“Make sure you have everything.” Thomas’s father instructed. He was at the truck, storing the now compact tent in the back.
Thomas dropped his backpack beside Briar’s in the truck bed. Then he surveyed their campsite. It looked exactly as it had when they had arrived a week ago. He figured it would be obvious if they were forgetting something.
Logan brought his things over, taking a moment to place two books in the back seat before attempting to get his suitcase stowed. It was the last item, so there wasn’t much room. Thomas and Briar had to help him wedge it between Thomas’s backpack and the now empty cooler.
“Did you have fun?” Briar grinned at them.
“I’ll never look at fish the same.” Thomas assured her. He still felt a little queasy thinking about Briar gutting the fish she had caught. It had tasted alright, but the whole time they had eaten he hadn’t been able to forget the sight of her scooping out its insides like she had done it before. She probably had, too.
“You know what that is?” Briar wrapped an arm around his neck. “A memory that will last forever.” She poked his cheek.
“Great.” He tried to sound sarcastic, but he heard Logan laughing at them. He grinned and laughed too.
“All aboard!” His father honked the truck’s horn.
“It’s a truck.” Briar chastised him as she hopped into the front passenger seat. “Not a boat or a train. I don’t think you get to say that.”
Thomas and Logan got into the back seat. Out the window, Thomas watched as they drove through the winding roads of the campground. Then they hit real roads, and shortly after that they were on the highway.
He sighed and turned away from the window.
“Here.” Logan held out one of his books. Thomas recognized the cover of ‘The Lonely Moon’. “I finished it.”
Thomas accepted the book with a thanks. He was hesitant to start it, since he had gotten motion sickness the last time he tried to read in a vehicle. But maybe that was because he was reading some boring textbook for school.
He opened the book to the first page and started reading.
Before he knew it, he was three chapters in and the truck was pulling to a stop. He looked up and realized that they were in front of his house. “Thanks.” He told Logan, offering the book back to him.
But Logan shook his head. “Keep it until you finish it.”
“Oh. Thanks.” Thomas was a little worried about how he would get the book back to him when he had finished. He guessed he could return it through Briar if he had too, and he knew how to get in contact with her. “Thanks a lot.”
Briar was waiting for him when he got out of the truck. She had his backpack and sleeping bag. When he tried to take them from her, she refused to let go. “At the door.” She promised.
So, Thomas had to let his sister carry his things to the front door. He wondered what his classmates would think if they saw this. Then he wondered what Briar would do if they were making comments about it. He suppressed a laugh at the thought of Briar chasing his classmates down to prove that she was just as strong as any of them.
“Thanks again for coming. It was fun.” She gave him a hug at the door. “Logan had a great time, too. You should come again next year.”
Thomas nodded. If she extended the invitation again, he probably would. Camping hadn’t been as bad as he thought it would be.
Then he thought of something that made him frown. He would have to voice it before it caused any trouble. “How come you never told me you had a brother? Or rather, another brother.”
“Oh.” Briar cocked her head to the side. “Did I not?” She shrugged dismissively. “It must have just never come up.”
That was not the sort of response Thomas had been hoping for. He wondered if Briar had been intentionally trying to keep it a secret.
“I’ll see you at school, okay?” She gave him another hug before jogging back to the truck. He waved as the truck drove away.