Porter Pantel | Teen Ink

Porter Pantel

April 24, 2008
By Anonymous

A dark sheet spread over the sky, shielding the three kids from all the evil that lay outside their little world. At this point, Porter had been high above everything, trusting his life in Sam Fischer who was holding the ladder on which Porter stood in two shaking hands. He looked out for a moment once he had reached the top. To the left, there was the lake and the reflection of the pale, white moon and to the right the athletic fields and cabins. Camp North Lake was a beautiful view from above, especially at night when it was so silent you could hear the crickets chirp and leaves rustling from night creatures in the trees. As he looked out, he felt the sensation of flying. He could picture himself weaving in and out of the trees, hovering right over the lake so he could see himself in the crisp water.

“Porter” Wenny called out, snapping him out of his dreams “Porter, be careful or you’ll get yourself killed.” Virginia Wenson was his other partner in crime, next to Sam. They called her Wenny since she thought Virginia was too proper. It could be understood, Virginia didn’t fit Wenny whatsoever. Virginia didn’t define Wenny’s angel like face or her milky skin dabbed with freckles. It didn’t describe her sometimes-dirty hair that lay sweaty against her forehead from the overbearing sun. Sometimes she’d pull her hair tightly into a ponytail that would fall at her shoulders. She would secure this ponytail with a pure white ribbon. Porter liked it when she did this, because then you could see her cherubic face clearly without any of her hair covering her honey brown eyes. Her hair was like so now as Porter looked down from his place on the ladder.

“Don’t worry Wenny, It’s completely safe up here.” A devilish thought soon came into his head. He started to shake the ladder, pretending to fall. Wenny started to shriek. Just as he had one hand gripping the ladder and the other one flaring out as if he were to drop to his unavoidable death, he stopped shaking and both Sam and he started laughing for Wenny was more gullible than a newborn baby, unknown to the world around it.

“Porter Pantel!” she yelled, “That wasn’t funny!”

“I could disagree,” Sam said, still laughing. Wenny jokingly punched his shoulder, and Sam pretended as if he were fatally bruised.

Porter’s body was leaning against the ladder now, and he could almost see Big Bill staring at him just a few feet away. Big Bill was the camp’s legendary clock. It was just about 4 feet high, 3 feet wide, and rested a top the cafeteria, which was built like an old school building with the clock perched right at the top. Porter wanted to be the first kid to take it down. The idea sparked a week ago as Porter passed the cafeteria to head to the lake. He saw the daunting clock as it stared down at him and decided he didn’t like the way it loomed over the camp everyday, making a loud sound every time an hour past. So the past week he, Sam, and Wenny conspired to take it down. They’d obviously go at night. That would involve having to sneak out of their cabins, but that didn’t matter much to them. A few days later they found a ladder they could use behind the office buildings. The problem had been the tools to detach the clock from its post. It had been a treacherous search around the camp that took up three days worth of their designated free time to find, and even then they only found one wrench behind the athletic shed. Though they knew their odds weren’t good, they decided to go for it anyways. Now that it was finally the night, Porter couldn’t imagine not succeeding in their goal.

“C’mon Porter, yank it off!” Sam yelled.

“But be careful!” Wenny warned.

Porter reached into his back pocket and pulled out the dusty old wrench. He crept behind the clock and observed what he had to face. Slowly, he started to try to unscrew every little thing he could find. He tried the hardest he could, twisting left, pulling right, until at one point he realized his efforts were futile. He lay the wrench on the roof and just sat there for a while, taking in his inevitable defeat.

“C’mon Porter, ” Wenny called. “It’s just to big.” He stared at his enemy once again. A profound sadness had come over him. He never liked the clock as it loomed over him every day, making a loud sound every time an hour past. He truly wanted to just chuck it in the lake. Solemnly, he took one last glance at Bill and then made his way down the ladder.

“I’m sorry it didn’t work.” Wenny said. “We tried.”

“Yeah man, maybe next year,” added Sam.

“Whatever I didn’t care about the stupid clock anyway.” The night had taken a chilly turn as a cold rain started to pour. “Lets get out of here” Porter said. “See you tomorrow Wenny.” They diverged in different paths, Wenny going to the girl’s cabins, Sam and Porter to the boys. Quietly they snuck in through the bathroom window of their cabin. Sam stepped out first and made it to his bunk. Porter came out next and suddenly, there was a stir from the counselor’s bed. “What are you doing up?” He said with blurry eyes.

“I needed to use the bathroom.” Porter said as he prayed the counselor wouldn’t realize he was soaked down to his shoes.

“Oh” the counselor said and fell right back into his pillow. Porter crawled into his bunk and fell asleep dreaming again that he was flying. He was hovering over the lake and was watching each wave start as a small crack in the vast lake and slowly grow bigger and bigger, until it reached its climax and then came down until it crashed against the shore and was forgotten forever. Then, snapping Porter out of his thoughts, he heard a slow ticking. At first, it was only faint, but then, slowly but surely, it got louder and louder. Soon he could feel it in his veins, vibrating every vessel in his body as if he could explode at any moment. He looked up and saw Big Bill in between trees, slightly hidden but still there. He started flying towards the clock when he realized someone, or rather something, was watching him from the lake. He turned around and, breaking right through his reflection, a crocodile appeared. Enormous sharp, white teeth filled his mouth. Its jaw stretched wide open, ready to eat him in one bite. Porter started to fly away but soon he felt himself falling backwards into the water. He started splashing and swimming, trying to get away, but the crocodile was fast. Just as it was about to get him the alarm went off and it was time for the next day.

Summer soon passed. Porter came back to the lonely apartment of his fathers. Everything at the apartment had its place, the books organized alphabetically in their shelves and the flowers put neatly in their vases. Porter couldn’t help feeling that those books and flowers belonged more then he did. His father’s presence didn’t help much either. His dad was a tall six foot five with a dark beard that always held crumbs from yesterday’s dinner. When Porter was little he use to wonder if his dad was lonely up there, staring straight ahead but never being able to see a friendly face. If he was, he would never let on to it, emotions were always a sore subject.

He didn’t see Sam or Wenny until the following summer. They exchanged a few e-mails, but they were dull compared to the adventures of the summer. Porter did think about them a lot though, especially Wenny and her white ribbon tied around her hair.

The long awaited summer did finally come. Sam and he were fifteen and their Wenny was fourteen. She had grown a bit, her cheeks still round but with a little less pink, body still pubescent and lanky but with more of a curve. Her hair was still pulled neatly up with the white ribbon to secure it. They did not attempt to take on Big Bill again, for Sam was too worried they would get in trouble. Porter knew he would’ve done it though. Sam was just a coward.

Wenny had been fourteen that summer and growing up. Porter tried to push the thought out of his head, but he couldn’t stop thinking that maybe in a year she would be different and in two years even more different and soon she wouldn’t be the Wenny he had learned to know and love. Just the slight curve in her body and the way her dimples had faded just a little, made him want to preserve her. Every time he held her hand when they were walking alone together or lying on the grass at night looking up at the stars he felt as if he was protecting her from that very fate.

And again, camp was over, and again Porter turned sixteen right as summer fell into the depths of fall. He still thought about Wenny though, more than he had last year. And suddenly as the few adults in his life crowded him with questions he didn’t want to answer, he started to think, maybe he would get a job at Camp North Lake, as a counselor, maybe he could stay there away from it all. As this thought went through his brain he thought, maybe Wenny would stay there too. Thrill shook his bones as he thought about leaving his father’s barren apartment and moving to a simple place right outside the camp. And Wenny would live there too.

What came next summer, however, crept up behind Porter as a predator does to its prey. Once he got to camp, he waited for Wenny. His heart raced as he anticipated her arrival to camp. She was an hour late. He still waited. Finally, her car pulled up to camp and she came out. Once he saw her his heart dropped into his stomach and all his hopes disappeared before his eyes. She stood there, her face no longer cherubic, now she had curves. Her hair was long and free and falling down her back. There was no white ribbon in sight, no sign that Wenny was still there. She spoke cheerfully as if nothing were different. “Porter, it’s so great to see you!” She opened her arms out for a hug.

“Good to see you too.”

Sam, Wenny, and he were still friends, but the air around them was different as Wenny started talking about college and school, things that were so far off from Porter when he was at camp. He once brought up their excursion to take down Big Bill, and she just laughed and commented on what ridiculous kids they were. She said kids as if it were a something that had happened twenty years ago.

Everything came out of him that day, that day that was so hot, it felt as if all the things inside him was just on the brink of a boiling point. Wenny and he were sitting while she sorted through her mail, sweat sticking on each letter. She dropped one and Porter picked it up off the ground. It was addressed to Virginia Wenson. “Wow,” he said as he handed her back the letter.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s just, I forgot your name was Virginia, kind of funny that I’ve known you so long but I forgot your real name.”

“Well, you and Sam are pretty much the only two people who call me Wenny anymore.” She opened a package her parents sent her, which contained a pair of white tennis shoes she had forgotten at home.

“What?” Porter was confused. “Then why do you let us still call you that?”

“I don’t know. You always liked calling me Wenny.” She started to put on the shoes. His anger rose.

“Why would you let me go on and call you Wenny all this time?” He started to yell. “If your name is Virginia then I should probably call you Virginia, shouldn’t I?”

“What? Porter, you always knew my real name was Virginia. I don’t get why a stupid name means so much to you.” She didn’t get anything. If he asked her right then to come with him to try and bring Big Bill down, she would say he was immature and that she had more important things to do. He hated her for that. So they just sat there, Porter knowing she was more confused then ever.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have yelled.”

“Why can’t you just grow up? You get mad at me as if you were a two year old.”

“You really just don’t get it, do you?” Frustrated, he couldn’t bring himself to look into her eyes.

She started picking at a leaf she found on the ground, ripping it up into tiny pieces. “Well obviously I don’t.”

“You come here, all different. Different hair, different clothes, different everything, and I can’t handle it, it’s like your gone.” He felt his voice rising again.

“What, did you expect me to stay the same forever? You need to grow up sometime Porter.” He couldn’t be near her anymore. So he got up and walked away, leaving her sitting on the ground alone. He walked to the lake and felt the sand between his toes and water around his ankles. He looked down at his reflection and realized he must be almost six feet tall, which was a whole four inches taller then he had been when he first came to camp. His hair had grown long as it tangled around his ears, and he hadn’t shaved in a week. He was skinny still, but in a different way then he was when he was fourteen. Times had changed and he had grown though he hadn’t noticed all these years. He sat down on the sand, letting the water soak his feet as it went in and out with the tide. He looked to the left and Big Bill caught his eye. It was still there, shaded by some trees but inevitably it was there to watch him. Then Porter wondered about what would have happened if he had succeeded, if he had taken down Big Bill and thrown him away for good. Maybe he wouldn’t be here right now, maybe he would still be fourteen and Wenny would still be wearing that white ribbon in her hair. It didn’t matter, no one could take down Big Bill, not even he.

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