The next morning at breakfast, Mr. Sir's face has three long gashes on the side and has swollen a tremendous amount. Something tells me it's connected to Caveman being taken to the Warden yesterday, but I won't find out. Every boy notices, but most of us know better than to ask what happened, except for one who asks and gets thrown over by Mr. Sir.
My suspicions are confirmed when Mr. Sir doesn't fill Caveman's canteen, letting the water run onto the ground rather than into his canteen. I want to share some of my water, but I usually find myself out of water by the time I remember it would probably be nice to share.
That day, Zero began to help Caveman dig his holes. Yes, it pissed me off, but I kept my mouth, unlike the other guys. They made slavery and 'Caveman is the King' jokes. At one point, when the sun is the highest and my hands are bleeding from splinters, I almost make a snarky comment towards Caveman. X-Ray beats me to it.
"Must be nice to have your own personal slave." He says angrily.
"It isn't slavery." Caveman argues. "I'm teaching him to read."
I am suddenly reminded of Beth. In the seventh grade, I had a fourth grade reading level. I was only able to pass English class because she taught me better reading techniques than my teachers had ever taught me. She taught me a bunch of tricks to pick up context clues and look behind meanings. She helped me with my fluency and pronunciation of tricky words. Because of her, I passed English with an eleventh grade reading level.
So when Caveman announces that he's teaching Zero to read, I don't say anything. I may still hate the fact that Caveman gets help, but I have to respect someone who's willing to help out a friend in need.
"You really miss Beth, don't you?" Zigzag asks after I tell him this story behind the dining hall.
"Yeah." I say, looking down. "Yeah I do."
"So if she was such a great friend why did you, uh…" He searches for the right word.
"Ditch her?" I finish his sentence. He nods. "Same reason I ran away from my mom. She cared too much. I know it was stupid to leave the only people that gave a damn about me, but I was stupid then."
Zigzag smiled and kissed her forehead. "It may sound weird, but I'm really proud of you."
"For what?" I laugh. It was such an adult thing to say, it wasn't something you typically heard from your boyfriend or whatever Zigzag was to me.
"Realizing that you made a mistake. Most people can't do that."
I shrug. "I guess I'm not like most people."
"You aren't." He smiles. We are silent for a moment, enjoying the beautiful evening sky before he swallows and begins to talk again. "And I think that's why I lo-" But before he could continue, a voice cut him off.
"Who's out there?" Mr. Sir. Shit.
We don't need to talk; Zig and I had already discussed what to do in a situation like this. We fly up, and he grabs my waists and pushes me up. My fingers find the ledge of the building and I easily hoist myself up. Pulling Zigzag up after me is a fairly easy with all the muscle I have obtained from digging. We lay flat and hold our breath.
I hear footsteps right under us and know Mr. Sir is standing where we just were. I have a mini-panic wondering if he saw us get up. But he says nothing more as he walks away, and I sigh in relief. I turn to see Zig smiling and realize I am, too. We're enjoying the thrill of almost getting caught. That's new.
Something suddenly strikes me. What did Zigzag say before Mr. Sir came around? Well, what was he about to say? No, don't get your hopes up. He was probably gonna say love spending time or talking to you. He doesn't love you. The voice at the back of head screams this. Too afraid to ask, we're silent as we slip down and cautiously make our way back to D-Tent.
Zigzag gets back into bed right away, but I'm distracted by a slip of paper on the floor. The word Zero is written about ten times all over it in slopping handwriting. Once at the end, Hector is written twice, once in neat writing which I know is probably Caveman's, and another time in sloppy writing. Hector? Was that Zero's real name?
My head can't take any more questions, so I set the paper in Zero's things and crawl into bed. I dream that Caveman digs up a treasure chest full of diamonds and the Warden sends us home. When I get home, Suzy doesn't open the front door. Instead, Walter Stems does. He smiles and says "Welcome home, Sweetheart."
I wake up covered in sweat and violently shaking.
"Damn Squid, are you alright?" A voice says.
I turn sharply to see Magnet sitting in his bed, looking at me with concerned eyes. Right then and there, I know that he knows that I am girl. I can see it in his eyes; I can hear it in his voice. But I don't acknowledge this; instead, I answer his question.
"Bad dream." I mutter.
"You screamed." He says.
"Did I?" I rub my eyes and turn my back to him. I wasn't trying to be rude, but I was tired and needed sleep. Magnet doesn't reply, but I don't hear him shift and I know he is still looking at me, trying to figure out if his assumptions are right. If I scream in my sleep, I probably talk too, in my girl voice. I wonder if any of the other guys know. I'm too tired to care.
Whenever it rained behind the mountains, the lake got unbelievably humid. Sweat drenched my body and face as I dug the next day. I would have thought it was raining if my sweat wasn't so hot. You think you've ever been sweaty? Ha-ha, no. No one knows sweat and heat like us campers. You can dig in your backyard all you want but you will never know what it was like to be one of us.
"C'mon rain!" Armpit shouts as we hear thunder from across the barren wasteland. "Blow this way!"
"Maybe it'll rain so hard it will fill up the whole lake. We can go swimming." I share every camper's fantasy.
"Forty days and forty nights." X-Ray smiles. "Guess we better start building us an ark." Yes please, that sounds a lot more fun than digging. "Get two of each animal, right?" I never read the bible, went to church, went to Sunday school, or even acknowledged a higher power before, but I knew the story of Noah's Ark. Even without the whole God thing thrown in there, it was still a good kid story.
"Right. Two rattlesnakes. Two scorpions. Two yellow-spotted lizards." Zigzag jokes. Two humans, I mentally add. One girl and one boy. Looks like the Warden and I would have to duke it out to snatch up the female spot. For a moment I imagine every single boy in camp having a huge battle to decide who gets to go on the ark with me and the desert creatures and I laugh.
I look over at Zigzag, whose hair had grown ever wilder with the humidity. If I had to be stuck on an ark with someone for forty days and forty nights, he'd be the only person I wouldn't throw overboard by the third night.
A/N: I know I posted Zigzag and Alania's theme in the last chapter, but I found a much better one. It's called Secunda from the Skyrim soundtrack(: Look it up!