A Day at the Countryside
No copyright inFRiNGEment intended.
Note: another ficlet to expand on the infamous Unleashed phone call.
"How I need a drink alcoholic in nature after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics…" said Walter, punctuating his idiotic sentence with a few grand gestures.
Rachel leaned over to her sister's ear. "What is he doing?" she asked very softly nodding in his direction.
"Probably trying to remember something," Olivia smiled with a knowing look. "He likes to use mnemonics to jog his memory."
"Think learning aid," added Peter who was facing them on the other side of the blanket. He took a bottle of ketchup on the table cloth, shook it vigorously and flooded his hot dog. "It's commonly a very short poem used to help you remember something. In Walter's case, it was actually pi," he shrugged. "Don't ask."
Rachel turned to her sister for a confirmation but Olivia was watching Ella.
"It relies on associations between easy-to-remember constructs which can be related back to the data that you want to remember," Peter continued and he took a big bite into the sandwich. "For example, you may try Roy G. Biv to memorise the order that the seven colours of the rainbow appear," he explained, his voice muffled. He took another bite. "Or Bags if you took French."
"Yes, yes my dear," Walter chimed in. "This acronym is used to help students to remember which adjectives go before the noun in French. Beauty, age, goodness, and size. Ah, the human mind!" he exclaimed with glee. "It remembers much more easily sexual or humorous information than arbitrary sequences. This is quite fascinating!"
Rachel looked puzzled and embarrassed.
"Want some ketchup?" Peter asked. She gave him a bland stare. He shrugged again and went to sit down in the shade on a large oak tree. He gathered a handful of acorns and began to build something with the cupules and some twigs.
"This reminds me of a woman I once met in Washington," his father was now thinking out loud.
"Here you go," whispered Peter with a nod.
"She had a birth mark the shape of a Flavivirus."
"That's the West Nile virus, by the way," commented Peter.
"Intriguing pathogen," acquiesced Walter, "you must know that it is primarily an avian pathogen, and is transmitted among birds by ornithophilic mosquitoes!"
With that, he turned around and strode off.
"He means that the mosquito bites the infected bird and then infects mammals. That's us," Peter commented matter-of-factly.
Olivia wiped her mouth, sat her bottle of root beer near her paper plate and stood up. Rachel looked upset and opened her mouth but decided against asking her sister. She dropped on her elbows instead and lifted her chin to the pale spring sun. She closed her eyes.
"I'm going to see what Ella is up to," Olivia said.
She retrieved a sandwich, a bottle of spring water, an apple and a paper towel from the basket and strolled down to the rivulet were the little girl had been paddling in for the best part of the last hour. She crouched down near the girl.
"Aren't you famished little devil? I brought you something."
"Thanks aunt Liv, I'm not hungry."
"But it's a very special sandwich Ella. It's Peter's recipe. Crunchy peanut butter, raspberry jelly, and a secret ingredient."
"Uncle Peter has a secret ingredient?" Ella marvelled, her voice a higher pitch.
Olivia winced. Uncle Peter? Clearly, she's been seeing a lot of Peter lately.
"Do you know what it is aunt Liv?"
Peter's secret ingredient, that sure was opening a large realm of possibilities, she thought.
"I don't, but maybe you could give it a try it and find out for me…"
"I bet you won't," said Peter over Olivia's shoulder.
She turned around briskly and lost her balance. He grabbed her arm and pressed his body against her back to help her from falling.
"Is it a challenge?" Olivia asked with an unexpected quiver in her voice. She cleared her throat and smiled to Ella.
"You bet!" said Peter.
He sat down between them. She felt the light push of his shoulder when he settled down and he didn't break the physical contact once he was done. He simply leaned over to Ella and handed her over a small object that fitted his palm.
"It's a boat. You can have it if you find the secret ingredient. Deal?"
"Deal!" the little girl shrieked, her eyes on the prize.
The boat was a tiny three-master made out of acorns and oak leaves.
"Peter, it's beautiful!" Olivia exclaimed softly. She stared at him with wide eyes and flashed him a brilliant smile. "I had no idea you could do that."
"You have no idea. That's right."
She blushed, feeling suddenly awkward. Perhaps this all family picnic in the countryside with the Bishops has been a bad idea from the start. She sure didn't intend to have a meaningful conversation with Peter today. Not ever, not after he overtly made fun of her overreacting because of an innocent phone call.
"Olivia, please stop second guessing me," he whispered in her ear.
She shivered and glanced at Ella. She was busy eating and not getting soaked at the same time and totally oblivious of their conversation.
"There's nothing going on. We're just friends."
"I-I… I don't know what you're talking about."
"I think you know. Don't insult my intelligence."
She gave him an uncertain glance and found herself staring helplessly. His eyes were such a stunning green. He stared back and she felt his hand on hers.
"Don't get me wrong, your little sister is most certainly fun to be with, she's great actually, and Ella is a fantastic kid. But we're friends. F-R-I-E-N-D-S."
"Okay. You don't actually owe me an explanation."
"I think I found it Uncle Peter, your secret ingredient. It's honey right?"
"I gotta say Ella, you're good!" Peter cheered. His hand left Olivia's and he held the small crafted ship to Ella. "Here you go; the boat is all yours, go sail the world!"
"Is it all right if I show it to your dad?" the little girl asked.
"Excellent. Of course it is, Ella," Peter grinned, "Walter will be so pleased. You coming Liv? Rachel is going to get the wrong idea if we stay put near this enchanting brook without her daughter as a chaperon. We don't want that, do we?"
Olivia chuckled. "She won't throw a fit," she stood up, "I'm the jealous one."
Peter rolled his eyes and followed her back to the clearing.
"Here you are, you two lovebirds," Walter gloated very seriously. "Have you had one of those energy bars, they are simply fantastic!" he waggled a piece of food in their direction.
"They aren't energy bars Walter, they aren't even bars, it's simply a Twinkie," answered Peter without acknowledging his father's so familiar embarrassing comment. "You can't even tell the difference between chocolate bars and sponge cake with creamy filling? Would you stop that nonsense already, please?"
"But, I was just trying to…"
"… just keep poisoning yourself with junk food. By the way, I don't remember packing any of those Twinkies."
"It was a last moment impulse. I bought them from the gas station," Walter confessed with a timid expression on his wrinkled face.
"I see. Well. Let me give you a serious tip. You can do even worse, Walter, you might want to deep-fry them."
"Oh… oh! Great thinking Peter. It could be arranged at the lab… I think. Maybe I should freeze them overnight to prevent melting. Or dip them into batter before deep-frying them."
"Oh yes, that would just be perfect. Walter, let's get back to the basics. Where did you put the keys?"
"The car keys, Walter," Peter explained.
"The keys... oh! You two want to use the car? Let me get you the blanket, I took out it to..."
Olivia looked away with a smile on her face. She helped Rachel to stand up and started to pack the leftovers and throw away all the paper cups and plates in a separate bag while the Bishop just kept on arguing over a trivial problem as they seem to always do. She went to Peter and took the keys Walter had finally handed him over reluctantly.
She took the racquets and a bag of shuttlecocks from the car trunk.
"Who's on for a serious game of badminton?" she shouted to cover the father and son bickering.
"Aunt Liv, me, me," cried Ella.
"Okay, then. Boys against us. You don't stand a chance, gentlemen," Rachel smiled.
"The three of you are hardly a pair," opposed Peter with a grin.
"Stop arguing Peter and let's get to it," Walter cut him. "THEY don't stand a chance. I was once a champion in College. I could have been in the Olympic selection should have I chosen to."
"Badminton is in the Olympics since 1992, Walter."
"Nonetheless, I could have, it's merely a technicality," Walter said between his teeth before smashing hard into a shuttlecock.
"Walter," Peter protested. "They're not even ready yet!"
"Too bad," said Walter with a fierce devilish grin.
it was fun to write, i hope you enjoyed reading it ;)