Luned glanced down at the cotton candy when Rowan asked if she'd eat it and shrugged, then smiled. "Do you think it's good on s'mores?" She'd made sure they had an unnecessarily bountiful supply of marshmallows, but she wasn't beyond trying something new. Come to think of it, she hadn't had spun sugar since her senior year of high school at the Fryeburg Fair. She and Jonas had shared some before… hmm. Luned silently wondered if he was still around; she hadn't seen him since, though her cousin Dickon filled her in on his unremarkable life from time to time. Maxwell interrupted this trail of thought, offering a compliment to Rowan that was sweeter than the treat in question, and it made Luned's teeth hurt. She wrinkled her nose to tease them and walked outside with Olive, whose clothing was freshly stuffed with chocolate. Milton seemed to have enjoyed watching that spectacle as he rung up Rowan's and Maxwell's purchases distractedly, even forgiving the southern not-quite-belle for that mess of pennies. Dirty old man.
Luned strolled around the circumference of the building as she looked for the ice box, listening to Olive's chatter all the while. "Well, this is just the closest convenience store. There's a campground down the road that'a way, and a little past that there's a small downtown. Other than that it's pretty much just trees, though." The old gas station had a small one car garage that was kept closed up, but the rear entrance door was ajar, revealing that it was now kept as Milton's painting studio. It was a complete mess, full of half-finished discarded canvases and trash, and stuff covering every inch of the walls. Luned paused a moment to peek in, curious, but hesitated when her eyes met part of the wallpaper collage. Olive wouldn't be able to read it, but apparently Milton had kept clippings of the couple shows Luned had gotten into down in Boston and felt they were special enough to be pinned up. She barely knew the man; what had she done to earn the honor of decorating his home?
More than a little creeped out, Luned led Olive to the freezer that was a little further around the building and loaded her up with half the bags of ice. She decided to shrug it off; the fact she'd made it out of town, and even more miraculously out of the state, was a big enough deal to the locals, big enough that Dickon told her she'd achieved minor celebrity status. The campground even subscribed to the Boston Globe after a group show she participated in was given coverage in it and posted pixelated print-outs of her work from Facebook on their little bulletin board, alongside the weekly bingo schedule. So it wasn't that strange, right?
At this point Luned realized Olive was still talking to her. "Yeah, cabin next. Probably not much better than a shanty house, but it's pretty nice if you remember that you're going for the stuff outside, not inside. Dickon said he'd get everything set up for us and that he'd even put the boat in the water. You remember Dickon, right?" He'd begrudgingly accepted her invitation to visit in Boston a couple months earlier, and was more excited to leave the city when the trip was over than was polite. He was the kind of person who was happy staying forever in a place like this, a concept Luned simply couldn't grasp after being away so long.
Once everyone was finished with their purchases and the ice was loaded into the back, they'd be off on the last leg of their journey. Milton's sat at a fork in the road where one could choose to continue along the pavement down toward the campground or veer off onto the dirt path to the pond; the Argonauts chose the latter, and Olive's suffering most likely increased exponentially with every incessant bump. The few residential homes studding the road quickly thinned out and disappeared into thick forest, the path narrowing uncomfortably close on both sides. There were critters everywhere, from woodpeckers to squirrels to–– "Oh look everyone, is that a deer?" Luned piped up, rolling down the windows so they could take pictures if they wanted.
There was some rustling in the brush just a few feet into the woods off the passenger's side, but what stepped out was not a deer. It was, in fact, a bedraggled old woman. She was probably tall at one point but now her back arched into a painful-looking hump under her colorful scarf, but with the vigor she raised her first into the air, she was apparently still quite strong. Her tanned, weathered face was knotted into a scowl. "Watch where you're going, you could've killed me!"
Luned immediately covered her mouth in surprise. "Mrs. Flint! What are you doing all the way out here?"
Mrs. Flint reached into her large bag and pulled out a pair of glasses, which she donned and squinted through. "Luned? Little Luned?" She seemed to forgive the girl for her disrespectful driving as she strolled right up to the front passenger door and opened it, glaring at Sam. "Scoot in for an old woman, won't you?" The center of the front seat wasn't really meant for a passenger, but they'd have to make due as Mrs. Flint crammed herself in and slammed the door shut. "You're goin' my way. I'll let you know when to let me off." Luned had no choice but to respect her elders and obey, so their trek through the woods resumed.
In close quarters it quickly became apparent that the old woman was not only of spectacularly crotchety humor and poor manners, but she was filthy. It wasn't long before that rancid garbage smell old boots get sometimes filled the jeep, and the rest of the windows that were rolled up before to keep dust from the road out were opened with enthusiasm and some desperate gasps for fresh air, at least in Luned's case. But Mrs. Flint didn't seem to notice, using Sam's shoulder to brace herself as she twisted in her seat like a barn owl and set her amber eyes upon the crew in the back seat. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you brought half of Massachusetts with you," she commented, catching sight of the tattoos on Rowan's hands before offering the girl a smart little scowl. "Hooligans! Why didn't you just keep to the kids from home? Jonas and Dicky grew up into such fine, upstanding young men."