I pulled at a piece of my peeling skin. I couldn’t stand how much the sunburn itched! For once in my life, I wished for winter. But at least we wouldn’t freeze to death. Then again, we might burn to death in this weather. I longed for home. July in California felt so much better than this. Ginny burned most of us all. I sunburn or tan a little in the summer, but Ginny only has two skin shades, pale or burnt.
“I wonder what Arlene has been up to,” I said. It felt weird using her real name. And being on this island with her creeped me out. I knew if she recognized me, which she probably did, she’d want me dead for sure. “We haven’t seen her since her fake death.”
“Well, our seeing her would prove she isn’t dead, and she doesn’t want that,” Natalie said.
“What did she look like when you found her?” I asked.
“She had blood on her shirt and face,” Natalie said.
“A lot of blood?”
“Not a ton.”
“Were her eyes open?”
“No, they were closed.”
“Everyone I saw dead had their eyes open.”
“She’s probably trying to figure out who she wants to kill next,” said Ginny.
“Oh, I’m so thirsty!” Natalie said. “Will someone please come with me to the pool to get water?”
“Are you sure that would be safe?” I asked.
“I’ll go with her,” Rupert said. “Natalie’s got one of the knives. We might be okay.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. We should all go together,” I said.
“I don’t feel like getting up. My ankle still hurts,” Ginny said.
“Well, okay, but be careful,” I said to Natalie. “But if you aren’t back in five minutes, I’m never letting you out of my sight again.”
“Thanks,” Natalie said, and she and Rupert crawled out of the tunnel. They walked away.
A few minutes after Natalie and Rupert left, Ginny said, “I wish it wasn’t so hot. Or, at least that someone had found us by now and we were in the air conditioning someplace.”
“Yeah, but what are we supposed to do but just try to live?” I said. I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I originally meant survive the island environment, but Arlene was more likely to kill us. I wondered if we would make it off this island, or if we’d eventually be killed.
Natalie and Rupert still hadn’t returned after several minutes.
“I’m going to go check on Natalie and Rupert. They’ve been gone way too long, and having the two of them out there with Arlene Smith-Kensington freaks me out.”
“Wait, Shayne! Don’t just leave me here by myself!”
“Don’t leave the shelter. You’ll be fine.”
I left the brush and started in the direction of the water pool. A scream pierced the air. I ran. Natalie screamed again, this time longer. I ran faster. How stupid could get? I let her out with just a little boy. Now, Arlene was attacking her. Natalie screamed a third time, but stopped abruptly, as though someone covered her mouth. I raced on.
“Natalie? Natalie!” I shouted.
When I came to the pool, I found her. I covered my mouth.
Tears ran down my face as I looked at my little sister on the ground, covered in blood. I didn’t believe it. Natalie couldn’t be dead. I had just seen her alive fifteen minutes ago. She wasn’t really dead. But as I looked at her, there was no way to convince myself of a lie. Why would Arlene do this to her? Natalie never had an enemy in her life. Why?
I sat next to Natalie, took her hand and cried. I think I sat there crying for at least half an hour.
“I’m sorry, Nattie. I’m so, so sorry.”
And I truly was. For everything. So often Natalie had kindly pointed out some flaw in my character and I always retorted instead of thanking her and trying to work on it. I’d been a horrible sister to her and to Ginny.
“God, forgive me,” I whispered. It was the first time I’d prayed in years.
I had wasted so much time in pride and selfishness. I could have had such a better relationship with both my sisters and with God. And now, it was too late for me to ever fix things with Natalie. It was too late for me to tell her how wrong I’d been and how sorry I was.