My group survived Workout Wednesday with only a few complaints about being hot. I, on the other hand, was winded. Ben decided to keep the groups' minds off the heat by making me and Jeremy the entertainment. While the kids ran their sprints, I stood at the finish line cheering them on. If I had the older kids, I probably would have run with them, but if I tried with my seven year olds, I would have ended up tripping over them. So after my kids begged for water at the end of their sprints, I assumed we'd jog back to camp. But no. Ben told all the kids to sit in the shade and take a breather. Then he grabbed my arm and pulled me to the starting line next to Jeremy. "All right, all of you have run around and done all the drills while your counselors watched. Is it fair if they don't have to do the sprints too?"
My jaw dropped as I realized what was happening. As the campers all agreed that it wouldn't be fair to let me and Jeremy get out of running, I threw my hands up. "There is no way I'm racing you," I murmured to Jeremy, looking him up and down. Me, the dancer, running against Jeremy, the soccer and baseball player, who went running for fun. In no way would this be fair. Unless, of course, I took off my shirt. In which case I would probably be fired, so that wasn't an option. "Well, if you keep checking me out, you'll definitely lose," Jeremy flashed a smile at me.
"I wasn't…" Ben's whistle interrupted me and Jeremy was off and running up the hill. I sprinted after him while the campers cheered on Jeremy and jeered me. Figured. Jeremy passed me on my back down. "C'mon Claudia. Don't slow down!" My campers heard him and a few of them took pity on me. "Go Claudia! Run faster! Beat Jeremy!"
I sucked in some air as I made it back to the start line and began the next round of sprints, which involved running backwards up the hill and forwards coming down. Apparently I couldn't stay in a straight line while running backwards, even though I kept looking back over my shoulder, because I felt hands on my arms. Jeremy grabbed me to prevent me from running into him. "Girl, you don't have to use this as an excuse to bump into me." He slid his hands down my arms and continued running. I ran a little faster to catch up with him and tell him that he was the one who couldn't seem to keep his hands to himself, but each time we passed by each other he would get in my way, so I was forced to move to avoid him, thus slowing me down. He beat me, of course, and the kids all started cheering. At this point I desperately needed a breather, but Ben told everyone to start jogging back to camp. I didn't want to look weak or out of shape, so I sucked it up and jogged back full-out through the woods, over the tree stumps, and around the dirty socks that the campers couldn't seem to hold on to or keep on their feet. Once back at camp, I collapsed onto a picnic table, overheated and out of breath. Jeremy slid onto the bench across from me. I lifted my head off the table. "And you said I didn't have to work out," I said, pouring water down my throat.
He looked me in the eye and calmly picked up his water bottle. I maintained eye contact with him as he downed the water. He was starting to unnerve me as he stared into my eyes while screwing the cap back on the bottle. Was he ever going to answer me? I was going to have to break eye contact soon if he didn't say something. Dammit! He was smiling at me with his eyes and I was getting pulled in. Finally he broke the silence. "You looked good running."
I fought off the urge to blush and smiled at him. "You can stop trying to flatter me."
"Oh come on, you were fishing for a compliment."
"Oh sure," I laughed as I got up from the table. "That's exactly what was on my mind. But feel free to keep handing them out."
Jeremy tossed his water bottle in the garbage can and stood up. "Nope, that's all you're getting today." Then he strode off into the office, conveniently leaving me to watch his group in addition to mine. True to his word, Jeremy didn't flatter me for the remaining half hour of the day. In fact, he decided to ignore me. Not one word while I played games with his group, as we lined the kids up for the buses, nor as we walked down to our cars. What was his deal? Was it something I said? Dammit, I hope I didn't mess things up. I rushed Melissa into my minivan just to get away from him a little faster. He was just sitting in his car when I glanced at him, so I threw my van in reverse and made my way home.
After resting for about fifteen minutes, my mom came in to my room and said, "Sweetie, I know it's early, but you should try to eat dinner before rehearsal."
"Ugh, okay." I tossed my magazine onto my bed and made my way down to the kitchen. As I threw some salad and chicken onto my plate, my mom glanced over at me. "Not showering for rehearsal tonight?"
I shrugged. "I really don't feel like it right now. Not like there's anyone to impress there anyways. I'll just wait until after."
"Well, you should smile at any cute boys at rehearsal. Try to meet someone."
Glaring at my salad instead of at her I said, "Mom, I know all the guys in the play. I've gone to school with them my whole life. Not to mention the fact that all of them except Jimmy are younger than I. Unless you count the stage manager…" I trailed off, not really sure of what else to say.
"He might have single friends, you never know."
"Okay Mom. Excuse me, I have to get going." I couldn't deal with another one of her spiels telling me to say hi and smile at any boy who looked like he might be nice because I needed to get out there and start dating. Especially because she didn't like my typical choice of boys, which was usually well-built, athletic, and confident, kind of like Jeremy. She always pushed me to go for the nice guys, but there's just something about the "bad" boys that's just so appealing. And besides, do guys ever go after the good girls? No. And if they do, it's not because they're attracted to the good in the girl, it's because they want to corrupt her. Was Jeremy that type of boy? I had no idea, but since I was trying to get him out of my mind at that moment, I pushed my choice of boys to the back of my mind and focused instead on finding where I tossed my car keys when I got home.
I got to play rehearsal a few minutes early, so I pulled out my script and attempted to memorize my lines. I heard a door slam and saw my friend Lisa walking across the stage. She made her way up the auditorium and sat down next to me. "Hot day at camp?"
Looking up from my script, I said, "Huh? What do you mean?"
"You look sunburned."
"Oh." I put my hands up to my face and felt heat radiating from my skin. How the hell did that happen? Oh crap. I forgot to put sunscreen on. Wonderful, skin cancer, here I come.
"So, how's the boy?"
I shrugged, but smiled, still amazed at the fact that I actually had a boy in my life I could talk about. "Oh, he's good. He was totally flirting with me today when we were all doing our little workout thing, like running into me and complimenting me. But then I guess I said something wrong, 'cause he didn't talk to me for the rest of the day. Who knows?" I sighed, flipping randomly through my script.
"Wait," Lisa said, putting her feet up on the chair in front of her. "You're telling me that he was flirting with you all day and then just stopped talking to you?"
"Yeah," I nodded.
"He's playing hard to get. Claudia, don't think for one second you did something wrong; he's just trying to hook you."
"You think so?"
"Lisa smiled. "Of course! I mean, look at you! You're so pretty. There's no way he would all of a sudden blow you off." She paused, watching the rest of the cast file into the auditorium. "Now forget about Jeremy for a few hours. Get up on stage and strut your stuff!"
Once I was up on stage, it was pretty easy to forget about Jeremy. On stage, I had one boy jealous of me because he thought I was with another, older guy. At one point, I came out in the older guy's bathrobe, telling the boys not to fight over me, even though there was absolutely nothing going on with one of them. Aah, if only I were lucky enough to have boys fighting over me in real life. But that was the joy of acting; anything was possible. And whatever happened was nicely resolved within two hours; no one was left wondering. If only real life were like that.
I know this isn't too long, but please let me know what you think of it. Any suggestions, critiques, or compliments are welcome!