Chapter 24

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The trip to Indiana to see Kevin and this concert was supposed to be fun. In hindsight, I don’t know really know why I genuinely thought it would be. Vacations with my parents are where fun goes to die.

Exhibit A: my first vacation to the east coast as a six-year-old consisted primarily of visits to Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Multiple times. Within the space of a week. After that ordeal, I’d spent the next few years thinking my classmates were complete lunatics for enjoying vacations.

All things considered, I’d say this mini vacation had to take the cake for awfulness. It was mere hours into our trip to Indianapolis, and already Dad had worked himself into a very obvious show of passive-aggressive anger toward Alexander, which made the car trip super fun even without the added tension of the thin layer of jean fabric separating Alexander’s and my skin. When we finally arrived in Indianapolis after that long and excessively awkward car ride, Dad pointedly placed himself between Alexander and me the whole time we were checking into the hotel. Mere hours later, I had managed to get myself separated from my parents, without a cell phone, and completely, utterly lost and alone. All this on a trip to the grocery store. This is why I don’t go outside.

Okay, I might have exaggerated a little. I wasn’t completely alone on this trip. My luck wasn’t that good.

“You know, when you invited me to go to this weekend concert with you, I imagined there would be a lot more fun and a lot less of…us not having a clue about where the hell we are.”

 “Yeah, well, welcome to the Pang family vacations. And Alexander, you’re not really helping,” I sighed, tucking my scarf into my coat to protect against the bitter wind as we wandered past the sights and smells of Indianapolis. Though the busy city shone beautifully bright against the backdrop of the quickly darkening night sky, I found myself less admiring and more panicking as I racked my brain to try to remember where we came from.

Alexander jerked his thumb to indicate we cross the street. “Pretty sure we take a right here,” he said at the exact same time I mused, “I think we go left.”

I shot him a doubtful look. He rolled his eyes. “You just said that because I suggested the opposite.”

“Alexander Lin, don’t put me on your level. Just how childish do you think I am?”

“You literally just stuck your tongue out at me.”

I retracted my tongue back into my mouth. Old habits die hard. “Well, maybe you should say things that are less…tongue-sticking-out worthy.”

“I don’t even want to try to understand you sometimes.”

“Left. We definitely take a left here,” I said sharply when I noticed that the bushes we were passing looked distinctly familiar. Familiar as in objects we could have passed on our way to the grocery store…or objects we could have seen around the neighborhood all the way at home, but at this point I would take anything as a sign of divine guidance. “Yeah, go left.”

“…That is a brick wall.”

I paused and looked up, then tried to play it off casually. “You’re a brick wall.”

“You wound me.”

“Okay, new direction,” I announced. “Unless you have a magical shopping cart we can crash through the brick wall with.”

“Oddly enough, I did not think to bring mine with me.”

Alexander and I kept walking straight down the road for a while. In all honesty, I wasn’t that anxious to get back to the hotel room. If I were, then I would have stopped to ask for directions and we would have already been back. But I didn’t mind staying here a while longer. The city was so brilliantly lit at night, breathtaking and beautiful and alive. And there were no parents to drag me off to some dry campus tour or another.

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