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Patricia A. Bremmer

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July 23rd

     Trystan’s attempt to remain invisible, seated next to his sister on the plane, failed miserably. Arianna’s constant chatter drew the attention of the other passengers. 
     “Can’t you just sit still and shut up?” he scolded.
     “I’m gonna tell Mom. She said you had to be nice to me, remember?”
     Trystan slid deeper into the seat. He turned up the volume on his i-Pod and pulled his cap down over his blue-green eyes, causing the ends of his auburn hair to curl up around the lower edge. Maybe, if Arianna thought he was asleep, she’d be quiet for the first time since they left their house outside of Fresno, California.

***

     Arianna finally reached the age when her parents thought it might be okay to allow her to attend her first summer camp. They vetoed all of her choices that took her to the East Coast, but agreed to the second-to-the-last choice on her list, Dragonfly Island. Unfortunately for Trystan, he had to go along as her big brother, to protect her. 
     He pleaded his case before deaf ears. His parents refused to take his feelings under consideration. He had promised that if they allowed him to go to Reptile World Camp, he’d do anything they wanted. That was last May, when school let out. With summer vacation coming to an end, and having returned from his camp, he felt confident they had forgotten about his promise. 
     He still remembers the night their parents took them out for pizza and a moviethat night of complete bribery. He should’ve known, when they let him choose the movie and the restaurant, they were up to something. Halfway through his first slice of pizza, they broke it to him.
     “Great news, Trystan. We found another camp for you to attend before school starts. We were so lucky they still had two openings. We know how much you love to fly, and this camp is pretty remote. They have some great salamanders to study,” said his dad.
     Trystan, excited by the news, had a million questions to ask. He chewed his food quickly so he could get the words outtoo late. 
     Arianna, beaming, blurted, “And I get to go, too.”
     Trystan swallowed prematurely, choking on his food. He took a drink of his soda to wash down the thick chunk of pepperoni pizza stuck in his throat. His eyes watered from the pain.
     “You can’t expect me to take her to camp with me,” he said.
     “Of course not,” said his mother. “You’ve already been to the camp of your choice.      Now it’s Arianna’s turn. She’s too young to go all by herself, for the first time. So, your father and I thought it best if you went along to make sure she’ll be safe.”
     “I can’t go to a girl’s camp.”
     “It’s not a girl’s camp. It’s a nice camp for kids ages eight to twelve.”
     “But I’m almost thirteen.”
     “That still makes you twelve and you’re going.”
     He looked over at Arianna smirking at him. 
     His little sister was nothing but trouble since the day she was born. She’s only two years younger and they treat her like a baby. No matter how hard she punches him, or how much of a brat she is, they always tell him to take it, she’s just a little girl. 
     She’s tougher than most of the boys in their neighborhood. She picks fights, and he has to break them up, only to get into trouble when they get home because he should’ve watched her more closely. She’d just bounce those dark brown curls, bat her nearly black eyes and smile until her dimples showed, and their parents refused to believe his story about his little sister being a bully.
     After living with Arianna, he vowed when he grows up, he will never get married, no girls in his future, only reptiles. 
     “Trystan, you’re not eating your pizza. Do you feel okay? You didn’t hurt your throat when you choked, did you?” asked his mother.
     “No. I’m not hungry anymore.”
     “I’ll get a box so we can take it home. We’ve got lots to do yet tonight,” said his mother.
     “Why? What do we have to do tonight?” he asked.
     “Pack, silly,” said Arianna. “We’re leaving in the morning.”

***

     “Trystan, Trystan, wake up. We’re landing,” cheered Arianna.
     He lifted his cap to look past her, to the window. His two weeks of boredom was about to commence.