I remember punching Boldo in the arm for his remark before laughing with him. Then I’d gotten on my bicycle and started peddling down Huebner towards the Onion House in the cool October air. Now, as I sit on a section of rock with an unlit campfire set up on the large section of limestone near the main house, I smile as I see the bushes rustle, the emerging forms of my friends coming into sight.
Amber and Brad emerge, both dressed in clothes suited for the colder weather, her in a sweater and him in a brown coat. She’s short with black hair and dark eyes, almost an antithesis to Brad as he is a giant of a man (and still growing!) with blonde hair and blue eyes. They both have an easygoing demeanor about them, which is probably how they ended up with each other earlier in the year.
Next I see Chris and Todd coming out of the brush, Chris helping his boyfriend out from a tangle of vines. Both of them are a little off, with strange senses of humor. I try not to judge, but the fact that they are so openly affectionate sometimes makes me uneasy, though I’d have to say that’s my heritage speaking up and not my own personal opinion.
Amy and Alexis walk from around a high hedge, both wearing light cotton jackets that promise to do nothing against the cold once night falls. Seeing Alexis’s lithe form swaying over towards us, I smile at her. She returns it and turns her head to whisper to Amy, causing the two brunettes to burst into a fit of giggles.
The last member of our little group is, of course, Kevin. Kevin is a small boy a year beneath us all that has somehow ingratiated himself into the “Cool Kid’s” group. He’s Asian, most likely Filipino if his rich skin tones are anything to guess off of, and wears glasses. He holds a side bag that is much larger than the small purses or backpacks the rest of us brought one which is obviously heavy as he leans as he walks against the weight in an effort to not fall over.
“You made it!” Alexis said, walking up to me and giving me a warm hug.
“I said I’d make it, didn’t I?” I reply with a lopsided smile.
“Yeah, not many of us believed you’d show though,” Chris said, earning a light round of laughter from everyone else save Alexis. “We all figured you had something to do in your wagon.”
“No,” I smile at Chris, ignoring his sneer. “My Vardo is clean and Phillipe is well rested.”
“Phillipe?” Alexis asked, the others looking at each other in confusion.
“My pony,” I said. “I got him last Spring, I set him up with some grains before brushing him down for the night. He should be asleep by now, the lazy thing.”
“You have a pony?” Kevin asked, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.
“I’m Romani,” I said with a shrug. “We all have horses to pull our carts with. This summer we’ll be moving up to Canyon Lake for the tourists and extra labor to be had selling tubes to the people that want to drift around on the river.”
“Sounds fun,” Brad said with a smile, sitting down on a rock before pulling Amber into his lap, both dropping their bags at their feet with a dusty thump.
“It actually is,” I said. “My cousins always find a party for us to crash and we spend most of the break just making easy money and partying.”
“Enough with what you plan to do this summer,” Todd said, drawing everyone’s attention to him. He stood tall with a white shirt and brown-blond curls. “Let’s light the campfire, I’m freezing!”
I laughed, earning a sour look from Todd, before moving to light the fire. Already pre-drizzled with some kerosene, the dry wood crackles to life the instant I drop a match to it. The rest of us all find seats around the fire, brushing dirt and grit out of the way for seats to be had. I smile when Alexis sits down on the ground by my knee, Amy on the other side of her.
Tonight may just be a fun night after all.