother took her in a warm embrace, "Oh, Baby Girl, that's all we've ever wanted for you too!" She too was crying. "We've always tried to set a good example for you. I tried to be the type of woman I wanted you to grow up to be." Her father joined in, "And I've always tried to be the type of man that I wanted you to marry...someday." He finished with a smile, joining them in the group hug.
"And that's why this trip is so important, Macy," John continued. "You see, we've gotten off track in some respects. Your mother and I love each other so much and we're so glad that you can see that. But there's more to it. Once you were able to go to school, we got off track. Your mom went back to work, I started working more and we just got caught up in the day to day living..." He trailed off. Macy couldn't help but notice, he looked ashamed.
Claire pulled back and looked her daughter in the face. "We lost sight of some pretty important priorities. But your dad and I have made some made real steps in the right direction and we want to get you involved. Because it's going to call for some changes."
"Mom, Dad," Macy began, "Anything that can make such a difference is important. What I've seen over the last couple of days is definitely worth it. I want our family to be happy. I want to be happy. What do I need to do?" She asked sincerely.
"Things will be different moving forward. We'll talk about it on the way home. I want to get started before it gets dark." Her dad said, wiping away a tear himself. “More family time, less work. But we can do this.”
As the family hugged again, Macy was excited once more. And not because of the weekend, which was almost over. She was excited to have drawn closer to her family. She was excited about the ride home…