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The Summer I Lived
I didn’t want to go. I had no desire to go to summer camp. But my mom wanted me to. She wanted me to meet new people, make new friends, I didn’t want to do that either. I guessed she was just trying to sound nice when she asked me if I wanted to go or not, because what she really meant was “You’re going whether you like it or not so I figured I’d at least pretend you had a choice”. I thought about the rest of my summer without very getting very excited. Sitting around campfires, going on scavenger hunts, and making up stupid nicknames for yourself and other kids like you were best friends even though you’d probably never see each other again weren’t exactly ever my thing.
I was surprised to see how many kids there were by the time I got there. More than enough so I would be able to go off by myself without being noticed, I was good at that. I wonder, if I had just run away, would they even have noticed? I doubt it. But I found a cabin anyway; it seemed that you just found a place and stayed there. People were too busy with each other to notice me; they were so caught up in themselves and their friends I doubt they would have minded me moving in even if they had. The next half hour was just leaders making general announcements, don’t do this, don’t do that, etc. There weren’t really any necessary activities, it was pretty much a do what you want just don’t get in trouble kind of thing.
I decided to walk around myself later, the gossip about who knows what guy in the cabin was getting tiring. As I was walking some random guy walked up next to me. Then I realized, THIS was the guy all the girls were going insane over, I recognized him from their conversations. Dark brown hair, tan skin, green eyes; he was probably from around here.
“Hey,” he said, jogging up next to me.
“Um, hi” I said back in my, I’m-not-exactly-sure-what-to-say-to-you voice.
“It’s hot. Wanna go swimming?”
“Umm NO”I say in my head. “I’m kind of trying to get a look around here, you know, since I’m going to be here all summer,” I said out loud.
“Okay, maybe later.” And he walked away. No wonder they were talking about him, he was weird.
Later me and the girls from our cabin were walking back from lunch, they wanted to go play beach volleyball, I fail at volleyball, along with an assortment of other sports, so I told them I’d catch up later, (which we all knew I wouldn’t, but we were all fine with that) and wandered in the other direction. Then by coincidence I’m sure, we happen to wander in the same direction again and he starts up again.
“Hi,” I say back, staring at the ground
“It sure is hot.”
“It sure would be nice to go swimming”
I didn’t respond.
I stopped and looked at him. “I don’t even know who you are and you’re asking me to go swimming?”
He stopped to and looked at me, grinning like a little boy. “All right. Hi, I’m John Knox, I’m fourteen years old and it’s nice to meet you.” He stuck out his hand. Like I was actually going to shake it. I stared blankly at him, unimpressed. He repeated. “Hi, I’m John Knox, I’m fourteen years old and it’s nice to meet you.” I looked at him.
Finally I replied. “Hi I’m Haley, and I’m fourteen too. Why are you stalking me?” He burst out laughing. I had to admit, it was a little funny, but I wasn’t going to laugh, I wasn’t going to smile.
He stopped for a minute. “I’m not sure ‘stalking’ is exactly the right word.”
I ignored him. “Well?”
He stopped laughing. “I just thought you looked nice; different from the other girls.”
“Well um, thanks. I think.”
He looked at me, waiting for an answer. I guess he was nice enough, and I didn’t have anything better to do. We walked to the pool. He took care of all the introductions. There was nobody there though, which was a good thing; the fewer the better. He asked me something, I don’t even remember what it was, just that I don’t know why I told him. I never would have told anyone that, but I told him. Something made me trust him. We ended up talking for hours, about his life, my life, his little brothers, and my parents. The ones who couldn’t seem to get rid of me enough of the time. Surprisingly, he didn’t want to be there either. Apparently all the teenage girls drooling over him wasn’t exactly the dream come true for him that it seemed to be for most guys. I kind of loved that about him. No, not kind of, I DID love that about him.
We didn’t go swimming that day, or any of the days after that. But we came every day, and we talked, about me, about him, about everything. I told him all the things I had never told anyone, and he listened. And I don’t mean he sat and pretended to hear what I was saying, he actually LISTENED. He made me feel….I don’t know what he made me feel. He made me feel special, he made me feel beautiful, he made me feel loved. He made me feel all the things I had never felt before from anyone, and I was glad that the person who was making me feel that way was him, and not anyone else. And we would just sit, with his arm around me, and my head on his shoulder. And for the first time in my life, I felt happy; completely and utterly happy.
On the last day, he told me he loved me, and I told him I loved him back. And I did. I loved everything about him. His eyes, his voice, how his face got all red when he did something embarrassing in front of me, or how he teased me when I over reacted about something small. I loved how he loved all of me. Me. With all my little imperfections and ALL my screw ups. I cried for days after I left. My parents didn’t know why, I never told them about him, they wouldn’t have cared anyway. But we wrote letters, and I counted the days until I would see him again. Seeing John again, the one and only thing that kept me alive, the only thing that made it worthwhile to live.
On the morning of my flight, before I left the house, I heard my parents in the living room watching the news. There had been a car wreck near a few miles from the camp. A mother, and father, and their son had been thrown of the road by an oncoming truck. The mother and father survived, but the son didn’t make it. Then the words flash onto the screen and I feel my heart break into a million pieces.
“Sam and Danielle Knox are lucky to be alive. But thousands pray for them as they mourn
the death of their fifteen year-old son. John Knox.”