She's such a pipsqueak, blonde hair peaking out of the top of her sleeping bag. She's sound asleep now like most of the younger kids, but she'd given them all a run for their money earlier in the day. She's not the youngest one here, but she's close to it, most of the kids were Bobby's age or older, even a bunch of Diana’s old friends were here. It's an annual event, a chance for the kids to get together and bond, celebrate their heritage, a lot of them couldn't even hang a bear bag, they probably didn't even know what one was, but they were all out here having fun.
It's odd seeing Krista, tow headed and white among the rest of them, but she's been hanging around with Bobby since she was born. She's kind of his unofficial shadow and Bobby's dad wasn't about to let that change just because Bobby had thought it was weird. You’re as much her family as she is yours, Silas had said when Bobby had complained.
Bobby knew she couldn't help what family she was born into any more than he could, that didn’t make it fair though. People treated him differently than they treated her. She was the one that got the extra lollipop from the hanger in Calgary or the pilots wings from the stewardess in Vancouver. He knew she was younger, as small for her age as she was spunky, but it still wasn't fair. He was a kid a too. He wasn't a white kid though, and as much as his dad told him the color of a person's skin didn't matter, Bobby knew it did.
It's why Bobby hadn't wanted Krista to come. She was one of his best friends, his sister, but he hadn't wanted to share this, the one thing that he had that she didn't. He wanted some time to figure this out, talk to the other kids, and he couldn't do that with Krista always following him around, getting into trouble.
He knew she didn't mean to. She had manners despite the quirks she had started picking up from Mel, but she wasn't about to stand for anyone teasing her and that's where the trouble lay. Things had gone fine all day, Krista hadn't batted an eye when dinner had been presented eyes and fins still attached. The trouble had started when they had bunked down for the night. Krista was meticulous about the space she slept in. She'd always been like that. A lot of the other kids knew this from prior years, but this year one of the other boys couldn't let it slide.
Bobby didn't know him, which he supposes now was a good thing. He'd stood two cots over from Krista watching her lay out her sleeping bag. She unzipped it, adjusted the sheet inside and then climbed in, zipping it back up. Most of the other kids hadn't bothered with aligning their bags on the cots, most of them flopped off the end or one of the sides, but Krista's was centered, smoothed flat. Tucked inside it her body left a small swell in the center.
He knew she liked to sleep tucked in on herself, knees drawn to her chest, chin tucked down, breath warming her body. It was too hot for that tonight, but even so only the top of her head and her ponytail would be visible once she got settled in.
She had folded her pillow in half, fussed with it, flattening out some areas and plumping up others. She was tired, fussy, after the day they had had. She would want it to be perfect. It wouldn't have taken her long, but the boy, the kid Bobby really wanted to punch, and rounded his cot to face her, to watch her.
Bobby thought it was endearing, how particular she was. He reminded her of the Coopers’ dog, the cranky old husky that turned into a giant teddy bear once it settled in for a nap. Marie, Mrs. Cooper when Bobby was with his dad, fluffed up its pillow every night. Cece said she should stop spoiling it, but she was insistent. She loved that dog. Bobby liked to think of Krista like that, loved, cared for.
The other boy had obviously never met Alton the dog because he says something to Krista. Bobby can’t hear what, but it’s enough to set her off. She growls low in warning, glaring at him and the boy laughs, shakes his head, and says something else. Krista’s up and over the cot between them before Bobby can make it across the room.
Trent, one of Diana’s old friends is there, grabbing Krista around the waist and pulling her away before she can claw the kid’s eyes out.
“Careful,” Bobby yells shoving the still grinning kid out of the way.
Trent puts Krista down between them gingerly, stepping back, but staying close enough that he can grab her again if he needs to. She’s still mad, upper lip curled back in disgust as she eyes Bobby and the kid behind him. She won’t make it past him, but he wouldn’t put it past her to try.
There are grownups now, milling through the kids who are all standing watching. They’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Bobby wonders vaguely if his dad is one of them. He could look but he's not about to take his eye of Krista. He wants to offer to take her out for a walk. It always calmed her down, wandering around, scampering up trees. He was old enough now that they might let him wander off during the day, but it’s getting late.
Her shoulders drop and Bobby moves aside so his dad can crouch down beside him. Krista glowers but then walks over and wraps her arms around his neck. “You’re going to yell at him right?” She whispers quiet and tiny like she’s not sure what’s going on anymore and Silas nods.
“He’ll sleep with the grownups tonight, łįaze.” He soothes.
She tucks her face against his shoulder and sighs. “I’m tired.”
Bobby almost laughs as his father rumples her hair. If anyone could go from hopping mad to sleepy in five seconds it would be Krista.
“Let’s get you to bed.”
Bobby doesn’t hear her agree but she must have because his dad scoops her up and then lays her back on her cot, tugging the sleeping bag up to rest against her forehead. She curls onto her side and Bobby watches her head disappear.
“Etthën nálįę.” His dad murmurs and Bobby laughs. Husky..