Dad convinced me to join my brother, cousins and their friends and classmates. After I convinced my parents that I didn’t want a birthday party we compromised by them agreeing to respect my wish and me agreeing to come here to the school camp.
Like dad promised on Monday after I returned we went to Alex’ high school and we got all the information for me to be able to enroll. Fortunately, we could do that even before the current school year was concluded and starting September I will go to school there. Chloe and I will be classmates, which makes me happy. I will know at least one person in my year. She and Liz, as well as Alex tried to get me to do stuff with them and their friends, but most days I couldn’t even get out of bed. Sometimes I had nightmares and I woke up screaming. Some nights I don’t even remember the nightmares, but others I’m back on the mountain and I’m desperately trying to help my friends, never reaching them and always watching them die before my eyes. Their desperate pleas are haunting me and the defeated look in their eyes is breaking my heart over and over again.
Thankfully, Alex is a deep sleeper and didn’t hear that. But mom and dad did. Mom usually stayed with me and held me while I cried.
I’m not really happy about being here, but I promised dad that I would at least try to make some friends my own age.
This is our third day here and I successfully managed to hide from all the people here. But dad wasn’t pleased and told me to talk to people. I didn’t want to upset him so I’m now currently heading toward the lake where my brother and cousins are.
I watch them from a distance as they play in the water. Dad told me to put my bathing suit on and at least try to have some fun, but I don’t know.
“Hey, Bee. Come over here,” I hear Liz shout after me. I walk closer to where they are.
“Why does everyone keep calling you Bee?” a young Asian boy asks.
“It’s short for Barbara,” I say seriously.
“Lighten up, Bumblebee,” Liz says.
“I’m not in the mood.”
“Stop moping,” she counters.
“Come into the water, Bee,” Chloe says and cracks a smile. I shake my head.
“I’m good here.”
“Come on, girl,” another Asian boy, who looks a lot like the first, says to me.
“Dude, I don’t want to. You guys just have fun and pretend I’m not even here,” I say and sit down.
“Wow, she is worse than Captain,” the same guy says. What? Who is Captain?
“Leave her alone,” I hear a deep, male voice say. I look up and see a tall, muscular guy, with a well toned and tan body. He looks like an underwear model from the magazines. He has short brown, curly hair, chocolate brown eyes and full, pink lips to die for. I feel my cheeks getting warm and avert my gaze.
“Bee, please, come on. I hate seeing you like this,” I hear Alex say.
“Then don’t look,” I bite back.
“Barbara, this isn’t fair. It’s not my fault whatever happened to your friends.” At that my head snaps in his direction. I get up and move toward him with the speed of light and stand straight in front of him. He is taller than I am, but I don’t care.
“Don’t you ever talk about them in my presence ever again. You didn’t know them and you don’t know me. Don’t assume you understand my pain, because you can’t.” I turn on my heels and as I want to run away I bump into someone.
“Where do you think you are going?” dad asks.
“Home,” I say.
“We are far from home. How will you get there?” he asks, his tone serious.
“I’ll walk,” I answer flatly.
“Barbara, don’t be ridiculous,” Alex says from behind me.
“Be quiet, Alexander,” dad scolds. “I know you can do that, but I’d much prefer you wouldn’t. You promised to at least try and have fun,” dad says, his tone much softer than before.
“Dad,” I say and my voice cracks. I feel tears gather in my eyes and I try very hard to keep them from running down my cheeks. I hate this. I hate it when I’m so weak. “I can’t. I just can’t. This isn’t me. I don’t want to be here and no one wants me here,” I say and sob. I want to go home.
“That’s not true,” he says and I look into his eyes. He looks sad. “I want you here. I’ve missed you so much, my little baby girl. I wish I could take the pain away, but unfortunately I can’t. You need to let yourself heal and you need to forgive yourself.”
“I can’t, dad. Every time I close my eyes I’m back there. I can see them. I reach for them but I’m too far away,” I say and the tears in my eyes threaten to roll down with each breath I take. I can barely hold them back anymore.
“Honey, there’s nothing you could have done. We all know the risks. We live with them. You more than anyone know that. Please, I beg you. At least try,” he says. I feel anger rise inside of me. I take my tee shirt and my shorts off as well as my sneakers. I’m wearing my black two-piece bathing suit. I turn around and run into the water. It’s warm, warmer than I have expected. I jump in and start diving. I don’t try to hold the tears back anymore. The salty droplets mix with the fresh water of the lake and I’m grateful no one can see me. I don’t like it when people pry and think they can understand me. They don’t know me, they never did.