TITLE: Punishment Summer
GENRE: Young Adult/Contemporary
After we walked in silence for close to an hour, the woods started to look familiar, I didn't trust my eyes at first, but another ten minutes on, I felt sure we were hiking one of the trails Queenie and I had explored together. The dog lifted her nose. I took that as a good sign, but waited. When I spied the log where I ate my first lunch after coming to Grandpa's, I sped up and grabbed Ben's arm. "Are you crazy? If you want to organize a suicide mission, that's fine. But the whole point of suicide is to kill yourself. Not other people."
Queenie growled her support.
Ben's gaze flicked from me to the angry dog. He tore his arm free, then climbed over the downed tree, putting the hunk of wood between him and Queenie. "What? You're freaked out over the guns?"
Guns. Plural. There was more than one gun? My face burned hotter than before. "Yes. I'm freaked out about the guns. And about the huge pot field. That wasn't some itty-bitty operation. What did you drag me into?"
"First, I didn't drag you. You were bored and tagged along. You don't like what happened, next time you don't gotta come with."
I felt like he'd slapped me. I stepped back.
"Second, I told you what I planned to do. If you thought I was making up some story to impress you, that's your problem, not mine. Third, that's the first time I've seen armed guys in any of the fields. That's out of my control. You can either get over it, or we say goodbye right now."
He was right about warning me. That I went with him because I had nothing better to do and thought he was talking big. But his argument still felt like a huge justification. Plus I didn't believe a single word he said about the guns, though I couldn't say why. I stared at Ben, looking for the truth, but his handsome face revealed no sorrow, no regret. That was answer enough. "Then I guess it's goodbye." Queenie and I headed down the slope. I felt Ben's gaze on my back. Grandpa got it right: the guy was bad news.