By Mary Rose Riccitelli
Xena sighed heavily. Camping! They were going camping. It was just too much. After trips all over the world with her parents to exotic places, to be reduced to camping, well, it was just too much for the dark haired adolescent beauty. It was all her sisters fault. Xena looked at her two younger twin sisters Gabrielle and Callisto. They were such babies, so much younger then she was and quite annoying. To be stuck in the back seat of the car in between them was intolerable. It had been inevitable, though, because each of them had cried for a window seat. Babies!
"Look, Xena, at all the cars going by!" Gabrielle exclaimed.
Oh, yeah. How fascinating and unusual. We're only going down a highway after all."
Xena's mother, Bridget, turned to glare at Xena from the front seat. "There's no need to be like that, Xena. Gabrielle is still just a little girl. She gets excited because everything is new to her. Would it kill you to be nicer to her? She idolizes you."
"O.K. Mom" Xena sighed again. Gabrielle idolizing her was part of the problem. The child never left her alone. Whether Xena was trying to study in her room or going to the stables to ride her horse Argo, it was always the same thing.
"I want to do what Xena does", was her constant refrain. At least Callisto wasn't so bad. Though she was bad enough, at least Callisto had some independence and didn't always want to be with Xena.
"Hey girls, we're stopping at a convience store. Anybody hungry?" This was their dad, Thomas.
"I want Twinkies", Gabrielle shouted.
"I want Devil Dogs", Callisto chimed in.
"You, Xena?" he asked.
"I'll just have a Sprite."
"O.K. I'll be back." He went into the store.
Xena spent the time waiting daydreaming life as it used to be. Her father was the owner of a computer company and her mother was the author of a number of best selling children's books. As such, they had a great deal of money and lived on a large estate. The money itself didn't matter to Xena; she just liked being able to have her own horse and an assortment of dogs, which were as beloved to her as Argo. The dogs themselves weren't pedigreed; they were all strays she'd rescued or shelter dogs her mom had brought home. Of course, she also liked going to different places, which took money.
When Mom had announced her pregnancy, Xena hadn't really minded having to give up her only child status. There would be enough of an age difference, she thought, that her life wouldn't really be affected. The added factor of twins being expected didn't make a great deal of difference either.
When Gabrielle and Calisto were born Xena had actually liked the tow headed babies. They had been very cute. Then they'd gotten older and started toddling after her and now they were just a great pain.
Now they had to go on family vacations like camping. What a comedown!
Dad was back. He handed the twins their snacks and fruit juice to drink. "Here, Xena, here's your Sprite. I also got you these since I know how much you like them." He handed her some Fig Newtons. He'd remembered what she'd like. That was really sweet. Her mood improved somewhat.
It wasn't long before they reached the national park and then their campground. It was an isolated spot that they had to reach by hiking through some woods. Dad, Mom and Xena were all carrying gear. The twins were too young to carry anything but Dad allowed them to carry the cooler. They reached camp and Mom and Dad started pitching the tent.
Xena was left to watch the twins. Callisto had unsheathed her plastic sword and was fighting imaginary enemies. Gabrielle, holding onto her doll, Phaedra, was watching. At least they were occupied. It was easy for Xena to keep an eye on them while she helped Mom set up camp. After everything was done Dad suggested that the family go for a walk. While the twins and Mom and dad walked on ahead Xena lagged behind. It was wonderful to be free and by herself. It felt like she hadn't had any privacy or alone time since the twins had learned to walk.