Susan put down the rock -very carefully- on the boundary of their farm. "Try to make it all the way to the end, there."
"Cousin" Jaime didn't appear to be all that apologetic. "Sorry, Susan. A bunch of us're going 'sample gathering' towards the beach. You in?"
Susan caught the quote marks. "Is this the sort of sample gathering where you're really cutting a path to somewhere?"
"Dang, I knew you were smart. Are you in or what, Su… san?"
At least he was working on his annoying habits. "Yeah, I might be. Le'me check with my folks. Basic safety procedure 'n' all."
Jaime rolled his eyes at basic safety procedure. If anyone was likely to get carried back to town, it was going to be her 'cousin' Jaime. He didn't have an 'out' pack, or proper shoes, or even gloves. Just a machete, a bag of sample bags, and a negligent swipe of zinc oxide as a precaution against the elements.
Momma was doing meditation.
"Hey. Some kids are cutting a path to somewhere interesting. Can I help them gather samples?"
"Suit up. Any idea where they're heading?"
"I saw a bunch of kids highlighting a beach when we were still in creche care," Susan contributed. "That's gotta be a new road goal for some."
"We don't even know if any ocean life is toxic."
"I have the antitoxin kit in my out bag," Susan reassured. "And a skinsuit that still fits."
"And what are you doing about Jaime?"
"Who said it was Jaime?"
"You deliberately avoided the name of the leader."
Damn it! "I know how to make a travois so I can at least drag him back in a relative hurry."
Momma sighed. "Okay. If he lives, maybe he'll learn something." And, as an afterthought, added, "Don't make the travois out of anything itchy."
"Oh, just spoil all my fun," Susan mock-grumbled with a laugh. Even though she hurried, it took her several minutes to get herself and her gear together. Machete and all.
By then, Jaime and his cohort of assorted cousins and 'cousins' were running-distance away. She jogged, because all of the 'cousins' were the sort who took unnecessary risks. If things went bad, some of them would be dragging others back. If they could be convinced to hang around long enough to help out.
But then, they were kids.
This group of them had yet to learn how to think outside themselves, or the moment at hand. She'd had to grow out of selfishness far too early. And trying to teach the rest of them how to be cautious with their lives was going to get her shunned as a wet blanket.
They were already talking about some of the girls who, rather more sensibly than Susan, elected to stay in the relative safety of Wiwazheer.
"Man, what was Shanice thinking? I know I'd rather cut a path to the beach than dumb old ploughing."
"She's gonna be a housewife," dismissed Bill. "Bee bee pee."
BBP. Standing for Busy, Barefoot and Pregnant. Susan tried not to throw up. Bill was disgusting.
The rest cackled at the word 'pee'.
Not one of them had proper boots on.
"Nice shoes," sneered Jack. "How are you going to swim?"
"It's a mile or so to the beach," countered Susan. "How are you gonna protect yourself from venomous crawlies?"
"I'unno. Make noise?"
Susan rolled her eyes. "Don't any of you remember Infotainment Ivan?"
They stared at her. Evidently, the dangers explained by Ivan could not possibly strike them low.
She gave up. "Fine, but if I have to save your silly asses, you're callin' me Queen Susan the Always Right."
They'd find out.
They'd find out that she was fairly adept with a machete.
They'd find out that she could kill a hostile animal if she needed to.
They'd find out that she had faster reflexes than most boys would assume.
And, if they were really unlucky, they would find out that her chosen appellation was going to be enforced for a long, long time.