16 - Where Things are Discussed

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         After gathering our bags, we looked up our cabin number and set off down the long, sloping gravel trail, peeking at the doors along the way, searching for ours. We found it after a couple minutes of walking, a shack near the lake, and dumped our bags into a corner. Ms. Chang, our Socials teacher from last year, popped in for a few seconds to tell us we were meeting at the longhouse in twenty minutes.

         Nic and I toed off our shoes and flopped down on our beds as the two other girls we shared the cabin with set about organizing their stuff. I didn’t bother with my bags, for two reasons.

         One, I didn’t want Nic to see all the clothes I packed. She was as nosy as a detective, with probably twice as much determination. And two, I wanted to enjoy myself. I was already forced to be organized at home; why would I waste such precious lazing-about time? It was clear that Nic felt the same way when she gave a loud yawn and bounced a little on the mattress.

         While the two other girls discussed whether or not they should bring notebooks on our guided tour, Nic turned on to her side and grinned at me.

         “That was some showdown you had on the bus with that Jake kid.”

         I sighed inwardly and despite the serious circumstances I was immersed in, still stood by the argument that Jake just didn’t suit Jacoby.

         “Some showdown, right?” Nic said again, this time very loudly. She knew I hated it when the spotlight shone on me.

         I looked at her. “Actually, that’s how me and Jacoby always are.”

         Nic raised her eyebrows. “Really, now? Always implying that you and Jake see and interact with each other often?”

         I snorted at her choice of words. “We grew up together,” I said simply, not in the mood to explain to my best friend in vivid detail how Jacoby had unwittingly bullied me as a kid.

         And how he’s got flowers that replace his emotions following him around everywhere he goes?

         “Then why am I here instead of him?” she pressed.

         I gave a start. I’d forgotten I hadn’t said any of that out loud. Feigning thoughtfulness, I looked around the cabin, only to find that the two other girls had slowed what they were doing and were evidently eavesdropping. I felt a prick of annoyance, but brushed it away.

         I shouldn’t be one to talk, I thought, remembering Iliadys and my disastrous earwigging experience.

         “Because he’s not a girl and isn’t allowed to be in here?” I offered, deciding to play it like I had no idea what Nic was talking about. I looked in time to see one of the girls (her name was Pauline or something that started with a “P”) roll her eyes.

         If you’re going to eavesdrop, you shouldn’t be picky about what you hear.

         “You know what I mean,” said Nic with her own eye roll.

         “He’s not here because you’re my best friend, not him.”

         Monica grinned and rolled out of bed. She flopped onto mine and hugged me tightly. “Aw, shucks, Jass,” she said in her best Goofy imitation, something she specifically mastered years ago to make me laugh.

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