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Kids

The cafeteria is crowded, in the painted garden sort of way. There's the wash of green camp shirts sprinkled with shorts and shoes and skin and hair of different colours. It's like pressing my nose to an oil painting.


It's my first full day at camp. My first lunch at camp. I got settled into a cabin last night, but didn't really spend time getting to know the people in it. I guess I just didn't feel like I fit in, from what they were talking about. Not that everyone had a common interest, far from it, but none of them stuck out to me as 'friend material'. Which makes me abhorrent, I know. No one else judges people on 'friend material'. I've decided to do archery or canoeing after lunch. Nice solitary activities where I can suss out my possible friends for the summer.


"Can I sit here?"


I look up. I mean, I gotta look up, that's animal instinct right there, looking at noise. The kid standing across from me is wearing their green shirt on back-to-front and inside out. Strange. They're also wearing bright red shorts. Kind of an eye sore to be honest. They're already sitting down when I say, "Sure."


Plucky.


They're also wearing a bandana on their head. They start on the salad and spring rolls with surprising vigor. I've never really been a fan of camp food.


"So, what's your name, Silent?"


"Shut your mouth when you chew. It's rude."


"It's camp."


They do have a good point there. So they're a possible rebel, then?


"What's your name, Rebel?"


"Rebel."


"Pfff. Nah. No parent's going to name their kid Rebel."


"My parents would. They're hard-core Star Wars fanatics."


I make a face. Sure, Star Wars has rebels in it, but this kid might as well have been named Death Star or Han or Leia if they are really such fanatics.


"If your parents are such fanatics, then you must know a lot of Star Wars trivia."


"Well I would, but I'm an actual rebel and have decided to be a fan of Star Trek to spite my parents."


This makes me laugh. I didn't originally think so, but this Rebel might be 'friend material'. They've slipped past my guard quick enough.


"I don't really know Star Trek."


Rebel makes a sad face.


"I read really obscure books as a hobby. I like classics and translations."


Rebel actually looks interested. Huh. I've never really been one of those people who goes on rants about their favourite novels or movies or shows or theories, but right now I can feel a wave of big fan energy trying to escape off my tongue. I blow it off by saying, "You'd probably find them boring. They don't really have the action-action-action thing that most television does."


Rebel looks offended. "Oh! Excuse me, I happen to be quite interested right now, just FYI."


I stare them down. They stare coolly back. Somehow they've managed to eat all their food before I've even touched mine. I turn my head away and start eating. Rebel waves their hand above my plate, but I ignore it.


"Hello? Hello? Earth to person! You're giving me the silent treatment! I can't believe it!"


Rebel leans back and crosses their arms, then moves their arms to behind their head. They whistle and kick my leg under the table.


"Don't."


"Don't do what? I didn't do anything."


"You kicked me! You just did it again!"


Rebel puts a hand to their chest in mock hurt. "Me? I haven't done anything! I'm just sitting here watching you eat as you ignore me."


They kick my leg again. I duck my head under the table, but of course I don't see anything. When I sit back upright one of my spring rolls is missing.


"Oh, you're tricky."


Rebel smiles. "Hello, yes, my name is Tricky. And you are...?"


"Silent."


"Pish."


"I'm very silent. Most people don't really notice me and I don't really like being noticed."


"Oh." Rebel looks a little disgruntled. "Well if I'm bothering you, I guess I'll leave then."


They glance at me. It reminds me so much like a sad puppy, that gaze. I am tempted to tell them to buzz off, but I don't have any friends here, and they were interested in me, plus they're still wearing an inside out back-to-front shirt.


"You're not bothering me."


Rebel lets out a sigh and smiles. "So tell me your name then."


"It ruins the mystery, knowing each other's names."


"Then it can be a secret, just between us," Rebel leans forward and puts a finger to their lips. "Our secret identities will be protected with our lives. Only we will know them. To the outside would we'll be known as Red and Blue."


"Nope. In my mind you're Rebel."


"Rebel and Silent, fighting crimes by night, doing camp stuff by day. At evening, doing the potty dance. At dawn, eating."


I laugh. "I haven't done 'the potty dance' since I was two."


"I do it in the car on long car rides."


Rebel does an imitation of squirming in discomfort. I shake my head at them.


"So Silent, what's your secret identity?"


I look around, exaggerating the action of making sure we aren't being overheard, then lean over and whisper between my hands, "Carmen."


"So I was right with Red!"


"Shh! Shh! You idiot! You almost spoiled my secret identity!"


I say this so loudly that kids a few seats away turn and look at us. I draw my hand back from Rebel's mouth, and they look utterly distraught.


"Do you think I ruined it?"


I look around again, suddenly feeling like a lot more is at stake then just a name which the councilors know anyway. "No, I think you're good."


Rebel smiles, then looks around, slinks under the table, does a side-roll, pops up beside my knee and whispers, "My name is Indigo."


"That's like the guy from Princess Bride."


"I know! 'My name is Indigo! You killed my father! Prepare to die!'"


They army crawl back across the minimal ground under the table and pop back up on the other side. After a moment of checking that the coast is clear they say in a voice of feigned coolness, "So, Silent, what are you doing after lunch?"


"Well, Rebel, I was thinking of canoeing."


"Excellent. We will survey the area and gain knowledge of the many forms of escape. We will suss out our enemies and know their locations."


"Agreed," I laugh and stick out my hand.


"Till then," they take it, then dart away to put their dirty dishes in the dirty dish cart.


I can't help smiling. Camp life is looking up.

May 05, 2020 20:00

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