“I don’t care what you think of me,” Reagan says, giving him a defiant shrug as she swipes away tears. “Your family has money—big deal. So does mine. But I don’t see you trying to do something big with your life. I was headed to the Olympics, okay? The goddamn Olympics!”
“We know you were,” Summer says, sympathetic. “And we’re sorry.”
“I don’t need your pity,” Reagan tells her. “The only reason Kendrick is interested in you is because you piss off his parents.”
“Hey!” Kendrick says, agitated.
“This is my trip,” she says, thumping her chest. “I paid for all this stuff and I arranged everything. This was supposed to make me feel better. It wasn’t about any of you.”
“You’re being a huge asshole, you know that?” Lennon tells Reagan.
“I’m being real,” she says. “And while we’re getting everything out in the open, let me just say what a complete and utter dick you’ve been to Brett on this trip. He wanted you to come.”
“Did he? Because he wants to glom onto my dad’s fame? Or to distract Zorie from the fact you and Brett are seeing each other because you knew she’d be hurt by this? Either reason is shitty.”
“Really uncool, man,” Brett says. “I was just trying to help Reagan play Cupid. Everyone knows you’re carrying a massive torch for Zorie, so why are you complaining?”
What? No way is that true.
Reagan points at Lennon. “See? Brett likes you, and you’ve been nothing but a prick to him since we left Melita Hills. You should be grateful he’s impressed by your has-been punk-rock father.”
Lennon’s lips thin into a straight line. “Keep my father’s name out of your mouth.”
“No one cares! No one even remembers him.”
I’ve seen Lennon angry plenty of times. But right now, he’s furious. He never used to be so defensive about his father. His moms, yes, but every time someone has brought up his dad, a storm cloud drops over his head.
“Everyone, please calm down,” Summer begs.
Brett steps forward. “Look, we’re all saying things we don’t really mean. Zorie, I’m sorry we didn’t tell you about us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all enjoy each other’s company. Reagan and I both want the same thing—for everyone to have a good time. Is that so wrong?”
“A good time?” Lennon repeats. “You could have gotten us killed tonight.”
“You’d like to make everyone believe that, wouldn’t you? Maybe the problem is that you led us out into bear country. Maybe you’re a shitty wilderness guide.”
This is the tipping point for me. All the revelations that have surfaced in the last few minutes line up in my head like coordinates on a map:
Reagan not only failed to tell me about her relationship with Brett, but she also tried to con me into starting something up with Lennon—just so that she could have Brett for herself.
She’s been holding a grudge against me because I’m friends with Avani.
Summer has spread gossip all around school about me and Lennon.
Brett is definitely not interested in me.
I’m definitely not interested in Brett. Not anymore. The thrill is so gone.
All of these things stack on top of each other, incremental scraps of trash, piling up on the heap of garbage that is my life right now. Because back at home, I still have to face my cheating father. My unaware mother. The embarrassment of the Mackenzies knowing about our sordid family problems.
And Lennon. Being around him has awakened a dormant hope inside me, and to know that my interactions with him were manipulated is the worst kind of betrayal. I thought I was starting to enjoy his company again, but was I? Or were we both just being scripted to talk to each other inside Reagan’s puppet show? Looking back now, I can’t tell what was real and what’s been forced.
Something snaps inside my head.
I pick up the lid and slam it onto the canister, twirling it into place until the safety mechanism double clicks. Then I walk the container over to Brett, shoving it into his hands. “Not faulty.”
Brett blinks at the canister, then at me. No one says anything for a long moment. It’s Reagan’s voice that breaks the silence.
“You want to be petty?” she says. “Fine. You can forget about sitting with me when school starts back next week. We’re done. Go back to Avani.”
I turn around and face her, angry tears welling. “Avani never abandoned you. Avani still likes you, for some stupid reason! You’re the one who started hanging out with private school kids after your parents got rich. You’re the one who thought training for the Olympics was more important than hanging out with your friends. And what did that get you? A bunch of friends who only hang with you out of pity or social obligation. Wake up, Reagan. No one even cares that you failed the stupid Olympic trials. Running isn’t even a talent—it’s just moving your legs!”
“Zorie,” Lennon says quietly.
I look around and everyone is staring at me as though I’ve just insulted them. It takes me a second to realize that maybe I did. And you know what? I don’t think I care. Maybe it was unfair to drag Kendrick into this, but the rest of them can go to hell. Right now, I hate Brett for ever kissing me, filling me with hope. I hate Summer for trying to manipulate me. And I definitely hate Reagan for ruining my summer.
Until I look at her.
For one glimmering moment, she looks as though she might cry. And that makes me feel . . . horrible. I’m not this person. I don’t get in nasty fights with people. Arguing gives me hives.
I want to tell her I’m sorry.
I want her to tell me she’s sorry.
I want to rewind back to the morning my mom told me about this awful trip and tell her no.
Just when I open my mouth to apologize, Reagan says, “Thanks for destroying this trip.” She gestures toward Lennon. “You can both go and screw yourselves.” She pivots, about to turn around, but then stops. “Oh, and by the way, your skeevy dad tried to sleep with Michelle Johnson’s mom after the Olympic fund-raiser in Berkeley this spring. I never told my mom, because she’d stop patronizing your parents’ stupid clinic, but you can bet I’m telling her now.”
Time stops. I don’t move, don’t breathe, don’t even blink. It’s not until I feel hot tears sliding down my cheeks that I realize I’m crying. And for a second, I’m still frozen in place, trying to summon a response. But I can’t.
My head is empty. I just want it all to go away. Reagan. Brett. Lennon. This disaster of a camping trip.
All of it sticks painfully in my throat, unable to escape. I feel as if I’m drowning while tiny piranhas nip at my skin, eating off chunks of my pride. And because we’re out here in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, with a hungry bear and God only knows what else nearby, I do the only thing I can do, which is to retreat to my tent.
I barely can find my way in the moonlight. It seems far darker out here than it does in the city. And after I nearly break my neck, stumbling over dead wood and rocks, I somehow manage to get inside and zip myself away from the rest of the group. It’s an ineffective substitute for a door slamming, take that! moment, especially when I realize that I can still hear voices in the distance. I can’t make out what they’re saying, but it really kills the illusion of privacy.