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A Badge Idea

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A Lumberjane’s life will be filled with adventure whether she chooses to look for it or not. These adventures may lead to injuries or illness, for the Lumberjane or for her friends.

To attain the Misery Loves Company badge, the Lumberjane must learn basic and intermediate first aid skills, as well as the general principles of convalescent care. While this skill-building is a vital part of the Misery Loves Company badge, the true test of a Lumberjane is her ability to lend aid to a fallen comrade.

Molly’s spent her time at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types fighting three-eyed monsters, traveling to the land of lost things with the Bear Woman, and helping Seafarin’ Karen get a new ship. So how does she twist her ankle? Walking down the steps of the crafting cabin.

It figures, Molly thinks. She’s on Mal’s bunk, because hers is a top bunk, and right now climbing’s a little hard, what with her ankle throbbing like a drum. She and Mal have swapped all their stuff.

Bubbles is curled up next to her like a warm, furry cushion. Molly strokes the raccoon’s fur and looks over at Mal, who’s standing by the window.

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Mal says.

“About what?” Molly tries to sit up. It’s not easy — the bunk doesn’t have any headboard to put her pillow against.

“About —” Mal steps back.

April bangs open the door to Roanoke Cabin. “MY PATIENT!”

Molly’s pushed back against her pillow, which is simultaneously being plumped and fluffed, and somehow April’s also managing to shove a thermometer into her mouth and brush a not-that-soothing hand across Molly’s brow (which is not fevered, thank you very much).

“April!” Molly’s voice is mangled by the thermometer. “April, I’m fine, you don’t have to —”

“Patients need to rest,” April says, and Molly takes one look at April’s eyes and lies back. Better to do it on her own. The mood April’s in, Molly figures she might just get smothered with a pillow if she tries to resist April’s help.

Mal flips through the Lumberjanes handbook while April fluffs the ankle under Molly’s pillow, bumping Molly’s ankle in the process. While April’s distracted, Mal slides the book over to Molly, her finger marking a page.

Molly flips it open. MISERY LOVES COMPANY BADGE. Required for the bronze axe.

Oh, crap, Molly thinks. April’s on another badge mission.

Bubbles flees when April breaks out the Ace bandages and turns Molly’s ankle into an enormous ball of elastic bandaging.

“I think it’s supposed to stay loose,” Mal says.

“It’s to keep her ankle stable,” April insists, until Mal pulls out the official badge handbook and shows April the bandaging diagram.

“I don’t really need a bandage,” Molly says. She’s just lying there, her foot propped up on a spare pillow.

April studies Molly’s ankle with a gleam in her eye, and then leaves the cabin. When she returns, she’s carrying a piece of surveying equipment. “I need to make sure your foot is elevated above the level of your head,” she says.

“It’s fine!” Molly wiggles her leg. “See? Totally fine. I’m completely recovered, and it’s all thanks to your nursing.”

“Play along,” Mal whispers, loud enough for April to hear. “If she doesn’t earn this badge with you, who knows what she might do to one of us so she can nurse us back to health.”

“I didn’t sign up for this,” Molly grumbles. She flips through the Lumberjanes handbook, but there’s no badge for being a patient. So unfair.

She makes a face at Mal, and Mal kisses her temple and then holds her hand while April insists on measuring Molly’s ankle from all angles and recording the numbers in her diary.

Mal has to leave after lunch for a badge test.

“I’m not sure I should leave you alone with her,” she says, looking over at April, who’s eating what she’s calling a nurse’s lunch of donuts and hot chocolate.

Molly pokes at her tofu loaf (“patients need the healthiest option”). “I’ll be fine,” she says. “Anyway, you’ve been preparing for this badge for ages. You should go.”

“You’re sure?”

“I’m sure,” Molly says. She pulls Mal in and gives her a peck on the cheek. “For luck. Not that you need it.”

Mal blushes.

Once Molly’s pushed her tofu loaf around on her plate enough to disguise that she hasn’t eaten any of it, April decides it’s nap time, which means half an hour with no disturbances except April pushing her compact mirror under Molly’s nose to make sure she’s still breathing.

“Sorry,” April says, when the mirror hits Molly’s nose for the third time. “This is probably way easier in a hospital.”

“I just hurt my ankle! There’s nothing wrong with my lungs! And I don’t even need a nap!”

“Patients can sometimes be fractious,” April says serenely, like she’s quoting something from the badge handbook.

Molly glares at April, and then makes herself take a deep breath. April’s working really hard at being this annoying. There’s clearly something behind it.


April’s instantly alert. “Do you need something? Ice? Painkillers? A book? Window opened or closed? Something from the mess hall?”

Something to eat that’s not tofu loaf, Molly thinks, but that wasn’t what she was going to ask.

“Why do you take badges so seriously?”

April wrinkles her forehead. “I don’t take badges that seriously.”

“You kinda do,” Molly says. “You have way more than any of the rest of us. Except maybe Ripley.” Because Ripley is weirdly good at collecting badges.

“I guess…” April looks away. “Sometimes I worry that I don’t know enough, or that I’m going to let you guys down. But as long as I’ve got a lot of badges, I guess… I guess I can look at them all and see that I know some stuff.” She scuffs her foot against the cabin floor. “I know it’s stupid.”

“What?” Molly pushes up against the mattress, trying to sit up. “April, of course you’re not going to let us down! You arm-wrestled a giant statue for us! You defeated a lake monster with your scrunchie!”

April smiles. “You really think so?”

“I know so,” Molly says.

April hugs Molly, carefully. “Thanks.”

“Any time.” Molly hugs her back. “And if you wanted to get your patient a bowl of ice cream, I wouldn’t say no.”

When Mal gets back a few hours later, Molly’s sitting with April in front of the cabin. Her bad ankle’s propped up on a chair, and she’s leaning back against the rough logs of Roanoke Cabin, which are warm in the late afternoon sunshine. April’s sitting next to her, reading aloud from a magazine and providing color commentary on the pictures.

“How did the badge test go?” Molly asks.

“You’re looking at the proud owner of the Truth of the Natter badge,” Mal says. “The counselor loved my deconstruction of the urban legend about spider eggs in gum!”

“I knew you’d do great,” Molly says.

Ripley and Jo show up a few minutes later. They’re carrying something big that’s been draped in an old sleeping bag. They lower it to the ground in front of Roanoke Cabin while the others watch.

“Molly!” Ripley’s bouncing up and down. “I made you a chair!”

Jo starts laughing and pulls the sleeping bag off. “Rip, you were supposed to wait for the dramatic reveal!”

“It looks amazing,” Molly says. And it does — even though it also kind of looks like a cross between an Adirondack chair and a pile of lumber. She lowers herself into it carefully, with a hand from Mal, and she’s surprised to find that it’s actually pretty comfortable.

“I made it in woodshop.” Ripley picks up Bubbles and gives him a hug that makes his eyes pop out before putting him on Molly’s lap. “I got my Carpen-Tree And Leave badge.”

“It’s amazing, Ripley.”

They all settle in to listen to Mal’s dramatic reading of her presentation on the real truth behind the spider-egg-gum urban legend. Mal’s just gotten to the part about gum factory quality control technology when Jen arrives.

“Rosie’s coming to check on you,” she tells Molly. “How are you feeling?”

Molly doesn’t get a chance to answer before Rosie’s pulling Jeremy the moose up beside Roanoke Cabin.

“And how’s our little patient doing, Jem?”

“It’s Jen,” Jen says, even though Molly figures Jen has to know that Rosie only gets her name wrong when she wants to.

Rosie jumps down from Jeremy’s back and gives the moose a firm pat on the backside. “Git on there, now, Jeremy.”

She checks out Molly’s ankle with practiced fingers.

“Healing nicely,” she proclaims. “And you!” She turns to Mal. “Good reading to the patient! You’ve earned your Misery Loves Company badge.” She hands it over, a tiny badge embroidered with a thermometer and a crutch.

“Thanks,” Mal says.

Molly looks over at April, who’s looking at Rosie. Maybe sadly? It’s not fair, Molly thinks. April spent all day trying to take care of me, even if she was kind of over the top.

“April spent a ton of time with me too,” Molly says. “She was great. She’s an amazing nurse.”

“Was she now?” Rosie smiles. “Well. The patient’s always the best judge of a nurse’s abilities.” She hands April another embroidered badge, and April clutches it to her chest like she’s about to float away with happiness.

“And as for you,” Rosie says, turning back to Molly. “One more day of staying off that, and you’ll be back to joining your friends for all the camp activities.”

“Thanks,” Molly says. It’s the best news she could have heard.

“Yeah,” Ripley says. “And now that April’s got her badge, tomorrow it’s my turn to take care of you!”

Molly grins. She might end up getting her nose bonked with a mirror, or covered in glitter, but she knows that no matter what happens, her friends are going to be there for her. To the max.