I am walking back towards the main lodge to see if anyone is still dancing when I spy Sinclair and Chain along the path, and stop to say hello. “Hey, guys!,” I say, smiling. “What’s up?”
“Hey,” says Sinclair flatly. Chain doesn’t answer. Instead, he turns so that his back is toward us and stares off into the distance.
“Hi, Chain,” I try again. “How’s it going?”
Chain stalks off in the direction of the Pillow Room. Sinclair and I exchange a look.
“Uhh… is everything okay?” I ask. “What did I just miss?”
“He says he wants to talk to me,” Sinclair answers.
“Oh. About what?”
“I don’t know!” he says, sounding frustrated. “I tried to ask him and he wouldn’t tell me.”
“Okay, that’s… weird,” I say.
“Yeah.” He’s looking at the ground, and angrily kicks a stone that is laying on the path. “I just don’t know what to think. I don’t know what he could possibly want to say to me. I’m with Nate now.”
“Wait… back up. I think I’m missing something here,” I say.
“I kissed him once, a few years ago. It was stupid, and I shouldn’t have done it. I was fighting with Nate, and I was high, and… ugh,” he says, shaking his head in annoyance. “It was wrong of me. And apparently it was a big deal to him, because that was two years ago, and he’s still upset.”
He is quiet for a moment before speaking again. “Do you think I should talk to him?” he asks me in a small voice. I follow his gaze to a small clearing beyond the trees; the same clearing where the Saratogans have their ritual or whatever every year. Chain is leaning up against a tree, staring out into the darkness. He looks miserable.
“Well,” I say carefully. “Do you think we should just leave him there?” I don’t know Chain well, and in fact have barely ever exchanged more than a few words with him. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been smiling, laughing, happy-go-lucky. But this year, he’s looked mostly sad and angry. Something about the look of defeat on his face and the way he is staring off into the forest makes me worried about leaving him there by himself.
“I don’t want to talk to him,” Sinclair says glumly, looking at the ground again.
“Do you want me to talk to him?” I offer. He looks up and seems to be seriously considering the idea. “I mean…” I continue, “I don’t really know him, so I have no idea how he will react, or if he will even speak to me at all. We’re essentially strangers. But who knows, that might make it easier for him.” I shrug. “I really have no idea.”
Sinclair studies me for a moment, then sighs. “No. I don’t know. I just… I don’t want to be alone with him. I’m not sure what he might do.”
“Do you think he might attack you?” I ask.
“No. I’m afraid he’ll try to kiss me.”
We are both silent for a moment.
“Would you rather I just come with you while you talk to him?” I ask gently.
He looks relieved. “Yes. That’s a good idea. I just need to have someone there, just in case he… you know.”
We start to head over to the clearing. As we get closer, I instinctively slow down. I feel like we are chasing a scared rabbit, and that the rabbit is going to run away any second.
“Maybe I should hang back and just watch. I’ll stay close so I can see what’s happening. But he may not talk with both of us there.” Sinclair nods without looking at me. He continues walking over to Chain as I veer left and hover near the door of the Pillow Room, pretending to be waiting for someone.
Sinclair stops carefully, several feet from Chain. I can’t hear them, but I am watching their body language. Chain is sullen, and shrugs a lot. Sinclair is gesturing and looking frustrated. After a few minutes Sinclair turns and starts walking away, saying, “Fine. If you don’t want to talk, then–”
Chain interrupts him, but I can’t hear what he says. Sinclair stops and goes back. People entering and exiting the Pillow Room give me curious looks, but I just smile and pretend to be looking around for someone.
After about ten minutes, the two of them start walking down the path in the direction of the main lodge. I try to discretely follow behind them. When they stop in the middle of the path and continue talking, I walk casually past them, pretending that I’m just wandering through the campground. A moment or two later Chain passes me, and I turn and make my way back to Sinclair.
“How’d it go?” I ask.
“It was… okay,” he says. “He wanted to talk about what happened, and explain why he was hurt. I apologized, but I explained that I’m with Nate now. He wasn’t too happy about that. But I think he’s accepted it. He seemed more cheerful, anyway.” He turns and hugs me. “Thanks for being here for me. I’m gonna go to bed now.”
“Of course!” I exclaim. “That’s what friends are for, and all that shit, right?”