Becoming Robin Book Three: Chapter 25

Becoming Robin Book 3 Cover/Image
Bk3C2011ZoeTaylor.png~* Girl, Interrupted *~

“Robin, there you are,” she gasped. I could tell, just by the fact that she used my real name, that something was wrong. “I need to speak to you in private. It’s important.”

I glanced at the girls briefly, flashing an apologetic smile before standing and following Alice outside.

“We just received a phone call this morning, sweetie. I’m so sorry. Your friend Sarah was involved in some kind of accident.”


It was strange how easily the mysterious girl with the violet eyes at least partially filled the void left by not having Nicole with us, at least as a friend. She seemed easy enough to talk to casually about various topics, usually related to whatever we happened to be doing at the time, but sometimes I’d talk about life back in Alpine Springs, or Jennifer and Allison would run off on a tangent with some wild story about Nicole and Allison’s legendary prank wars, and Lily would give Allison ideas on how to start a new one when we got back together for second session.

It wasn’t even as though she was trying to replace Nicole, or anything so silly. She really reminded me of how Rachel and I sort of accidentally bonded last summer.

I was up bright and early Monday morning just as the sun was rising. The others were still asleep, so after I changed and gathered my things for my morning shower, including the friendship bracelet the girls had given me last summer, I stepped out of our cabin into the cool morning air. Lily stood outside her cabin, just leaning against the wall and staring off into the distance, so I left her alone.

“You’re up early,” she mused as I started down the path. I turned to find she now stood right next to me. I smiled back at her as I nodded.

“I love mornings here. Back home, I’m used to being up early because I had to have enough time to get ready for school, but here I get up early just so I can see the sun rise over the trees.”

“That’s beautiful, Spirit,” Lily answered with a bright smile. “Oh, what a pretty bracelet,” she added a moment later.

“Thank you. My friends made it for me my first summer at camp. I can make you one if you’d like?” I asked, which caused her to giggle slightly and shake her head.

“No, that’s okay. You should focus your energy on enjoying yourself. Thank you, though,” she answered, placing her hand on my shoulder for just a moment. “I should go see about breakfast since I’m already up. I’ll save you three a table.”

“Oh, thanks. Are you ready for the overnight hiking trip this evening?”

“Am I ever,” she giggled. Sometimes Lily reminded me of Jennifer. By that I mean that sometimes she just didn’t talk like a normal sixteen year old. She used her language carefully, choosing her words and saying exactly as much as needed to be said. Other times though, like just now, she sounded like any other average American girl. It kind of made me giggle to think about.

“Well, I’ll see you at breakfast,” I finally said simply, and we exchanged a brief wave. Just out of curiosity I glanced over my shoulder as I walked away. She smiled and turned to walk down the path that led to the camp mess hall.

~oOo~

My hair still dripped a little as I entered the camp mess/cafeteria. It only took me a moment to spot Jennifer and Allison chatting it up with Lily. Not many girls had come through yet, so I easily grabbed myself a tray and quickly joined them.

“Hey Spirit,” Lily cheered warmly as I sat down. “We were just talking about you,” she giggled.

“You were? Oh dear,” I teased. “Whatever they’ve been telling you, it’s a complete lie,” I added, winking at her.

“Ohh, so you’re not a caring, sweet, loving CIT who treats her fellow scouts like sisters, hm?” Lily teased back. “No, really though, Serenity was just regaling me with more stories from her prank wars with Nikki. I wasn’t giving her any ideas to start a new one, either.” She had a mischievous grin that reminded me of Nicole’s, when she was up to something. I had to laugh.

“So now that we’re all here,” Jennifer began, “What did Alice want?”

“Oh!” Allison perked up excitedly. “We’ve been asked to lead a day hike, the four of us plus one adult counselor for supervision, but basically it’d be us leading the hike, ensuring nobody gets lost and stuff.

“Isn’t that a lot of responsibility?” I had to ask.

Allison nodded. “That’s the idea though. It’s a leadership exercise for us advanced CITs, plus we’ll still have a supervisor in case something does go wrong, but we’ll basically be in charge of the entire thing, from setting up equipment, planning the trail, hiking it out ourselves first, and then
leading the group. It’s age group 10-12 so it won’t be like we’re getting the whole camp lost.”

“We’ll be fine,” Lily spoke simply, but smiled reassuringly. “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Allison shook her head. “Famous last words. Really though, we just need to be prepared. Anyone have any ideas?”

“I do,” I replied. “There’s a big map hanging in the main lodge with all the main hiking trails marked out.”

Jennifer nodded. “Good idea Spirit. I think we should talk to Meredith and find out if the map is up-to-date. We also need to make sure we have a way to communicate with the camp because just a cell phone won’t cut it out here.”

Armed with a plan and what to ask for, we finished our breakfast in peace, chatting and giggling about our plan for the day. As we stood to leave, Alice raced over to us, clearly out of breath.

“Robin, there you are,” she gasped. I could tell, just by the fact that she used my real name, that something was wrong. “I need to speak to you in private. It’s important.”

I glanced at the girls briefly, flashing an apologetic smile before standing and following Alice outside.

“We just received a phone call this morning, sweetie. I’m so sorry. Your friend Sarah was involved in some kind of accident.”

“What?” I gasped. “Is she okay? What happened?”

“I don’t have all the details myself, but I was told she had to be airlifted to the hospital. She’s in critical condition in the intensive care unit.”

“Oh my God. Oh Sarah,” I sobbed into Alice’s shoulder.

“Honey I am so sorry,” Alice cooed as she held me, softly stroking my hair. “If there’s anything I or one of the other counselors can do, you just let me know okay?”

I nodded softly. “I... I don’t know. I need to be there with her.” I needed to be there because I felt guilty. If I had just stayed home...

“But the girls need me here,” I sighed. I suddenly felt a gentle hand on my shoulder, and then another on the other. I looked back to see Jennifer and Lily smiling back at me, and Allison approaching. The three of them wrapped their arms around me, and Allison kissed my cheek, whispering.

“I’m sorry. We shouldn’t have eavesdropped, but you’re like a sister to Jenn and me.”

“And you’ve made me feel like I belong here,” Lily added, smiling softly. “You should go be with your friend. I promise we’ll hold down the fort here. I’ll ask that Natalie girl to take your place on the nature hike.”

“Really? A-are you guys sure?”

“We’re sure,” Jennifer answered. “Sarah needs you.”

I turned back to Alice, and she smiled. “I’ll get my car keys. Girls, I’ll be back in a few hours.”

~oOo~

I spent most of the ride back to Alpine Springs in silence. I tried not to think too much or too hard about Sarah’s condition, or my role in her situation. She reached out to me as a fellow scout, and the one time she really needed me, I wasn’t there for her. If Katelyn had a hand in this, I couldn’t be held responsible for my actions.

When we first arrived at the hospital, Alice smiled and reached out to squeeze my hand. “Do you want me to walk you in, or will you be okay from here?”

I brushed away relatively fresh tears as I nodded. “I’ll be okay. Thank you Alice. I owe you a big one,” I answered, and after unbuckling my seatbelt, I leaned closer, hugging her neck. She smiled as she lay a comforting hand on my back.

“You’re welcome. Just call the camp if you should decide you want to come back, okay? I’ll come pick you up myself.”

I smiled meekly as I slid out of the car and stepped inside. I had been to Alpine Springs’ hospital dozens, even hundreds of times over the last year either visiting Mom, Kelly, or having blood drawn to ensure that my hormones were in balance, but this was the second time I had to visit as a grieving friend. It felt shockingly unnerving, a lot like my first visit, when Nicole’s Dad suffered a mild heart attack.

The receptionist smiled softly as I approached. “Hi Robin. I thought you were away at camp?”

“Hi Bridget,” I answered somberly, trying to be strong. “I was. I got a call this morning that my friend was involved in some kind of accident. Her name’s Sarah Cameron.”

“Oh,” the woman’s soft features reflected her sympathy. She nodded gently. “She’s had several people come through asking about her, the poor girl. Her friends and family have convened on the third floor since she’s not allowed visitors yet. Just take the first right off the elevator. You know her sister LeAnn don’t you? She’ll be there so just watch for her.”

I nodded and thanked Bridget for her help, moving to the elevator. The doors opened on an attractive pair of women in their late twenties at best. The shorter woman, a strawberry blonde, smiled professionally back at me at I stepped inside. The taller woman, slender with long brunette hair tied back, gave me a simple nod.

“You okay hon?” the shorter woman asked. I never could guard my emotions that well. I forced a smile, but shook my head.

“Here to visit my friend Sarah,” I said softly. I hadn’t actually met Sarah’s aunts before, so I had no way of knowing that I now shared an elevator with them, at least until the taller woman answered.

“Cameron?” She offered her hand. “I’m Zoey, and this is my wife, Ashleigh. We’re Sarah’s aunts and benefactors.”

“Oh, you’re the two that helped her move here? It’s nice to finally meet you both. I’m Robin, the um, the girl she gave her phone number to over the internet,” I blushed. I still couldn’t believe we did that instead of using some sort of voice chat program to talk. Ashleigh smiled slightly.

“She’s a smart girl. She wouldn’t have just run off to meet some random stranger even if you hadn’t been who you said you were.”

“How is she? The camp couldn’t get any direct information about her condition because I’m not immediate family.”

“Yes you are,” Zoey replied. “She’s always saying how you’re like another sister. As for her condition, it’s not good.”

“I looked over the police report,” Ashleigh began, “And from what I can tell, she either tripped and fell, or... she intentionally tried to attack the mirror. She lost a lot of blood, but they were able to get the bleeding to stop. They’ve given her a transfusion to try and replace what was lost, but they have her sedated right now so her body can heal.”

“Oh God,” I whispered as the elevator doors opened. As we stepped out, an attractive blonde-haired girl about my age dressed in plain jeans and a pale pink t-shirt brushed past me. She smiled.

“Sorry,” she added a moment later, disappearing around a blind corner. I smiled faintly back at her, following Sarah’s aunts to the waiting room where everyone else had gathered. I admit I was really surprised to see Katelyn there, but judging by the puffy cheeks and the red eyes, it seemed a lot had changed in the course of a week.

She immediately stood as we entered and raced over to me, grabbing me in a hug. “Hey you,” she whispered, choking up a little, and my heart melted. I held her close.

“Hey yourself,” I whispered almost playfully, trying really hard not to start crying again myself. “Sarah’s aunts told me what happened. I’m sorry. I should have been here.”

“There’s nothing you could’ve done. It’s just one of those things. Listen, though. Um, we need to talk about something.”

“Sure, what is it?”

“Not here,” she whispered, shaking her head. “It’s too personal.”

“Let’s go up to the roof, then. There’s a beautiful gazebo up there where I sometimes have lunch with Mom and Kelly on weekends. Hardly anyone goes there so it’ll be quiet.”

Katelyn smiled faintly as she nodded.

~oOo~

I always hated conversations that started with ‘Don’t be mad’. They always ended with any number of valid reasons to be furious. This one was an exception though, in an odd way. I listened as Katelyn recounted the events of the last week while I was away at camp. She explained how she and Sarah had started dating, and how they had grown incredibly close, but then came the bombshell.

“She... She accidentally slipped and told Barbara your secret in front of me.” Katelyn winced as fresh tears flowed freely. “Robin I am so, so, so sorry. Please don’t be mad at her. It was all my fault. I stupidly insisted on going in with her. I should never have heard it because I had no business knowing. Please don’t hate her,” she begged.

“Wow,” I spoke softly. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t hate her. I couldn’t hate her. I’m a little upset at the situation because my stealth - my ability to pass as just another girl is extremely important to me, but I understand what it’s like. Doctor Ketz is so easy to talk to that sometimes things just tumble out without you realizing you’ve said them. I doubt she even realizes she said it to be honest.”

“For what it’s worth, it honestly doesn’t change anything. I still think you’re an incredible, beautiful girl, and that Nikki is so lucky to have you. On some level I kind of wish we had dated now because the thought of being with a girl like you is kinda hot,” she blushed, shooting her gaze straight down. “But I love Sarah, as a friend, and maybe more. We’ve grown so close so fast, and it terrifies me, but it’s like, it feels so right too.”

“That’s how it was with Nikki,” I managed a quiet giggle as I put an arm around Katelyn. “We tried really hard to suppress our feelings, and to just be friends, but we didn’t even make it through camp before we started sneaking off to talk and just hold each other.”

“That is so cute,” Katelyn giggled a little. “But yeah, exactly. It’s not like I want to take advantage of her. It’s totally the opposite. I want to be here for her, to support her, to make her feel loved.”

“I know exactly what you mean. You know Nikki had a really hard life before she moved here, right?”

“I know she was a foster kid, but that’s about it,” Katelyn answered.

“Well, it’s not my place to say anything about her past, except to just repeat that I know exactly what you mean. You want to protect her, to love her and make her feel safe, but it’s not about ego or self-centeredness. If Nikki asked me never to speak to her again, I would, in a heartbeat. I don’t want her to ever do that. I want to be hers completely, and maybe some day we’ll both be ready for that, but right now, I feel like our relationship’s exactly where it needs to be.”

“See, that’s how I feel about Sarah. I’ve had a few of my friends ask me if I’m serious about Sarah because she’s so much younger than me, but she gave me an incredibly beautiful sketch that I think says it all. She calls it ‘Love Knows no Bounds’.” Katelyn smiled. “Anyway... Thank you for hearing me out. I know after our talk the other day you probably thought I hurt her.”

“The thought crossed my mind, but I know you better than that. You’re a good person. You just have a bit of a temper sometimes,” I giggled.

Katelyn laughed as we stood, and pulled me into a hug. “I learned to channel that into protecting her though. I kicked some chick’s ass at Tony’s Pizzaria the other day when she got all prissy about Sarah being lesbian.”

Katelyn wrapped an arm around my waist as we walked away from the gazebo to head back inside, and leaned her head on my shoulder. “I understand now why you change for cheer or basketball or even just gym by yourself. That must be really hard for you, and I want you do know that now that I do know, I’m going to do whatever I can to help keep your secret safe. Sarah and I care about you a lot, and I don’t know what I would do if someone hurt you or said something bad to you just for being you.”

“Sometimes the best way to hide something is to just not acknowledge it,” I replied with a smile. “It’s worked for me so far, anyway. I make excuses where I need to, and the school board and faculty know. Alli, Jenn, and Nikki and their families know as well, but nobody else, except you and Sarah, and possibly her aunts.”

“What secret?” Katelyn smiled.

I couldn’t help a small giggle. “Exactly.”

“Thanks Robin. This has helped me so much. Now I can just worry about Sarah getting better.”

“You’re welcome. You have my cell phone number, don’t you? I’m going to call a cab home. I need some time to sort this out.”

Katelyn nodded softly. “Sarah’s going to be out of it for awhile anyway. As soon as she’s stable enough to be moved to a regular room, I’ll call you.”

“Thank you,” I answered, giving her another hug before we parted ways at the elevator.

~oOo~

I needed some place quiet, but seeing the police tape on the door to Sarah’s house felt just too unnerving to be so close to. I had worn my CIT t-shirt that morning, assuming that I’d be involved in some sort of special counseloring activities, but I didn’t feel like changing, so I simply threw my suitcase into the foyer, changed out of my white sneakers and into a pair of hiking boots, and took off out the back.

I’d hiked the old trail dozens of times in the last year, either alone or with my friends, so I knew it by heart. All the same though, I pulled out my phone just to make sure the battery had a charge, just in case. As I walked along, nearing the little stream that ran through the woods, the special place where Allison asked Nicole and me to join the scouts, I heard a twig snap. Going into alert mode, I quickly looked around for the source.

A young girl with ocean blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair in a cute tie-dyed pink and purple headband and matching t-shirt smiled warmly at me. I’d never met her before, never seen her in my life, but I felt instantly at ease, like I could just walk up and hug her as if we were old friends.

“I’m sorry. I like, didn’t mean to scare you.”

I relaxed a little and smiled back at her. “It’s okay. I’m just a little jumpy right now. What are you doing way out here?”

She giggled. “Bird-watching. I know, I know, like, everybody says you need binoculars, but I think it’s more organic, more fun if you have to rely on all your senses to guess a sparrow from a Robin.” She grinned cheerfully, and I had to laugh.

“Well you certainly found a Robin,” I teased. “Nice to meet you.”

“Oh, your name’s Robin? Ohmygosh, are you Robin Smith?” she bubbled. “My friends talk about you all the time. It’s such an honor to meet you. I’m Bethany.”

“Nice to meet you Bethany,” I repeated as we shook hands.

“So like, when are you and Nikki going to get married? Can I come to the wedding?”

“Wedding?” I blushed, shaking my head. “I’m only sixteen. Besides, Nikki and I have a lot of growing up to do before we’re ready for that.” I lied. The truth was we were ready now, but we wanted to be able to take care of a family financially before we started adopting. “How do you know about Nikki anyway?”

“Like I said, my friends love to talk. One of them like, said that you guys are joined at the hip. It’s sooo romantic! Well anyway, I’d better get home soon. It was so an honor to meet you Robin!”

“Likewise,” I answered and reached out to shake her hand again. She took my hand, pulling me into a hug instead.

“Sorry. I’ve wanted to do that from the moment I saw you,” she giggled. “Bye for now!”

I shook my head slowly as I continued on to the stream. “Strange girl, but I like her,” I laughed softly. In a weird way, I felt a little bit better about Sarah’s situation. It didn’t change my guilt over leaving her though. I sighed as I crawled up onto the huge boulder. The stream trickled past, almost like it was giggling as the water washed over the rocky riverbed.

I lay back against it, letting my hair fall as it may with my hands resting gently beneath my head. A warm, summer breeze brushed past, and overhead a small bird sang cheerfully. I let my thoughts wander. I loved that little stream.

I don’t know how long I lay there enjoying the peaceful solitude, but eventually, I heard another voice. An older woman from the sound of it. “Eva?” she called. “Is that you dear?”

I rolled over onto my side and sat up. An older lady with graying black hair and emerald green eyes smiled sheepishly back at me. “Oh, excuse me. I thought you were someone else.” She chuckled softly. “This is a busy place today.”

“You met Bethany too, I take it?” I answered with a smile. The woman laughed.

“Oh yes. Quite an excitable one, that. I love to take strolls along this stream when I’m able. Oh, but where are my manners?” She stepped closer to offer her hand. “My name is Lily. Lily-Rose Morgan. Would you mind some company up there? These old bones just aren’t what they used to be.”

“Oh, of course. Here,” I offered, sliding over as I extended my hands to help her up. She smiled softly as she settled down beside me. “You’re not related to Nicole Morgan are you?”

“You know my Nikki?” she replied cheerfully. “She’s my granddaughter. Mind like a steel trap, that girl.”

I giggled. “Oh my Gosh. You’re Nikki’s grandma? I’m Robin, Nikki’s girlfriend.”

“Robin! Oh my, you really are as pretty as Nikki says. I’m sorry that we haven’t met sooner, dear. I’m such a busy woman, and it seemed whenever I wasn’t, you were,” she teased, grinning. “So what brings you out here?”

“I needed some time to think about … things. This is a special place for me. It’s so serene and peaceful. This is where my friend Alli invited Nikki and me to join the Girl Scouts, and where we come to camp sometimes unless the stream is up. It’s just so calming. It helps me clear my head.” I paused to glance at her. “Lily-Rose, what would you do if you had invited someone to come live here, but then when you were away doing selfish things, that person got hurt?”

“I suppose it depends on what you define as selfish things. Do you want to tell old Gram Morgan what this is about?” She smiled with a serene sort of wisdom that reminded me of Jennifer, as she put an arm around me. I couldn’t help but relax, leaning into her as I told her the entire saga, and why I felt guilty for Sarah’s sake.

“Oh, Robin,” she answered softly and kissed my forehead. “You mustn’t blame yourself. Whether or not you were here wouldn’t have changed anything about Sarah’s condition. She would have gotten hurt either way. Besides, you said that Katelyn girl was here, and things didn’t change, did they?”

“Well, no, I suppose not, but-”

She pressed her finger gently to my lips and smiled. “Sometimes bad things happen for a reason. It may not be for us to understand why they happen. All we can do is cope with them, and try to fix them if we can. If not, then we support the person, remind them that they’re loved. You can’t blame yourself every time something beyond your control happens to someone you love. You’ll only drive yourself crazy that way.”

I smiled a little as I nodded. “I guess you’re right. Do you think it was a mistake coming home from camp early?”

“Not at all, dear. If nothing else, I never would have met you here, and you would only have worried yourself sick and not had any fun at all had you stayed. Am I right?”

I giggled a little. “Yeah, you’re right. Sarah’s like a sister. We talk about absolutely everything. I just hate that there’s nothing I can do to help.”

“Sure you can. You can be you,” she answered with a soft smile. “Be Spirit. Be her friend when she needs you, be there for her, but be yourself too.”

“Do you think it would be okay if I helped clean, once the police tape’s taken down?”

“I think it would be a very sweet gesture, if you can handle seeing it.”

“I’m strong,” I answered. “Besides, I want to help somehow. I can’t stand sitting helplessly in a hospital waiting room.”

“I don’t blame you. I’d rather take action, myself,” she answered with an enigmatic smile. “I should be going, though. It’s been a joy chatting with you. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of each other in the future.”

“Hey, listen, I mostly live next door to Allison, one of Nikki’s oldest friends, if you ever want to stop by for some herbal tea or something, or you know, just to talk? I’d love to get to know you better. I don’t really have any extended family, just my mom and half-sister, and her mom, so Nikki’s family are really important to me.”

“Oh, thank you dear,” she answered as she hugged me close, smiling brightly. “I might just take you up on that.”

She gently slid down off the boulder and waved. I smiled, watching her leave before I hopped down myself, starting back down the trail toward home. I couldn’t do anything to help with cleaning the house until the police were finished, but I could at least go back to the hospital to help support Katelyn and Meg.

When I reached Margie’s, I changed out of my muddy boots and back into my sneakers. I hopped into my car, stopping off for a box of fresh donuts and coffee enough for everyone on my way back to the hospital.


Author's Note:
While I've always strived to keep the existence of magic in Robin's universe low-key, its mere existence at all is now prompting me to tag it as such to avoid anymore upset readers. I won't go back and tag every chapter, nor will I tag every chapter going forward, merely the ones where it's slightly more overt (to the reader, NOT to Robin.)

Enjoy :-)



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