Fight or Flight
"Why'd youse lie ta me?" I demanded of Robin. I was furious at Robin for lying to me about kissing Race. Right after I had talked to him, I had stormed back to Brooklyn and sought out Robin. She was laying on my bunk, a smug look on her face.
"Ise knew it would make youse jealous." She jumped down and faced me. "Ise was tryin ta prove a point and Ise just did."
"Wat point was dat?"
"Dat youse neva really liked me and dat youse care more bout dose Manhattan goirls den me."
I stared at her, wondering where this was coming from. "Wat are youse talkin about? If Ise didn't like youse, why would Ise take youse ta see da ocean?"
"Youse is good wit woirds. Youse know wat ta say ta make goirls fall in love wit youse. Sides, youse've been spending so much time lookin for dat Allegra goirl youse haven't been payin me no mind."
"Ise have not!" I had been looking around for Allegra, but not as much as I could have been. "Youse showed up long before she left and Ise spent all dat time wit youse instead of wit her. If youse hadn't shown up when youse did, she'd be my goirl by now!"
"So youse do like her!"
"Yes. No! Yes. Ise don't know!" I threw my hands in the air and sighed. "My feelins are all mixed up now. Ise did like her at first, but den youse showed up and Ise don't know how Ise feel anymore."
"Why does everybody blame da goirl?" Robin planted her feet and put her hands on her hips, glaring at me. "It ain't always da goirl's fault if da boy can't decide how he feels."
Instead of answering her, I put my hands on her shoulders and kissed her. I wasn't really sure why I did it, but it seemed like the right thing to do in the heat of the moment. She didn't pull back, just kissed me right back. The sound of the door opening pulled us apart. Nevan walked in, looking amused.
"Don't stop on account of me," he told us, laughter in his voice. Robin and I both blushed wildly, not looking at each other. A girl with very blond hair followed him and he smiled at her. "Dis is Killian Adrian. She's my good friend."
Robin glared at her. "Ise'm Robin, dat's my man, and Ise don't like youse."
"Bridget Killarney!" Nevan, Killian, and I all looked at Robin, shocked.
"That was rude," Killian stated. She didn't sound mad though, just shocked. "But I'm going to try and forgive you for that. It's very nice to meet you too. Do you prefer Robin or Bridget?"
Robin ignored Killian's outstretched hand. "Ise prefer neither, comin from youse."
"Okay then. Is there a name you prefer I call you?"
"Where'd youse find dis goirl?" Robin asked Nevan, turning to him.
"I found him," Killian responded before Nevan could open his mouth. "My family happens to be old friends with Nevan's. We grew up together."
Robin shook her head in disgust as she walked out of the Lodging house without a word. Killian laughed as Nevan and I shook our heads. "She's a fiery one, isn't she? Whoever marries her will have their hands full." For some reason, both Killian and Nevan looked at me as she said that.
"Don't look at me. We's ain't a couple."
"Sure. That's what they all say." They followed Robin out the door and left me scratching my head.
"Please?" Chepi begged me. She wanted me to go with her to the town near the reserve with her and meet up with some friends. Actually, she wanted to meet a boy there but my aunt Cha'Risa had said no. The only way my cousin could go now was if I agreed to go with her and meet her friends as well. "I really want to meet this boy. I think he likes me. I know I really like him and I want to see if he asks me to be his girl. Besides, Toby's friend Vincent was asking about you. You should go meet him again. He really likes you."
"But I don't care about him." I kept working on the moccasins I was making. My plan was to finish two pairs and send them back to New York for Boyden and Darien's birthday in a few months. I had made a vest for Racetrack and several other gifts for my friends there. "You know my heart-"
"-belongs to another. Yeah yeah, I've heard it all before. But you're here and he's there. Why wait around for him? He didn't come after you, did he?"
"My sister is the most loyal girl you will ever know," Castel told Chepi as he entered the tent. "She is also the most stubborn. If she says no, she means no. Lenmana only cares about Racetrack and she will not be going into town with you to meet another boy."
Chepi pouted, but neither Castel or I gave in. Finally Chepi seemed to accept it and silently walked outside. I smiled gratefully at Castel.
"Thank you," I told him. "I owe you."
"Yes you do," Castel told me, kissing my forehead in a brotherly way. "Don't be forgetting that. I will collect it from you one day soon."
Castel collected his favor from me the next week. It was late January now, and the roads were still very much covered in snow. Castel wanted me to come ice fishing with him. I wasn't really sure why, because only the men went ice fishing. The women never went; they always stayed at camp and took care of things there.
"I just want to spend time with my favorite sister," he said when he was asked about it. After much talk, it was decided that I would be allowed to go with my brother, and we set out for a full day of ice fishing. "I've been thinking," Castel told me as we walked.
"Thinking? That's dangerous," I joked. "You should have warned me. I would have stayed at home."
"Na-Na, I'm serious. I've been thinking about New York. I think we should write to Mama and Papa. Maybe by now they'll be ready to listen and we can talk to them about school."
I sighed as I set my things down at the edge of the river. "I don't know Castel. Maybe they will be. But what if they're not? Then what?"
"I didn't think of that," Castel admitted. We set up our things and settled down to fish. We spent most of the day outside fishing. We alternated between talking about home, talking about Maggie and Racetrack, and sitting in silence. Chepi came out later in the evening and brought us something to eat. She had brought some food for herself to eat and sat with us. Just before she left, she pointed down the river at two figures."
Who are they? Do you know them?"
Castel and I looked up. "I don't know them," he said.
"I don't think…no wait, I think I do. That taller man is Mr Snyder! He was the one Mama and Papa asked to find us! Castel, we need to go! He found us!"
"What?" Castel and Chepi looked confused as I hurriedly gathered our stuff in my arms.
"I can't explain! Just grab your things and run! Let's go!" Mr Snyder and the other man had noticed us. They started coming after us as we ran. "Oh no! They saw us! What do we do!"
"I know a faster way to go!" Castel told us. He ran across the river. "It's this way! Follow me!"
I followed him, slipping on the ice. Halfway across, I slipped on a particularly icy spot and fell. My ankle turned and I screamed in pain. Chepi hauled me up and tried to help me. We had almost reached the edge when the ice cracked and I fell through.
"Castel! Castel, come back!" Chepi yelled. "Lenmana's hurt!"
"No! Go after him!" I told her as I struggled to climb out of the water. "I can't walk on my foot anyway. I'll only slow you down. Find Castel and help him get away!"
"I won't leave you," Chepi said as she pulled me out. She put an arm around my shoulder and we managed to start moving again.
"Over here!" Castel came crashing through the forest that was near the river. "We're over here. Len's hurt."
I was a bit surprised that Chepi had remembered the childhood nickname she had given me, but I quickly shook it off. "I hurt my ankle. You two go ahead."
"What about you?" my brother asked. "We can't leave you."
"I can hide in a tree. Once the men leave, I'll just climb down and make my way back. Go!" I gave them a push towards the forest and headed for the nearest tree. My foot hurt at even the slightest pressure, but I made myself keep climbing.
"Where did they go?" I could hear Mr Snyder talking to the other man right below the tree I was in. I froze and listened to them. "I saw the girl fall."
"I think they went through the forest," the shorter man said. "But if the girl is hurt, they can't have gotten far." They kept talking and in my cold, wet, and sore state, it felt like hours before they moved. I waited a few extra minutes to make sure they had left before starting to make my way down. I had only climbed a few branches before I heard a crack; looking around, I realized it was the one I was sitting on. I slowly tried shifting my weight off the branch, but it cracked even more. Suddenly I was falling through the air with no way to stop myself. I hit the ground with a thump and everything went black.