She's fine, most of the time
She takes her days with a smile
She moves like, a dancer in lights
Spinning around to sound
But sometimes she falls down
You can see it on their faces.
The one's who have figured out life much faster than the others.
That's the problem with children. They are too perceptive. They've figured out the ending of the story before you've even written the middle. They know the steps, even if they're too young to understand the dance. Angry noises reflect in the way that they first play an instrument; it's either to timid or to rough, like they're scared of being to much or simply not enough.
Little boys try to drown it out by being a 'man'. What does that even mean? When does voiding yourself of basic reactions make you a stronger individual?
It is the young ladies that show the signs the most. Because, as much as they'd hide it, girls thrive on emotion.
A flash of bright colors and a frenzy of movement, brings the much deserved eyes of her peers on to a young dancer. She's precise, accurate and very controlled for a twelve year old. She's not looking to be just noticed, she's looking for recognition that she's the best.
The little blonde one also craves the attention of her fellow campers. She's learned to use her mother's name to get the eyes on her. After all, who hasn't heard of her mother? What aspiring artist doesn't dream of having that same wild success?
The answer is reflected by her counter part.
The small Filipino girl who stands in the back. She says nothing. She sings harmony. She doesn't miss her steps, but she doesn't make herself known either. She does not want the attention that comes with her family name. The added backlash that comes with having angry parents or an unhappy home. The wondering looks and questioning eyes. She will fade into nothing if she doesn't let herself shine like the sequined bow in her hair.
And I can do nothing but hope that I can break through to her. Make that step towards letting her truly be free. Give her a solid place to land. It's my job to make her feel like she's found a real home over the next two months. Right. No pressure.
Plates crashed to the ground and Ella whimpered in fear, curling further into her blankets. Screaming at the top of their lungs, her parents went through their nightly routine. Was her father cheating on her mother with a business associate? Who was to blame for Ella not being picked up from school? Who had fooled Ella into believing that music was a realistic career option? Who had wanted children in the first place? Which parent had more control of preventing pregnancy? Who wanted the kids?
She held on to her pillow and let everything drain out of her. Shaking violently, she just continued to cry. She wouldn't be here much longer anyway. Soon the warmth of camp would just let her back in, asking for nothing as it always did. Her head shot up as the door creaked open.
"Ellie? I'm scared." Her little brother, Tanner, whispered while holding on to his teddy bear. Ella wiped her eyes furiously, he'd never know how much she hurt. She patted the space next to her on the bed and he clambered up, tucking himself against her chest. From up the stairs they could hear more things being thrown around, breaking, hitting the walls, and Tanner inched closer at every sound. "When will they stop?" He asked, covering his eyes.
"Soon, they'll stop soon enough." Ella replied, rubbing soothing circles on his back. They had to stop eventually, right? Surely they couldn't destroy everything. Ella's heart caught in her throat as Tanner released a shuttering breath.
If she wasn't here to take care of Tanner, who would be?
Tanner was crying into her shoulder as the screaming became louder, her tears leaked out as well as she realized her options. Leave Tanner and find her own safety while leaving him alone to fend for himself against their parents. Or give up the only place that felt like home.
He dug his hands into her t-shirt and gave a heaving sob, and she felt her stomach drop.
She knew her choice.
"This is Brown Cessario, how can I help you?" Ella sniffled lightly as she looked over at her brother watching his Saturday morning cartoons.
"H-hi, this is Ella. Ella Pador."
"Oh, hello love. What can I do for my favorite glitter queen?" His light hearted tone dug her further into misery.
"I- I just wanted to call and say that I'm going to withdraw from c-camp." She stuttered, her lip trembling. She heard him spit out his drink and give a cough.
"R-really? Ella, you've been coming here for years." Brown questioned, knowing her home life this had to be something major. He'd never seen Ella smile as much as she did at camp.
"Yes sir, I can't really leave my brother with my parents." She didn't say anything more, but Brown could hear her suffering in silence. There was a pause and the wheels turned rapidly in Brown's mind.
"What if I told you there was a children's program?" Ella's brow furrowed, there hadn't been a kid's program in all the six years she'd been coming to camp.
"I'd have to ask how, when, and how much does it cost?" On the other end Brown clicked the files that he and Dee had been working on the entire year. The program wasn't set to open until the following year, but Brown hated to lose loyal campers, especially those with troubled backgrounds.
"Well, as your sibling, his first year would be free of charge," He flinched knowing that was a poor business move, but what ever got Ella out of her home. "As for the other two, Dee and I had been debating for years about setting up a Junior's program. I think that it would last the same amount of time the regular camp would." He sent a quick e-mail to Dee, letting her know that they needed to move things along with the JR's program. "Ju-just e-mail me the information about your brother, Ella. I hate to rush on you poppet, but I've got a lot to take care of here at the grounds."
"Wait! Wait! What type of information? Would it be like my campers application?" She crossed her fingers, hoping that life would just give her this one break. Just once.
"Yes, that'll do. Now, I've really got to go. I'll e-mail you back if I need other paperwork."
A grin spread across her face and her stomach unclenched.
"Thank you... Thank you so much Brown!"
She taught them how to hem.
She took ruddy, clumsy, goofy guitar playing boys and taught them how to hem things or use that contraption that adds jewels.
Ella came back to us at camp, stood by us and returned everything that she'd ever learned here. I've never been more proud to see her finally come into her own. I thank all my lucky stars that I laid my chips on Ella. The summer can only tell what will happen next.
Tanner seems to be happy here, he's much more open than Ella was in her first years. You can see how important Ella is to the young boy. I doubt many of the others have noticed their interactions. Ella sneaking Tanner his teddy bear from her luggage or him taking her a sandwich when she's locked herself away in the wardrobe cabin.
I hope that I can keep the camp open. If only to help keep the world off of the kid's shoulders for a little bit longer.