Author's note: I had actually been inspired by a dream I had of myself and an old friend in some old mini mart... Show full author's note »
The heat was becoming too overwhelming. I thought I was beginning to sweat through my designer red dress. I could already feel my cheeks beginning to burn. My eyes were peeled wide open when he reached into the pocket of his suit. Without a word he knelt down on one knee at my feet.
I had no control of myself. My hands were glued to my lap, with no way to remove them. He pulled a black velvet box from his jacket and opened it carefully with his long fingers. The fingers of a piano player. His bright eyes glowed in the dim light as he looked up to me along with a beautiful smile showing all of his teeth.
“Will you marry me?” he asked so sweetly.
My eyes darted between him and the box. I didn’t want to look at the ring. I did not want to see how large the stone was or the cut. I wanted to read his face. And try to figure out my own thoughts. To try to sort them out for myself.
I had absolutely no idea what to say. Was I ready for something like this? Would I be able to spend the rest of my life with this man? For some odd reason, even though I did love him with all my heart, my mind was telling me that I should turn him down.
Mom finally found a way to dispose of me for the summer. She had found out about some camp off in Idaho from one of her friends at work. Honestly, I didn’t mind. I didn’t have any plans for the summer. My best friend had been planning on some basketball camp she’d been ranting about since the winter. So I would have been stuck at home without a getaway. That would have most definitely ended in countless fights with Mom that I didn’t want to get involved with. So in a way I was thankful that she was doing the both of us a favor.
“You’ve been so quiet, Mia,” Mom said as we turned off the highway. I only had a few more minutes left with her. We’d been in the car for over six hours and I was ready to let her go. But still, of course, she was concerned with my well being. For most of the car ride I had kept to myself. Mom and I weren’t very close to start off with, so it didn’t make much of a difference, I thought, if I said much of anything.
I shrugged my shoulders, hoping she would just drop it. I was tired of her constant effort to try to make me feel better. Or whatever she thought she was doing. At this point I just wanted to be left alone.
She sighed and looked back to the road. “Well you’ll have fun here. They have a huge lake and hikes and horses. Oh I remember when you used to love horses. You still like them, don’t you, Mia?” She looked to me, but I kept my eyes on the road myself. “Well anyways. You’ll have a blast. I wish I could have gone to a place like this when I was your age. They’re also supposed to be pretty lenient to most things. Just more of a getaway for the summer it seems.”
“Yep,” I said. I was so ready to find this getaway she was talking about. I could finally get some time to myself with people my age.
The car turned down a gravel road. We were almost there. Some excitement was beginning to build up, but otherwise I didn’t feel anything.
We came up to a dirt parking lot. I noticed a large brown barn off to the right along with a series of buildings in front of us. As Mom put the car in park, I jumped out to grab my bags from the back seat of the old Toyota 4 runner. I slung my back pack over a shoulder and lifted the suit case out before shutting the door. Mom came around to my side. Her hands sat on her hips. She left her large sunglasses on, not making a move to take them off, which showed she wasn’t going to stay long.
“You excited?” she asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, adjusting the shoulder strap awkwardly.
“Well I hope you have fun. Make some new friends. Write to me sometimes.” She wrapped an arm around my shoulders.
“Alright,” I said plainly.
“I love you.”
I nodded my head. I’d never been one to really tell anyone ‘I love you’. So Mom wasn’t going to be an acceptation.
She sighed as she let go. “Bye sweetie,” she said as she opened the driver’s door.
I turned to look at the camp for just a moment. I heard the gears shift as Mom put the car back into drive. I glanced back to see her wave and honk before getting back onto the gravel road. I faked a smile back in the car’s direction before picking up the suit case. The place smelled of hay and dirt, which was very different from the little suburbs I was from. But it was something I didn’t mind. Instead of worrying about it, I headed in the direction I saw a couple of other kids going.
There weren’t many people in the room when I stepped inside. I took a seat in one of the plastic chairs, like everyone else was. Already, I felt like the odd one out with all of the other camp-goers smiling at old friends from years before. But I stayed off to the side, out of everyone’s way. No one seemed to notice me anyways.
When the councilors came to the front of the room everyone quieted down. By that time there were maybe thirty kids altogether, which I thought was pretty small for a camp of both girls and boys.
I had been assigned the orange cabin with two other girls. One of them, Cathy, a very sweet girl with blonde curls framing her light skinned face made me feel at home with her warm personality. Her blue eyes stood out prominently with her dark eyelashes. Like myself, she wore cutoff denim shorts and a t-shirt with some odd saying on it. I didn’t quite take the time to read it.
“You have such pretty brown hair. The curls are so pretty,” had been the first thing she said to me when I came into the cabin. She smiled soon afterwards.
The other girl, Mattie, didn’t talk too much. She kept her hair up in a pony tail. I had to study her for a moment before noticing how green her eyes were. She didn’t wear much make up if not any. But I didn’t learn much more of her in the short amount of time.
The small cabin had been equipped with three beds. Cathy, having been returning for the third year in a row, had brought white Christmas lights to hang on the walls and give us a little more light. I made note for my own room at home.
Later that evening Cathy invited me to come with her to the cafeteria for dinner. She introduced me to a couple of her friends who we sat with, but I couldn’t remember their names. At the moment my eyes had rather scan around the room, and take in the decorations of the hall. Oak beams held up the ceiling and wood paneled wall. It looked like it was to be made to look like a log cabin, but wasn’t quite on its way to accomplishing it. A couple of chalk boards had the meals of the day written on them, while another was hung on the wall on the other side of the room showing what events were happening.
I followed Cathy out to a bonfire they had going behind the cabins. It seemed as if everyone was in attendance, laughing and sharing stories from the past year. This time I put myself out there a little more and shared some of my relating stories while laughing along with the other campers.
Cathy introduced me to a couple of her guy friends, thinking that I might be interested, but sadly I wasn’t. They were both okay, one with a buzz cut and blonde hair, the other with shaggy bleached hair. They both had great personalities, but there just was something about them that wasn’t quite appealing, even though both of them seemed interested.
I had been too caught up in new conversations to realize how late it was. When the camp councilors came by to put out the fire, then did I realize how tired I had grown. Mattie caught up to Cathy and I on our way back to the cabin. I soon crawled under the blanket on my bed and tried to get as comfortable as possible. I still felt a little out of place here without knowing many people. But I had a feeling that might change. I still wanted to be able to tell someone, a friend from home what I was going through, and how it really wasn’t that bad. But we weren’t allowed to have cell phones, so I couldn’t contact anyone at any moment. For the most part I didn’t mind that downfall. I didn’t really use my phone all that much anyways.
And I hadn’t read up too much on the camp in the first place, so I had no idea what all the camp entitled, except for the important things like, if it was an all girl camp or not, and what they served for meals.
I woke to the morning sun streaming through the windows. As I stretched I found Cathy reading and Mattie’s bed empty. In the quiet of the morning I could hear birds chirping somewhere in the distance.
Cathy looked over. “Good morning,” she said. She sat on top of the sheets in a tank top and mesh shorts.
“Morning,” I said in a groggy voice. The mattress was hard, so my back was now stiff. A good bath sounded wonderful.
“Mattie already headed down to the cafeteria for breakfast. They serve until ten.”
That gave me plenty of time. “Thanks. And where would the showers be?” I asked.
“In the building behind the cafeteria,” Cathy informed before turning her eyes back to her book.
I rummaged through my bag and found a ponytail elastic and quickly pulled my hair back, some strands escaping. “Dang,” I said. “I don’t have any shampoo.” I pondered for a moment. “Is there any place I might be able to get some?”
Cathy looked up. “There’s a little store down the path if you take a left when you go out of the cabin. Kind of like a mini mart I guess.”
I smiled. “Thank you.” I grabbed a five out of my wallet and slipped into my sneakers. “I’ll be back after breakfast.”
“Mmk,” she replied as she turned to the next page of her book.
I set off down the dirt trail, past the rest of the cabins and through a small patch of trees. A wooden building was at the end of the path. Next to the front door was a metal box that read “ice” along with a stack of news papers. As I opened the door, bells jingled my arrival. There were many shoulder-high isles with merchandise cluttering them. Advertisements hung on the walls for different sodas and candy. Sweatshirts that said Redfish Lake, Idaho were for sale at the end of the isles. My eyes wandered to the front desk where a boy with short brown hair leaned against the counter. He had glanced at me when I had looked over. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t put a finger on who he was. I turned down one of the isles and picked up a mini bottle of shampoo. When I peaked over the isle to get another look his eyes were pointed directly at me with the same questionable look I had before. I grinned and looked away to choose a mini bottle of conditioner.
“Hello,” he said when I placed my things on the counter. He still held the same look while he rang up my items. “Three dollars and eighty-nine cents.” I noticed that his voice even sounded familiar.
I handed him the five I had. His fingers looked like they had been worn from chewing or possibly tedious hours of playing guitar. His hazel eyes met mine when he reached for the money. As he got my change from the register I noticed how his hair had been gelled upward towards the center, as in a faux-hawk. He handed me the change with a smile. “Have a nice day,” he said.
I took my bottles and shoved the change in my pocket. As I reached the door I paused. I had to know for myself if he was actually someone that I knew. I turned back. “I know this sounds crazy, but I swear I’ve seen you somewhere before.” He looked towards me with a gleam in his eye. “Can I ask you what your name is?” I asked with a sheepish grin.
“Nolan,” he replied. “And can I be honest?”
“Yeah?” I said, hoping this wasn’t going to turn out to be awkward.
“I was kind of thinking the same thing.” He choked out a laugh.
“Well, I’m Mia,” I said taking a couple steps closer. “I’m at the camp right now. I guess I just forgot a couple of things at home.”
“Ah. Yeah, I’m there too. But I just work here part time. Might as well try to earn some money while I’m here,” he snickered. “Maybe we’ve seen each other around school. Do you go to Marysville Pilchuck High School?”
“Actually I do,” I laughed. “Small world I take it?”
He smiled without a word.
“Well I better get going. Don’t want to miss out on breakfast.”
“See you around then.” Another customer walked in. It had been the shaggy haired guy Cathy introduced me to the night before. I think his name was Mark. “Maybe I’ll have to come find you later on,” Nolan suggested.
“Sure. Sounds fun.” I waved goodbye before heading down the path and back to the cabin to get my things. I checked myself in the crummy mirror we had. My hair was still messy and my tank top didn’t do me any justice. Great first impression. But I figured that since that we were all attending camp, looks didn’t quite matter too much.