Mom and dad might be enjoying their honeymoon a little too much. I guess they deserve it or whatever, but I’m stuck watching the brats all the time. I let them run off today, mostly because I was too tired to keep up with them, and Summer found me hanging out by the campfire.
It’s so good talking to her. She was telling me how she was trying to learn everything about the natural herbs that grew in Granite Falls, and normally that stuff would bore me, but I could listen to her go on for hours. I told her about the place we’d found the day before, but I couldn’t find it again. We’d gotten lucky, getting lost in the woods.
I wish I knew anything about being cool. I was my usual jokey self, and she laughed at my dumb jokes. The joy of being me is I just go for it all the time, and sometimes it kicks butt, and sometimes it falls flat. But Summer seems to think I have a real thing going. I told her about how I wanted to be a comedian, and my friends have been pushing me to put all this stuff up online. She seemed really excited about it, and we talked about the channels we followed for like an hour. It’s weird how time flies with her, like I don’t even have to think about it. I can’t stop thinking about her, I know that for sure.
When she left to walk with her sister back to their cabin, I just. I don’t know. My chest gets tight around her, but in a good way. Like if I don’t see her I’m holding in all my breath, and when I do it’s all one big exhale. How is someone sweet and pretty and smart and cool all in one go? And she laughs at my jokes.
We all went back to our own cabin, and dad lit the pit again, though with a little more fire safety this time. It was our last night in the cabin, so we had a pretty easy time of it.
We ate out on the patio, beneath the stars.
And as the night got later, the brats went to play Don’t Wake the Llama, and dad sat with them. Mom made coffee in the kitchen. I actually quite my barista job not too long ago, missing my free time and no longer having to worry about when I’d see dad, and I’ve been in a caffeine meltdown since then. I grabbed a cup and joined her outside.
The night was… serene’s the only word for it. We could hear crickets chirping up a symphony all around us, with the croaks from the frogs in the nearby water, and the gentle rustling of small animals running through the brush. The smell of other people’s campfires made the air warm, and for a minute we sat there in silence, just enjoying it.
“This was a really good trip,” I said finally, mostly to break the quiet.
Mom smiled at me. “I thought for sure you’d hate it.”
“I don’t hate everything you like,” I muttered.
That made her laugh. And I think that made me feel worse. I haven’t been the best son in the past few months.
“Mom,” I said, “I’m sorry. I’ve been a jerk.”
She put her hand on my arm. “I was putting it up to teenage rebellion.”
“But seriously. I think I blamed you for a lot of stuff that isn’t really you’re fault.”
“What every mother wants to hear.” She sat back, looking up at the stars. “I’ve always tried to be honest with you, all of you, but especially you, Quentin. You’re the oldest. You’re always going to have the most amount of responsibility. And maybe it’s my fault for putting all of that on you now.”
“I know this legacy stuff is important to you.”
“I don’t have any other family,” she said with a sigh. “Even your dad has his sister and her family. The thought of any of my children moving far away scares me a little, but that shouldn’t stop you. You know I’d support any choice you made.”
I know it’s silly, but the way she said it, I felt like a kid again, like I wanted to have my mom hug me and tell me everything was going to be alright.
“You know,” I said, “Willow Creek’s a pretty alright place. And I have been thinking about what I wanted added to the house.”
A grin stretched across her face. “What ideas do you got?”
“An arcade room for one,” I said. “You and Mira would love that. Maybe a basement for Lance so he never has to see sunlight again. Dad can have his own criminal lair.”
“And what about you?” she asked. “What do you want?”
I really didn’t know. I still don’t. What do I want?
“I’ll figure it out,” I told her. “Eventually.”