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Brave? Stupid? Sisters.
Laughter echoes across the dark lake beneath a sliver of the shining silver moon. We sit together next to nine others on the wide, grey rock overhanging the gently lapping waters. The three of us sit with each other beneath the cold summer moon, the hissing hoots of nighttime creatures humming in the background while our hearts beat as one. We sit together after a week of friendship, only pretending to be friends. In our hearts, we know we are sisters.
The week had begun like any other: a bouncing bus ride, songs, a surprisingly good meal, an exhausting hike around the lake, and a breathtaking sunset. I sat on a long rock, looking out over the lake. The hazy summer sky hung above me as though Atlas were tired of holding it up, its humming mosquitoes mesmerizing me. Twelve girls sat on a rock, listening to the night, absorbed in our own thoughts. We sat next to each other a few hours after meeting, only pretending to be friends. We knew we were still strangers.
Soon Sully, the activities director, sat down with us. “Welcome to Camp Glen,” she said as I stared at the fuzzy moon, barely visible beneath clouds as heavy as the silence of strangers. The rules of camp followed, as I was sure they would. “Rule number one: have fun,” she said with a smile. I raised my eyebrows, skeptical as always, and saw some of the others do the same.
“Actually,” she amended herself, “rule number one is don’t die. Rule number two is have fun.” At this I grinned and watched the unit chuckle with surprise. 'I think I’m going to like it here,' I thought to myself.
We returned to the cabin we had briefly visited before our visit to the lake. Our councilors turned us loose on the bunks, letting us decide where to sleep. I shrugged and chose a bed – what did it matter, anyway? I was only here for a week. The beds around me slowly filled as the others picked their bunks. Tired from a long day, I lay down and fell asleep gazing out at the silent, cloudy sky.
The next day was hectic. I woke up and stretched very calmly along with the rest of the unit as our councilor played an impressively loud and piercing tune on her tambourine at five o’clock in the morning. 'Well,' I thought grimly. 'This should be an exciting week.' My mood did not improve much from there as we marched back around the lake for an early morning swim. According to our councilors and the lifeguards, who were grinning evilly, the lake was pleasantly warm at six o’clock in the morning when the temperature on land was about 35 degrees. Resigned to a bitterly cold wake-up call, I looked around at the unit and saw various degrees of horror on the faces of my peers. The expressions of the less outdoorsy girls in our unit struck me as ridiculously funny, and I began to see why our sarcastic lifeguards were so amused. I reluctantly grinned and saw two other girls smiling with me. We looked at each other, eyebrows raised, then at the rest of the unit clustered around a table, and finally at the lifeguards, who explained that we had an hour until breakfast and would either be waiting in the nice warm lake or here in the cold wind – which was, in fact, very cold.
Shaking my head at what I expected to be a very bad idea, I walked along the dock floating on the lake with a pair of the braver, or perhaps just stupider, girls and jumped in. We bobbed up and down and shouted as we realized that the lifeguards had actually been telling the truth. What a surprise. “It’s warm!” one of my fellow jumpers called out to the others, who stared at us with disbelief.
“No, really!” I chuckled. “It’s warmer than it is out there.” Eventually the others were persuaded to jump in, and we all laughed together at the lifeguards’ merriment and our silliness.
Breakfast was, of course, a very drippy affair, but we laughed through it and came out relatively dry and much warmer in the baking sun. We hiked around the camp for the rest of the day, slapping mosquitoes, discovering that most of us were very bad at karaoke, and having fun while not dying, thus obeying the most important rules of camp. We chattered through lunch and dinner, barely noticing the time flying past as if we were sitting in a time machine. But eventually the sun began to fall and the bright cheerful moon appeared as we walked back to our cabin in the silver twilight.
I sat down on my bunk and looked around me, realizing that I had wound up near the other brave, stupid girls who liked lakes. Then I grinned. 'I guess there are worse people to be with,' I thought to myself, and we fell asleep to the sound of whispers and the faint light of the grinning moon.
I woke up the next day to the unexpected sound of a ukulele. Our councilors were whirlwinds of energy through the day, singing joyfully as we rampaged around the lake to breakfast, cackling as we heard the younger campers grumbling sleepily at us to quiet down, and somehow spending an entire day having more fun than any of us really thought was possible.
In the evening, we made it back around the lake before the sun could sink below the horizon, and we sat on our huge grey rock looking out over the gold-tinged lake. The twelve of us sat down beneath the purple sky of sunset, the buzzing insects flying past us as we laughed together. We sat with each other after only a few days, but by then we knew we were friends, even if some were slightly less brave and stupid than the rest of us.
That night I fell asleep to the contented hum of friendship in the soft glow of the clear moon.
The last morning we had together, we woke to a musical cacophony Beethoven wouldn’t have dreamed of even in his worst nightmares – the gleeful crowing of an air horn and a cowbell. Then my bunkmate fell out of her bed laughing as the more fashion-conscious members of our unit jumped up from their beds and chased our councilors around the cabin with cans of hairspray, wearing designer nightgowns and shouting threats with wild eyes. I would have predicted that the day could not get better after that, but I would have been wrong. The rest of our last day was spent giggling with my brave and stupid friends as the more timid but perhaps more sensible girls in our unit decided to try being brave and stupid for a while. I think they rather enjoyed it.
That evening we walked down to the lake for the last time.
Laughter echoed across the dark lake beneath a sliver of the shining silver moon. We sat together on our wide, grey rock overhanging the gently lapping waters. The twelve of us sat with each other beneath the cold summer moon, the hissing hoots of nighttime creatures humming in the background while our hearts beat as one. We sat together after a week of friendship, only pretending to be friends.
In our hearts, we know we will always be sisters.