Melanie’s voice was low and urgent.
Naturally, I tried to look.
“No!” she hissed. “Stay still, Bethany! Don’t move!”
Naturally, I disobeyed. No way I was letting Melanie see something interesting and miss out on it! Bad enough she was born thirty minutes before me, and had to constantly remind me how she “was normally positioned” and I was “the butt-instead-of-head” one.
I looked … and almost had a heart attack! Not that I was gonna let her see it. I molded my almost-shriek into a grin. “Cool!”
“Bee!” she hissed.
She rarely used her baby name for me. Perhaps she was genuinely terrified.
“It’s fine, Meh-Meh,” I returned. The syllables felt simultaneously odd and soothing in my mouth. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d used my baby name for her. Being the younger twin, and always the smaller, I’d been self-conscious about not appearing babyish.
“It’s a rhino!” she mouthed.
“A baby rhino,” I tried hopefully. “I mean, I think it is.”
“Babies have mamas and even that so-called baby has a horn,” she shuddered. Her voice shook.
Suddenly suspicious, I chanced a look around to seek Gary. A moment earlier, our safari guide had ‘conveniently’ needed to go get something from the truck.
Even his silhouette appeared smug.
“So, Gary!” I called out, eliciting a gasp and a fetal position from Melanie. “Who’s that little one?”
The khaki-clad man stepped into the light of the fire he’d lit earlier. More for ambiance than for warmth. His grin was someplace between satisfied and embarrassed.
“It’s Barry,” he chuckled, clicked his fingers, and pulled a carrot out of his back pocket. “Our resident rhino.”
The gray beast sauntered closer. If Melanie could have drilled herself into the ground, she would.
“You terrified my sister,” I glowered at the guide.
I wasn’t really worried about her. I could see that she was trying to regain her composure (if not her self-respect). In fact, I was definitely going to get a lot of mileage out of this. But … she was my sister to torment. No one else had the right!
“Sorry,” his voice was only marginally contrite. “Barry is an unofficial part of the tour.”
“For those who survive,” Melanie muttered under her breath. She was still shaking.
The rhino lipped the carrot and chewed it noisily, then took a step in our direction. Melanie squeaked.
Well, those who come out butt-first apparently have stronger constitutions. I stood up. “Got more carrots?”