Thomas stared into the dying fire. He focused on the glow of the coals and tried to ignore the sounds around him. It was difficult, and he eventually gave up.
Across the fire pit, Briar and Logan were laughing. Briar’s hands were covered in melted chocolate and gooey marshmallow from all the smores she had eaten. Despite the mess, she was still trying to convince Logan to pass her the bag of marshmallows.
“I’ll put one on for you.” Logan tried to compromise. “Just keep your hands-- No!”
Briar was making grabby hands in his face. In his attempts to get away, Logan almost tipped over his chair. Briar grabbed his arm to steady him.
They both looked at Briar’s hand for a moment. Then they burst into more laughter.
Thomas looked down at the smore in his hands. He had made it because that’s what they were doing, but he wasn’t too eager to eat it. He wasn’t a fan of sweet foods. He considered handing it over to Briar, since she could apparently eat an entire bag of marshmallows by herself without consequence.
“You two get that from your mother.” Thomas’s father chuckled from the chair next to Thomas. He wasn’t roasting marshmallows like they were. Instead, he had a beer in his hand and was just lounging. “I don’t think I’ll ever meet a woman with a larger sweet tooth.”
“Hey!” Briar scoffed, offended.
Her dad raised his beer to her. “Point taken.”
Thomas felt a cold mix of surprise and envy run through him as he stared at Briar and Logan. They had the same mother? He knew his father was raising Briar on his own, so he wasn’t together with her mother anymore. That didn’t help the painful feeling he got.
If they were full siblings, and Thomas was just their half-brother, then it made sense that he was removed from the loop of information. He was starting to feel lucky that he had even known about Briar.
“You’re more like me, though. Right Tommy?” His father nudged his shoulder in a companionable way. Thomas glared at him. Briar was the only one he ever let call him Tommy.
But his father didn’t notice the look. He just squeezed Thomas’s shoulder while he spoke. “Not one for sugar. Good man. You’ll be healthier in the future.”
Thomas shrugged the hand away. “Like you--” He started to mutter, but stopped when he caught Briar looking at him.
She looked hopeful. Was this why she invited him on this trip? To make him and his father talk? Well, that wasn’t going to happen.
Thomas stood up and walked around the fire pit. He handed his smore to Logan, who looked confused but thanked him. He just nodded in return before walking away.
He went to the tent. As he lay down on top of his sleeping bag, he could hear the others’ conversation start up again. They were laughing as they reminisced about something or other.
Too late, Thomas realized what he had done.
Here he was, alone, while the others made new memories without him. He had removed himself.
But he was too proud to go back, so instead he turned over and closed his eyes.