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Ann Marie Mershon

© 2004

Ann Marie readingMaggie—Day One

Tuesday, June 15th

Dear Brock:

How can I bear this? I just got here, and I miss you already. Like a lot. I miss you SOOOOOOOOOOOOO much I can’t bear it.

This place sucks. The nearest town is 60 miles away, and we’re talking SMALL. Grand Marais is about three blocks long. There’s no mall, no movie theater—not even a MacDonald’s. Can you believe it? And the camp is so far away I’ll probably never get there anyway. This is totally the armpit of America.

So here I am. Me and the trees and the lake and the geeks. They probably come here to escape their lonely summers in the city. I’d give ANYTHING to be home with you.

 I have to live in a teepee with a fat girl. She’ll probably stink up the place with her sweat. This is hell. I could kill Dad.


Please think of me when you look at the moon tonight. It’s going to be full. I’ll be looking at it and imagining your arms around me.

All my love,
“Hi, Maggie.”

“Oh, hi, um...Alisha?”

“Almost. It’s Alison.”


“That’s O.K. An easy mistake. It’s kind of an old-fashioned name. So what brought you up here, anyway? You don’t seem all that glad to be at camp,” Alison said as she settled onto her cot. She had pasty white skin—a LOT of it. She wore ragged cut-offs and a loose white T-shirt with a pine tree, a canoe, and a moose. It had the words “Camp Megonquin” spelled out in twigs.

“My dad made me.”

“It’s not really so bad here. I’m sure you’ll get to like it.”

“Right. I don’t like bugs, I live to shop, I hate the water, and I really miss my boyfriend. I’ll probably be just crazy about it.”

“Well, give it a chance. You’re here, so why not make the most of it? Anyway, I came to tell you it’s time for the campfire. Required.”

“Yeah, well, O.K.” Maggie said as she licked the envelope. “Is there somewhere I can drop this letter before we go to the campfire?”

“It’s a half mile walk to the mailbox, and the mailman doesn’t come until noon, so you can wait and walk it out there in the morning.”

“I have to walk a half mile to mail a letter? I don’t think so!”

“Well, you can leave it at the office, but they only make one trip to the mailbox, so your letter wouldn’t go out until the next day. If you walk it up to the box in the morning, the mailman will pick it up when he drops off the mail.”

“What I wouldn’t give for a computer and e-mail!”

“Maggie, this is a Wilderness Camp. That’s the whole point.”

“Yeah. I’m feeling truly blessed to have this wonderful opportunity. NOT!”

Maggie followed Alison up a path through pines and birches, finally emerging on a small clearing that flickered with reflected campfire. A cluster of girls sat on logs, chatting around the fire.

A compact young woman with a nearly-shaved head stood to welcome them with a broad smile. “Well, everyone’s here! Let’s get to know each other. I’m Jordan. Some of you have already met, but let’s start with a little game—an introduction game.”

Maggie groaned and rolled her eyes. Back to kindergarten.

Jordan ignored her. So did everyone else. “You’ve all done the circle thing where you repeat everyone’s name as you learn it; well, we’ll take that a step further. After you give your name, think of an animal you’re like and explain why. Each person will repeat all the names so far, including the animals. Got it? I’ll start the ball rolling.

I’m Jordan, and I’m like a beaver because I’m pretty compact, I’m always busy, and I love to build stuff.” She grinned and plunked herself down next to Alison, then turned to her. “O.K., now you.”

“Jordan, the beaver...I’m Alison. I guess I’m like a whale because all people ever see is how big I am, but they don’t realize that whales are very loyal and caring.”

Wow. That was risky, Maggie thought. Stu-pid!

Alison turned to her.

“O.K. Jordan, the beaver...Alison, the whale...and I’m Maggie. I’m like a—let’s see...I’m like a pigeon because I belong in the city shitting statues, but I’ve been misplaced in the wilderness.” There, that’ll show them.

No one said a word.

A breathy voice joined in from her left. “Jordan, the beaver...Alison, the whale...Maggie, the pigeon...and I’m Claire. I guess I’m an armadillo because I have a hard shell to protect myself.” Maggie was surprised she hadn’t said “giraffe”. She was tall and skinny. That would be a lot safer than “armadillo.” She couldn’t believe what these girls were sharing with total strangers. Of course, they weren’t giving details—not that she wanted any.

“Jordan, beaver...Alison, whale...Maggie, pigeon...Claire, armadillo...and I’m Tamara, probably a loon without a mate, because I left my twin sister behind.”  Was that a choke in her voice? Was she so hung up on her twin that it broke her heart to leave her behind? Weird. Pretty, though.

The next girl in the circle did a loon call, and everyone laughed. It was totally dopey. “Geeks,” Maggie thought.

The next girl was giggly—Gina. An Asian girl with silky black hair cropped just below her ears.  “I guess I’m a laughing hyena—for obvious reasons,” she giggled, her even teeth gleaming in the firelight. A good change from tears anyway, Maggie thought. She might be O.K.

“Jordan, beaver, Alison, whale...

Maggie was bored. Her mind wandered back to Brock. What kind of an animal would he be? Maybe a fox, always conniving to get her alone. Her stomach tingled as she thought of his touch. Maybe a stallion—sleek and beautiful. All muscle. He’d like that one, but he’d say stud.

Laughter interrupted Maggie’s thoughts. Everyone was smiling at the next girl, and Maggie had no idea what her name was or why. She’d better come back to reality. She’d get their names soon enough with all this repetition.

“...Gina, laughing hyena...and Hannah, Camel.” Everyone laughed again, including Maggie. Hannah had mega hooters—camel humps. Clever.

“I’m Kati, and I’m a caterpillar. I’m pretty quiet and go about my business getting lots of work done, and nobody really notices me. I’m going to explode into a spectacular butterfly some day, though—just wait.” Kati grinned. Dream on, thought Maggie. How about mouse, with that dull brown hair and scrunched up face? Mousey Kati.

The next girl, a redhead, was a surprise. “ I’m Cammy. I’m an antelope because I love to run. Believe it or not, I’m a receiver on the boys football team.” Maggie’s jaw dropped. Football? Receiver? She looked athletic, but that was unbelievable. Why would a girl want to be on a football team? Of course, what a great way to get time with the guys. Brock was on the team, although he only got into games once in a while. But a girl?

“Well, last but not least...” Oops! Missed another one. Maggie listened carefully so she could catch the last two names.

“Jordan, beaver...Alison, whale...Maggie, pigeon...Claire, armadillo...Tamara, loon... Gina, laughing hyena...Hannah, Camel...Kati, caterpillar...Cammy, antelope... Dawn, alligator, and I’m Stephanie. I’m an otter—small, friendly, and playful.” Stephanie was small all right, and friendly and playful would be good. Maggie made a mental note. And the one before her—Dawn the alligator, huh? She was a drop-dead gorgeous black girl. Was the alligator about color? A nasty bite? Time would tell.

“Well, that’s it, girls. Good work! We have another counselor for our unit, but she doesn’t arrive until tomorrow.  Her name is Victoria, and she can introduce herself when she gets here. Let’s go around again and see if everyone can share each person’s name and the reason why they chose their animal.”

Maggie survived the rest of the campfire, more certain every minute that she didn’t belong with these girls. She belonged at home in Minneapolis, cruising in Brock’s Mustang convertible to a deserted beach for some quality time.

This sucked the big one.