Mandy dreaded going to camp before the summer was over. It was an orientation to the school year, where kids sized each other up, and she was the biggest size; she had always been bigger, but that summer she was even heavier. No matter how healthy she ate, she just couldn’t seem to lose weight, and she would be a ninth grader soon. Camp was a big blue lake with cabins on the shore. The bikini girls always showed off to the boys, while Mandy tried to stay hidden, but the swim competition always forced her into the open.

The bus ride sat three students to a seat, but nobody fit next to her, except Lenard, who had thick goggle glasses, a skinny frame, BO, and who the other kids called greasy toothpick. What made matters worse was that Mandy was getting horrible cramps, all over her body. She told her dad about it, but he didn’t know anything. Her mom drowned years ago, trying to save someone, or at least that’s what her dad said.

“Darleen swam like a fish, and I guess, I just drink like a fish.”

Mandy felt the pain, like lightning in her bones. It felt like they were splintering off, into all different directions. The PE Teacher sat three seats in front of her.

“Excuse me, Mr. Galgano, I think I have shin splints.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that; just walk it off.”

“But I’m having cramps, all over.”

“Oh.” Mr. Galgano turned red. “That’s not my department. Why don’t you ask Ms. Thompson?

When Mandy got off the bus, she spotted her. Ms. Thompson looked like she had had her period over 70 years ago; her face reminded her of the emperor in the Emperor Strikes Back. “Excuse me, Ms. Thompson?”

“What is it?”

“I’m not feeling well, I have cramps all over.”

“Oh, it always happens at least once at camp. You can stay in the counselors’ cabin, Cabin C.”

“Thanks Ms. Thompson.” It was hot that day and Mandy kept waiting for the counselors to show up, but they never did. It was so hot, that Mandy couldn’t stop thinking about the lake. When she got out of bed, her legs were numb. She wobbled around, like she was walking on the sea. And soon she was dipping her toes in the water. Mandy didn’t feel anything. The moon was out, enormous, so that she could see the entire camp, as bright as day.

She sunk into liquid delight and then began to backstroke. Mandy dove deep, deeper than she ever had before. Her body felt like a fish, moving with the whims of her mind. It was wonderful, so much so, that she found herself on the other side of the lake, and then back again. It was hours in the water, until the red sun rose. And when she got out, she was covered in lake weed from head to toe.

To be continued…

3 thoughts on “Growing Pains

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