“Is there anything in particular I should start with or should I just go for it?” I asked Kase as I lowered myself onto the next branch. I was realizing how far apart some of them were and briefly wondered how we had both gotten up so fast; I also realized that we were kinda scared and that’s a good motivator.
“I think you should just start at the beginning,” Kase said, his breathing slowing. “But should it be sad?”
“Yeah,” I said, not even able to reply ‘just a little bit.’
“Okay,” he said. “I can handle it.”
I laughed a bit, “That’s not what I was worried about, but okay. Let me figure out where to start.”
I thought for a second before realizing that I should start at the beginning.
“There once was a girl—” I began,
“Are you seriously starting it like that?” he asked.
I huffed and looked up at him. “Do you want to know what happened or not?”
Kase grinned. “Continue,” he called cheerfully.
I chuckled. “As I was trying to say before I was so rudely interrupted—”
“Hypocrite,” Kase chimed in.
I looked up at him to see him cackling.
“Sorry, sorry, continue,” he giggled.
“I started out living in the streets and was adopted by a gang, the end,” I said flatly.
Kase shook his head, “Calypso, please? I won’t interrupt this time.”
I wasn’t so sure about that.
“Seriously, no more interrupting,” I said.
“I promise,” Kase said solemnly, “I’ll do my absolute best to filter my mischievous side.”
I laughed, shaking my head. “Don’t do that, it’s painful, trust me.”
Kase looked excited, “You have a mischievous side?”
I rolled my eyes and looked at him, “Am I giving you a rundown of my life or am I telling you all the times I’ve pranked someone?”
Kase thought, “Maybe your life, actually, because that gives me more information.” He grinned again, “Also, you’ve pranked people in your life, so that’s included.”
I laughed again, “You little goober.”
Kase laughed, too. “I can’t help it!” He said. “Seriously, though. What did you do as you grew up?”
I looked down. “We have a good ten feet to go,” I said, “but I’ll try to go over most of it.”
“You can talk as we head back to the warehouse,” Kase said. “Also, we can get some more sticks and nuts.”
“That sounds so weird,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Okay, um… like I said, I started off in the streets. I don’t remember my parents; all I remember is always being hungry and cold. My clothes never fit right and it rained a lot. Maybe I’m just remembering the bad days, but I don’t think I am. It just rained a lot; too much, sometimes. I was never thirsty, but I was always cold and wet.
“One night I remember finding a little cat. He didn’t want any of the food I had stolen, so I just tried to keep him dry. In the end, I fell asleep with it and it died, in the middle of the night.”
I stopped talking, my arms starting to shake. “You know what?” I said, licking my lips and shaking my head. “This might be a little dark for you…”
“Calypso,” Kase said in the most commanding voice I’d ever heard him use; to be fair, I wasn’t going off of much previous experience, “how many bad things do you think I’ve heard growing up here?”
I shrugged, “A lot.” I looked away. “You know that I’m not from here, right?”
“Yep,” Kase said, smiling as he kept moving. “I think everyone knows at this point. It’s not hard to tell. The part we don’t understand is how you got here.”
I laughed humorlessly. “I almost wish I didn’t.” I realized how bad that sounded after I said it and my eyes widened, “Um, no offence or anything.”
“None taken,” Kase said, “I wish I wasn’t here either.” After a moment, he cast a teasing look my way. “No offence.”
I laughed a bit. “Okay.” I kept moving. “A man was walking past one night and I ran into him as I was running out of a store with some stolen food. The shop owner was chasing me and I ended up getting caught.” I smiled slightly at the memory. “It was bread, and it was soggy as soon as I stepped into the rain, but I still ate it. I took a big bite out of it just to spite the man. The worst he could do to me was send me to an orphanage. The man who I had run into ended up buying the bread from the shop owner and bringing me to his house. He kinda adopted me and I became part of his family.”
I kept thinking, smiling a little bigger as I did so. “We were a ludicrous family, I suppose you could say.”
“Don’t worry, I know what that means, continue,” Kase said.
I blinked. “Was that sarcasm or not?”
“Not,” Kase laughed. “I was serious that time. Sorry.”
I shook my head. “You’re fine.” I raised an eyebrow at him, slightly amused. “Are you done?”
“Probably not,” he admitted.
I laughed again, “Fair enough. I’ll continue anyway.” I paused, trying to remember where you were.
“You were a ludicrous family,” Kase prompted.
I nodded, “If you can imagine me being the little sister to around ten boys of different ages, that’s only the tip of the iceburg. We all loved each other, but we definitely got on each other’s nerves. The first night I was there, I heard them arguing about my being there and how I was a girl. I tried to sneak out that night. I almost succeeded, too, except they had one of the boys stationed at the only door to make sure that I wouldn’t escape. That was my trial, I guess. I hadn’t realized at the time.”
“They gave you a trial before you were let into the family?” Kase seemed appalled.
I nodded. “They weren’t exactly like the warehouse gang,” I began.
Kase snorted. “Is that what you call us?”
I looked up at him, “You can’ t judge me for trying to find a name for a group that doesn’t seem to have a name.”
Kase looked at me, “That’s basically the point, though. We don’t have a name.”
I kept studying him. “I don’t get it,” I said.
Kase grinned, drawing even with me on the tree. We were now only a few feet from the ground.
“What I mean,” he began, “is that no one can tattle on a gang that has no name.” He grinned at me. “Also, guess what?”
I looked at him curiously. “What?”
He grinned even broader and hopped off the bottom branch. “Beat you,” he said.
I gaped at him, realizing that he had, indeed, beaten me.
“Oh, you little…” I began, jumping down after him.
“I won,” he said, still smirking at me, “you can’t reverse that.”
I grinned at him. “No, but I can chase you for it. How do you feel about being tickled?”
He cast me an odd look. “What’s “tickled”?”
I smiled broader. “Oh, you’re going to regret you ever asked that question.”
Kase grinned back. “Bring it.”