What did she just say? She wasn’t seriously saying that she would kill herself? She manages to swim away from me, at a super human speed I might add. How can such a small girl swim so fast? I follow her to the small island and watch her as she gets out of the water and sits down. I’m there a minute later getting out myself. I walk toward where she sits and watch her for a moment.
“Can I sit?” I ask. Her head is rested on her arms, which rest on her knees. Her face is down, but I can tell she is crying. When she doesn’t answer I wonder if I should just leave her alone. But what if she was serious? What if she wants to kill herself? I know this isn’t a mountain, but since when do suicidal people need a mountain for that? I just sit down, next to her, but leave enough space between us to not bother her. I need to rest anyways. God, she can swim.
“Leave me alone,” she says, her voice muffled.
“I’m just sitting here,” I say.
“I want to be alone,” she says forceful, but keeps her head down.
“I need to rest for a moment,” I lamely reply. At that she gets up and runs to the water. She jumps inside and dives. I watch the water for a while, waiting for her to resurface, but she doesn’t. I get up and walk quickly toward where she jumped in and jump after her. What if she is drowning? She must be tired from the swim earlier. I look around in the water but I can’t see her. When I can’t keep my breath any longer I resurface. I look around to see if I can spot her and just as I want to dive again to search for her she resurfaces several yards ahead of me. How did she do that? I swim after her. I know she will reach the shore before I will catch up, but she won’t be able to go too far. But to my surprise I’m still halfway away when she reaches the shore, grabs her things and takes off running. I see Alex and Chloe trying to stop her but she is already out of reach. Soon, she is concealed by the bushes and trees of the forest ahead. I swim back to shore and get out.
“Where did she learn to swim like that?” I ask Alex out of breath, as I bend forward and rest my hands on my knees.
“No idea,” he honestly says, still looking toward the forest.
“Captain, you are like the fastest. You couldn’t catch up with her?” Justin asks amazed.
“No. And she can hold her breath a lot longer than I can. I’ve never seen anything like it,” I tell them and they look at me just as amazed as I am.
“It’s a basic requirement for mountaineers,” a voice says and we turn around to see Mr. Williams and a tall man with messy dark-brown hair tied to his back and a bushy beard, his piercing blue eyes watching over us. I realize the stranger talked.
“And who are you?” I ask. Obviously, the guy is much older than we are, so he isn’t a high-school student. Maybe he is a friend of the family.
“Scott Palmer, Bobbi’s boyfriend,” he says with a serious face.
“Bobbi?” I ask confused.
“Yeah, ya know, green-eyed petite cutie, with lips that beg to French them,” he says with a snicker.
“Scott,” Mr. Williams says with a warning tone.
“I’m just saying. So, where’s my little honey bunny?” he asks and it turns my stomach around the way he refers to her. Is this really her boyfriend?
“She took off, that way,” Chloe says pointing toward where Barbara disappeared.
“I’ll find her,” he says, Mr. Williams nods and the stranger takes off.
“Bobbi?” Chloe asks.
“Yeah, all her friends call her that,” Mr. Williams explains with the hint of a smile.
“Bobbi,” Chloe says again and smiles as well. “I like it. It’s so much better than Bee.”
“It suits her,” Derek, Justin’s younger brother, says and I happen to agree. I look toward the forest where Bobbi and her much older boyfriend disappeared. I frown.
We stay by the lake for a couple of more hours, just relaxing and goofing off. But I can’t stop thinking about her. I’ve seen her a few times, always sad or crying, but today I’ve seen a different side of her: angry, determinant, fierce. She is a fighter. After I found out that she is a mountain climber I researched a little about it. To be able to do that you need to train very hard, harder than for any sport. You fail on the field, well it sucks, but that’s it. But if you fail and give up on a mountain you’re done. I went on forums and read all kinds of comments. Most of those are from amateurs, but some of the pros write there too. When you are out there on the mountain and you give up no one will help you. They walk past you. I think it’s cruel, but apparently it happens. Maybe that’s what Bobbi did and now she feels guilty. But those people where her friends. I could never walk past any of my friends and leave them there to die.
By supper we all gather in the camp’s cafeteria. Justin’s mom is our cook and nurse here. Well, she is a professional nurse, but she is also a very good cook. And we all help. There aren’t many of us here, about forty students and six adults. We are all between fifteen and seventeen and go to the same high school, the Rocky Mountain High School. I sit at the same table as my friends and look around. Bobbi and her boyfriend aren’t here.
“Alex, have you seen your sister? I can’t find her anywhere,” Mr. Moore says.
“She is in the forest with her boyfriend,” Alex says through gritted teeth. Ever since that guy showed up Alex was very verbal about how his sister is too young for a boyfriend. The girls tried to calm him down, saying that she’s sixteen and she has every right to have a boyfriend and he should just mind his own business. But the guy is definitely older than her. I wonder if he doesn’t just use her for sex. Thinking about that makes me a little angry. But why? I don’t care if two strangers have sex. I mean, that’s what they are to me, strangers.