Adam, Angela and Marydell found a Denny’s and had a late lunch. Adam didn’t say much but Angela had enough questions to keep the conversation going. Adam hadn’t asked anything more about his birth mother and neither woman brought it up. Once, when Adam was in the rest room, Angela looked at Marydell.
“You’re his birth mom?”
“Yes. All three of us were pregnant, Iris, Celia and I, same father—Ben, Billy’s dad. He was so handsome, so…irresistible! We knew about each other, of course. But Celia lost her child early, and Iris…with Iris gone, I couldn’t bear to see Billy marry anyone else. I was angry, hurt—I was scared too! And I was already an outcast. Stupid teen that I was, I gave Celia my baby and ran away. My family was happy to see me go.”
“How are you going to tell him?”
“When he’s ready, it will be easy.”
According to the flyer Adam got in the mail, the day’s activities would be the Sunday Sermon and Dish to Pass Dinner followed by swimming and games. After supper, there was a hymn sing and, for those so inclined, a marshmallow roast as well. A full last day, and a good day so far. Everything was going well in spite of a few sprinkles and rumblings in the clouds.
By the time they arrived back at the Church compound, it was supper time. Ed still had their plates saved, but they declined for now.
“You sure, Mary? It’s some of your favorite,” Ed coaxed.
“I’m not really hungry but, if you two will excuse me,” she looked at Adam and Angela, “I would like to do some catching up.”
Angela smiled and took Adam by the arm. “Let’s go for a walk.”
Adam didn’t feel like a walk, didn’t feel like being around Angela, but he needed something to take his mind off the day’s revelations. When a group of men formed to gather wood for the marshmallow roast, he looked at Angela.
“Do you mind if I go help?”
“Go! Have some man-fun,” she smiled. “I can take care of myself.”
The weather was threatening, more than before. Occasional flashes of lightning and rumbles of thunder had cleared all the children out of the spring and there was talk of cancelling the marshmallow roast. The optimists were strong, however. ‘It’s been a great day, a great weekend so far. Why spoil it on just a rumor?’ So a half-dozen men, most of them in their 60’s and 70’s, plus Adam and Billy, set off into the woods beyond the Grove, looking for dry fire wood.
Less than five minutes after they left, there was a thunderous crack and a blinding flash as lightning struck a tree not far into the woods. Kids shrieked and ran for their mothers. Mothers called out children’s names. Deacons shouted for everyone to get into the parsonage.
Within moments, smoke and flames twisted and leaped from one treetop. It quickly spread, and the dry grass—it had been a record dry spring season—began to burn. The grass was not long and it had remained green where it was mowed around the buildings. The trees in the woods were a different story. They were untrimmed, with an abundance of dead wood in them and there were many pines, tinder dry. The wind came up, blowing the smoke and sparks toward the parsonage with its wood shake roof. The sparks were lighting small fires closer and closer to the buildings.