Jason truly did not care about eating right now but they were here so he ordered a burger so he wouldn't look dumb. Dalton had gotten one with cheese, so that's what Jason got too.
About three minutes later, the lady in the bright red hat, who was having way too much fun at her job, slid the burger wrapped in yellow paper and a cardboard boat of fries on a plastic tray toward him.
Jason hadn't ordered fries. Now he had fries he'd have to eat.
He carried his tray over to the table where the guys were. They passed the ketchup around the table, beating the guts out of it. Walker had half his fries in his stomach already. Craig, the freak, was reaching for the mayo.
"What is wrong with you?" Dalton said.
Craig shrugged and squeezed the mayo packet on top of his ketchup. "What? It tastes good."
Walker laughed. "No, it's so gross."
Craig dipped a fry in his concoction and shoved it in his mouth. "I bet it's a sign of intelligence. Like people who are left handed or something."
A piece of his fry flew out of his mouth and landed on the table. They all responded with exaggerated disgust.
"Yeah, real intelligence, man," Jason said.
"Hey, did you guys talk to your parents?" Craig said.
Dalton nodded. "Yeah, I'm in."
Walker ripped a piece off his burger. "My mom's not exactly thrilled at the idea of four teenage guys in the woods for three days, but I think she'll come around to it."
Craig pumped a fist. "Awesome. Jason?"
Jason dragged a fry through his ketchup. "Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be able to go."
"My mom," Jason said. "She doesn't want me to."
"We're staying at a campsite," Craig said. "It's not like we're going backcountry to get murdered by crazy forest people."
Dalton narrowed his eyes. "Are there crazy forest people, Craig? Are there?"
Jason took the tomato out of his burger, then put the top back on. "I don't know. Maybe she's worried about us getting drunk and falling in a lake and drowning or something."
Walker shrugged. "That's probably fair."
"Nuh uh," Craig said. "We're going to find a way to get you there. Can we sneak you out?"
Jason shook his head. "No way."
"It's easy," Craig said. "I used to help Walker sneak out all the time that time he got grounded for three months."
"Yeah, and you almost killed me twice," Walker said.
"No," Jason said. "My dad would actually kill me."
"You should ask again," Craig said. "Ask again. Bring her chocolate or something. And then ask."
"Yeah, I can try," Jason said.
He took a bite from his burger so he wouldn't have to say anything else. And he let Craig think of things he could do to convince his mom to let him go. But Jason wouldn't do any of them. He knew his parents wouldn't change their minds. They never changed their minds. They always knew what was best for him - which sports teams, which volunteer group, which classes, which college. And they were right. He always trusted them. They were smart people. He'd never questioned them. Until recently. With the looming colossus of the future bearing down on him like a ship about to crash into the pier he stood on. He'd started wondering about other things he might do or places he might go or things he might try or see or what else he could learn or discover.
But he only wondered. He took another bite of burger and looked out the soap-streaked window at a sedan double parking in the last two spots.