Okay, so I have NO idea how I made it through summer camp.
I’ll start from the beginning, but there is no chance of me putting in half of what happened without making this entry a novel. I’m going to have to skip over some parts.
My mom and dad drove me over there. It took, like four hours and my parents basically spent the entire trip acting like I was really excited, even though I lost count of how many times I told them I didn’t want to go.
By the time we got there it was mid-afternoon.
So the camp is in the middle of a forest in this really large clearing. On one side there are the dorm buildings. In the middle there is this large center where we have meetings and they host indoor activities. There’s a pool there, the meeting hall, a gaming area and some other rooms. On the other side are the residential quarters for all the staff and Councillors. When we pulled up outside the clearing, there were plenty of staff but barely any kids: my parents got there early.
One of the councilors bounces up to us, this little blonde woman who looks like she is about twenty four, wearing a bright red and blue uniform. When she talks she sounds SO weird and she acts like I’m five or something. She takes us, (I’m dragging a large bag behind me), over to the main building. A goth girl is leaning against the doorway. She looks at me like I’m a venomous snake.
The blonde girl (Trisha) shows me around. Then she spends about an hour remising, talking about all the wonderful kids we’ve enjoyed having here and all the great experiences we’ve shared together.
So there are these guys in the gaming room. Four of them. I don’t really give them much attention, I mean, I don’t until I see the middle one.
He’s gorgeous. Like, drop dead romance story beautiful. Long, tousled dark hair and eyelashes to die for, and full lips and creamy skin. He’s wearing a really tight short sleeve shirt so I can see how toned and muscled his arms are.
I stand there and gawk at him and I sort of forget that Trisha is still in the room talking. And then he looks at me.
His eyes. Omigod his eyes.
Suddenly his standing up and I’m like, he’s going to get a drink or something, but then he says ‘hey’ and after a second I realize he’s talking to me. And of course I stutter and stumble over my words because I have NO idea how to talk to this guy. He is WAY too hot.
‘I’m Daniel.’ He says, with a grin. (It takes my breath away.)
I can’t tear my gaze away from him. ‘a-amber’ I say, and I loathe how my voice quavers.
‘Nice to meet you, amber.’ He gives me this long, slow look, and not just at my face. And I know it would be creepy if it was any other guy but when he does it, it gives me thrills.
I try to force my eyes to focus on something else.
Trisha has finally noticed I’m not paying attention to her anymore. She introduces me to all the guys but all I can really think about is that there is NO WAY anyone like him could ever be interested in me, but whenever I succumb to temptation and let my gaze drift over to meet his…
My parents noticed (it was probably pretty obvious) and said something stupid like ‘Don’t get mixed up with those boys, okay amber?’
‘Mom’ I moaned, and speed up ahead of them, staring down at the ground to try and hide how red my cheeks are.
She takes us back outside along this path (still carrying all my bags) to another, smaller clearing with a campfire set up in the middle of it. After that Trisha walks us to the main building again, (And I’m still dragging around my bag), and says she would like to show us the lake but it’s too far away and now a lot more people are starting to arrive.
My parents hug me and tell me to stay safe and they disappear back into the car, leaving me standing there looking after them wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else.
I look around for bree for a bit but I can’t find her. I catch a glimpse one or two kids from my high school, but I’m pretty sure that almost everyone else there come from other towns and maybe some of the bigger cities nearby.
But there is someone else that I recognize. I catch a glimpse of her pink hair and glasses through a small group of girls and I jog up to her.
She looks up at me. She looks surprised.
We talk for a bit. Castella is pretty quiet and reserved but we manage to strike up an awkward conversation. I figure out we actually share some common interests. But a few minutes into it there’s this loud voice in a microphone, the guy who sounds way too cheerful and announces that he’s the head councillor and we all have to go into the hall in the central building. Castella jumps up and disappears into the mass of kids crowding into it.
There’s a really boring speech about how happy they are to have us here, what we’re going to do together and the importance of safety, respect, and team spirit.
I still can’t see bree and I’m a bit worried but I figure I’ve missed her in the crowd.
They divide us into seven groups. Castella is placed into a different one, so literally everyone in my group is totally unfamiliar. Then they separate and all the other ones move away, while my group stays in the hall.
That’s when I see bree run in with her bag, breathless and looking very flustered.
As it turns out it’s actually great that she came late because it meant that she was in the same group I was.
So Trisha, (she’s our ‘guide’ as she put it) instructs us to sit in a circle. She tells us we have to take turns introducing ourselves, (our name, our favorite color, and one interesting thing about us).
I keep wondering how I’m ever going to make it through an entire week of this?
It is SO embarrassing.
After that we play a few games and Trisha runs us through the week. The camp has all the traditional activities: rock climbing, giant swing, swimming, high ropes, you get the idea. Since its nearly evening when she finally finishes she tells us to get settled down in our dorms.
As we are walking there, I tell Bree about Daniel, (She giggles and says he sounds amazing). And then I catch sight of him walking with someone I don’t recognize. I show bree – Bree gasps – ‘oh my god he is so gorgeous,’ but I’m not really listening to her because the girl looks familiar. And don’t want to believe it, this is SO not happening, but I would recognize that stupid catwalk she does anywhere.
Bree figures it out a second later as she turns around. And WHY IS MIA AT THIS STUPID CAMP? And then Daniel turns around too and oh god, he noticed us and now he’s waving and they are coming toward us. And he used to be pretty but now I just hate him for letting Mia anywhere near him.
Suddenly Daniel and mia are in front of us, and Daniel is grinning and telling me, ‘this is my cousin, amber.’
Mia is wearing a bikini and she’s glaring at me, and I’m glaring back but somehow Daniel doesn’t seem to notice the animosity between us. She simpers something like ‘Yeah, we already know each other.’ and gives me a vicious smile.
‘These two are so adorable. They’re like a school couple. It’s so cute.’
‘How’s your dress, mia? Wait, you probably preferred it wet, didn’t you?’
I think that’s when Daniel finally gets it. But before he can say anything mia pulls at his arm. ‘Let’s just go, Daniel. Trust me, they’re not worth it.’
She urges him away from the cabins toward a path leading into the forest. I’m about to call something rude after her but bree grabs my arm. And then I notice one of the nearby councillors standing next to the dorms, watching us.
We go to the dorms, where we share a room with a few younger girls and that Goth I saw when I came in.
That night is pretty uneventful. I and bree both find a secluded spot and we talk (how great her summer break has been so far and how awful mine is). Bree eventually decides to take a swim in the pool. There’s dinner (I have no idea where mia is for that.) After that most of the kids trickle out to the activity area and I go to ask the councillors if I can take a jog on one of the bushwalking trails. (Trisha said she could let me go.)
By some stroke of horror Mia took one of the beds in my dorm. She was clearly as pissed about it as I was, but neither of us could move because all the other dorms were already full.
Nothing actually happened that night. Mia disappeared again, (I was pretty convinced to get drunk somewhere).
The first day, somehow, was survivable. Since I was in a separate group from her, me and mia mostly avoided one another, and the activities weren’t that bad. There was high ropes, archery, and this obstacle course. A few other boring ones. My mom called and we talked for a few minutes in the afternoon.
The third day was where it went wrong. The councillors decided to throw in one of their ‘special’ activities, which was basically a competition between our group and another. For me and bree that meant the one with mia in it.
In the first activity we were both searching for these hidden objects using the clues our councillors gave us. I’m not sure it would have gone so badly, but Daniel (also in the other group) started trailing me around and trying to start a conversation. And he would not take the hint to leave me alone.
It’s clearly pissing mia off. I think that’s why I didn’t actually tell him to.
So mia does what she always does when she’s angry. She takes it out one someone else.
I catch a glimpse of her talking to bree and that’s when I already know something is wrong.
I’m walking over to them. Daniel has finally stopped trying to socialize with me but I know he’s still watching.
They’re arguing, and bree’s close to tears. Mia is holding what I first assumed was her phone (she’s not even allowed to carry a phone) from the way she’s holding up I can see she’s somehow got Wi-Fi and she’s on Facebook. Bree’s begging her ‘no, no, no mia, please!’ Mia looks up at me and says in her sweetest voice, ‘hey amber, I bet your bestie didn’t tell you about this, did she?’ She holds up the phone and then I see the picture.
It’s fake. Trust me, mia loves spreading rumors.
But I know that no one will care if it’s fake or not, not if mia sends it. And the thing is, she’s not even holding her phone. She’s holding bree’s phone. And I can tell it’s logged into bree’s Facebook profile.
I clench my fists.
Mia has her finger poised over post. I want to grab the phone but I’m not sure if I can without her posting it first.
I mean, bree can delete the post, but mia then will just re-upload it herself.
I force myself to relax. I give her this sympathetic smile. ‘Aww, mia. It sucks not to feel relevant enough, doesn’t it? The thing is you realize l no one’s going to care, right? Everyone knows you’re a lying, manipulative bi- ‘
Mia hits send.
I try to grab the phone but mia laughs and backs out of the way. I can see bree standing very still, looking stricken.
Mia’s doing something to it again. ‘You want me to send this one too, amber?’ She raises the phone again.
The second photo is worse.
What happens next seemed pretty slow at the time, but now I remember it, it was mostly a blur, like that time at the party. I grab her arm and twist, trying to pull the phone out of her hand. And then, when that doesn’t work, I punch her, as hard as I can.
She stumbles back a few steps, holding her face.
There is shouting. Mia has dropped the phone and I pick it up, clutching it in my fist so hard my knuckles ache. One of the councillors is running up to us, running up to her. Mia doesn’t lift her face from her hands. Instead she starts to shake.
Obviously I don’t buy it, but they do. Everyone is suddenly crowding around mia, and they are concerned from her, and they’re asking what my problem is.
I see her lift her hands, just for a second, and give me a smirk. Then she goes back to the ‘crying’.
Mia plays victim. She really plays victim. She tells everyone ‘I just walked up to her and hit her.’
The thing is, I can’t show them those photos. Not with what they displayed. I know there is no way bree would be able to take that. And mia knows that, too, that’s why she sent them.
I tell them that mia was bullying bree. I said she was trying to steal her phone. Mia said it was because bree was trying to send rude stuff about her.
Want to guess who they believed?
They ended up calling my parents, and they told me I was grounded for another two weeks.
I had to apologize to mia. I had to apologize to her. While I literally wanted to kill her, while I knew she had posted those fake photos onto her stupid Facebook to show all of her stupid friends. Then I had to skip the rest of the day to spend in a room where I wrote notes for one of the councillors. And then I had to do that again every afternoon for the next few days.
They also confiscated bree’s phone and wouldn’t let her use it. She had to borrow mine to call her parents.
I looked online recently. She’s still playing victim, saying she’s ‘scared of me’ and I’m ‘violent.’
I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen her push people around and get guys to shove them against lockers in school and beat them up, but of course no one cares about that.
Mia is so horrible.
Anyway, so the next three days were awful. Everyone in the camp acted like I was dangerous or something and mia somehow convinced everyone that her face was still hurt. (It as makeup). Then she claimed I threatened her a few times, and I was told off again. And of course all the while she’s still spreading lies about bree on facebook.
And believe it nor not, that isn’t even the end of it.
I decided to try to get back at mia. And I wanted to do something that would really hurt her.
Maybe I wouldn’t have gone that far, if I wasn’t so angry at her, so sick of her manipulating everyone all the time.
It took me a while to figure out how I would get back at mia. I only had a few days before the summer camp ended. And my options were limited because I couldn’t even get near her without her going into victim mode.
But the opportunity eventually presented itself, in Daniel.
For whatever stupid reason, he had spent the last few days trying to find out why I ‘attacked’ mia.
I decided to feed him an idea that would hurt her. Something that was believable and one he wouldn’t take to mia so she could debunk it.
I know I saw her do it, so it was really just a slightly modified version of the truth.
I told Daniel mia was a heroin addict.
It worked because I had figured out what mia did all the nights she wasn’t in the dorms or at dinner. I followed her when I saw mia sneak out two nights after I punched her.
I would have told one of the councillors, but after I hit her, I didn’t think any of them would take me seriously. I mean, I didn’t think Daniel would either. I still don’t know why he was ever so trusting of me.
Well, Mia knows how to act, but so do I.
I can still remember him leaning in toward me, his eyes full of intensity. ‘Amber, is this true? You’re being honest with me?’ And me, forcing myself to look into those eyes, saying back to him ‘Yes. Yeah. I’ve seen her do it, Daniel. More than once.’
Then the look that flashes across his face, quickly smothered pain that shows how much he cares for her.
For whatever reason, Daniel believed me enough to follow her that night.
Maybe it was just how the pieces fell together. I’m pretty sure he was suspicious of something already.
And the thing is; now I actually feel a little bad. Which is the stupidest thing ever, because mia totally deserved it, and it’s not like she isn’t into taking drugs.
So the day after I tell him (the last day of camp thank god), I see them arguing on the other side of the camp site.
I come a bit closer.
Mia looks pissed off, like, really pissed off, and I can’t stop from smiling. Daniel is gesturing helplessly. They’re both too far away for me to hear what they’re saying but I can tell mia isn’t being very quiet. The only reason no one else has noticed is because everyone else is at morning tea.
It goes on from a few minutes until mia yells something loud enough even I can hear her, and stalks away from him.
That’s when she notices me.
I cross my arms and let her stride up to me. I know I’m going to enjoy this.
What surprises me first is how she looks. Her hair is a mess and she doesn’t have any makeup on, and her cheeks are red and puffy like she’s been crying. Really crying. She isn’t composed or controlled like I always see her, at school or even before then while we were both at camp.
She looks… Almost vulnerable.
I didn’t expect her to be like that. I’ve never seen her like that.
When she speaks, it sounds more like she’s hurt than angry.
‘Why did you do that?’
I can’t feel the same satisfaction I felt before and I can’t think of anything clever to say. I end up stammering ‘I-I – you-‘
She takes a long, shuddering breath and all I can think is there is no way she was actually crying.
‘How could you? Do you know what you’ve done to me?’
I think that’s the part where she started to piss me off again.
‘Aww. Poor mia. Did someone figure out what are junkie you are?’
I expect her to try to hit me, or maybe slap me or something, or at least answer with some degrading remark. But instead mia takes another long, uneven breath and covers her face with her hands.
I tell myself she has to be faking it, just like she did a few days ago. She has to be. The last thing I can imagine is mia even having a vulnerable side.
She half turns away from me for a second.
I’m determined not to fall for her. I am sick of her playing victim.
‘I’m not going to feel sorry for you, mia,’ I say. ‘So you can stop your pity display, okay?’
Mia turns around again. She’s a little more composed this time.
‘I swear to god I’m going to make you pay for this.’
Now it’s back to the old mia, the one I’m familiar with. The one always looking for a new way to bully me or my friends.
I smile sweetly at her.
‘I hope you’ve got some new ideas,’ I say, and I spin around and start walking away because I know the only thing left mia has for me are threats and more promises of how she is going to ‘make me pay.’ Mia always wants me to pay for something.
I don’t see much of her after that.
Near the end of the camp Daniel corners me as I’m getting my phone back from the councillors. He leans casually against the door, blocking my exit.
I sigh loudly. ‘What do you want?’ I ask.
He grins and steps in closer to me. I’m tempted to slip past him.
‘How did you like the camp?’ He asks me. I shrug, still eyeing the door. ‘It was okay, I guess,’ I say.
Daniel is staring at me too intently and I know if I look into his eyes I’m going to get caught up in them because he still has that effect on me. And I have to remind myself that I’ve already given myself to another guy (Andrew, he’s called me a few times since the party).
‘Only okay?’ He asks me. I fiddle with my phone and remind myself: He’s mia’s cousin, there’s NO WAY I’m allowed to be interested in him.
‘I’m not really into summer camp that much,’ I tell him, with a nonchalant shrug, while I keep wondering why he is even talking to me. I still haven’t figured out, of all people, why it was me he decided to take interest in. Like, there were way hotter girls at the camp.
‘Why did you go, then?’
I can’t help but notice how little his shirt does to hide how muscled his chest is.
I make myself look up his face again. I raise my eyebrows.
He seems to get it.
‘You must have had some fun, though, right?’
I smile a little bit as I remember me and bree screaming together on the giant swing, and swimming in that beautiful lake.
‘Well, so I was just wondering,’ he says, ‘if maybe I could get your number?’
I stand there for a moment, confused, not sure I’ve heard him right. Because I cannot believe he just asked for my number.
‘Wait, what? My number? Why?’ And then I feel like an idiot.
Daniel looks a little surprised. ‘It’s fine if you don’t want to-‘
I know bree would kill me if I reject him but I’m also already talking to someone, (Andrew, he actually called me a few times earlier this holidays) and shouldn’t interested in giving my number to anyone else.
And I hate myself because I really, really want to give him my number. I struggle not to look at him too directly as I stammer ‘I-I can’t, I’m sort of with –um,’ I have no idea how I explain it to him because I’m not even sure what Andrew qualifies as yet. Friend? Boyfriend?
Daniel gives me this look that I can’t read.
‘Look, sorry it’s fine, I shouldn’t have asked,’ he says, running a hand through his hair in an incredibly sexy way. ‘We don’t really know each other, do we? And I’m definitely a lot older than you…’
I nod quickly and my heart’s sinking a little bit and I know I am so going to regret this.
Then he brightens up a bit and he’s like, ‘hey, wait, you go to maple high, don’t you?’ (that’s the name of my school). When I nod he grins and says, ‘Yeah, I think I’m moving there.’
He’s moving there. That took a few seconds to sink in.
I tell myself it’s not a big deal, but that is so not true.
Daniel continues, ‘So I guess we will be seeing a bit more of each other after the holidays.’
His smile makes thrilled and I hate it.
‘And I’m really looking forward to seeing you again.’
When he passes me on the way out he’s close enough I can feel his warm breath on the back of my neck.
I’m not actually sure what it is about him that turns me on. Like, sometimes I think it’s not the way he looks, (I mean, well, that’s obviously part of it), but knowing how he’s basically against all the rules (older, mia’s cousin, my parents HATE me if they knew I was dating him.)
It’s not exactly that I have a crush, (although my feelings are always such a mess when I’m around him, so I don’t even really know if I do or not), but that I’m attracted to him because I know I shouldn’t be. Which I know makes absolutely no sense.
Anyway, that was pretty much the end of summer camp.
We had this stupid farewell thing where the councillors all said they were ‘looking forward to seeing us next year.’ And that was basically it.
My parents were late (what a surprise) and spent basically the entire trip back telling me how disappointed they were in me, (Mia) and how I could think about my actions in the next four weeks.
Ugh. My life is OVER.
There was one other thing that happened. But I honestly don’t know why it’s bothering me so much.
It happened on the third night, one of the ‘campfire nights’. I think one of the councillors is trying to start a song but no one is really getting into it.
I have the Gameboy, (for some reason they let me keep it.) I am sitting next to castella, although we aren’t talking much. It is pretty quiet, which is probably why she looks up when I turn it on (the theme music started playing).
She sort of stiffens. I don’t notice that much. I’m too focused on the screen.
On the Gameboy the alien appears, with the message, hello, amber.
I’m expecting it to go straight to the level but instead the alien speaks:
‘Be aware the magnificence in the endless oblivion of space.’
It doesn’t surprise me that much, because sometimes the alien does that between levels.
‘Contemplate their nonunderstandability when they visit you.’
The alien’s mouth opens wide.
I’m staring down at it, waiting for the screen to change or more words to appear, when suddenly Castella grabs it from me. I turn to look over at her in surprise and irritation.
‘Hey, what are you doing?’ I snap.
Then I wonder if I’m even actually allowed to have the Gameboy with me, since I never actually asked the councillors for permission.
Castella is staring down at the gameboy in horror. At first I’m worried that she’s going to tell the councillors about it, but I quickly realize that wouldn’t make any sense, because she looks terrified.
She turns to me a second later and in a voice that tremors slightly she asks,
‘Where did you find this?’
I say, after a little hesitation, ‘Uh, my brother gave it to me. Wait, what do you mean, where did I find this?’
‘Amber, you- you’ She takes a sharp breath and I don’t think I would have taken her seriously if she didn’t look so… Stricken.
‘Oh god, amber, what have you done? They-‘ She moans and starts pressing frantically at the Gameboy, her voice rising, ‘-no this can’t happen, not again!’
Of course I have absolutely no idea what she is freaking out about.
She turns to me. ‘Amber, you have to get rid of this.’ She says it with conviction, like the Gameboy can actually hurt me.
I’m trying to decide whether I should be irritated, confused or just creeped out by her reaction.
‘Why?’ I ask stupidly.
‘I- It’s- just get rid of it, okay amber? You can’t keep it.’
‘What are you talking about? What’s wrong with it?’
She looks away for a moment. Her tiny fist is clenched so hard around the Gameboy her knuckles are white. I’m worried she’s going to break it.
She mutters something. I’m not sure, but it sounds like, ‘I buried it. This cannot be happening!’
At this point I’m sort of creeped out.
‘You wouldn’t-‘ She sighs. ‘You don’t understand.’
Then she stands up, strides up to the edge of the forest, and hurls the Gameboy into the darkness. A few people glance at her as she comes back to sit down.
‘What the hell is wrong with you?’ I hiss. I peer into the darkness, but of course I can’t see it anywhere. She turns around again, her eyes haunted. Her hands are shaking.
I have no idea what has gotten into her.
‘You don’t know – what that thing can do to you.’ She turns away from me.
Castella won’t talk much after that.
There’s no way I’m going to go into the forest and look for that thing, and it’s not like I cared about it much anyway.
A few hours later, we go back to our dorms. I’m pretty tired so I go straight to bed. After a few minutes I fall asleep.
I’m woken up a while later by the faintest, almost unrecognizable sound. And then, as I’m about to sink back into unconsciousness, a song starts playing. A song I recognize.
It’s the one that plays whenever I start up starships three.
After a few seconds of lying there, making sure it’s not my imagination; I get out of bed and turn on my phone.
The light illuminates something under my bed.
It’s the Gameboy.
I stare at it. After a long moment I reach under, grab it, and switch it off.
I still haven’t figured out how the Gameboy got there. I saw Castella enter her cabin, and there’s no way she snuck out to get it, and no one else even really noticed when she threw it. I keep telling myself one of the councillors probably found it, turned it on, and saw ‘hello amber’ on the screen, and then came in quietly and returned it under my bed.
But I could swear none of the Councillors noticed, either. And they all left when we did.
Also, there was this thick, black liquid dripping off it. And it sort of looked like it was leaking out of inside the Gameboy. I told myself it was mud or something and in the morning most of it was gone. But still, if mud had gotten inside, wouldn’t it stop working?
So that was really weird.
I still have no idea why castella freaked out so much, but now I guess I’m more interested in the Gameboy. (Even though it really does creep me out.) I want to ask castella why she freaked out like that.
Um, anyway. So that was summer camp.
Oh my god. I’m going to have to split this entry up into parts. This is what happens when I’m stuck in my room all day. I have been writing for HOURS.
Anyway, I’ll tell you guys if anything interesting happens (trust me, that won’t take long).
Now I’m going to have to figure out a way to pass the next month of being grounded.
It’s funny, now I’m done with summer camp, I actually miss it. I mean, it sucked having mia there, but at least there was always something to do.
Honestly. I never thought I would say that.