There had been a moment of awkwardness when Kelsi joined us at the breakfast table. My mother still had her sleeping clothes on.
Kelsi was mother’s friend, though, so we greeted her like everything was absolutely fine. I had been especially friendly to Kelsi, because she was paying for the trip as I understood it. And – I’m not sure why – there was something wrong going on at the Arrington House. No matter how much Kelsi laughed and told everything was just great, I couldn’t fight the feelin she was hiding something. As was Oliver.
“You kids have a great time, right?” – Kelsi asked again. Oliver has just sneaked into the room and took place at the only free chair, opposite of his mother. He didn’t say a word and I didn’t want to bother him. He looked mildly disturbed.
“Of course we do”, I answered warily.
Kelsi didn’t notice my uncertain voice. “That’s great. We will go for a day trip to town for some shopping. Your mother said it was fine to leave you alone.”
“Of course it is”, I said. Now she began to sound suspicious. My mother smiled at me.
“Great! Then I will leave Oliver here with you. I understand that you already explored the camping area. You can show him around!”
Wonderful. Now I had to spend the entire day alone with my classmate. Of course, he wasn’t as bad as Saul, but I wasn’t exactly friends with him. But when I threw a quick glance at him, he looked so lost and confused that I nodded and put a wide smile on my face. I knew I had a job to do, at least to help mother and not embarass her in front of her friend. I tried to catch Olivers glance, but he stared at the air in front of him, or maybe at his mother, I’m not sure. He sat upright, hands on his knees. I think he knew he had a job to do as well.
“We will be fine, Kelsi”, I said.
“I told you we can count on her”, mother said proudly. “You know I have to stay overnight in the hospital sometimes. There has never been anything wrong in my absence. And we’re just leaving for a few hours.”
A strained silence took place. I waited for a few heartbeats but nobody said anything, and I had to rise to the rescue. “I saw a horseshoe game outside. Let’s go play, Oliver!”
Oliver didn’t say anything, but he nodded. My mother looked at him sceptically. No, that wouldn’t do.
“Come on!”, I exclaimed. “Afterwards we can go look for frogs. They are so loud at night, there must be a ton of them! You two have fun in town!” – I bid my mother.
It probably came off a little too extreme, but they bought it. Oliver tried to smile but only one side of his mouth moved.
Being finally dismissed, he quickly left through the back door and I followed.
“I probably should thank you”, he said. “My mother never leaves me alone these days. She always has people watching me. But you have better things to do than that, right?”
He started walking.
“Do you think I will leave you wander off alone?”, I wondered out loud. “I told them we will go play horseshoes so we will go and play horseshoes, at least until they left. You have to try it, it’s fun!”
Oliver wasn’t exactly convinced, but he played his part at least and had the decency to put on a smile when my mother came to check on us one last time.
“You see, this wasn’t so bad!” – I said after we were alone.
“Maybe for you!”
He stalked off. I quietly followed. Something was wrong with him and I intended to find out what.