Saturday, June 22, 2013



Liz’s brother Matt was racing up the mountainside like a goat.   Rolling her eyes, Liz waited a moment before mumbling a frustrated “I swear,” and climbing up after him.
Ten minutes ago, just ten little minutes, Liz, her father, and Matt had headed up the side of the mountain to gather firewood.   And now, Matt was running away -- again.   Not that he was the victim of some great parental injustice or anything like that.  From what Liz could gather, he’d had a fight with their father, big whoop.  She didn’t know what the fight was about, but her brother always did annoying things like making farting noises for no reason, and then not stopping until you wanted to throw him off a mountain, so it was probably something stupid like that.  
            Here’s what she did know: 
First, her father had half-stomped, half-slid back down the mountain towards the campsite, muttering under his breath as he passed by. 
Second, it was already drizzling and the sun had vanished behind forbidding clouds, which meant dark was coming sooner than expected, and Matt was afraid of the dark. 
Third, Liz was already cold in her cut-off denim shorts, even though she was wearing a windbreaker, and she did not want to have to chase Matt down right now.  Heck, she never wanted to do that. 
Fourth, she had to go after her brother no matter how cold she was or what she wanted to do, because no one else would—
--and fifth, she was really, really mad about that, but she was not going to cry. 

“I.  Swear!” she yelled in frustration at the whole situation.
Oh yeah, did she forget to mention that she hated camping?  And camping in the rain was even worse than camping in the sunshine.  And camping with your family – in the rain -- when you were ten going on eleven was the worst of all.  The worst!
This was turning out to be a great summer.  Just great.

            Although she and Matt had faithfully dug a trench around their pup tent when they arrived at the campsite yesterday, if it poured rain tonight, they would get soaked.  First, the rain would bead up on the sides of the tent, and they’d have to move their sleeping bags away from the edges.  It was bad enough, sharing a tiny tent, but completely awful when they had to huddle together in the center of the tent. 
            She would try to read, but Matt would kick and squirm and maybe even reach over and pinch her if she didn’t pay him enough attention. 
            He would say, “I love cats,” at least fifty times.
            She would say, “No repeating, that’s the rule.”
            The third or fourth time she said it, she’d use “the tone”, and her parents would yell at her from their tent, “Lizzy!  Enough!”
            She would say, “But he—“
            And her mom would say, “I don’t care,” and her dad would say, “Just stop.  You can’t use that tone with your brother,” and her mother would say, “You’re hurting his feelings,” and Liz would try to dive deep into her sleeping bag to get away from them all, but because of the rain, it would be soggy and wet and cold and horrible.

            “I swear,” she said, digging her toe into a foothold in the side of the mountain, still scrambling after her brother despite his extreme annoying-ness.
            He couldn’t control his temper, everyone said, so he was running away, as usual, and it was going to rain, and Liz had left her book, A Wrinkle in Time out on the stupid picnic table back at their stupid campsite, and now her book, her only solace, was going to get ruined by the rain… and no one was going to go after Matthew but her, because they would want to call in the rangers or the professionals of some sort or anotherbut Liz knew it was her responsibility to keep her little brother safe, and that’s why she was climbing as fast as she could up the side of the mountain that tilted steeply upward from their campsite.
Sometimes she felt like she was the only one who really cared.  Sometimes she felt like she was the only one who didn’t.

No comments:

Post a Comment