by Riley Doran
A boy lost his brother in an accident and goes on an adventure with his three best friends
I’ll always remember six o’clock in the morning every morning. I pulled on my same old Wrangler jeans with holes and grass stains all over them. My white tee-shirt had dirt stains and a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeves. I got my books together and dragged feet clad in my torn up Converse sneakers down the stairs. I could smell my mom making toast and eggs, but I knew it wasn’t for me. It was for my football star brother. He had the perfect looks, all the girls loved him. Tall, dark, and handsome, that was my older brother. He was my parent’s favorite, and they never let us forget that; then my baby sister, then me. I was the least favorite, they made that clear.
“G’mornin’, mom.” I tried grabbing a piece of toast.
“C’mon, now,” She pushed my hand away, “You know that’s for Robby. He’s got a big game today.”
“Yes, ma’am.” I took a juice box out of the fridge and sat down at the kitchen table. I waited for my brother to come downstairs so he could eat and drive me to school. I finished my juice box just as I saw his brand new Reeboks coming down the stairs, followed by perfectly neat jeans and a clean striped polo. He put his books down and sat down in front of the plate my mom had made up for him. My dad came downstairs with my sister in tow.
“Robby! I’m coming to your game with mommy today!”
“Oh, great, Claire! My good luck charm!” She smiled and lifted her five year old little body on to his lap while he ate. I watched my dad kiss my mom on the cheek and take a mug of coffee. I had the perfect All-American family. A star quarterback brother, a little blonde sister, and two parents that were still in love after all these years. So where did I fit into the equation. Well, I never really did. I always wished I didn’t have an older brother. I wanted the attention he always had. I felt like my parents didn’t love me.
“Ready, Chris?” My brother stood up and rested his hand on my shoulder. I nodded and stood up. I watched my mom and dad kiss Robby and tell him they would see him at his game later and that they loved him. They ignored me. We went out to his pick-up truck and pulled out down the long dirt driveway onto an ever dirtier road to school.
He dropped me off and sped away to get to school on time. I knew he would make it and still have time to talk with his friends, and his girlfriend, Amy. She was gorgeous, smart, and funny. She was everything he deserved and he was everything to her. She was the captain of the cheerleading squad at the high school. They had been dating since freshman year and everyone thought they were going to stay together forever.
I had a typical day at school. Math, science, English, Spanish, gym, and art class. I was excited because Robby was going to pick me up to come see his game since my mom was going early and I would still be in school when she was going. He never picked me up for the games but this was going to be a big one. I was really excited. I hoped the game would still be on because it had been raining all morning. When he picked me up, he told me he had to go home real quick because he forgot he got a present for Amy, since it was the last game she would be cheering at. It was the last game of the season, in fact. The whole town would be there.
It was getting dark already at four, I guess from daylight savings, and the fog from the rain that morning hadn’t risen yet. I could tell Robby was a little nervous driving in such conditions. A little mist started coming down and Robby slowed down to the point where I could walk faster than the truck. We came to a four-way intersection and Robby stopped looked around a few time and continued forward. By the time I yelled it was too late. A driver had come from the road on the left and slammed into the drivers side of the truck. We spun across the intersection and rolled a few times. From upside down I slowly undid my seatbelt because my arm was in such pain. I tried to move but the truck was crushed. I wanted to see if Robby was okay. I heard sirens coming our way so I stayed put until someone could help me out.
Doors slammed and a deep voice called out, “Anyone in there? Hello?” I tried to speak but I just started crying instead. “Okay, we’re coming in!” A crow bar dug into my door and pried it open. All I could see was a blurry man in a fire fighters uniform. He pulled me out of the truck as gently as he could and tried to help me stand. I fell against the car and sat on the road, still sobbing.
I heard my father scream, “Robby! Where’s my boy?” And them my mother shrieked and started crying too. I thought maybe she saw me.
“You have parents, boy?” The fire fighter asked.
“That’s them! I hear my mom!” I tried to get up but the fire fighter told me to stay seated and that he would go get her. He brought he back over and she took me in her arms, but I screamed. She pulled away and I told her my arm hurt. The fire fighter leaned down and touched my arm and told me he thought it was broken. I heard an ambulance leave with its siren on and I knew it was Robby. The fire fighter motioned for a paramedic to come help me into another ambulance.
My mom climbed into the back with me, “Where’s dad?” I asked.
“He’s with Robby.” She said into between sniffles. The sun was almost all the way up and it was raining harder now. I asked my mom about going to school and she didn’t answer. I could tell she was more worried about Robby.Something about me didn’t care to know. We swiftly rode past other cars on the road and arrived at the emergency room within minutes. A nurse escorted me into a small room with all the typical hospital things, a bed, some machines, and a robe that would show my butt. She sat me down on the bed and told me to wait for the doctor. My mom seemed distant and distracted; she barely even looked at me. A few minutes the doctor came in and poked around at my arm a little. It hurt a lot. He asked me where it hurt and I told him all over. He touched it some more and told me it was broken in three places.
He looked at my mom and she was looking out the door, “Ma’am?”
“Yes?” She continued looking out the door.
“You sons arm is broken. We’re going to have to keep him for a little bit.”
“That’s good.” She stood up and walked out into the waiting room. The doctor looked at me expecting me to be upset but this was just typical of her. Ignoring me and focusing on Robby. I loved my brother, of course, I just wish my parents loved me as much as they loved him. The doctor left for a minute and brought in a nurse who took me to another all white room where she had my lay down. Even more doctors came in. A few watched while one started wrapping up my arm in cloth and gooey stuff. He covered my entire arm in it, all the way up to my shoulder, with my elbow bent. I told him that this was silly and it would get better soon without all this and the doctors and nurses laughed at me and called me cute. I was not trying to be cute. A thirteen year old boy does not want to be cute.
When he rolled my sleeve back down I noticed my cigarettes were gone, “Who took ‘em?”
“Took what?” One of the doctors asked.
“Young boys should not be smoking.”
“I ain’t smokin’. I’m in here with you, ain’t I?”
“Nobody took them from you, son. They must have fallen out in the accident.” That was the first time someone had called me son since before I was a little boy. A nurse escorted me back into the waiting room where I saw my dad holding my mom who was crying still. I sat down next to them with my arm all bandaged up and a blue thing around my neck holding my arm in place. Nobody said anything.
I saw Amy in the waiting room so I decided to walk over and sit with her. She was like a big sister to me, “Hi Amy.”
“Hey Chris. Your arm feeling ok?”
“Yeah, its better with this thing on it. Have you seen Robby?”
“No, the doctors won’t let me in. Have you heard anything?”
“No, nobody will talk to me. I’m sure he’s fine though.”
“He always is,” She smiled at me. I saw the opportunity a time to sleep so I rested my head on the back of the chair and dozed off.
I awoke from a deep sleep when I heard a women scream then burst into loud, heavy tears. It was my mom. Maybe she saw what happened to my arm. I lifted my head and saw her collapsed crying in my dad’s arms. A doctor slowly walked away from them and I knew it wasn’t about me. Maybe Robby broke both of his arms, I thought. My dad walked my mom outside and I stayed sitting. I didn’t want to interrupt. When they didn’t come back after about twenty minutes I thought something was wrong. I went up to the front desk and asked the lady if she knew where they went. She said the doctor told them to go home for now. She told me to sit and wait while she called them to come back and get me. I told her it was fine, I would stand there. They forgot me.
I was finally back home and it was about dinner time. Robby wasn’t back. I opened the fridge with my working arm and took out the chicken leftovers form dinner the night before. I sat down and ate it right out of the tupperware.
The phone rang and no one answered after a few rings so I picked it up, “Hello?”
“Are your parents there, son?” I knew who it was, he called me son.
“Yes, sir. I’ll go get them.” I walked to the stairs and yelled up for my mom and dad. My dad came rushing down the stairs and pushed passed me to get to the phone. He started tearing as he hung up the phone and walked up stairs. Moments later he came back downstairs with my mom following holding Claire. My father touched my shoulder and I knew to follow him to the car.
We got to the hospital and the doctor that called me son was waiting for us. He motioned for my parents to follow him. My mom put Claire down next to me and we waited in the same chair I sat in earlier.
“Where’s Robby?” I decided not to answer her because I didn’t know and I didn’t want to tell her that. An eternity later, well, a few minutes probably, my dad walked out of the swinging double doors with his face buried in his hands. My mom was linking her arms with his and had her face covered, too. The same doctor who took them was walking behind then resting his hands on their shoulders. I knew what was coming, and all I could think about was how I was missing hanging out with my friends at the football game. Claire got up and ran towards my mom and wrapped herself around her legs.
“Not now, Chris.” He took my mom in his arms while she continued to cry. Claire looked up at me and I didn’t know what to say to her. I took her in my arms the way my dad was holding my mom.
“Betty! Oh, Betty!” A loud voice came through the sliding doors of the emergency room screaming my mom’s name. My mom didn’t even look up. It was my best friend’s mom, who was also my mom’s best friend.
“Hi Mrs. Goodwin.” I looked up at her from holding Claire. She gave me a funny look and then I realized why. Everyone was crying, my parents, Claire, and Mrs. Goodwin. But I wasn’t. My eyes were dry as dirt. I tried to cry, I truly did. But I couldn’t.
“Christopher, I heard. I am so sorry.” Mrs. Goodwin hugged me and Claire and she whispered in my ear, “Does Claire know?” I shook my head and she turned away towards my parents.
“Where’s Erik?” Erik was my best friend since I could remember. We had done everything together, from getting our diapers changed next to each other to playing Little League Football.
She answered quickly, “He’s at home, sweetie. He will be over afterwards.” I went and sat in the chain that had practically become mine and waited for my parents. My dad looked over at me just sitting there and shook his head as if he was disappointed.
That’s when the tears came. I stood up and walked out the door of the emergency room. I turned left out onto the street and started a slow jog, tears were pouring from my ears now. And they weren’t because of Robby. I started sprinting towards my house then took a sharp right into the woods. I tripped and rolled down a small hill hitting rocks on my cast. It hurt a lot but I got up and kept sprinting, straight towards the creek where me and Erik and two of our friends had built a tree house. It was our safe-haven, our place to be away from everyone. I took two rungs at a time up the later, tears still falling. I crawled into a corner of the unstable structure, tucked my knees into my chest and started shaking and rocking back and forth. My breathing was irregular but I couldn’t stop crying. I heard footsteps in the fallen leaves and tried to stay quiet. The steps started climbing the ladder and open the hatch into the tree house. It was Erik.
“Knew I’d find ya here.” He came and sat next to me. I didn’t even have to ask how he knew what happened. “The principal called me down to the office and told me you were in an accident. I asked him to leave and he told me to wait for my mom. I told the dipshit she was at the hospital and that I would walk home ‘cause I needed the fresh air. He agreed and let me go and I knew you wouldn’t be at the hospital or at home. And here ya are.” She put his arm around my shoulders and I stopped shaking so much.
“Thanks, buddy. Do Steve and Connor know?”
“Nah, I just left. I couldn’t let you sit here alone. You’re crying.”
I tried to tell him it was because Robby had died. But that wasn’t it. Or maybe it was. I just don’t know. I was angry. I was upset. I was hurt. I was alone. But most of all, I was a disappointment. The look my dad gave me at the hospital told me that he wished it were me. I told Erik this and he disagreed. He told me my dad loved me and that it’s not my fault. But I told we only took that road because he had to drive me to school. I stopped cry and let my legs down away from my chest. We decided I should probably go home so my parents wouldn’t worry about me, even though I insisted they wouldn’t notice I was gone.
We walked the two miles back to my house and there were a bunch of cars parked outside of the house. I walked in and looked around for my parents. Erik asked his mom where they were and she pointed towards the room where we kept the TV and couch. They were sitting down on the couch with Claire, so I decided I would go in and told Erik to wait a minute. A floor board creaked and they all turned around.
My dad stood up quickly, he looked angry, “Where the hell have you been?”
“I was at the tree house. I needed time to think.”
“Sit down.” I sat down next to my mom, even though I didn’t know why I had to be here. Were we actually trying to be a family? I didn’t know what that was like, I had no idea, “Now is the time to be with your family.”
I stood up and looked him straight in the eye, “What kind of family is this? It revolves around Robby!” My mom burst into more tears, “I have a broken arm, have you noticed? I have a massive blue thing holding me together. No one cared to find out where I was just now! No one cared to find out what happened to me in the hospital! Isn’t a family supposed to be about love? I don’t even know what love is! But of course, no one has even cared to tell me what happened to Robby. I just had to assume. What a family!” I walked out of the room, right through a crowd of people staring at me and onto the front porch where I sat a started crying again.
Erik came and sat with me again, “I heard what you said. They do love you.”
“Really? Then where are they right now? I don’t see anyone besides you making sure I’m okay, again. I could be out here trying to commit suicide, and who would know?”
“Chris. Robby just, well, he just bonded with your dad better, that’s all. They love you just as much as they love him. Don’t ever forget that.” He wrapped his arm around me and I collapsed. I guess part of me really felt that Robby was the one holding this family together and now that he was gone it was over.
Me and Erik sat on the stairs until his mom told him it was time to go. We asked if he could spend the night but she said I needed my rest. I guess I agreed. At least it was Friday tomorrow. Then me and Erik could have some fun.
I woke up at the usual time the next morning, and stuck with my usual routine. When I went downstairs for breakfast, the lights were still off and no one was in the kitchen. I wondered what everyone was still doing asleep. I shrugged it off and grabbed myself a piece of toast and munched on it at the kitchen table. I waited for my family to come down and go through their usual routine, but they never did. It was getting late and I was worried I was going to be late for school. I walked up to Robby’s room to find it empty. I checked the bathroom and there was no sign of him anywhere. I decided to check the couch downstairs since he liked to sleep down there on the weekends so he wouldn’t wake us up when he came back late. He wasn’t there either. It was a school night; he wouldn’t have stayed somewhere else.
My dad came downstairs finally, “What the hell are you doing running around this house?”
“I’m gonna be late for school.”
“You aren’t going to school today, no one is leaving this house.” I think my dad thought I was confused because he decided to elaborate, “We all need to spend time together.”
“But why? I need to go to school!”
“Are you kidding? Were you not here yesterday? Look at your arm!” Then it hit me, my arm was broken. Robby wasn’t here. He wasn’t ever going to be here. I sat down at the table and looked down at my faded jeans. Life without Robby. How could that even be possible? I don’t have a brother anymore, I thought. My dad went back upstairs with his head hanging low. I rested my head on the table and I guess I fell asleep there because I had a horrible dream.
I dreamt that I was driving in Robby’s truck but no one was in the driver’s seat, it was just me in the passenger’s side. I started to panic because I didn’t know how to drive and even if I did I couldn’t move. I was frozen sitting in the seat. I saw a car coming straight at me and started screaming, and I guess I was screaming out loud because my mom woke me up before the car hit me.
“Sweetie, why don’t you go back up to your room and sleep?” She helped me stand and walked me up to my room. I took my jeans and tee-shirt off and crawled into bed. I didn’t want to sleep again because I was afraid of another nightmare.
The phone rang downstairs and I heard my mom answer it, “Hello?” She continued to tell the person on the phone about what happened yesterday, but before she could finish, she started crying. I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs. I took the phone from her, apologized to the person and hung it up. My mom was sitting on the floor of the kitchen crying, I had no idea that to do. I sat down next to her and put my arm around her like Erik had down for me. She rested he head on my shoulder and the crying slowed down.
Erik came over after school, with Steve and Connor. I really appreciated that. Our moms talked for a while and we went to the tree house by the creek. Nobody really said much, I guess they thought I was too upset to talk to anyone. Sure, I was upset, but not too upset to have some fun with my buddies.
“How was school?” I didn’t know what to say to get them to talk to me.
“It was school. Everyone was asking about you, though.” Steve spoke up.
“We told them we didn’t know ‘cause we didn’t want to spread it around. We weren’t sure if you would want everyone to know.” I was happy that Erik said that because he was right. I didn’t want everyone to know. I needed something to get my mind off of yesterday, and this just wasn’t doing it.
“Let’s go on an adventure. A hike, a climb, a camping trip, something. I am sick of sitting here moping around. I need to clear my mind.” They looked around at each other, they must have thought I was crazy. “I’m serious.”
“I’m in!” I knew I could always count of Erik to have my back. “You guys in?” Steve and Connor exchanged looks and nodded enthusiastically.
I needed to come up with something awesome. We had all weekend for this, so it had to be big. There was a big forest covering a mountain in the next town over where supposedly a man parachuting landed and they could never find him. That sounded like fun to me. I suggested to the boys that we go find the man and they seemed a little skeptical.
“I don’t know, Chris. My mom’s gonna get worried about me.” Steve was quite the mama’s boy, it was hard for us to get him to even sneak away to the tree house sometimes. I took a cigarette out and lit it, forgetting how long it had been since my last one. Steve really hated that me and Erik smoked, but I always told him it wasn’t anything bad. He was a tubby little kid who didn’t like doing things his parents didn’t know about. He wore these goofy looking shoes and his clothes looked like something out of his dad’s closet.
“C’mon, Stevey! It’s a once in a life time opportunity!” Erik elbowed him.
“Alright, fine. But we have to organize!” Steve would try and ruin something this awesome with his girl-scout-like ideas.
“Connor?” We all looked at him intensely hoping it would force him to say yes.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m in. But if Susie Girl Scout here gets on my nerves, I’m out.” We all laughed, well except Steve, but he knew it was a joke. Connor adjusted his thick rimmed glasses. He always had the funniest clothes. Today he was wearing a Hawaiian print button up with a pair of denim cut-off shorts and sneakers. He stood out like a sore thumb in our little town. Everyone looked the same, except Connor. Some people thought it was because his dad left and his mom was never around so he lived with his crazy uncle on the edge of town. We didn’t care either way, he was our best friend.
“Organize us, mommy.” Erik looked over at Steve who was retying a shoe lace.
“Ok, well, we need a map so we know where we are going. I don’t want to get lost. We need food and water, and something for safety. Things to sleep in and definitely some money.”
“I can get the map.” I knew there was no such thing as a map of this mountain but I was sure I was the only one who could draw a convincing enough fake map for him.
“My uncle doesn’t eat much of the food we’ve got. I’ll take some of it in my pack.”
“Dad’s got a gun. But I don’t think I should bring it.” Erik looked at my slyly. I could tell he was going to bring it, he just didn’t want to scare Steve.
“Don’t bring a gun, you idiot. I can bring some canteens and we should all bring our own sleeping bags and money.”
“Sounds good, Susie.” Connor stood up, “Meet back here in an hour. Tell your parents you’re camping out in my uncles backyard.” We climbed down the tree house and went our separate ways.
I ran back home pretty quick, I was excited to get started. I was a little worried about my parents, I wasn’t sure if they would let me stay at Connor’s house. My dad was still trying to enforce the “be with your family” thing. I just wanted to get away with my three best buddies. I ran upstairs to pack up some things to bring along. My dad came in and asked what I was doing.
“We’re gonna camp out at Connor’s uncles house this weekend.”
“Is that really such a good idea?” I knew he would say that.
“He’s not as crazy as everyone thinks,” Even though I knew he was crazier, but I wasn’t actually going there so it didn’t matter, “Please?”
“Maybe I should talk to your mother about this.”
“Dad, I just want to spend some time with my friends. It’s been a rough couple of days. I need some time away.”
“Alright, fine. Just be careful.” I ran over and gave him the biggest hug I had ever given anyone before. In fact, feeling his arms around me was a feeling I couldn’t remember from the past. Had it really been that long?
“I promise.” We let go and I continued packing some things. He couldn’t see it because I was turned around, but I was smiling. I threw in my flashlight and zipped up my backpack. I felt bad for “abandoning” my family during this time in our lives but I needed to do what I told my dad and friends, just get away. I walked back downstairs with my dad and he saw me off. I told him to send my love to mom and Claire and shut the front door behind me.
I walked to the tree house the long way because I was still pretty early. As I was walking along the road I realized I was on the path me and Robby were on the other morning. I came to that same intersection and saw tire skid marks all across it. Tears filled my eyes and I began to walk faster. I stepped over a piece of a bumper and began a slow jog. Running felt good, like I was running my emotions away. Tears streamed down my face and flew behind me in the wind I was creating from running. I made a sharp left into the woods towards the tree house.
When I got there Erik was waiting with his stuff, “You okay?”
“Don’t lie to me, Chris.”
“I walked past the, um-”
“Got it. You know I’m here for you, any time you need me, man.”
“Thanks.” I wiped my face and sat down next to him. I took out my cigarettes and lit on up.
He dug his hands into his backpack and pulled out a leather back, “Check it out.” He slid out a pistol and held it out as if he were aiming it at something.
“Stop it! What if you pull it?”
“I won’t. It’s not loaded.” I trusted him so I asked if I could hold it. It was heavier than I expected. I toyed with the trigger a little and before I knew it, a bullet flew across the tree house and right through the wall.
“What the hell, Erik?” I dropped the gun on the ground and stood up over him.
“I swear I didn’t know!” He stood up in front of me. I trusted that he honestly didn’t know so I let it go.
The door to the tree house burst open and Connor popped in, “What was that?”
Erik and I looked at each other and said, “Nothing.”
“Oh, sounded like a gun. Must have just been my imagination. Where’s Susie?”
“Not here yet. He’s gonna kill you for calling him that, you know.”
“Like he would ever touch me.” It was true, Steve was too much of a little girl to hit one of us. Actually, none of us would ever consider hitting another pal.
“I heard that.” Steve popped open the door and stepped up.
“Well, it’s not a lie.” Connor put his arm around Steve’s shoulders.
“Guys, Andy leaves for the war on Sunday.”
“You still gonna come?” Erik looked sharply at him.
“I have to. For Chris.”
“Thanks, bud, but your brother’s going to Iraq. You don’t have to do this. It’s okay, I promise.”
“I want to be there for my friend.”
“Your brother is family!” Connor seemed frustrated with Steve.
“It’s just fine, Connor!”
“Okay, enough about Andy. Every got what they were supposed to?” Everyone nodded and Erik asked me for the map. I completely forgot to draw one. I turned around and pretended to shove through my stuff while drawing a quick map on an old sheet of notebook paper. I whipped around and gave the sheet to Erik. He looked it over and nodded. Steve grabbed the sheet and ran his finger over the sketchy line I drew.
“I don’t know about this. I don’t want to go.” Steve passed the map to Connor.
“Oh c’mon Susie! This map is real, see? Here’s the town center, and the path behind the general store that leads towards the mountain.”
“Alright, fine, but we gotta watch each other’s backs.”
“No kidding.” Erik took the map and climbed down the tree house and we all followed. We followed him out to the road and continued down the road that takes me and Robby to school, or that was supposed to. We followed the road for about a mile until we reached the edge of the center of town. It was getting dark already as we continued through, passed the dads rushing home after work to see their happy families waiting for them around the dinner table.
“Andy!” Steve ran to his brother standing our side of the diner smoking with some of his friends.
“Hey, Stevey. Boys. What’re you up to?”
“Sleeping over at Connor’s uncles place.”
“Bullshit. What are you really doing?”
Steve looked around at us before he responded. He needed our approval before he went around telling people. “We’re climbing the mountain to find the skydiver that died.”
Andy chucked his cigarette, “Are you kids crazy?”
“You know how many people have never made it down from there?” Andy’s friend Carl chimed in.
“A lot?” Erik asked them.
“Tons. You can’t go up there alone!” Carl looked at Andy for some backup.
“Sure we can!” Connor protested. He never liked the older kids; I didn’t mind them that much. Most of them were Robby’s friends. Andy was a real good friend of Robby’s, they were the main reason me and Steve knew each other. I knew Andy was really broken up about Robby. He couldn’t even go to the funeral because he was so upset.
“Hey, Chris, sorry about Robby, man. He was a good guy, he is genuinely missed.” I could see the pain in his eyes.
“Hop in the back of the truck while we go get some things at the house. You guys are gonna need some of the camping equipment we used to use.” Connor, Erik and Steve piled into the back of the pickup but I couldn’t. It wasn’t that I wasn’t strong enough or tall enough, Steve had that covered. Erik and Connor pulled him in and looked at me to jump in next. I told them I’d walk. Andy insisted that I sit in front with him and Carl.
“I don’t want to be in a car! Not this one! Not that one! None! I will walk! I am fine WALKING!” Everyone looked at me like they had just seen a ghost, then turned around and settled in to get going. Instead of walking behind the car I went into the diner to get a soda. I sat down at the counter and ordered a Coke. The waitress asked if I was okay and I said I was fine.
A boy a few years older than me came and sat next to me. “Robby’s brother?”
“Who wants to know?”
“Scott. I’m Amy’s brother.” Amy was Robby’s girlfriend, they were to be engaged after graduation.
“Nice to meet you, Scott. How is she doing?”
“She’s really torn up. She hasn’t come out of her room since the funeral.” I didn’t know what to say. How could some girl be more upset than I was?
The waitress came over and gave me another Coke. “Excuse me, Miss? I don’t have enough for this.”
“It’s on the house, sweetheart. Sorry about your brother.” The whole town was mourning Robby, he was a big deal around here. He was our hometown hero. Now Andy was stepping up to the plate. He was heading off to Iraq in a few days. Football was nothing compared to the army.
“What’re doing sititng here by yourself?”
“Waiting for my friends to get back.”
“Where ya going? You look all packed up.”
“We’re, uh, gonna climb the mountain.”
“Sounds fun, very mind-clearing.”
“Do you, uh, wanna come?”
“Me? Oh, no, I should stay with Amy. She really needs someone right now.”
“Alright, well, it was nice meeting you then.”
“You too. Listen, be careful up there.”
“Thanks.” I finished down the Coke just as Andy pulled his truck up in front of the diner.
I walked outside and met the guys. Andy was helping Steve off the back of the truck while Erik and Connor unloaded their even heavier looking backpacks. I was nervous. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. I had a broken arm and climbing rocks probably wouldn’t help, nor would it be easy. I missed Robby. He would’ve known what to do. He would’ve been responsible and not lied to dad. He would’ve known better than to suggest something like this. I sat down on a bench outside of the diner and watched my friends talking excitedly about our adventure. I closed my eyes while they talked about the adventure. This week had really worn me out.
“Chris. Chris, wake up. We’re gonna be late for school!” I heard Robby’s voice and opened my eyes. I was in my room and Robby was standing over me. It was all a horrible dream! My arm was okay! I climbed out of bed and pulled on some clothes. I was excited to see Robby. It felt like I had been asleep for days. I ran downstairs for some breakfast. My mom was making pancakes for everyone and my dad was reading the newspaper next to Claire at the table. I sat next to Robby and ate my pancakes, the first pancakes I have had in years.
Once we finished, I followed Robby out to his pickup truck and climbed in. We headed down the all too familiar road towards school. We pulled up to the stop sign and I saw a car rushing towards us from the left. I screamed loudly and someone started saying my name. I was shaking, and I started crying. Someone kept repeating my name, I heard a crash and I jolted, and then I was in front of the diner. All the guys were staring at me, and I wouldn’t blame them. I had tears running down my face and I was shaking.
“You okay?” Erik sat down next to me and motioned for the others to walk away.
I shook my head, “I had a nightmare, but just now. It was about Robby. And the accident.” I wiped my face and took out a cigarette. I was thinking about just going home and letting them go on without me. If I was having bad dreams just sitting on a bench in town, I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I went out into the woods.
“You’ll be okay. Maybe this is just too soon. Maybe you need some time at home.”
“But everyone is all ready to go. You guys go, I’ll go home. You guys should have fun.”
“Well, if you don’t go, then I won’t go, and I doubt Connor and Steve wouldn’t go without us.”
“Let’s do it. I can’t be upset forever!”
“It’s only been two days, Chris. Wednesday, it’s Friday.”
“Exactly. Wednesday, Thursday and today were spent upset in my room alone. Let’s get out there and have some fun!”
“Promise me you’ll be okay? And careful with your arm?”
“Promise.” We stood to join the guys. They acted as if nothing happened. I hoped these nightmares would go away soon, it was the second one already. Steve hugged Andy goodbye and they wished us luck. It was getting pretty dark out by this point. We walked through the center of town, getting glances from people wondering what we were doing. I shoved my hands in my pockets and ignored the looks. I felt something jingling in there and pulled it out. It was Robby’s crucifix necklace. I forgot he had given it to me a few weeks ago. I held it tight in my hand and kissed it. It would be my good luck charm.