73“Of all the ways to spend a Saturday, this has got to be one of dumbest,” Kate said.

“Would you at least try to get into the spirit?” Ellen asked. “It actually could be fun…”

“Scavenger hunts are dumb,” Kate said. “We’re not teenagers.”

They were on a nature trail near the home of their friends Margaret and Henry, who had come up with the idea. The trail, to the best of Ellen’s reckoning, was where the next clue would be. “We’re not ready for the nursing home, either. What’s your deal?”

“My ‘deal’ is I’m traipsing around a trail in heels looking for clues to a dumb ‘prize’ I don’t care about,” Kate said. “Why are we friends with them, anyway?”

Why am I friends with you? Ellen wondered. High school had been a long time ago, and while Kate had been her best friend since then, she was beginning to feel like they weren’t a good fit for each other any more.

Ellen pulled the strip of paper and read the clue aloud again. “And there the next clue you’ll see when you dare examine the mouth of the screaming tree,” she said.

“That’s not even good poetry,” Kate said.

“Hey, check out that tree,” Ellen said, pointing to one with a hollow that looked like an open mouth, complete with “teeth.” “It looks like it’s screaming! I’ll be that’s it,” she said.

“Yay,” Kate said.

It was at that very moment when Ellen felt their friendship die.