Chapter 1: Summer Camp
“So. How does it feel?” Todd asked as we strolled along the banks of the lake. It was the first day of the two week camp and we’d already turned our campers over to the arts and crafts director.
“How does what feel?” I asked confused. We’d been walking along in silence since we’d stepped out of the art building.
“Having freedom again.” Todd said with a smirk. “You’ve been grounded pretty much all summer…what did you do exactly?”
“Oh, yeah – it’s possible that I stayed out past curfew on prom night…” I said, digging the toe of my shoe into the dirt a bit.
“And that got you grounded all summer?” Todd asked incredulously.
“Like four in the morning past curfew…Dad was freaking out by the time I got home.” I explained. “He’d called his friend at the police station and the hospital. Apparently he’d come to the hotel too so when I said I was just dancing and my phone was in my purse…he may have caught me in a lie there…”
“Oh!” Todd was silent for a moment and then grinned at me. “So where were you?”
“Erik and I went upstairs to an after party.” I said, it was the partial truth.
“Is that what you told your dad?” he asked, not looking completely satisfied with my response.
“Yes.” I said. Thankfully we were saved by the sound of screeching children running from the arts and crafts cabin. The boy campers – Todd’s charges – were laughing as they jogged in our direction but most of the girls were screaming and pointing back at the cabin. I was halfway to them when one of the other counselors came out with a large snake wrapped around his shoulders and a cheesy grin on his face.
I sighed a relieved sigh as shut the door on the girls’ cabin. For the last two hours, every time I came in one or more of them were giggling and all of them were pretending to sleep. Camp was now about half over and the campers had evolved into a herd of little monsters. They were cute monsters but monsters none the less. There was an all out prank war going between the boys cabin and the girls cabin and Todd and I were getting caught in the cross fire most of the time.
I flopped down on the couch next to Todd and leaned back. “They’re finally out. I swear if I have one more ten year old come screaming into my room flinging around a rubber snake or a bunch of plastic bugs…I might just lose my mind.”
“Well the girls put shaving cream in all the boys’ beds last night so I ended up staying up most of the night while they washed their hair, clothes and changing sheets.” Todd yawned and flipped the channel again.
“Well hopefully there is a cease fire in place for the night because I want to sleep.” I said. Todd was still flipping through the channels absently and I finally snatched the remote from him and turned it back a couple stations to an old rerun of Sugar Valley High.
“Ugh, this show was lame when it was new Gin…” he made a grab for the remote and I dodged with a laugh, holding the remote as far from him as I could.
“That’s because you’re a guy, besides it’s not like you were actually WATCHING anything.” He didn’t argue but I heard him muttering a few things about the bad boy teen star now being in rehab.
After his short fuming stopped I spoke up, “I got an email from Tim – his uncle took up a year-long teaching post at CSU so Tim can stay near his dad and school.” Todd was already drifting off and merely nodded in reply. “Speaking of CSU…how’s Mei-Ling?”
“What does CSU have to do with Mei-Ling…other than that she’s a student there?” Todd asked.
“That’s all, it’s a lame segue I admit but it’s out there so…how is Mei-Ling?” I asked again.
“Fine…she’s signed up for classes next semester – she got a lot of her first choices this time being a second year student.” He said.
“And Ning…” I prompted, asking about the topic I knew he was avoiding.
“Still in town – he’s registered at CSU on a student visa now…making a general nuisance of himself I think.” Todd growled a bit. “Mei-Ling swears she has no intention of marrying him or going back to China but….” Todd just shrugged and stopped talking.
A thick silence hung between us for several minutes. We returned our attention to the show, though I don’t think either of us were watching very closely. I was considering bringing up the subject again when Todd suddenly sat up straight and pointed at the TV. “Is that…” he grabbed for the remote as if to rewind.
“It’s not a DVD Todd…what are you talking about?” I didn’t take my eyes from the screen just in case.
“There!” he shouted. He lunged forward and pointed at the screen at a pre-teen girl. She couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve and this episode was at least seven or eight years old.
“Nai’a!” I shouted and then clapped a hand over my mouth because it echoed around the room. “Is it her?” I stared at the screen and tried to age the young girl into the friend I knew.
After that we both sat quietly through the show waiting to see if Bree’s younger sister, the character that may or may not have been played by Nai’a, made another on screen appearance but she didn’t. “Do you think it was?” Todd asked as the show ended.
“It sure looked like her.” I said, wondering why Nai’a hadn’t told us, assuming of course that it was her.
There was another episode of Sugar Valley High coming on right after that but Todd excused himself for bed. I curled up on the couch to watch for Bree’s younger sister to show up again but I must have fallen asleep. It’s just as well, when I got to my room the next morning, I was able to see the whip cream in my bed and pillow before I laid down in it. Chances are I wouldn’t have been so fortunate if the room had been cast in darkness.
Todd wasn’t so lucky. Boys, who were less squeamish about bugs, opted for live critters. Seeing as the live critters had legs, they were all over the cabin by the time Todd went to bed. I think he’ll have bug guts between his toes for weeks.
The prank war had left the campers’ cabins and they’d turned their attention on the counselors.
Thankfully the second and final week of camp was packed with activities and competitions to keep the kids occupied, mostly, with “productive” things instead of trying to shave my head while I sat by the lake. Mostly.
The final day of the camp was generally reserved for packing and final party for everyone to say their goodbyes and exchange information. Todd and I – relieved to get away from our pranksters – had volunteered to set up the party together. Unfortunately for the party, they’d brought in a bubble station as entertainment and Todd and I decided to ‘test it out’.
“Do you regret volunteering?” Todd asked. He’d been the one to convince me to sign up for this and I think he was worried I would blame him for a horrid experience.
“No, really it wasn’t bad. I had a lot of fun…in spite of Mr. S-s-s-slithers and…well all the other things.” I said with a laugh. “But I have to ask – are they like this every year?” Todd had been a counselor several times for this camp and seemed to always come back having enjoyed himself.
“Eh, every patch is different – this years’ group was a little more…” he paused for a moment and then grinned, “Energetic, than usual but they’re kids, it’s what they do.”
“Energetic – yeah that’s a word for it.” I said with a chuckle. I took a deep intake of bubbles and blew them all back in his direction, he dodged them easily enough but laughed and returned to bubble shower.
There were more decorations on the floor than on the walls by the time we stopped messing around and realized the kids from all over camp would descend on us soon. We had to scramble to finish up and in the end it wasn’t the best decoration job in history but the kids didn’t care as long as there was food and music playing.
“So, school next week…” Todd said, as we watched our little monsters dance and play. “Ready for it?”
I shrugged. “Sure I guess – it’s just another year…”
“But this time we’re seniors.” Todd said with a grin.
“And we’re gonna rule the school.” I replied with a laugh.