"Shane!" Shane heard his mother call from downstairs. He sighed as he walked down the stairs to his mom. "Yeah," he said with a typical teenage attitude.
"I'm going to take Trevor to his doctor appointment, I need you to watch Nathaniel," she said readjusting the one year old child in her arms. "But, I have a date with Mallory!" he exclaimed sending a menacing glare at his 9 year old brother who was slightly hidden behind his mother.
"I know, and I'm sorry son. But Jason and your father are on their annual fishing trip, Mrs. Jenkins is on a church retreat, and Mandy was already babysitting the Johnson's kids," she explained glancing up at the clock. She was late.
"Just spend some quality time with each other, I'll be back in a few hours, okay," she said putting Trevor in his carrier and grabbing her keys. She gave Nate a kiss on the forehead and waved goodbye to the two as she bustled out the door. Leaving a pissed Shane and a confused Nate.
Shane sighed loudly and looked at the boy in front of him. What was he going to do with him. Sighing he pounded his way back to his room, leaving Nate at the bottom of the stairs. Shane called Mallory and canceled their plans, much to her and his disappointment and was lying on his bed when Nate came in.
"What are we going to do?" he asked looking up at his older brothers with big eyes. Se was seriously mad at Nate right now and didn't want to even talk to him, let alone do something with him. "What are we going to do? We are not going to do anyth-" Shane cut off mid sentence as an idea struck him.
He put on a kind smile and leaned down to his brothers level. "Why don't we play a game," he said and Nate nodded energetically. "What game?" he asked and Shane smiled thoughtfully. "Follow me," he said leading his younger brother downstairs, through the house and into the woods behind them.
He led Nate to the very center and sat him down on a rock. He and Jason knew the woods like the back of their hands, but they had never taken Nate so he had no idea which way was which. "Okay Nate, you stay here, and count to 500 and I'm going to go hide. You can't leave until you find me, deal?" He asked and Nate nodded. Perfect.
So Nate started counting and Shane quickly made his way out of the woods and into the house. He picked up the house phone and called his girl. "Mallory? Hey it's Shane, I got out of the babysitting thing so you cant still come over…great, see you in a few baby," he finished hanging up the phone.
He ran upstairs and changed into a Polo shits and Jeans and quickly fixed his hair. By the time he was done, he had completely forgotten about Nate.
The doorbell rang Shane sprinted down the stairs, stopping short of the door and answering it coolly. There stood Mallory. He blond hair was pulled back into two pigtails, and she was wearing an American Eagle sweater dress. "Hey babe," she said zeroing in for a kiss which Shane gratefully accepted.
"Hey," he said closing the door behind her and leading her into the media room. "So what happened to your younger brother?" she asked as the movie began. Shane paused, he was pretty sure Mallory wouldn't approve of ditching him in the woods alone. "Friends house," he replied, not looking her in the eyes.
She seemed to believe him and they settled together as the opening credits for Forest Gump began to play. 3 hours later Shane heard the door open and his mother's voice. Crap.
"Shane, Nathaniel, I'm home," she called and Mallory turned to Shane looking confused, "I though Nate was at a friends house," she said and Shane swallowed hard. "I forgot to tell my mom. Why don't you go ahead and go, I'll, um…I'll explain it to her," he mumbled out, he was so dead.
"Sure," she said, looking at Shane suspiciously before walking out the room. "Hey Mrs. Gray," Shane heard Mallory say from the doorway. "Hi Mallory?" she greeted, a bit confused. Shane heard the door open and close and then knew it was time to confront his mother. At least it was just her and not his dad too.
Right before he was about to go tell his mom what he did to Nate he heard the door open. "Mom, me and dad are home!" he heard Jason call. He had spoken to soon.
Shane sighed and walked into the foyer. "Shane where's Nate, I expected him to be with you," his mom said looking around the room for him. Shane rubbed the back of his neck guiltily. "Shane," his dad said warningly. "I left him in the woods," he said quietly.
"What was that?" their mother said, but unfortunately Jason had heard. "YOU LEFT OUR LITTLE BROTHER IN THE WOODS!" he yelled angrily. "Oh my god!" their mother said throwing her hands over her mouth. "Shane Adams Gray, what were you thinking!" his dad said angrily, trying to contain himself.
"I don't know," he mumbled ashamed at his actions. Both his parents started chewing him out for a few minutes before Shane interfered. "Hey, um...mom and dad, not to interrupt you or anything. But if Nate's alone in the woods, shouldn't we go and get him," he said and both the parents stopped their lectures and nodded.
"I'll stay with Trevor," their mother said holding the youngest Gray in her arms sadly, knowing that her other baby was missing. "We'll find him sweetheart," Mr. Gray said, giving Denise a peck on the cheek before tossing 2 flashlights toward his two sons and grabbing 3 umbrellas.
Shane's stomach dropped. "It's raining?" he asked, knowing that Nate hated thunderstorms. "Yep, way to go stupid," Jason commented as the group walked outside, hidden under the umbrellas.
Shane felt guilt crash into him as he realized exactly what he had done. He had taken his younger, 9 year old brother, into the woods and just left him. It was cold, rainy, and scary in there and Shane had just left him. What kind of brother was he?
"Nate!" he called out hoping to get an answer. "Nate!" Jason called shinning his flashlight everywhere as the trio made their way into the woods. "Nathaniel!" Their dad yelled, praying that his son would show up.
They had walked for about 45 minutes and were giving up hope when they found him. He was huddled underneath a tree, shivering and crying. Shane's stomach dropped again. They ran up to him and leaned over him.
"Dad?" the young boy asked quietly and Mr. Gray nodded as the young boy wrapped his arms around Paul's neck. He rubbed his son's back trying to calm the crying boy. . "I-I'm f-f-freezing," he chattered out and Jason shrugged off his jacket and helped Nate guide his arms into the large coat.
"Let's get you home Nate," their dad said and Jason bent down allowing Nate to climb on his back for a ride back to the house. Shane followed silently behind, wanting to kill himself for doing this to his brother.
Somewhere along the walk back, Nate had fallen asleep, his arms hanging loosely around Kevin's neck and head leaning on his shoulder. Kevin and Paul were quietly conversing while Shane trailed slowly behind. When they finally got to the house Nate was woken up by his almost hysterical mother.
"Nathaniel, Oh! Nate," she cried grabbing her son from Jason and wrapping him in her arms, crying silently. Shane stood there awkwardly, never had it felt so weird to stand in his own house. He didn't deserve to be there, not after what he had done.
"Jason, why don't you help Nate get ready for bed," their dad said and Kevin nodded taking his brother and more or less carrying the shivering child to his room, whispering comforting words to the still shaken up child
Shane turned guiltily to his parents. "Living room. Now," his dad said seriously and Shane shuffled to the room and sat down in an arm chair. His parents took seats in front of him and Shane prepared himself for yelling, but it never came.
"What were you thinking?" their mother asked sadly, it was worst then her yelling. "I just wanted to spend some time with Mallory," he muttered. "So you put your own little brother in danger for that?" his dad asked seriously leaning forward in his chair.
"I know we've raised you better then that," he continued and Shane nodded guiltily. "And not only have you lost our trust, but you've probably lost Nate's too," their mother said and Shane nodded once again. "I'm sorry," he said and their parents sighed. "Sorry isn't going to cut it this time Shane," their dad said, rubbing the temples of his head. "No TV, friends, girlfriend, computer, or phone for the next 3 weeks. You can go to school and comeback home, that's it," he said seriously and Shane nodded sadly.
"We expected more from you Shane," his parents said sadly before exiting to the kitchen to brew coffee. Shane sighed as he walked up the stairs to his and Jason's room. On his way he passed Nate's.
Jason was stroking Nate's damp hair as he read himThe Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe. Nate was clad in a pair of Jason's old pajamas and was leaning against his oldest brothers shoulder, trying to keep his eyes open Jason read the book. Shane watched from the doorway as Nate's eyes drooped shut and Jason helped the younger brother underneath the covers. Jason ruffled his curly hair once more and walked out of the room, closing the door quietly.
Jason paused next to Shane in the doorway. Shane was close to tears now, and he never cried. "I'm sorry, I'm really stupid, I'm so sorry, I-" Shane was cut off from his rambled excuse by Jason putting an arm comfortingly around him. Joe sighed as the tears started to fall.
"It's okay Shane. He's okay, what you did was really stupid, but he's okay," he convinced and Joe nodded rubbing the tears away from his eyes. "He hates me now doesn't he?" he said sadly and Jason sighed. "No, he doesn't hate you," he said as Jason led the way to their room.
"He's just….upset," Jason explained, struggling to find the right word. Shane nodded as he pulled on his pajama bottoms and climbed into bed. Outside the rain was pounding and lightning was flashing, punishing Shane for his mistake.
The next morning Shane woke up to birds chirping and the bright sun in his eyes. Jason was still asleep and when Shane looked at the clock he wished he was too. It was only 7 a.m.
Sighing Shane got out of bed and walked down the hallway to the living room. Realizing he couldn't watch TV he just sat there for a while, thinking about how stupid he had been last night. "Shane," a voice timidly asked, and Joe turned around facing his younger brother
The curly head kid climbed up next to him and sat down. His cheeks were rosy from the fever he had developed from being out in the rain to long, he was sniffling because of his stopped up nose and there was a cut running down his forehead from where he had fallen while trying to get out of the forest. Shane's heart broke.
"I'm sorry Nate," Shane said quietly wrapping an arm around his smaller brother and Nate shrugged. "It's okay," Nate said, always quick to accept an apology. He was never one to hold a grudge. They sat in silence for a few more minutes enjoying the silence before Nate pulled out the book Jason had been reading last night.
"Can you read this. I mean, you don't have to. I can read it, but it's funner to have someone read it out loud," he explained and Shane smiled as he took the book and started reading. He was forgiven.