Disclaimer: Everything Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.
When trying to name this story, "It Smells Like Team Spirit" popped into my head. Maybe because of all the Rob/Kurt gossip, I don't know. So I tried to remember the lyrics to see if there was some significance. Although I could remember the tune and the sound of the words, I realized I couldn't recall the words at all. Upon reading the lyrics to Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", I discovered that they actually made no sense. That, of course, meant it was perfect for a story about young teens interacting, trying to impress one another, fighting to be seen and each simply struggling to find their own way. And none of the things these kids do or say makes any more sense than the words to that song. So...
"Here we are now, entertain us."
~ B ~
I grabbed the duffle bag from the seat next to me and stood in line to get off the bus. I looked out the window at the wooden little shacks with their screened porches.
Home. Sweet. Home.
At least for the next week, anyway. Charlie said if I liked it, I could continue on for the rest of the month. I'd never gone to camp before; never been away from one or the other of my parents for more than a night at a time. But this was my mom's idea, since it was Charlie's summer to have me and he had to go to police training for a week during my stay. At least I'd be taken care of she'd said. At least I'd make some new friends. At least I'd get my nose out of my book long enough to see some sunshine. But I packed a few of my favorite books anyway, just in case.
So there I stood on a dirt path, my brand new converse tennis shoes getting covered with dust, under a sign that read "Camp Unicorn---where the sky's the limit and there's always a rainbow". How lame! Charlie could at least have chosen a camp to fit my personality. I was not a rainbows and unicorns kind of girl.
I looked down the row of girls lined up beside me. Pink shirt, pink shirt, pink shirt, tight pink shirt, pink shirt, pink shirt, tight pink shirt, pink shirt, pink shirt, pink and purple striped shirt, pink shirt, tight pink shirt, pink shirt, ridiculously tight pink shirt, pink shirt, and then there was me; black tee with white writing "Forget the Prince, I'll take the Vampire". Yep. Thanks Charlie! I was gonna fit right in here.
A tall woman with long wavy reddish-blonde hair stepped out of a building labeled "Office". She was wearing a beige jumpsuit with a pink scarf tied around her neck. She had on hiking boots the exact color of her jumpsuit with pink socks that matched the scarf.
"My name is Ms. Denali, but you can call me Ms. Tanya. I am the camp leader. Each cabin has its own counselor. All counselors report to me. The counselors are college students who have been trained in first aid. They have volunteered to spend their summer here with you, so treat them well. You are to report to your counselor if you have any questions or problems. They were all young teenagers once, so I am sure they are capable of answering any questions that may arise. They will be the closest thing you have to a momma or a best friend while you're here. And if they can't help you, I assure you that I can. I am sure each and every one of you will have a great time here at Camp Unicorn. We have activities to range a variety of interests. So, go unpack and then you can sign up for the activities you wish to participate in. The sign up board will be right outside the Office. It is first come first serve, so I wouldn't dilly dally."
I swear she said every word in one breath. I had never seen anyone look so out of place in their environment. It reminded me of an episode of The Simple Life where Paris Hilton was giving enemas to people at a diet camp. Only, not as gross.
Ms. Denali went over all the rules. She read them from a large chart. Each rule was printed in curly letters using all the colors from the rainbow.
1. Everyone must be on time to all activities.
2. A whistle blast by a counselor means to stop, look and listen.
3. No one is to leave the campgrounds without permission.
4. Stay away from the cliffs on the creek by the Lodge.
5. Swimming is only permitted with a lifeguard present.
6. Pick up your trash.
7. Keep your belongings organized in a neat manner.
8. No use of tobacco or intoxicants.
9. Counselors are to be respected at all times.
10. Stealing, possession of weapons of any kind or the abuse of camp facilities will not be tolerated.
VIOLATORS of rules 8, 9 or 10 WILL BE SENT DIRECTLY HOME.
Then, Ms. Denali had each of the counselors announce the names of the girls that would be in her cabin. There were four cabins in all, each named for a woodland creature: Rabbit, Deer, Fox, and Skunk. Before they even assigned us, I knew exactly which cabin I would be staying in. All the pretty girls in the tight shirts and short shorts went to the Fox cabin. Their counselor was a tall skinny girl who was pretty enough to have been a model. Her name was Heidi. She led them to a cabin in the distance. I could hear them talking and laughing, commenting on one another's clothes and make-up along the way.
All the athletes were grouped together for the Deer cabin led by a tiny, muscular girl named Leah with shiny black hair and really high cheekbones. She looked a little like Pocahontas. With a voice that commanded attention, she shouted "On your mark, get set, go!" She and the others raced to the cabin at the far end of camp.
The super bubbly girls…the ones so happy to be at camp that they were literally bouncing…were assigned to Rabbit. Their counselor was Charlotte. Charlotte immediately led them in a song that could still be heard through the trees long after the group had disappeared into the forest.
That left a group of four. I picked up my duffle bag, ready to head to Skunk Cabin.
Our counselor, a red head named Victoria, introduced herself to us. Well, she spoke her name without ever looking directly at us and without even cracking a smile. Then she turned and walked toward what we could only assume would be our new home away from home. Actually, I wouldn't have been a bit surprised if she was actually leading us to a candy cottage with a great big stove inside.
I looked around at my fellow outcasts as we walked together silently toward the lavender building with a picture of "Flower" from Bambi painted above the door. Pink and purple striped shirt was in my group---maybe she and I were being punished for not getting the dress code memo. Another girl was wearing a pink shirt, but she wore it with a black mini-skirt, black fishnet stockings, black converse high tops and black lipstick. The fourth girl had a pretty face, but she didn't know it. She hid behind dark framed glasses and walked looking down at her feet. She carried a copy of Wuthering Heights, my favorite of all the classics. I'd probably read it a hundred times. I liked her best already.
Quite honestly, I was happy with my group, minus Victoria---who was just scary. They looked like the people I probably would have chosen to hang out with anyway. So out of all of the cabins, I was happy to be a skunk. After all, skunks usually got left alone.
Victoria led us inside, dropped down onto her bed and picked a book up off her pillow. She immediately began reading.
We all stood there, just inside the doorway, without saying a word. I guess we were expecting to be told what to do, where to put our things, which bed belonged to who. But, Victoria never looked up from her book. At least not for the ten minutes we stood there.
Emo spoke up first. "I get top, in the corner. If you sleep under me, you better not snore." She dragged her gray suitcase with a pink skull and crossbones decorating the sides over to the area near that bed.
Stripes snagged the other top bunk, leaving me and Bronte still standing in the doorway.
So quietly that I hardly even heard her, Bronte said "You can pick, it doesn't matter to me. Umm, and I don't snore."
She was staring at the floor, obviously feeling as much a fish out of water as I was. I looked from Emo to Stripes and back to Emo. "I don't snore either." And without thinking, I added "I'll take Emo. But if you sleep above me, you better not be a wetter."
Stripes giggled, Bronte froze, and even Victoria peeked up from her book to see how the scene would play out. I plunked my bag on my bunk, causing the whole bed to jostle. Emo peeked down over the edge, smirking. "Cool shirt," She said. "Princess."
"Thanks." I replied, making a point not to show any reaction. "My name's Isabella, but my friends call me Iz."
"Alright, Princess. The name's Jane. But you can call me Emo."
I smiled. I was already making friends…sort of.
"What's her name?" Emo asked me, motioning toward Stripes.
"My name is Alice Brandon." Stripes said swinging her legs around so they hung from her bunk as she sat facing us all.
"I wasn't asking you. I was asking Izzie." Emo snapped.
"Umm. I guess her name is Alice?"
"I meant what you would call her. I figure if you had a name for me, you probably had the others named already, too."
All eyes were on me. "Oh. Umm, Stripes. I was calling her Stripes…cuz she and I were the only two who must not have known to wear a solid pink shirt."
Stripes straightened herself. "Oh, I knew. I chose not to. Nobody tells Alice Brandon what to wear!"
Okay then. I wondered if maybe she got misread and put into the wrong cabin.
Like a whisper, I heard "What about me?"
I looked at the girl finally making her way toward her bunk as she questioned me timidly.
I looked down at the book still in her hand and grinned. "Bronte. Because of your book. It's one of my faves."
She smiled and, for the first time since we'd gotten off that bus, she didn't look quite so lost.
"How 'bout her?" Emo pointed to our counselor still on her bed reading, though I suspected she was listening.
"Just Victoria." I shrugged. I'd tell them about the candy cottage once she wasn't around.
Emo smiled. "So now we all have nicknames. These will be our camp names."
"What about Iz?" Stripes asked. "She needs a name."
"I gave her one. Princess."
I jumped from my bunk and pulled myself to stand on the edge, looking Emo Jane straight in the eyes. "Oh, But that doesn't fit me at all. Really. I'm not a Princess. And I don't want to be called that!" I argued.
Stripes was quick to jump in. "I'll take Princess!"
"You're Stripes and Iz is Princess and that's that." She said to Alice Brandon, who was probably wishing she'd just worn pink. Then she looked at me, smiling. "The fact that you don't act like a princess makes it even better, opposites, ya know?"
I didn't know, and I didn't care. But I told myself it was only for a week and that it wasn't worth arguing about, even though I wanted to PROVE exactly how un-princess-like I could be! But I could already see it wouldn't make a difference to Emo anyway. She was one of those girls that would find your weak spot and try to use it to make you look weaker just to make herself look stronger. But at least she did seem to like me, kinda. I mean, she hadn't hit me or anything, yet. I crawled back into my bunk, pulling a book from my duffle and secretly hoped that the other girls would just call me Iz.
"C'mon Skunks. We need to sign up for the cool activities before we're left with everything lame like fashion modeling and hair braiding" Emo declared.
We all filed out the door and down the steps toward a crowd already gathered at the office.
"I hope they have, like, canoeing or diving, or something. That's what I want to sign up for." I said.
"Good luck with that." Alice grumbled. "All the Foxes and Rabbits will have those slots full."
"Really?" I'd pictured them a more arts and crafts or cooking kind of group.
Emo laughed. "Yeeahh!" she said in a way that implied I should have already known something about a camp I'd never even been to before. "How are they supposed to wiggle their boobies at ol' Camp Jizzly if they don't spend time at the lake?"
Bronte, whose name I learned was really Angela, looked at me over the top of her glasses, her brow all squished up. So I asked what she wouldn't. "What's Camp…Jizzly?"
Alice spoke up. "Emo's just being gross. It's really called Camp Grizzly. My cousin is a counselor over there this summer. It's the boy's camp across the lake. That's why there's only a limited amount of spots for water activities, because we share the lake with them…except not at the same time."
Boys? My throat got dry and my palms got clammy."Well, I'm not shaking my boobies at anybody." I said. Everybody laughed. Well, everybody who was anybody…meaning a Skunk, of course.
"Oh, I'm hoping Emmett will be my in. You know my reason for venturing into Man's Land." Alice said.
"Man's Land?" Emo laughed. "Those pimple faced dweebs. They all smell like Noxzema."
"How do you know?" Alice asked. "Have you ever been on the other side of the lake?"
"Maybe I have, maybe I haven't." Then, Emo Jane got real quiet for a minute before shouting right in Alice's face "Maybe I'm not the kind of girl to kiss and tell." I stepped back. Alice rolled her eyes. Angela stared at her shoes. Yeah right.
If Emo had kissed a boy, I was Lady Gaga. I looked around at our newly formed group of misfits, trying to sum up the kiss-factor there. I figured Alice had probably been kissed before, maybe even more than once. Angela had probably imagined she was the one being kissed in the books she read and maybe even dreamt about it, but she was too shy to actually get herself in that position.
Me? I was ready. I wanted to. But the right boy just hadn't come along. Not yet. Well, not unless you count little TyTy Crowley on my first day of kindergarten.
But, Emo Jane? Kissing by the lake? NO way! Not that she was ugly. She wasn't. In fact, she could probably be real cute without all the eyeliner and attitude. But if she'd been kissing boys by the lake and all I had under my belt was little TyTy on the playground, I was in worse shape than I'd thought.
We made our way over to the office and waited behind a crowd of other girls for our turn at the sign-up sheet. The girls were right. Every sort of water activity was already full except for Advanced Swimming. I wasn't sure what advanced meant. I'd grown up swimming in the above ground pool behind our house in Phoenix where I lived with my mom and her husband, Phil. I knew how to swim, so I signed up. I would also be taking archery, sketch art, and make-up application.
Make-up Application. Oh joy! It was either that or Break-Dancing. Those were the only two spots left. And I knew if I took any sort of dancing with the word "break" in it, I might not return to Charlie in one piece. And my Mom---she'd have a stroke! So, Angela and I both quickly grabbed Make-up, much to Alice's dismay…leaving her and a surprisingly pleased Emo with Break Dancing.
Next chapter you meet our young Edward. Guess where he's spending his summer.