Hunter is already climbing the usual assortment of debris below the surface opening when Brenna and I reach the floor. “Can we go now?” she asks after looking around a moment.
“No,” I answer incredulously. “We just got here. Don’t you want to walk in a ways?”
“No.” She isn’t impressed.
Hunter cajoles and I decree that we’re going to explore nonetheless. The arch of graffitied walls extends beyond our light as blackness collapses on our heals. “I wish we had another light behind us,” Brenna says.
“We’re going to the end. It isn’t that far,” I answer when Brenna asks again to turn back. She seems happier when I give her my secret spare light.
At the end of the walkable tunnel is a crawlspace beneath a painted rainbow. Hunter tries to get Brenna to continue with him but she’s at her limit. Hunters crawls in and emerges a minute later with what looks like an emergency blanket.
“I don’t like the pictures,” Brenna says of the graffiti while we’re waiting on Hunter’s second sortie. I don’t know if she finds them ugly, alarming or both.
“Try to walk softly,” I remind the kids a second time as I see the air filling with the fine powder that covers the floor. We all wore filtration masks last time. I’m wishing we had them again.
Brenna goes straight for the ladder and Hunter follows as we reach the entrance. “I don’t like caves,” Brenna concludes. That’s fine. I don’t like this one either. But I’m still glad we came. Her world is a little bigger now.