Briar was grinning from ear to ear when Thomas opened the door. He took a moment to take in her dark green t-shirt that probably came from the men’s section of Walmart and tan cargo shorts. Her long hair was pulled through the back of a baseball cap, leaving her excited face unobscured.
“Are you ready to go?” She leaned around him to see into the house. “Where’s your stuff?”
When Briar moved, Thomas could see the large truck parked on the street in front of his house. Nerves made his heart beat faster when he saw the man behind the wheel. Why had he agreed to this?
Even as he second guessed his decision, the reason pushed past him to get his gear. He was doing this for Briar.
Or, rather, he was doing this for himself, but it was so that he could spend time with Briar. Even though she was his sister, they almost never got to see each other growing up. Briar lived with their father, while Thomas lived with his mom and stepdad.
“Tommy?” Briar nudged his shoulder. She was carrying his large backpack in one hand and a sleeping bag in the other.
Thomas immediately reached for the backpack. “Let me.” The sleeping bag was light, but he was worried that the backpack would be too heavy for her.
She surprised him by holding the backpack high in the air. He was taller than her, so it wasn’t exactly out of his reach, but the ease with which she did it made him stop. “I’ve got it.” She laughed. “Just wondering if I missed anything.”
“Uh…” Thomas shook his head. “No, that’s it.”
“Great.” Briar strolled back toward the truck.
Thomas locked the door and hurried after her. He caught up just as she finished storing his stuff. Along with a large tent and bin marked ‘Camping Equipment’, he saw two other backpacks and a suitcase. He was suddenly worried that he hadn’t packed everything he would need.
Briar had just said enough clothes for a week, but she went camping a lot more than Thomas did. Had she assumed he would know what else to pack? Was he too stupid to know what was needed?
“You okay sitting in the back?” Briar was already opening the front passenger side door.
“Uh, yeah.” Thomas would rather sit alone in the back than beside his father, whom he hadn’t had a conversation with in years. He quickly pulled open the door beside him.
A nervous face turned to look at him, and he stared back.
Someone was already sitting in the back seat of the truck. They looked to be about thirteen and were right at that stage in growing up where it took Thomas a moment to determine that they were a boy. He was dressed similarly to Briar, only he was wearing pants instead of shorts.
“Hi.” Thomas greeted them nervously. Feeling self-conscious, he took the other spot in the back seat and buckled up.
“Oh.” Briar laughed. “I guess you two don’t know each other.” She turned in her seat as her dad started driving. “Thomas, this is Logan. Logan, Thomas.”
Thomas tried to smile at Logan. He got a nervous nod in return before Logan turned his attention back to a book in his hands. Apparently, he was one of those people who didn’t get sick reading in a moving vehicle.
Thomas sighed through his nose and turned his attention to the window. He listened to Briar fiddle with the radio and prepared to wait out the drive to the camp site.