We arrived at the camp much later than planned. Between Angela arriving a whole 30 minutes after the scheduled time of departure because she couldn't decide which shoes to pack, Lesley's car sickness, the flat tyre and briefly getting lost, I'm not sure which one contributed more to our 5 hour delay. But needless to say, we arrived, eventually, and thank goodness we did. The camp director almost gave away our spot for the weekend. I'd been looking forward to this trip all month, and had been clenching my teeth and crossing my fingers the whole drive there. The security guards opened the massive gates at the entrance into the large piece of land and we drove up the torch lit gravel road lined with lush trees covered in multicoloured fairy lights. In the distance, we could see the cabins, strategically placed on a small hill to allow the guests to enjoy the scenic view of the landscape from higher ground - and what a view it was indeed. Propelling our bodies off the minibus,we landed loudly on the rich red dirt, with it's earthy fragrance loose in the cool tranquil air. Faint strands of lonely clouds caressed the sky and danced slowly across it's dark shade of night, as if sharing a bittersweet story or singing a sad song. Distracted by a sharp elbow strike to my arm "Have you ever seen this many stars in the sky? This clear? This beautiful? Never as beautiful as you though..." He grinned, still staring at the sky. I elbowed him back, "No. I can't say I have." He looked down at me. And at that moment, we both knew that this weekend was going to be a story and song of our own.
It was 5 am. I knew this because our deputy principal was outside our room banging what I believed was a broken broomstick against what sounded like a very old pot. We had to wake up extra early to cover the time we had missed the day before. On arrival we were quickly put into groups and assigned to our cabins. We were advised to sleep as early as possible...but where have you ever heard of a group of unsupervised 17 year olds sleeping or doing anything early for that matter. This was the first and last school prefect camp we were ever going to have and we were not about to waste it on something as overrated as sleep! The boys were throwing pebbles on the roofs of the girl's cabins to get their attention - and the girls loved it. Painting toenails to match fingernails and gossip and truth or dare, eavesdropping and fence jumping and basketball in the dark, skateboarding and zip lining and...kissing barefoot on the damp grass under the sprinklers next to the those pretty yellow flowers that he plucked and gently placed behind my flushed pink ear before he kissed me again. We did everything, but sleep.
A shower and hearty plate of breakfast later and we were ready for the day ahead. We had started off with an introduction, a meeting, leadership speeches and motivational movies which must have all been very informative, if I had been listening. No, I was too busy admiring the shape of Brandon's head. Noticing the thick protruding scar behind his ear that he got when he fell off his bicycle as a child and remembering how he hates that scar because he believes it ruins the look of all his haircuts. I had it bad, and the kiss from the night before was making it worse. Brandon and I had been flirting for weeks now. We sat together in all our classes, we both joined the debate team, we stood together in the morning before school and always made time to see each other before we went home. We were going to be each other's homecoming dates, he was going to dress in all black and I would wear a long red dress with matching head piece. The Head boy and Deputy Head girl - we were going to be perfect together, and after this weekend, everyone would know that too.
It was lunchtime when he brought me a plate of food from the buffet with all the things he knows I love to eat. "You know me so well." I broke off a large piece of the cheese and bacon sandwich, and stuffed it in my mouth. "It's a miracle you're not overweight. The way you like food, I'd swear you like it more than you like me." "Oh, so you're convinced I like you?" I asked him sarcastically. "Well, even if you don't, you soon will" he bit into a cheese sausage,"And how soon do you think that might be?" "How soon would you like it to be?" he smiled. I bit into my crispy spring roll filled with far too much cream cheese, slowly chewing on it's crispy flakes and sesame seeds, gathering the confidence to say what I was going to say next. "Do you want me as your girlfriend? Because I want you. I've wanted you for some time now. I just need to hear you say that you want me too" He stopped chewing for a moment, realising just how serious I was. "I want you too." he said, looking me straight in the eye. He took my greasy hand under the table where we were eating and held it tightly. He held it till my heart stopped pounding. He held it till we were done eating. And as we were walking out of the dining hall, he held it some more.
The activities for the remainder of that weekend were blissful and challenging. We learned a lot about ourselves and what was expected from us. I learned lessons that would help me far beyond my schooling days. But we had come to the end of our trip, and as we walked away from the memories we made, I couldn't wait to run into the new memories I was about to make with Brandon.
It was the Tuesday morning after the camp, we had been given the Monday off to get ready for the week ahead. All the executive members of the prefect committee, which included Brandon and I, had our hands full with prefect duties and planning a student's sport event that was taking place that Saturday evening. Our orchestrated fairytale was put on hold. The days couldn't go by quickly enough. Brushing against his navy blue blazer in class and catching hints of that cologne that only he ever wore was such a tease.
Saturday finally arrived, with my brand new ensemble I spent days putting together and a few spritz of perfume I stole from my mother's exclusive collection imported from Paris, I was illuminating under the pale moon.
I waited for him at the entrance, on tiptoe, searching through the growing crowd. It got darker. The sports field got louder. The game began. The game ended. We lost. And Brandon never showed up. The air got thinner and the noise died down. As I walked out the school gates, I had just called my ride home - I saw him. Wearing the sneakers I told him to buy with the gift card he got for his birthday, the ones with the light blue trim on the sides, with a gold watch that didn't fit him, and that cologne - always that cologne, that only he ever wore - and he was rubbing it all over her. Pressed firmly against the breasts of our Head girl, kissing her the same way he kissed me that night I felt the grass between my toes. I guess the Deputy wasn't good enough.
My taxi arrived just as he lifted his head. He knew that I knew. He knew there was nothing he could say or do. I tossed my head back to brave away the tears, and caught sight of the stars….but suddenly the sky didn't look as clear, or as beautiful as it did that night. But the bittersweet story and the sad song, were the same…. I never spoke to Brandon again.