chapter 9 || kai
Also known as the place where I will be staying in hell for the next couple of weeks. A little cabin in hell, resting beside Satan.
Opening the door, the smell of some really girly perfume hits me, the exact same one from back at the tree. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like a nice scent or two, but there’s a line between too girly and just right.
I lean up against the door frame watching as Callie moves gracefully around the room putting her stuff away. “Hey,” I say, not moving any further into the room.
“Oh, hi there. Kai, right?” Callie asks, stopping her dance across the room. I nod in response, still not moving from my spot in the door. “You can come in, ya know. I don’t bite.”
I chuckle, pushing myself off the door frame. “Sorry. I’m not good with new people.” Emma was always the extrovert of the two of us. Emma would always jump at any chance of interacting with someone new and making a new friend. I, on the other hand, rather stay at home and interact with the few people I actually liked.
“I get that.” We stand in uncomfortable silence, eyes darting everywhere. “Um, so I already claimed this bed, so I guess that’s yours?” Callie offers, gesturing to the bed next to the window.
I nod again, setting my backpack down beside the suitcase at the foot of the bed. The cabin is made to look like a log house, and it looks really pretty. There isn’t much space in here and the bed seems a little unstable.
It’s only a couple of weeks. It’ll be fine.
I take a look out the window, greeted with the sight of many little kids, no more than the age of 10, sitting at tables near the giant tree where we were just at. The kids seem to be listening intently to their group leader, all clutching a piece of paper.
I guess grief doesn’t have an age limit.
After unpacking, I sit on the bed with my back resting against the wall, wishing to go back home to the comfort of my own bed and the warmth of a bottle in my hand. As fucked up as it sounds, I want to be in the presence of Emma. I know that she isn’t physically here anymore, but her spirit is lingering around everywhere back home. Out here, there’s no sense of Emma.
I shift my gaze over to Callie, studying my roommate for the next couple of weeks. Her skin is a nice tan which looks natural Her blonde hair flows down her back, ending almost mid back but not quite. She doesn’t seem like the type of person to need a grief camp. Her personality is bubbly and energetic, the exact opposite of what I would expect from someone who’s grieving.
But one thing I learned from Emma’s death is that things are almost never as they seem.
Maybe if I knew that earlier than I could’ve saved her.
“I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what’s your story?” I ask Callie, just getting it out of the way. She tenses up slightly, before turning around with all traces of uncomfortable gone. I brush off the tensing up, realizing that I probably would do the same if someone just popped that question on me all of a sudden.
“I was a foster kid until I was officially adopted at 14, but I had been living with the family since I was a little over 12. My adoptive parents, Jane and Rob, they died in a car crash with a drunk driver a couple of months ago. Because I’m just a couple months short of 18, the court let me live under the care of my older sister, Megan rather than throwing me back into the system. I know I’m not their biological kid, but over the years I really thought of them to be my parents, ya know?
“And Megan, she is, or was their biological child, and with the stress of college and funeral planning and her own grieving, I was left on my own. I don’t blame her, I mean, she’s a 20 year old with all this responsibility all of a sudden. I just fell into this funk. I stopped talking to my friends, quit softball, broke up with my boyfriend, completely isolated myself from everyone and everything. Megan couldn’t give me the help I needed and so she sent me here. So, here we are.”
Wow. That was a lot. There really is no right response to that. “I’m really sorry. That sucks.” I mentally facepalm myself. ‘That sucks’? I couldn’t do anything better? I bet she hates the whole “I’m so sorry for your loss” ordeal, cuz I know I am.
“Yeah, but I’m here to heal or at least give it a shot for my sister.” Callie sits Indian style on her bed, running her hand through her hair. “So, what’s your story?”
Fuck. I knew this was coming. I mean, it’s only fair that she asks me; she did just spill her guts to me. If this camp is basically just a giant group therapy session, I gotta share.
I take a deep breath. “A few months ago, my best friend killed herself. And Ryder, the guy who was sitting next to me earlier in the group, she was his girlfriend of 2 years. I know it’s nothing like your story at all, but she was there for me when no one else really was.” Losing a parent, especially as a foster kid, that’s tough. Her parents didn’t choose to die, it was an accident, unlike Emma, who had a choice.”
That hurts the most.
The fact that Emma chose to leave, she chose to end her life, hurts. She had the option to live but she completely disregarded that. She left me behind. She left Ryder. Most people don’t get that choice to leave the ones who love them behind.
“Hey, a loss is a loss, no matter how big or small,” Cassie responds, giving me a sad smile, one I’ve seen too much these past couple months. It’s the smile that says ‘I’m sorry for your loss and I wish I could do more but I don’t really know what to do’
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
We sit in a calm silence before Callie jumps slightly all of a sudden, a look of mischief spreading across her face. I raise my eyebrow, questioning the sudden change in mood.
“So, you’re friend Ryder,” she starts off, “he’s pretty hot, don’t you think?”
“Ryder? Uh, no. I guess he’s good looking, but to say hot is really pushing it.” I shake my head at the thought, grossed out by imaging Ryder as “hot”. He’s definitely good looking for sure, seeing how most girls fawn over him, but hot? Never.
Callie looks at me incredulously. “What? You don’t think he’s hot? Girl, he’s smoking.”
I laugh at her enthusiasm. “Ryder’s my oldest friend, Callie. Since we were born. Our moms are best friends who just happen to live near each other, which lead to a lot of childhood playdates, which lead to becoming close friends. Thinking of him as hot is kinda gross.”
Callie holds up her hands, giving in. “Okay, okay. So he’s not hot. Agree to disagree.”
I smile gratefully, not needing to think of Ryder as a hot stud. I lean back against the bed, satisfied that I won.
“Not even a little?” Callie squeaks again.
I roll my eyes and chuck the pillow next to me at her, which she successfully catches.
Even if this camp is a complete flop, hopefully I’ll at least come out of here with a new friend.