“Barely. And he had a skewed idea of his success. I mean, how many people can say they had their songs played on the radio? But he didn’t see it that way. He wasn’t making much off royalties anymore, and the band was never huge—not like others. I don’t know. I guess being forced to work a nine-to-five job was failure to him. He couldn’t handle being normal.”
He nods, eyes downcast.
Did no one in our group know? The way Brett and Summer were talking about his dad when Reagan drove us to the glamping compound—and what was said about him during the big fight last night—I’m almost positive they didn’t realize.
I know Lennon didn’t see his father every day—or even every month—but Lennon was closer to Adam than I am to my dad. And now I’m thinking about Sunny and Mac, and how they must have been grieving too. And I never acknowledged it. What kind of monster do they think I am?
“When was the funeral?” I ask.
When everything fell apart between us. The homecoming dance. The sex shop opening. My dad fighting with Sunny and Mac.
Is this the reason why?
It makes no sense. Why would he shut me out? “I should have been at the funeral.”
Pained eyes flick to mine. “Yeah.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
His face turns rigid, and he grabs the bag of trail mix. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Well, I do! I should have been there. Didn’t you want me there?”
“Yes, I wanted you there!” he shouts, startling me. “My dad died. It was the worst time of my life. Of course I wanted you there, but . . .” He squeezes his eyes shut and lowers his voice. “Look, it’s getting late, and we’re both tired. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I said I don’t want to talk about it right now. Goddammit, Zorie. What don’t you understand about that?”
This smarts. I’m shaking now, still fighting tears. And I’m utterly confused. But Lennon is unzipping the mesh door, and he ducks out of my tent before I can think of the right words to stop him.
Dazed, I try to sort out the events that transpired last year. Try to make sense of them. To understand Lennon’s anger. On the final week of summer vacation, Lennon and I kissed. We conducted the Great Experiment in secret. We decided make our first public appearance as a couple at homecoming. Lennon stood me up and stopped talking to me. The Mackenzies’ sex shop opened. My dad started fighting with them.
New information: Lennon’s dad died. He didn’t tell anyone.
Where does this fit into our friends-to-enemies road map?
All this time, I thought he’d freaked before the homecoming dance and decided that he didn’t want to go public with our relationship. That our experiment had failed, and he was too much of a coward to tell me to my face.
And yet he just blew up at me about not being there at his dad’s funeral. Now I feel like he’s bitter about our breakup—that somehow this is my fault.
What am I missing?
I crawl outside my tent, but Lennon isn’t around. The light inside his tent shows the dark silhouette of his backpack. He’s dumped my pack in front of my tent, as if to signal that we’re done talking for the night.
Well, I have news for him. We’re not.
I’m too chicken to trample after him in the dark and definitely don’t want to catch him heeding the call of nature behind the bushes. So I wait by the fire’s glowing embers, hugging myself to keep the chill away. He was right. The stars are amazing out here. I find the constellation Cygnus, and then Lyra right next to it, but I’m too upset to appreciate what normally brings me joy.
Several minutes pass, and Lennon doesn’t come back. Now I’m worried, and a little angry. We need some kind of system. He should tell me where he’s going so I don’t sit around wondering if I should go look for him. What if he’s attacked by a bear or falls off the cliff?
Anxious and irritated, I retreat into my tent and roll out my sleeping bag. Take off my shoes. Put them back on. Take them off again, because my ankle feels better with them off, and then decide to change quickly into my loungewear for sleeping. Halfway through, I remember that the light in the tent shows everything, so I turn it off and dress in the dark.
Guess he’s getting the last word after all.
I don’t hear Lennon until I’m zipped up inside my sleeping bag, wishing that we were sleeping on softer ground instead of the unforgiving rock of the cave floor. I listen to his movements, and hear him doing something to the campfire’s embers—putting them out, I suppose—before he enters his tent.
The cave amplifies every sound. Zippers zipping. Plastic crinkling. Rummaging. He clears his throat, and it makes me jump. Then his light goes out, and after some rustling, all the noise stops.
And the silence is oppressive.
This is crazy. I can’t sleep while I’m upset. And what’s worse, my mind begins pulling up other anxieties. My swollen ankle. Snakes. Shadows moving inside the caves. Lennon’s stupid manga story about people-shaped holes in the side of the mountain. And then I can’t take it anymore.