Chaim walked gingerly down the rocky path, sidestepping a fallen branch and a small cluster of rocks.

He hadn’t been to this part of the camp grounds in years — decades, actually. He remembered coming here in the early years of his marriage, and Rivky suggesting that they go out for a boat ride.

She’d giggled and said, “Come on, it’s such a married thing to do. I would always watch my sisters and dream of going out with my own husband. Zeldy said she’ll take a picture. It will be so cool.” He probably should have told her he was scared right away — scared of boats, of the water, of the whole thing. But he couldn’t. He knew her family, that it would become an instant joke: Chaim, are showers also scary? What about drinking water, is that okay? So instead he said he wasn’t feeling well. The next time he said he didn’t have a bathing suit. There was no third time.

Eventually, as the kids grew older, Rivky would take them out on her own, a tight little group coming back to the bungalow soaked and laughing.

Now, he stepped over a small orange sign that said, Absolutely no passage beyond this point, and walked down a perilously slippery hill toward where Ari Harkin sat, staring out at the water. Chaim walked through the dense shrubbery and wondered why the leaves were black: was this poison ivy? Would he have to go to the under-qualified nurse and beg for rachmanus?

Ari Harkin didn’t turn his head as Chaim sat down heavily on a large stone next to him. “Hey, what’s up Ari?” Chaim said, hoping he sounded gentle.

“You called a taxi? There’s a Shortline bus to the city that leaves at 1:30, so if you can just get me to the station, I’ll be out on time. Or maybe the camp driver can do it? He sits on the bench outside the dining room playing backgammon all day, so I don’t think he’s so busy.”

“Whoa,” Chaim said reaching out and tapping Ari’s arm, “slow down. What are you talking about?” “I know the drill. I’m out of here. ‘Ari Harkin, let’s send him home, he’s no good, he’s not ready for camp,’ ” Ari said, his words tumbling out in a flood of emotion. “I’m terrible because when the counselor spilled his coffee on the table, I pushed down on the other end of the table so the milk went into Dorkenberg’s lap and everyone laughed. So ship me out, it’s the best solution. My parents expect it, my father said it would happen. It’s perfect. He can spend the winter fighting for the rest of his money back.”

There were too many thoughts competing for space in Chaim’s mind. How much it sounded like Nochum Harkin, how such a young boy could be so bitter, and how he already knew the bus schedule.