Samuel plopped himself down onto the folding chair his mother had set up for him in front of the little roll-away cart.
“Are you hungry, Sammy?” Lily asked. “I made your favorite.” She set a plate teeming with food and a can of grape soda in front of her son on top of the warn metal surface.
Maybe bologna on white bread with potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie used to be his favorite, when he was Sammy.
But Samuel was nine now. And he was Samuel, not Sammy.
“Not really,” he said. But he took a swig of the Nehi anyway.
His mother frowned. “Well, we’ll get everything set up this weekend when Daddy is off work.” The kitchen was still stacked with boxes, and most of their furniture was jammed into the front room, waiting to be carried through the rest of the house.
“Say,” Lily said, “after lunch, why don’t you go exploring … see what you can find?”
The big old house was dusty and creaky, and it stretched into dark corners that Samuel never, ever wanted to explore.
He crunched a chip and looked down at his sandwich. His lips pushed out in a sullen pout as he chewed.
“I don’t like it here,” he said.
“You just have to give it a chance, honey.”
She opened her mouth to say something else, but the back screen door crashed open, and a huge lumber dog bounded in. Hot on its tail was a boy about Samuel’s age.
“Gee, I’m sorry, ma’am,” the boy said, out of breath, as he wrapped his arm around the dog’s neck. “Brutus here got away from me!”
“Oh, well, that’s OK, I guess.”
“My name is Pete Francis. I live down the street.” Turning his attention to Samuel, Pete said, “You want to go exploring after you eat? I hear there’s treasure hidden in the attic!”
“Sure!” Samuel said, bolting from his chair. “Lead the way!”
As the boys disappeared into the imposing old house, Lily could make out one more snippet of their conversation.
“My name is Sammy,” her son said.
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