Pet was the first one to spot me when I got back to camp. Josh had headed straight to find Tim as I went in search of Lily. “Jenna!” Pet admonished. “We have been looking everywhere for you, we have been worried sick to our tummies about you. I had to go to the toilet three times, but Lily thought I was making one of the times up so she made me wet my pants and they were my favourite Blingles knickers! Lily is horrible and I don’t want her as a sister anymore. Alice and I found a dead frog skeleton, I saw it first, but was just thinking of saying something about finding it when Alice said that she found it, but really I found it first, now she says that it is her dead frog and not mine and that I will have to find my own, but it actually was mine, I was just saying it in my head before I said it out loud. Alice is not my best friend anymore and I think we need to take her back to Mrs Wellard’s house and ask her to put the nits back in her hair. If Mrs Wellard offers us cake we will eat it, but Alice won’t be allowed because she has nits, so she will have to sit outside and watch us through the window. Let’s go!” Pet began to pull me towards a group of younger kids who were all huddled around Alice, I assume they were admiring the frog skeleton. Luckily Lily came to my rescue.
“Where have you been? When I finished reading I came to look for you and couldn’t find you anywhere.” As if in answer Josh strode across the lawn coming to a stop beside me.
“Well,” he joked. “The pie didn’t taste that bad, certainly not a lemon meringue, my favourite, “he said winking at me. “But I’ve had worse.” I don’t think I had ever seen Lily speechless, but she seemed to be now. I quickly introduced Lily and Pet to Josh. Pet launched into the story of her frog skeleton. Josh showed the right amount of empathy and outrage and thereby won her trust because next, she started to whisper loudly to him about her Blingles underwear while glaring over at Lily. I could see Josh was trying to keep a straight face, Lily and me, on the other hand, could not, and collapsed into laughter.
We spent the rest of the afternoon lazing about under a tree, chatting about not very much. Lily kept trying to catch my eye with meaningful looks, but I scowled at her. Josh was here because the beach was off limits today, that was all. Sure, he was a nice guy, but we were heading home, I didn’t even know where he lived, I was just happy to have made an extra friend, even if we may never speak to each other again.
The bell rang for us all to go to the dining room. It was early for dinner, so Tim must have had an update for us, and maybe we were going home tonight. As much fun as I was having, I was ready to leave. I missed my dad, Kate, my bed, Snapchat and my cat Tom.
Noisily we took our seats; I saw a small smile on Tim’s face when he noted that Josh was sitting at our table. Matt didn’t seem to notice Josh was even at our table; he was busy writing in his notebook, Lily had to kick him under the table to get him to look up when Tim started to speak. “Hey everyone, I’ve just had an update, and we will be here for another night, sounds like whatever is blocking the road will be cleared late tonight, and the roads will be open again in the morning.” There was a collective groan around the room.
“Guys, my cooking’s not that bad,” called out Chef from the kitchen.
“Tomorrow morning pack up your bunks again, and we will meet for a quick breakfast and then we will be on the road, same schedule as we had today. Now, I can smell that our delicious dinner is almost ready, so go and wash your hands and come straight back ready to eat. After dinner, you can all call your parents again if you wish to.”
We filtered out of the dining room to our respective bathrooms, Lily and I falling into step next to each other. “So you and Josh hey,” she teased, nudging me in the ribs.
“Don’t be stupid!” But I could feel my face turn red as I said this. “He’s just a friend, plus we are leaving tomorrow, and I’m never going to see him again,” I said, which was true.
After a dinner of Tuna Surprise, we again lined up to call our parents to update them on what was happening. This time I did get through to my dad, although, he seemed distracted so I wasn’t sure I was getting through to him. “Dad!” I exclaimed, exasperated after saying goodbye three times and hearing nothing from him in return. “I’m saying good-bye, have you been listening to a word I’ve been saying?”
“Sorry Sweetpea, sorry, I was just trying to catch what they were talking about on the news, which was rude. Now, what were you saying?”
I sighed in frustration, “Seriously Dad, did you hear anything I said?”
“Yes, pick you up at East Perth bus station at ten tomorrow morning, but I missed the last part.”
I smiled to myself, “Bye, the last part was just me saying goodbye.”
“Bye sweet-pea, love you, I can’t wait to see you tomorrow and hear all about camp.” I made a kissing sound and hung up the phone.
I looked around the dining room; there was another animated movie playing. Pet was sitting down the front snuggled up next to Alice watching it, so obviously the frog skeleton incident had been forgiven or forgotten. Matt and some of the other boys were playing a game of Risk; Lily was in the line to call her dad which left Josh, who was leaning on the service area of the kitchen chatting with Chef. It was clear from the easy banter between them that they liked each other and had a laid back relationship.
“Jenna, coming over to ask for the recipe for tuna surprise?” Chef asked, laughing at his joke.
“Believe me; he’s made much worse, tuna surprise is a gourmet meal compared to last year’s camp casserole and, oh let me think, spam pasta, deviled sausage…” Josh was cut off as Chef threw a dirty dishcloth at his face. “Right, that’s it bro, challenge!” Josh cried.
“When will you learn my boy”” asked Chef taking off his apron and stepped out of the kitchen. “A life spent catching waves does not a man make!” Chef’s voice was deep and sonorous, I had never seen him so serious and stepped back, he turned his head slightly and winked in my direction. I looked around the dining room.
“Well let’s test your little theory shall we Chef, enough with the chit-chat, anyone would think you were scared, hey Jenna?” Josh turned to wink at me. What was with all the winking?
I hadn’t noticed Tim come up beside me. “Every year, since Josh was eleven and made the mistake of telling Chef that cooking was a girl’s job, they have teased each other and competed in their annual arm wrestle. Chef used to let Josh think he was putting up a bit of a fight before slamming his arm to the table. Last year was the first year Chef wasn’t pretending, he still won of course, as I’m sure he will win again this year, but there will be a year when he won’t, it’s not far off. Josh loves Chef, so he will probably stop challenging him, he wouldn’t have challenged him this year if we weren’t here for the extra night, but I think my son is a little cocky to think that this might be the year.”
We gathered around the table, all vying to see. Chef and Josh were sitting opposite each other, elbows planted on the table, knuckles white, hands clasped, they stared into each other’s eyes as Tim counted down from three. At the word go, the room erupted into cheers, mainly for Chef, but a few were calling Josh’s name, I joined that chorus. The muscles on their necks stood out, pulsing, as each fought for dominance over the other. At one point, it looked like it would be a tie and then with a mighty grunt Chef smashed Josh’s hand into the table. They were both out of breath with beads of sweat on their foreheads. Before either had a chance to catch their breath, Josh had leapt across the table and was hugging Chef, then holding Chef’s hand up as the victor. “Good one kid, maybe you are more of a man than I thought,” said Chef pulling Josh into a hug.
After the arm wrestle, everyone drifted back to what they had been doing, leaving Josh and me alone. “Nice job,” I said congratulating him. “You let him beat you didn’t you?”
Josh hesitated a second too long before answering, “Nope, he beat me fair and square.” Lily joined us, and we spent the next hour chatting about music and school and our plans for the rest of the holidays. It was a nice way to spend the last night of camp. I found myself wishing that Josh had been around from the beginning, not because I was developing feelings for him, just because he was a nice guy. Lily yawned and soon we were all yawning, we took it as a sign that it was time for bed.


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