When we got back to camp we reported to Tim. It was mid-afternoon and many of the younger kids were watching an animated movie in the dining room. There was no TV signal, but the camp owners had rigged a system to show DVDs onto the dining room wall. Pet and Alice made themselves comfortable on the rug near the front and Pet gave a dismissive wave to Lily as she began to tell her where to find her.
Lily, like my mum, loved reading, so I knew that she would take this opportunity to dive into her book. On these rare occasions, we usually found somewhere with shade, no ants, and a cooling breeze. Lily looked at me, “Let’s go.”
“Hey, I’m exhausted, I think I’m going to have a nap, see you later?” I suggested casually.
“Sure,” Lily nodded. “Enjoy.”
We left the dining room, Lily had to collect her book from the dorm, so I had to pretend that I was going to go and have a sleep. As I lay on the bed and shut my eyes I became aware of the fact that I was tired and could easily drift off to sleep. Fortunately, it did not take long for Lily to get her book and leave. I sat up and counted to sixty three times just in case she decided to come back for something. I grabbed my brush and tried to tame my crazy hair, and dabbed some deodorant and lip balm on. Peeking out of the door, I couldn’t see anyone who would care where I was going, so I slung my daypack over my shoulder and headed out.
We weren’t being policed, so it was easy to slip out, the older kid’s dorms were closest to the perimeter of the camp. I planned to just go out through the brushy scrub and then join the road once I had cleared the main entrance, just in case.
As I stepped off the veranda I heard my name being called, “Hey Jenna!” It was Matt, he was running towards me calling my name and waving as if I was blind. Just what I needed. “Wait up, where are you going? Wait?” I stood patiently employing one of my mum’s breathing techniques she made me use each time I came home furious about the latest indignity I had suffered at Meg’s hands.
“Hi Matt, what’s up?” I asked aiming for breezy, probably not quite hitting it. “Where have you been, are there zombies out there, are we in the midst of an alien invasion, has the Kraken awoken, in fact, how do I know this is even you?” I laughed.
“Shut-up Jenna! I just wanted to know if you had seen Lily, okay? Do you know if she has called my dad and told him what’s going on?” Matt asked defensively. I explained about the phone calls we all made and that Lily was taking some well-deserved quiet time, just as I was about to do. He thanked me and headed off.
I couldn’t resist one last jibe, “So Matt, just to be sure, no imminent meteorite shower on a collision course with Earth?” Matt harrumphed and stormed off.
Soon I was on the road to town and the park where I had seen Josh earlier. As I approached the park, I could see that Josh was in the same position as he was when we had passed by earlier. I was having second thoughts, maybe someone who went out of their way to be alone deserved to be left alone. I decided that I was just going to go back to camp when he turned around and stared at me. He had piercing blue eyes, he glared at me and I flinched from the raw emotion I saw: anger, confusion, defense. I could see he couldn’t automatically place me, but there was a glint of recognition in his eyes. They were the most expressive eyes I had ever seen, no wonder he kept them downcast, they really were the windows to his soul.
“Hey,” I said and lamely held up a hand in greeting. “I’m Jenna, we sat next to each other on the bus on the way here and then I noticed you here on the way back from getting my friend’s sister treated for nits.” I was beginning to ramble and overshare, so I just shrugged. “Anyway, I saw you here, it’s Josh right?” I didn’t wait for him to answer, instead, I sat down on the swing next to him and started to gently push myself back and forth with my feet like I had seen him doing earlier. We sat silently swinging like that for what seemed ages but was probably only a few minutes.
I was just about to break the silence when he mumbled something that I didn’t catch. “Sorry, pardon?” I asked.
“Aren’t you meant to be back at camp?” he asked.
“Aren’t you?” I countered.
“Touché,” he said and again we slipped into an uncomfortable silence.
I glanced over at Josh, he was on his phone looking at his Facebook page, he looked up and caught me, and instead of looking away I held his gaze. “Is there anything on any of the news sites about why the highway is closed?” I wondered. He shrugged. ”Well, why don’t you look it up? You obviously don’t want to be here; don’t you want to know when the road is going to be open?”
“Who cares girl detective, either way, we are stuck here, dad said they would let him know what was happening later this afternoon. For your information, I love it here, it’s one of my favourite places, I just can’t stand being around a bunch of kids all day.”
“Why are you so miserable? I thought this would be the lamest ten days of my life, but it has been amazing, maybe if you actually joined in and were part of the group instead of hanging around in a kid’s playground you would have had a wonderful time too.”
“Actually Jenna,” he said with a nasty inflection. “For your information, camp has been amazing for me too.”
I looked at him, hoping for more. “There’s a bitchin’ beach break at the mouth of the river, that’s where I’ve been for the last ten days and it has not disappointed.” I had seen the surfers sitting on their boards waiting to catch a wave. Surfing was something I had always wanted to try but hadn’t, some of my friends had tried surf lessons in Bali. I figured that if we ever went on a holiday there that’s where I would try it too. “I’m down here at five each morning Jenna,” his tone towards me had softened now that he was off the defensive and talking about a subject he was obviously passionate about. “Most nights when you guys are eating, I’ve already had my dinner and I’m back at the beach talking with the guys about tomorrow’s surf. Most people would agree that I’m actually a pretty nice guy, maybe not my dad right at this moment,” he said with a grin. “Check in with him another time and he will back my story up.”
“So why are you sitting here then?”
“I wanted to go for a surf and dad wouldn’t let me in case we needed to leave in a hurry, so I decided to piss him off by not being at camp anyway, just to prove that it wouldn’t have made a difference whether I went for a surf or not.” He looked over at me with a sheepish grin. “I know, pathetic huh? Dad was a pro-surfer when he was younger, he taught me how to surf, and we still go out together most weekends. It’s just him and me and we rarely fight. I guess I’m just sitting here waiting for the right time to go and eat humble pie.”
“What if the road had opened and our trip back to Perth was delayed further because no-one could find you?” I shot back at him.
Josh laughed and held up his phone for me to see, the Facebook page he was on looked like a group of surfers in the area. There were a string of updates from disgruntled surfers who lived on the other side of the highway, all angry because their access to the highway, and by extension the surf, was cut off. “Okay,” I nodded. “So, are you ready to eat some humble pie and maybe meet some of the people you have been camping with for the last however many years?”
He nodded, “Six years, I’ve been coming here for six years.” I nodded and together we headed back to camp.