"Wait, what's happening?" Jordan asks as Alex sighs, their conversation officially over.
"Just come with me, okay?"
Sidney looks down as he walks, his shoulders sagging. He doesn't even bother to glance back and see if they're following, but instead keeps muttering under his breath.
"God, what do I say? What should I say?" He says quietly as they approach the others, who are all gathered and equally concerned. Then he looks up suddenly and motions for them sit. When no one moves, he says, "Hey, it's okay. Just sit down."
"What's this all about?" Poppy asks, worried.
"Does it even matter?" Alwin groans, clearly wanting to get back to work. "If you thought we were behind before, well, this isn't going to help."
"Trust me, it's important." Sidney replies, not having it. A certain steel fills his eyes as he takes a deep breath and starts to speak. "We all know that we've done things that are... well, you know what? I'm not going to put it lightly. We've done illegal things. Every single one of us has become, in the eyes of the law and anyone of actual importance, a criminal."
"And what's your point?" Alex mutters, finally taking a seat. The others follow his lead, throwing themselves down onto the ground in exhaustion.
"My point is that we're all in this together."
"Haven't you said this before?" Alwin interrupts, picking the dirt out from underneath his fingernails.
"I guess..." Sidney pauses, rubbing the back of his neck, his eyes flirting around them like nervous fireflies right before the sun rises. "What I'm trying to say is that we're a group and that all of this fighting is stupid. All of it. There's no point. Maybe... maybe we were meant to be together."
"Well, duh. The government put us all together. Real good observation there, Einstein."
"Will you let me speak?"
"Depends if you actually start saying something that means anything." Alwin spits, just daring Sidney to try and hit him.
"See, this is the kind of thing that I'm talking about. This. All of this." Sidney gestures around wildly. "We're a group now. A group of friends. A group of criminals. Maybe just a group of people. Either way, we're still together."
Riley speaks up shyly, "Since we're a group, do you think that we could have a group name?"
"Why not?" Noah says, punching Alwin in the arm when he's about to protest.
"Anyone have any ideas?" Sidney announces, sitting down to fill the gap in the circle.
"I do," Alex's eyes search around the circle. "What about Wanderers?"
"Because that's what ancient people used to call the planets. They say them "wander" the night sky because they didn't follow the paths of anything else in the sky. In a way, they were outcasts. Kinda like us."
Everyone is quiet except for Jordan who laughs loudly, "Man, do you always have to be so deep?"
Alex smiles and the rest join in laughing.
"You know," Sidney grins, "I kinda like it. I think it suits us."
"Wanderers," Riley whispers in awe, light filling her eyes. "We're the... wanderers."
"The only thing is," Alwin yells, speaking over their laughter, "we're not a group and we're not all criminals. I, for one, am only here because I have to be. Sure, I might have fun with you guys but do you really think we're going to ever see each other again after our community service is over? No, we're not. There's no point naming something that's not going to last. And besides, no one is here because they want to be. We're here because we have to be."
"Does that even matter?" Jordan shouts, her hands balled into fists. "We're still friends!"
"Just because the government sticks us together as a punishment doesn't mean we're friends."
"It doesn't mean we can't be!"
Jordan walks off, her fists shaking. Even the sound of her shoes against the ground is too loud, grating on her ears. The relentless sun beating down on her is too bright and the slight wind is too much. Everything around her is too much in one way or another.
"What's his problem? I thought we were friends! I can't be the only one. But... why does he refuse to believe that we could be friends? Does he hate us? Does he hate me? God, I don't know anything anymore. I thought that we were all in silent agreement about our friendship, but... maybe I was wrong. I was wrong before with my family. Maybe I'm wrong this time too."
She yells at nothing and kicks at the dirt.
"What's wrong with me? God, what is wrong with me?"
Behind her, her so-called friends watch, whispering amongst themselves.
"What's going on with her?" Alwin asks, worry creeping into his voice.
"What do you think, you idiot?" Poppy yells back, glaring at him. "Should we go over there?" She asks Sidney.
"I... I don't think that's the best idea."
"Well, we have to do something!"
"Maybe the best thing to do is wait."
"Wait?" Poppy shouts. "That's your great idea?"
"Poppy, some people need time to process things. For some people, this is how they deal with it. We can't come running at her every beckon call. At some point, she has to learn how to deal with her problems by herself."
"And what if she doesn't? Huh? What then?"
"Then we step in, but for now... I think it'd be best to just wait and watch from a distance. That way, as you insist, we can help her if it gets too bad."
"Too bad? How bad is too bad, Sidney? You got to be kidding me!"
"Hey," Noah intervenes, follow his sister. "Maybe you should take a minute."
"A minute to do what? Watch as she's falling apart and we do nothing?"
"She's going to be okay and so are you, but not if you keep acting like this."
"Acting like what? Like I care?" Poppy screams, her face bright red, her blue eyes ice cold.
"See?" Alex interrupts, pointing behind them. "She's already fine. Look at that. Nobody died. We can all calm down now."
"You're ridiculous," Noah laughs, turning around to see Jordan approaching them.
"You're lucky I don't slap you," Poppy smiles, fake punching him in the arm.
"What? Can't have you to biting each other's heads off over nothing, can I? Not only is it stupid, but it is also royally annoying. Pick somewhere else to fight your sibling battles, yeah?"
"It wasn't stupid!"
"And that's your cue to leave," Noah says, grinning.
Alex snickers, "I guess I'll leave you to it, but don't forget what I told you!"
"How could I?" Poppy mutters, "It was so touching I'll never forget it."
"Aw, that's what I'm talking about," He laughs, quickly walking out of punching range.
"Hey, guys?" Jordan says quietly. When no one hears her, she yells, "Hey! Can everyone come here?"
"Yeah, what's going on?" Noah asks, concerned as always.
"I... I have something to show you."
YOU ARE READING
Meet the first wanderer, Jordan. She's the lost one, the one with no home, nowhere to go back to. Just an old, dusty trailer and a trash heap- quite literally. Keeping her head down and her earbuds in, she lives her life alone, just the way she like...