I stare in wonder as does everybody else as the four men and Barbara, Alex's sister, recite their lines and drink their drinks. I wonder what this is all about. For the first time I look at the girl. She isn't tall, she is rather petite, unlike Alex who is tall and muscular. She has hazel brown hair and her eyes are greenish, but it's hard to tell, because she has been crying a lot. Her skin is a little tan, but not too much. She stands tall, like she belongs between the men and she probably does. Not because they are related, but because they consider her their equal. I know for a fact that she is only fifteen years old. Alex told us she will turn sixteen by the end of this month, the 30th to be exact. But unlike anyone one else here, she received one glass of scotch and she was allowed to drink it. No one said a word.
"I wanted to ask you something," she says, her voice raspy.
"What is it, sweetie?" her father asks gently.
"I wanna do what mom wants me to do," she says, her eyes sad and her voice quivering.
"Alright. It is too late to enroll you now, but probably too soon to do it for next year. How about we'll go to the school on Monday and talk to the principal?" her father asks and she nods. She doesn't smile, she just looks incredibly sad. I have never seen anyone look so sad.
"We also have a surprise for you," her mom says as she approaches her from behind and hugs her. "Your dad and a few other parents decided to run a camp for some of the kids at your brother's school. We think it would be a good idea for you to join," her mom tells her smiling.
"Do I have to?" she asks looking over her shoulder. She doesn't sound like a spoiled brat, instead like it's too hard for her to even think of moving out of her mother's embrace let alone go into the woods. Her mother furrows her eyebrows and looks up for a moment to seek help from her husband.
"Honey, you love the outdoors. Don't you want to spend some time just relaxing outside?" her dad asks her.
"Yeah, Bee, come on. It will be so much more fun if you come. That way I'll have someone there who I actually like and don't actually have to pretend to like," Chloe says approaching her cousin. I'm not sure if she just said that to cheer her cousin up or if she meant it. She is more of a loner. But then again, I don't like to share much about myself either.
"I don't want to, Chloe. You guys go. Have fun. I'll bore you anyways," she says looking away sad.
"Are you kidding?" Matt asks. "From all the kids here you are probably the most interesting," he says. I would feel offended, but I'm sure he wants to cheer her up as well. Besides I don't really care if people think I'm interesting or not.
"Hey, I'm interesting," Liz says forcefully.
"In your dreams," Matt replies smirking.
"I'm head cheerleader," she says pushing her chest out.
"Oh, my, head cheerleader," Matt starts mocking her in a fake, ridiculous British accent.
"Stop it," she says smacking him. We all start laughing at their antics, until my gaze falls on Barbara. She untangled herself from her mother's embrace and started leaving the room. I watch as her mother tries to stop her, but just as she reaches for her daughter, her husband grabs her wrist and shakes his head. They both look after her as she disappears upstairs.
"Did she leave already?" Alex asks as he finally notices his sister's absence.
"Yeah. Don't worry. I'll convince her to come with us. How about you kids go bowling or to a movie?" Mr. Moore asks smiling, albeit a bit forced. "My treat," he adds and most of my friends cheer happily. We leave the house, even though Alex insisted he wanted to stay, but his mother made him leave. I get in my truck and Caleb sits next to me, while Chloe, Liz and Justin sit in the back. We decided to drive to the bowling alley.
"What do you think really happened?" Alex asks no one in particular.
"What do you mean?" I ask confused.
"Matt said her friends died. What friends? I never heard her talk about any friends."
"Just because she didn't talk about them to you doesn't mean she doesn't have any," Chloe says defensively.
"I didn't mean it like that," he says.
"I know, but you have this wrong image of your sister that you started promoting in school," Chloe says.
"What is that supposed to mean?" he asks and turns around to face her. It's easy for him to do that since she sits right behind me.
"You see her as the shy, ugly duckling," Chloe starts saying.
"I never said she's ugly," Alex defends. No, she is far from it.
"Yeah? When did you ever tell her otherwise? Anyways, Bee is more than just your baby sister. She is a champ. Do you have any idea how hard it is to climb a mountain?" Chloe asks him angrily.