Careless eyes watch her as she scurries away from the campsite. I follow her, not entirely sure why. “Savannah,” I whisper to her general direction. Her head whips around. She places her tiny, 3 year old finger to her lips, gesturing to be quiet. Savannah turns her head back to where she’d been facing before. “What are you doing?” I ask quietly, barely audible. She doesn’t seem to hear me, so I ask her again. She doesn’t turn around to look at me, she just starts running. I quickly catch up to her. I step in front of her path. “Stop, just tell me where you’re going,” I hiss, spit flies through the gap in my mouth where my loose two had once dangled. She ignores me and looks straight ahead. “Fine,” I say. “Don’t tell me.” I try to sound like I don’t care but I can’t help myself. “At least take me with you.” My plea doesn’t reach her ears because she starts waddling away from me. I roll my eyes and just watch her go. I examine her. I see the bounce in her step that makes her short, dirty blonde ponytail ricochet off her shoulders.
“Okay, you can come,” Savannah says as she turns around and glances at me for a moment, our eyes locking, until she whips back around. I smile and run to her.
The sun is setting over the dark lake, casting its pinkish-orange hues through the silhouettes of eucalyptus trees. We walk in silence for a long time, until I open my mouth to say something. “Where are we going?” Savannah looks at me as if she has just eaten a bug. I squint at her.
“We are going to the lake,” she states in a babyish tone. I stop dead in my tracks.
“Mama said we are going tomorrow in the morning,” I say beginning to sound defensive. My tone rises and my eyes widen.
“I didn’t ask you to come with me.” I give her a look. “If you want to wait until the morning and go with Mama and KJ, go ahead and wait. This is my adventure not yours. Stay out of it if you want.” Her rants cascade out of her mouth in endless hushed shouts that echo through the campsites. I look down at the ground. I notice her purple sandals look flamboyant in contrast with the dark gravel. I kick at the ground and look up.
I raise an eyebrow and answer. “Okay-okay.” Her hazel eyes glare at me. “Just keep it down, there are other campsites around us.” She nods, gravely and starts to walk again. I follow after her. We walk through paths that connect all of the campsites together. We trail out into the single road that winds all the way down outlook to the lake, which pools out at the bottom of the steep canvas.
I see the campground bathroom/shower house up ahead. “Do you need to go the bathroom?” I ask aloud, partially to myself, partially to Savannah. I begin to quicken my pace to the dark building. She shakes her head and waits for me as I use the restroom. It's dark in here and shadows elongate towards the shower areas. I peer through the curtains of the showers, checking if anyone is in here with me. Once I am satisfied, I skip to the stalls of the toilets. When I’m done I walk out, but I don’t see Savannah anywhere. Panic courses through my body, in one quick, violent movement. I begin to run towards the lake eyeing the campgrounds.
“Savannah!” My voice echoes through the forest.
“BOO!” A high voice squeals. I flinch at first then glimpse around. I narrow my eyes at the spotted tree that is obscuring my view of my sister. I begin to sail over to her hiding spot in a few light steps. I find her kneeling down in the grass. She looks up at me with widened eyes that are framed with dark lashes that stretch down to her cheeks. It’s hard to stay annoyed at her.
“Come on. No more scaring me anymore either.” She gets up and holds my hand. We continue down the hill to the lake. We come across a campsite that is uninhabited and we sit down on the wooden picnic table. The moon is beginning to look hazy through the trees. I catch a glimpse of another light source. Car headlights come into view, they’re coming to this campsite.
“Let’s go, Savannah,” I say. She nods and then jumps off the table and runs ahead of me into the dark of the forest. “Wait up!” I start to jog to her general direction. She sees me and we slow down. I hear footsteps of the campers that’d just pulled up to their site. I also hear the rustling of them putting up their tent. I quicken my pace, so does Savannah. We take a shortcut through another campsite, straying away from the road. I trip on a white root and fall on my face. Dirt falls into my mouth which causes me to go into a fit of spitting and gagging.
“June, stop it, you’re frightening me. I said stop it,” she exclaims. I try to wipe out the dirt from my mouth. I straighten from my crouched position. I wince. The pain is coming from a bloody scrape on my left knee. “Oh no!” Savannah wails. “You’re bleeding.”
“I’m fine,” I say with my 5-year-old-confidence. I look forward, zoning out.
“Well, okay then, if you’re fine let’s keep moving,” she orders.
“Very well, command on Captain,” I tease. I don’t walk this time I march. This causes Savannah to flush. Her face is a bright red.
“I’m just teasing.” She decides not to be mad. She starts marching with me, this causes me to laugh. We hook arms and pretend we are in the military.
Savannah hums. “Hup, two, three, four, hup, two, three, four,” I copy her footsteps, she copies mine. We march right into a eucalyptus. I disentangle my arm from hers and I peel off white and black bark of the tree. She does the same and we start clashing our bark pieces together in battle. She is the eucalyptus girl. I step back to show that I surrendered but Savannah keeps whacking me with her silver sword reflecting the silver from the moonlight. While she does this, I give in and look at the place where I had taken a piece of bark. I feel the smooth edges. It’s not a whitish color anymore, it’s a tannish-green. I try to dress the tree in the bark I had taken but it wouldn’t fit in its place. Savannah stops hitting and asks me what I’m doing.
“Never mind,” I say. “Let’s keep going.” I drop my eucalyptus bark and walk. She doesn’t drop hers though, she cradles it as if it were a baby. Eventually, we arrive at the lake. The silver of the moonlight causes highlights in the shimmering water.
“It’s so pretty.” Savannah gawks, her mouth hanging open. She drops her eucalyptus bit and stares. “June, look.” She points to the middle of the lake. I gaze over the water, I spot the reflection of the moon. She picks up a rock and throws it into the still lake. The tender water shatters into a million glass pieces, then ripples back into stillness. Abruptly, Savannah runs into the water. Small waves engulfing her toddler body. I freeze. The wind brushes past me and water droplets spring up to my face, gently kissing my nose. I try to move but my sandals are glued to the wet sand. I watch her fall plummeting into the murky depths. I begin to move, I’m not stuck anymore. I hurdle myself at the water. It greets me with icy hands and darkness. I go under. I taste mud in my mouth. I look around. I see Savannah under the water, fighting the lake. I swim to her and wrap my arms around her tiny waist. I struggle to kick up to the surface. I watch the moon scintillate above the water. I need air. A burst of bubbles erupt from my mouth. I drop Savannah. Her body knocking against my legs. It’s unbearable to dive back down to her without getting a breath of air. I emerge, gasp, then swim back down to her. I see her sinking down to the bottom of the lake. The water in my eyes blocks my view for a second, so I shut them. I open my eyes again once I feel the soft sandy bottom with my feet. Savannah isn’t there, though. I climb through water searching. I surface above the water once more. I notice in the middle of the lake, one of her little purple sandals, bobbing up and down at the rhythm of the waves.