Weeks, I tell you, weeks!
It is now October 7, 2012. I feel like Sunday is taunting me, trying to make me feel bored out of my mind. Well, if it is, it is succeeding! Camp is right around the corner, and suddenly I break my leg-not literally- and I can't walk around that corner! It will heal right at Tuesday morning, so I can go around that silly corner, but it will heal so very slowly!
I checked my email.
I had six in my inbox. One was from Google+ about a spreadsheet Dad sent me. Two were replies from Brandon. One said, "not telling' from my question whether my old friends' group was broken up. The other was in big, green letters and a purple highlight saying "WELL WHY AREN'T YOU ONLINE?"
One was from Corey, asking me to send something- probably a school project- in Chinese to his school account, which he had given to me a few weeks ago. The last two were from Riddhima, both replying about the books I sent her.
I sighed, replying both of them. Despite the air conditioner being on, I was still very steamed and I tossed up my hair, feeling a brief feeling of coolness.
And… now I realize that I'm talking like Scarlett from Gone With the Wind, which I had been reading about twenty minutes ago when I got tired of seeing text about Scarlett, Rhett, and New Orleans.
I stared at the calendar again. Only one day and eight hours in between camp day and me, but time seemed to have slowed down and I'm really, really bored!
"Maggie… suspicious… she… Maggie… *laugh*" I heard Dad talk.
Hmm, I thought. I couldn't have heard Dad clearly, but it was briefly about me. I felt wary again. A few days ago, when Mom and Dad chatted again on Gmail, I had received a message. My phone was linked to my dad's Gmail account, so when they chatted I always get a message. I felt unhappy to find that my parents were suspicious of me eating candy when I scrolled through what they said.
I know, I know, I was being snoopy, but I couldn't help it! Kids have curiosity!
I set down my computer slowly. I crept down to my door, opening it slowly. Dad wasn't talking. I sighed with disappointment, but then I crept forward again and plastered myself against the wall.
Some old saying flashed in my mind: "Eavesdroppers seldom hear anything good about them."
Well, for this time, it was only partly true, for I didn't even hear anything about me.
A few days later, it was Tuesday, October 9. It was camp day.
Yesterday, Mom had helped me pack my bag for camp, and it was thoroughly stuffed. I found that if I tilted myself backwards a little, I would keep on leaning back because of my bag and eventually fall over. I already had six changes of clothing, with one extra, which I secretly put in. You know what they say, you can never be too careful.
I also have my windbreaker, and it counts as a waterproof jacket and a sweater. I had originally wanted to bring my red one additionally as the sweater, but Mom pointed out that the instruction sheet told us to keep all effects to a minimum.
I also have my water bottle, toiletries- toothbrush, tiny toothpaste, facecloth, shampoo, body wash, moisturizer-, and wet shoes, flip-flops. I also put in swimsuit, swimsuit t-shirt, trousers for wet activities, towel- beach towel and shower towel-, pajamas, snack, tissues, wet wipes, comb, sunscreen, insect repellent. For other things, one plastic bag for wet clothes, one plastic bag for dry clothes, on plastic bag for shoes. For tenting and night time, sleeping mat, sleeping bag, flashlight, extra batteries for flashlight, day bag for daily trips, pocket money, and finally, my reading book, Twilight.
Therefore, as a result, my bag was full and bulging.
At Tuesday, I woke up early, even before my alarm clock, which was set for 6:15. I had woken up at 5:45, but interestingly, I wasn't sleepy. There was a light outside my room, and I frowned when I remembered that my dad didn't usually get up this early.
I turned my head to my left. The clothes I had prepared for today last night was still beside me, but in a crumpled heap instead of a nice pile because I had probably been tossing and turning out of excitement when I was asleep.
Quickly, I put on my purple shirt and pink pants. The teachers had told us to wear comfortable clothes, since it was the first day of camp. I hopped out into the living room, still struggling with my socks.
My dad's eyes widened at the sight of me. "You're up too early."
"I know," I groaned. "I woke up."
"Too excited," dad noted.
I nodded, grateful for the explanation.
"Go eat breakfast," he instructed.
I nodded again, and walked into the kitchen, having already put on my socks. I opened the closet and took out a cookie, only to find them a light orange instead of chocolate chip. I took a plate nevertheless, and poured out some chocolate milk into my cup. There. Breakfast is ready.
I chomped down on the cookie when I got to the table. My thoughts slowly drifted from subject to subject, even in the most incredulous way, such as thinking about a set of clothes for camp drifting off to thinking about the new dinner table my parents ordered.
I probably should've eaten more. I definitely should have eaten more. However, I wasn't hungry, and I couldn't even choke down the whole cup of chocolate milk when I would have drunk two cups on a daily basis. Disappointed by my lack of appetite, I forced myself to take another mouthful of chocolate milk and then I gave up. I went to the bathroom, and began to brush my teeth when I remembered my brother's request.
Mike had asked me- or Dad- to wake him up when I did. Well, since I woke up at 5:45, I doubted that I could even shake him awake. Right now, it was 6:25. I decided to wait for ten minutes before I shouted in his ears.
After brushing my teeth, I sat down to read Gone With the Wind part II. I was almost done, and I was eager to finish the book and be able to say that I finished the book, along with the rest of my family. However, I was going to camp for four days and I probably wouldn't be able to finish it today because I had always found Gone with the Wind hard to read.
"Six thirty-five," Dad mused.
My head snapped up, remembering something I needed to do at the time. Then I remembered that I needed to wake Mike up. I marched over to Mike's room, and yelled, "Wake up!"
"What are you doing?" Dad asked, horrified. He probably forgot that Mike asked me to do this.
"He told me to wake him up when I woke up, but five forty-five is too early," I told him.
"Let him sleep." Dad instructed.
I turned around to anticipate Mike's reaction. He groaned, and turned around, but showed no sign of opening his eyes. I stared at him, feeling slightly giddy that he couldn't wake up even when I hollered the words.
Seeing that Mike wouldn't wake up, I went back to my seat and began to read again. Time passed quickly and Mike moaned, making me jump slightly. It was 6:50 now.
"Lazy pig," I muttered.
Dad stood up, sighing. He marched over to Mike in a similar way to the way I had fifteen minutes ago, and went to Mike and tapped him on the shoulder. Mike didn't move. Dad shook Mike a bit. Mike turned over, and punched Dad in the guts lightly.
"Mike, get up," he put his hands on his hips.
"No," Mike grumbled, throwing his arm sleepily over his shoulder.
"It's six fifty-five," I reminded him.
Mike's eyes snapped open. "Why didn't you wake me up earlier?"
As usual, his ignorant personality irritated me. "I did try."
Mike huffed. "Clothes."
Dad peered sideways at him. He grabbed a shirt, a pair of pants, an underwear, and a pair of socks and threw it on top of Mike's head. Mike whined, and pushed his clothes away.
Dad walked out of the room, and began to take out cookies for Mike.
I didn't want to read Gone With the Wind anymore. I put the book down, and walked glumly to my room. I opened my computer, typed in the password, and checked my email.
No new emails to read in my inbox. I wasn't surprised. It was early, anyway. I went to drafts, where I saved an email to send today telling them that I was going to camp. Clicking on the button 'send', I felt a longing to go back to Shanghai again.
You won't, Maria. You won't. I reminded myself, shaking the feeling of longing off. Today was camp, and I couldn't afford to be distracted to from all the fabulous fun I was going to have today.
I peeked outside to see if Mike was ready. He was gloomily gnawing on his cookie, taking an occasional sip of milk. I twisted my mouth, something that I had picked up unconsciously from a TV show. I pursed my lips, hoping that Mike would hurry up.
Picking at my skin, I trudged back into my room. I took a deep breath, closing my eyes briefly before rubbing my feet and sitting back down onto my bed.
Should I read or type my story? I asked myself. I felt that I shouldn't go back to my computer again, so I reluctantly picked up a book and began to read.
The Heart of Valor was the title. It was another book wrote by L.J. Smith.
I skipped the Table of Contents, not wanting to reveal the chapter's name.
Claudia sends a letter…
Claudia Hodges-Bradley twisted a strand of mouse brown hair around her fingers and frowned mightily, trying to concentrate on Mrs. Anderson's review of this week's spelling words. There would be a test this afternoon, and Mrs. Anderson's tests always gave Claudia stomach cramps.
Dong, dong, dong… Dad's phone alarm made me jump. Realizing that it was time to go, I dog-eared the page and slammed the book together. Wishing that half-term holiday would come quicker, I hopped off my bed and skipped out into the living room. Dad was tapping his phone, while Mike was struggling to put on his shoes.
I began to put on mine, too, and then slung the heavy backpack onto my shoulder. One-sling was usually cooler, but I didn't really care as that would exhaust my shoulder.
I burst out into the hallway, with Mike still groaning about the tightness of his shoe. I pressed the button, and watched the numbers escalate to 14… and the elevator passed. I very nearly stomped my foot in frustration. I felt as if the elevators were deliberately ignoring me. It's camp time, I growled inwardly.
I felt the backpack's weight lift from my shoulder.
"Ho," Dad grunted. "This is heavy."
I nodded, unsure what to say. Mike came wobbling out our door, raising an eyebrow and Dad's and my appearance. It was quite an unusual sight, though, on a school day; I was wearing my casual clothes, Dad carrying a enormous backpack.
Dad peered at me. "These don't match."
I looked down at my clothes. "Yes, they do!" I objected. "Purple and pink!"
Dad shook his head. "No, they don't. Do you have another outfit?"
"Yes…" I drawled. "I can't change here."
Dad slumped. "It still doesn't match."
I pouted at him. "It does!" I tugged at my shirt expectantly, as if he would break through and see the truth. "Purple and pink matches!"
Dad pressed his lips together. "N-"
Ding! The elevator doors slid open.
There was another person in the elevator, so Dad decided to stop talking about my clothes. Mike skipped into the elevator.
I walked behind Dad, ignoring the pain in my ankle as we walked down the slope. I stared at my camp bag, thinking about whether I should care about people staring at the humongous bag.
The bus stop wasn't really far from Hollywood Terrace. It was a few blocks away. When you get at the corner you turn left, and then you turn for the last time when you get to the third corner.
I handed Dad the newspaper, uninterested. I usually only read the "People" section. About ten minutes passed when Mike's bus, M47, came.
Dad watched Mike scan his octopus card on the machine in the bus. When the bus slowly began to drive away, we hurried across the road and continued to walk to my school bus stop.
"Do you want to put your bag in the storage compartment?" Nina asked.
I shook my head. "No."
She turns away. I shifted uncomfortably for a while. After a few moments, I decided to assume a position of lying my head on the car window. The vibration of the engine was slightly relaxing.
The next stop was Belcher's Street. Nimisha told me yesterday that she would take the taxi to come to school, since her bag was too heavy.
I watched the kids file into the bus. I tried to remember their names, but mostly I only recognized their faces.
"Bridget Fong, Michael Cheung, Benjoun, Jack, Audrey Kim, Ethan Galota, Ken, Billy, Nikki," Nina called out all the kids' names before I could remember them.
When we arrived at school, I was surprised to see that the time wasn't late. In fact, it was earlier than we usually came.
Nina clapped five times. The signal was clear: silence.
"Now, everyone, listen. Because today the Year 6s have camp…"
I hoped that she would say to let us off last, since my bag could swing into someone's face.
"You must let them get off first."
I almost groaned.
I took off my seatbelt, pulled up my bag, and struggled not to smack my bag into the face of the person sitting next to me. Nina helped me hoist the bag up, and I wished wryly that I had put my bag in the storage compartment.
I dragged my bag onto the sidewalk. Since it doesn't really help putting my bag on in this crowded area, I continued to drag it into the school playground.
"Put it on your knee," I heard someone say. I recognize the voice; it was Nimisha's mom.
"Hi," I grinned. I hope that my bag isn't the biggest.
I glanced at Nimisha's bag. Hers was smaller than mine, but she had her sleeping mat dangling from the straps.
Silently, I thanked my mom for thinking of stuffing it inside.
I yanked my bag over the pile of bags nearby. The people who have already arrived were standing in line; obviously the teachers told them to.
I joined the line, and the teachers herded the latest newcomers along with me to the right groups. I recognized my teammates vaguely from our brief encounter when we chose the camp activity groups.
"Who's Maggie?" A thin girl wearing purple glasses and had her black hair tied up in a ponytail asked. I'm pretty sure that her name is Patsy or Charlotte.
"Here," I answered. She handed me a camp hat.
It was bright blue, with Tara's designs on it. Tara had won the camp hat designing competition, though some people said that her sister had helped her. Apparently, Tara's sister was a designer and owned a shop somewhere.
I flipped the hat over. On a white piece of cloth attached to the hat, there was my name on it in black marker.
"My bag is so heavy," Nimisha's voice sounded behind me. I hadn't noticed her coming up.
"Mine too," I replied.
"And I didn't even put my sleeping mat in!"
"I did," I grinned. I nudged my bag with my foot, and Nimisha stared at it.
After waiting for a while, the last person came and we got on the bus.
"Bring your day bag…" I heard the teacher say and I missed the rest of the sentence in the chaos. Kids were crowding up to the bus driver to ask him to put their bags in the storage compartment.
I looked doubtfully at my day bag, stuffed into my big bag, then glanced up to look at the crowd. I yanked the day bag out, noting that the squashed experience from being stuffed in the day bag had slightly wrinkled it. I slowly waddled after a girl with blond hair. After I put my big bag in the storage compartment, I went into the bus and sat down next to Nimisha.
"Why did you take your day bag out?" Nimisha asked, fiddling with hers.
"The teacher told us to."
"No, you only take it out if you have something in it!"
"Oh. I didn't know that."
"Great," I grumbled to myself. "I got the first order from the teacher wrong."
Nimisha laughed. "Don't worry about it."
When we got off the bus, we were welcomed by the smell of the salty ocean. I peered over to the docks, and saw a few boats.
"Hopefully we'll get a very grand one," I whispered to Nimisha.
"I don't think so. We're probably going to use that one." She pointed a boat.
That one was a wooden boat with a row of wood lined against the side. There was another row perpendicular to the other. In the remaining space there was an entrance to a small room and a desk with a few chairs surrounding it.
"Everyone, you can put down your bags now," someone announced. We groaned with relief as the heavy weight had disappeared from our shoulders. Slowly, one by one, everyone turned to look at who had spoken.
"I'm James," he explained, as if he knew that everyone was wondering whom he was. "I'm one of the instructors in camp."
I stifled a giggle. In Shanghai, in SHSID, my archenemy's name was James, though we never acknowledged the "arch-enemy" relationship.
A few more adults trailed after him. I didn't know for sure, but one with brown, curly hair looked nineteen.
"Now, I'm going to settle a rule," James began. "Whenever I say "Hey hey", I want you to say "Ho ho", and after that I want silence." Everyone nodded.
"Hey hey!" he shouted.
"Ho ho!" We yelled back.
"Good." James looked at the other instructors. "The boat's coming in."
We looked at the edge of the dock. A boat was coming in, and it looked exactly like the that one Nimisha had thought that we would use.
Sure enough, Nimisha whispered, "I was right!"
I nodded, my eyes remaining on the boat. Everyone acted on common sense and picked up their bags, including me and Nimisha.
We boarded the ship, with the instructors muttering, "Careful, careful. Don't slip." I stepped onto the tires attached to the boat, and soon I was in. The boat's seats were mostly wooden, and there was a table in the middle and a few white plastic chairs were next to it. I groaned when the sheer weight of my bag hit my shoulders again. I went to the end of the aisle of the seats on the left side of the boat and Nimisha followed me.
"Ah, so much better," I sighed, letting out my breath and putting my big bag down in front of me. Nimisha did the same. I watched as Selena tried to sit down on the plastic chairs but the teachers told her to sit down next to the boy on the wooden seat. Georgina shook her hands helplessly and followed Selena. Simran and Garance were talking loudly as usual, and I quickly tuned them out. A few people that I knew were boarding the ship, including Jade.
I looked to my left. The ocean was blue and sparkly in the sunlight. I felt mildly afraid that I might fall out, but I was mostly worried about if my cap would fall into the ocean instead. Nimisha was taking out a notebook…
"Oh!" I gasped. "Oh, great, I can't believe that I forgot to bring my notebook and pen!"
Nimisha smirked at me. She waved the notebook at me. I frowned at her, and then she stopped.
Suddenly, the boat lurched sideways and I watched silently as foam from the boat engines began to spread out, creating several wavy, pearly lines receding into the horizon. After a while, I heard the crunch of wrappers. I looked up, and saw a boy with dark hair munching on his snacks. Nimisha stared at me with a puppy dogface.
"Cookies?" she pleaded. I thought for a while.
"Please, please, please?" she held her hands up in a praying motion.
I took a deep breath and opened the zipper to my bag. I took out the small, square pink lunch box and Nimisha leaned in eagerly, seeing the cookies. I gave her half and separated the last half into quarters for Caitlin and Anika.
I continued to stare at the waves. They were shiny. The buildings were far behind us, and I stared out, wondering what it would be like in four days after camp at 12 October.
I turned to look at Nimisha again. Her notebook cover was slightly red, with a few brown spots on it. There were the words Leo marked on it.
That's strange. Her name's Nimisha, not Leo. Maybe it means the horoscope. Yes, that's it.
"Can I please, please, please write on your notebook? Just a teeny bit?" I pleaded.
Nimisha laughed smugly and shook her head. Until now, I never noticed how irritating that move was. "Nope."
"Fine." I stared out to the waters again. About ten minutes passed like this.
"All right, everybody, listen up." James called, struggling to make his voice heard over the chaos in the boat, despite the fact that everyone was seated.
"Hey hey!" he shouted, looking slightly annoyed.
"Ho ho!" everyone bellowed.
"Guys, as you can see, we're nearly there," James began. "So everyone- get ready to get off!"
I looked over James's shoulder. A small, green island with a long, grey rectangle was coming near.
"That is the port," James explained, pointing to the 'rectangle'. "And that's the island that we're going to."
Many people craned their necks like flamingoes to try and see the island. I watched as we came nearer and nearer. Soon, we were almost there. Then I felt a slight bump and we had stopped.
The port was tall, and there were handrails on the sides with swimming rings hanging from them. The port was long and it extended all the way to the 'beach'.
The beach was not exactly a beach, though. There was sand all over it, but a wall was built a few meters of sand, just tall enough for me to climb onto. The wall went along the whole beach, stopping about twenty or thirty yards along. The right side of the wall went into the water at the right side if you were standing facing the ocean. The left side stopped at a small forest right next to the beach. On the right side of the beach- the left side if you were facing the ocean- there was a small space filled with kayaks, life vests, paddles, dragon boats, and all sorts of things used for sports. To the left of that was a slope, and I figured that it would lead to the dorms. To the left of the slope was a huge, blue boat-shaped thing, with even more life vests draped over it. Next to the boat-shaped thing was a few buckets and a showering stand. To the left of that was a small shelter which had benches, arranged in a square fashion, five groups in total. It also had several about-one-meter-long tables put together to make one long table. That was what I could see of camp.
The boat stopped completely. We stood up and put on our bags, my shoulders instantly beginning to ache, but I didn't complain.
"Oh, this is so heavy!" Nimisha groaned.
We walked out, stepping on the tires at the edge of the boat again and jumping onto the port. James took the lead, telling everyone not to go jump in the sea out of excitement.
We walked further, onto the slope.
"Okay, let me think," James said. He turned to face another instructor and they whispered together for a few moments. A few people were getting restless, exhausted by the weight of their bags. "Okay, so, the boys will be here-" he pointed to a small set of hut-like houses. The boys cheered. "-and the girls would be further uphill."
The entire group of girls groaned. James grinned at us apologetically. An instructor broke away from the instructors' group and followed the boys.
We walked further.
"My feet are dying!" someone moaned. I grunted appreciatively.
Finally, we stopped after we walked about ten meters uphill. I felt that my shoulders were dying, along with my feet.
"Hmm, we have a problem here." James mused, scratching his chin. "Girls, split yourselves into two groups."
Everyone scrambled to find somewhere to be. Nimisha and I decided to stand next to the 6A girls. We would rather not stand too close to them, so that meant that we were about ten centimeters away from them. Julie and Julia were in the same situation.
"Girls, half of you needs to go downhill to where the boys are." James told us.
Ruby looked like she was about to explode. "Maggie and Nimisha, can you guys go with them?"
"What?" I asked. My chest was immediately filled with anger. "Do you think of us as-"
Before I could say 'disposables', there was silence. Julie and Julia were still on the same spot.
"Can you just go?" Ruby asked, her brows furrowing. I took in a deep breath. Nimisha was staring at Ruby, as if she couldn't believe that Ruby doesn't want her to be in their group. I instantly felt mad at both of them. I knew that Nimisha would willingly throw me away to be in the popular clique if she had the chance. I knew that Ruby would willingly throw us both away so long as she got what she wanted. Forget what I said earlier about her being my friend.
"Hey, that's not fair, is it?" James interrupted.
"Well, it is!" Ruby protested. She turned back to us. "I mean, you guys want to be together, and we want to be together." Ruby gestured at Julie, Julia, herself, Georgina, Simran, Selena, and a few others.
"We'll go," Julia offered. Julie tugged at Julia's hand.
"No, Julia!" Georgina's eyes grew wide.
Julie and Julia turned and they started to follow the other group downhill. Even though I didn't like Julia much, my respect for her grew.
Ruby and her clique cast us one more look haughtily. I glowered at them too.
As we started uphill, in grim silence, I whispered to Nimisha, "Looks like we're just disposables aren't we?"
Nimisha nodded grimly. I had the feeling that she had just vowed for something. I had feeling that she did not think about what would happen to me in the process.
A moment later, we reached the dorms.
"Okay, girls, just toss your big bags down and get your day bags ready. Meet us outside down in that meadow." James pointed at a small green round area a few ten meters away. They started walking down, and Nimisha and I began to walk towards our appointed dorms.
There was Dorm A and Dorm B.
"Guys, can you go to Dorm B?" Ruby's voice sounded desperate.
"Fine. I didn't want to be in that one anyway," I spat, trying my best not to make my voice sound acid-like.
Nimisha's expression had turned dreamy. She opened the door with a click, and we stepped in.
The ceiling was rather low. I noticed that first. The immediate adjective I thought for the bunks was: flat. A few dull-colored blankets were folded neatly on the beds. I liked the dorm despite the dull appearance. There were ten beds. I eyed the one in the corner. Nimisha looked at the one next to it.
We both charged over to our beds, and I tossed my big bag onto it. I sat down on the bed, smiling. Nimisha laughed. "We have this dorm all to ourselves!"
I laughed too. An image of us talking at night, playing UNO- Nimisha had brought in a pack- over the bed lanes appeared in my mind.
Even though I was almost overwhelmed with this arrangement, I still had James's instruction in my mind.
"Okay, get our day bags. Do you need to put anything in it?" I looked at Nimisha. Nimisha zipped open hers. I opened mine, too, and put in sunscreen, insect repellent, tissues, wet wipes, my snack, and my water bottle in it. I put on my cap dramatically, dragging it down so that I looked like a young soldier ready for battle.
Nimisha giggled and she did the same.
"Ready?" I asked.