Victoria reached into the log with a grimace. Since that pet store in town had said they would pay her for bringing in frogs she’d been eager to catch a few whenever she noticed a good hiding place. Some of them had sold quite well. Apparently they were pretty rare.
“Maybe I’ll put you both in the same tank and see what happens,” she said to the frogs. They just looked at her with their bulging eyes and looked warily at each other.
She stopped at the camp site and saw Sophie was missing. She panicked a bit but forced herself to calm down. The previous day Victoria had shown Sophie a bush up the hill that was useful when nature called. Sophie hated climbing into the bush and had a few scratches on her arms, but it was better than trying to go closer to the camp where someone may see.
The girls had made a steady diet of fish that Victoria caught. Sophie didn’t like it at first and missed things like cereal and yogurt back home. Victoria did the best she could with some salt and pepper she had nicked from the diner in town.
The girls spent their days going to school and in the evening had taken a few taxi rides into town to visit the park where Sophie met some of her school friends. She was such a little social butterfly she made friends so easily.
“Remember, we cannot talk to people about where we live ok?” Victoria told Sophie for what seemed the hundredth time.
“I know, I know Tori, you don’t have to keep telling me!”
“I’m sorry, I know I’m nagging, but well, I know how friendly you are and it may seem exciting to some that we are out here in a tent. I just want to make sure you remember at all times, even times I’m not there that we have to keep this our secret ok?”
A few days later, Sophie was sitting with Victoria near the pond and an older fisherman came up to the girls.
“They bitin?” he asked in a friendly manner.
“Not a lot of luck yet,” Victoria replied cautiously.
“Well, good morning to you young lady! Sitting here keeping your sister company are ya?”
“Yep! Tori doesn’t like me to stay by myself at the ca…”
“Camper!” Victoria hastily interupted. “Yeah, we’re out here camping and our parents are getting some stuff from town and I didn’t want her in the camper alone.”
“Good call young lady,” The man nodded approval at Victoria. “Well, I’ll be headin up a bit, luck here to ya!” He waved as he walked away.
“Fold up that chair!” Victoria snapped as she gathered her fishing pole and little bit of bait.
“Tori, I said I’m sorry!”
“Sorry isn’t good enough Sophie, you are nine years old! You are old enough to keep our secret here! Do you want the social workers to know we are here and take us away? Do you WANT them to find out we don’t have any parents?”
Sophie sniffled and wiped her nose.
“Come here,” Victoria held Sophie on her lap for a moment and kissed her small sister’s head. “I know you didn’t mean to sweetheart, but I cannot be with you every single minute. You have to help me here. I’m trying so hard to keep us together, keep food in our bellies and make it as normal as possible.”
“I know, I’ll remember,” Sophie said softly.
“Come on, let’s go to the gym for a while.”
“Oooh yay! Swimming!”