Molly and Emily

Submitted into Contest #143 in response to: Set your story in the woods or on a campground. ... view prompt

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Coming of Age Lesbian Teens & Young Adult

MOLLY AND EMILY

This was the summer of their sixteenth year for Molly and her best friend Emily, and it was going to be special. They were going to summer camp. Molly was so excited with anticipation that she had butterflies in her stomach and was sick almost every day anxious for their departure date arrive on August 12th. A charter bus would take their girl scout troop from Nucla to Grand Junction, then Denver, and finally Boulder where it would turn west toward Aspen Camp at the foot of Long’s Peak. For months the girls had pored over the brochures and the pictures. There were images of lush green meadows, cabin tents where they would spend their nights, lakes, streams, hiking trails, and Long’s Peak which hovered more than fourteen thousand feet above the landscape like a forbidding giant. Emily worried that the canvas covered cabin tents were too fragile to keep bears out while the same thought excited the always adventurous Molly.  

The only bad thing about the camp was Mrs. Kratchner and her two daughters. The good thing was everything else including the nice assistant scout mother whose name was Nancy Parker. Kratchner was the scout mother in charge of troop 108, and she lorded over her position like a military officer. Worse, she considered her daughters Becky and Priscilla as her lieutenants, ignoring the fact that it was Mrs. Parker who was second in what Kratchner called “command.” 

“Spies,” asserted Molly. “Little miss bitches,” retorted Emily who was uncharacteristically harsh with her words when speaking of Becky and Priscilla. But many of the parents approved of Kratchner’s strict manner because, if nothing else, she would keep them on a tight leash and that would keep them safe. Steele, Molly’s rugged father, wasn’t so sure that her controlling nature was good for the troop. After all, he thought, camp is supposed to be about new experiences and high adventure. More than that, he trusted Molly’s common sense over the thinking of an idealogue who equated obedience to her with godly behavior. Three days before departure, Steele woke Molly up for work at the Columbine Bakery and she threw up on his shoes. “You sick honey?” he asked as he looked down at the slop covering his feet.

Three days after that Molly was holding her duffle bag next to Emily waiting for the bus to arrive. Mrs. Kratchner was a heavy-set woman who always dressed in one of her tent-like calico dresses with side pockets from K Mart. She was stalking up and down the line pushing the girls into place and busily ushering them into a straighter line. Molly had her back to her while talking with Emily and did not see her coming. Kratchner grabbed her by her shoulders and forcibly turned her to face the front. That was when Molly threw up on her dress. A sneering chorus of whiny eew’s issued from Priscilla and Becky to punctuate the event. Emily, who was standing behind Molly, tried but failed to contain a guffaw by routing it through her nose. She pretended it was a sneeze. Molly muttered “gesundheit,” with the acid taste of stomach bile still on her tongue.   

The bus trip took over six hours. As they exited the bus Molly looked up and saw Longs Peak holding court over the meadows, rivers, creeks, lakes, and forests below. “The air is so sweet,” whispered Emily as she leaned close to Molly’s ear and touched her shoulder. They assembled next to the bus as the driver unloaded back-packs and duffel bags into a pile. Kratchner started calling out names and numbers. Molly and Emily were assigned to tent number 10. Happy to be together, they did a patty-cake to the chagrin of Kratchner. But then she called out two more names for tent number 10—Becky and Priscilla, and the patty-cake ceased causing Kratchner to crack a cruel smile.

The highpoint of the week was a hike to a place called Chasm Lake at the foot of Longs Peak. But the hike had to wait until the troop acclimated to the 8,500 foot altitude for several days and only after attending an outdoor safety class put on by Mrs. Parker. She was the assistant scoutmaster who was also a Ranger in the Uncompahgre. Until the scheduled Chasm Lake hike, the girl scouts would have the run of the highly civilized nature trail built by the ranch, other local trails, creeks, and lakes close by Aspen Camp. For the trip to Chasm lake, they would take a shuttle bus to the trailhead. Then they would hike the trail of 4.5 miles, gain of over 2,000 feet of elevation, and rest at the foot of Longs Peak.

In the meantime, Molly and Emily contented themselves with staying as far away from Becky and Priscilla as possible. And for their own reasons, they stayed away from everyone else as well.

The meadow in front of Aspen Camp was disappointing. Though verdant green and inviting, the water that fed it was underground. There was no river or creek to swim in as with most mountain meadows. There was, however, a local trail that led to Finch Lake. The lake was sometimes crowded since it was less than five miles by road from the Ranch. But Cony Creek which fed it from higher elevations to the north, was never crowded and had no direct access by road. It was covered by forest and had deep pools of cold mountain water swirling around white granite boulders as it tumbled down from the peaks toward Finch Lake. All they had to do was hike a half mile up Cony creek from the lake and they were alone together in the wilds.

Mrs. Parker gave her talk on wilderness safety on the first day. She talked about dangers from wild animals, what to do if lost, the danger of lightning storms which came most afternoons in the Rockies in late summer, how to build a shelter and start a fire. At the end of her talk, she asked questions.

“So, Priscilla, what do you do if you see a black bear?”

“I don’t know. Run?”

“Probably not a good idea. Anyone else have an answer?”

Molly knew all about black bears. Steele had taught her. “Stand your ground and look as big as you can.”

Priscilla smirked until Mrs. Parker said “very good” to Molly.

Mrs. Parker went on. “We didn’t talk about this. But, just for fun, what if it’s a grizzly bear instead of a black bear.”

Molly shot her hand up again. “There are no grizzlies this far south in the Rockies, Mrs. Parker.”

“And how do you know that Molly.”

“My daddy told me.”

“And your daddy was right. Ok, now class, the next question is what if you are approached by a mountain lion?”

Priscilla and Becky shot their hands up thinking the answer was obvious.

“All right, Becky this time.”

“Run really fast, faster than the lion,” she answered with a confident smile.

“No. That’s not what you should do. Anyone else have the answer.”

Emily responded. “Stand your ground, look really big, and maybe pick up a big stick or a rock to hit it with?”

“That is correct. And where did you learn that?

“From Molly’s daddy and you,” she smiled.

“All right. Now, despite talking about scary animals, what did I say about lightning?

Molly piped up again. “You said it was the most dangerous thing in the Rockies and comes every afternoon.”

“Yes, Molly. Almost every afternoon.”

Every day for the next three days Molly and Emily hiked to their private spot on Cony Creek. And sure enough, in the afternoon the clouds would form, and they could hear the distant sound of thunder often coming from Longs Peak which was not far away. If they saw a flash of lightning amidst the dark clouds, they would count the seconds: “thousand one, thousand two, thousand three” until the roar of thunder rolled over them. Steele had taught Molly that thunder traveled a mile every five seconds. The closest it had come to Molly and Emily then was twenty five seconds which meant it never came no closer than five miles. But the third day brought darker clouds. Emily saw a flash of lightning and calmly began to count. She had not gotten to five when the thunder crashed over them. Molly and Emily froze and looked into each other’s panicked eyes.

“We should’ve gone down the mountain an hour ago,” complained Emily. “What do we do now?”

Molly looked around quickly for a low spot away from the creek and trees. A gully was thirty feet away. She knew they had to get as far away from water as possible and made a quick decision. She grabbed Emily’s hand and dragged her to the bottom of the gully. Then she told her what to do.

“Stand on the balls of your feet in a low crouch.”

“That’s silly. How will that help?”

“I don’t know, but it’s what Steele said to do!”

As she barked commands to Emily, she could hear Steele’s words coming out of her own mouth, and it was exactly what he had taught her. Soon, fat drops of rain came down like solitary messengers from the dark clouds hovering over them. Heavy globules of water splatted individually against the ground for a few moments. Pit…pat…pit…pat, pit, pit, pit. Then it rose to a roar as the clouds above let loose their load.

“Molly,” shouted Emily over the din of the falling rain “We may as well be in the creek. Everything is wet,” she complained as water draining from elevations above formed a temporary creek that flowed down the gully and swirled around their ankles and feet.

Ellen was right to complain. Other than staying in a crouch and keeping their contact with the ground to a minimum, there was nothing left to do to protect themselves. As with the bears and the mountain lions, there was nowhere to run that the bolts would not chase them down. Lightning began to strike trees just feet away from where they cowered severing large branches that fell to the ground in flames. Soon the strikes and the roar of the thunder that followed were no longer separate. They joined together as one and shook the ground through the balls of their feet as icy water gushed over them.

But just as the storm came to them suddenly, so too did it drift away after just a few minutes of violence. The deadly lightning strikes slowly crept south toward the lake below and left only dark billowing clouds behind along with a few rays of sun to poke through. Thin shafts of light lit up the creek and give the girls hope that it was over. But Emily felt it first and began to shake.

“It’s getting cold Molly.”

Hail has its own kind of roar. It is loud like rain, but heavier, harder, colder. In minutes, it smothered summer with winter, and the landscape seemed covered in snow. But it wasn’t snow. It was ice— four inches deep, and the temperature dropped thirty degrees in seconds. Molly and Emily were still crouched on the balls of their feet which were now buried in hail ice at the bottom of the gully. If anyone had stumbled upon them, the girls would have looked silly as they huddled and shivered in the ditch. The lightning had passed quickly, followed by hail, but now they had a new worry—freezing cold.

They stood up from their crouch to the sound of crunching of ice below their shoes. Their hair was dripping wet, and their t-shirts and shorts were soaked.

“So, did Steele tell you what to do when this happened?”

“No. He missed this part,” she answered as she broke into a shivering tooth rattling smile while holding her crossed arms close to her body. “But I do know this. We need to wring out our wet clothes, warm up, and then get moving. We’ll freeze here.” First, they stripped. Soon the tree branches around them were strewn with their wet clothing.

“Um, how do we warm up?” asked Emily now standing naked except for her shoes and with goose-bumps all over her body.

“We hug.”

Molly stepped closer to Emily and faced her with a smile and wiped a wet strand of Emily’s hair from her face. After a few awkward efforts at a hug, they leaned against each other pressing their soft naked bodies together. Soon it became more than an embrace as they frantically sought to have every inch of their nakedness touching the other. That was when they kissed for the first time, felt love, and explored it with gentle touches of their hands until fresh rays of sun warmed them and turned their wet bodies into the color of gold. 

When Mrs. Parker came around the next day to gather the scouts for the hike to Chasm Lake, Molly and Emily peeked out of their tent and declined.

“We’re still feeling the altitude,” they said. 

“Oh, I’m so sorry. It’s a beautiful hike, but I understand. Altitude sickness is not fun. Take care of yourselves and get some rest. You’ll feel better tomorrow.”

Becky and Priscilla pushed past the girls and left the tent all to them and mumbled “good riddance” as they boarded the bus. Soon the bus chugged up the mountain road toward the trailhead for Chasm Lake. When the whine of the engine disappeared into the distance, Molly zipped the tent flap closed and laid down with Emily.

April 28, 2022 17:33

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1 comment

Olivia Snead
21:22 May 04, 2022

Your story is well written in active voice. Your description is very good. You may wish to complete another draft for a few minor changes. For example, in one paragraph you wrote "Ellen" instead of "Emily."

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