Somewhere With You

By: Britney King

He pulled into camp shortly before dusk, checked in, and then asked around for Amelie. There were so many new faces that year. Jack hardly recognized any of them. Seventeen was the maximum age for campers at Camp Hope, and he’d just about aged out of the program. His only option for returning after this summer would be to come back as a junior counselor, which was pretty much the last thing on earth he wanted to do. He was here now for one reason and one reason only. He needed to get this situation off his conscience. His plan was to give Amelie the camera, and then get back to business at home. Unsure where else to look, Jack headed for the dock. He pulled the camera from his backpack and double-checked the wrapping to make sure it was still presentable. He’d wrapped and re-wrapped it several times each time a little more satisfied, but he decided he just wasn’t good at that stuff. It was times like these he wished his mother were around. She had been the best gift wrapper around. Jack remembered how he’d admire his Christmas presents simply for no reason other than that she had made them look so damned good. It was these kinds of things you forgot about a person after they died. Mundane things that no one thought to remember until you needed them. But Jack found these were also the sort of things that cut the deepest. It was funny that a task as simple as wrapping a gift could throw him off kilter for an entire week—but it could.

Jack made his way down the big hill and took in the sight of the fiery orange sun setting against the fading blue sky. Just below, he could make out a few figures sitting on the edge of the dock with their feet in the water. He slowly headed in their direction, but the two seemed oblivious to his forthcoming presence. Sure enough, it was Amelie and with her tracing his fingers along her palm was none other than the douche bag, Connor Levine. Connor was a year older than Jack and now served as a camp counselor… Jack was almost sure. He had always been well known around camp for ‘picking up’ the younger campers. Obviously, picking up had little to do with what it was Connor really did. Jack stopped in his tracks when Amelie threw her head back and laughed at something just out of earshot. He swallowed hard and cleared his throat. Amelie turned, and then cocked her head to the side as though she might not be seeing what she thought she was.

Her eyes lit up with recognition, and she smiled that smile. As always, it cut right through him. “Jack. Hey. What are you doing here?”

Jack shoved one hand in his pocket. The other held the wrapped camera. “I… I called, and you never called back. I wrote… and you never wrote back. “

“Guess you can’t take a hint then, can you, bro?” Connor chimed in.

As Amelie stood, her eyes met Jack’s briefly, before she lowered them toward the ground. But Jack never took his eyes off her. “I just came to give you this…”

Amelie glanced up and hesitantly accepted the package. “Thank you,” she said, though it was almost inaudible.

“Open it.”

Connor stood. “Dude, get a clue. Can’t you see? She doesn’t want you, man.” He nodded at the package. Jack dared him with the expression on his face to touch it. She doesn’t want your shit, either. Tell him… Amelie.”

Jack felt his face growing hotter. He took a step closer. The girl standing in front of him wasn’t the same girl who’d walked away last summer. She had changed. She’d grown up. She was just somehow very… different.

Amelie frowned. She seemed to be studying him just as intently as he was studying her. “You grew your hair out,” she finally said.

“Yeah.” He touched the camera. His hand brushing against hers caused something within him to light up. “Are you going to open it?”

She looked down as though she’d forgotten she’d been holding something. Slowly and meticulously, she began unraveling the paper. Her eyes lit up when she removed the last piece. “Wow. Thank you, Jack. This is really, really nice. I mean… wow. You really know your stuff. But… you totally didn’t have to do this...”

Jack smiled. He hung on every word she’d said. “Yes, I did.”

Connor sighed loudly. “Are we done with this little reunion  ? Amelie and I here were discussing something important.”

Amelie stepped forward and threw her arms around Jack’s neck. “I mean it, Jack… thank you.” Unable to help himself he inhaled her scent then pushed back abruptly. He grabbed her by the shoulders and glared into her eyes. “Amelie. Are you fucking high?”

She laughed. “Maybe. A little...”

Jack dropped his hands from her shoulders and lunged for Connor. Unfortunately, Connor was quick. He ducked. So Jack drop-kicked his ass straight into the lake. “Jack!” Amelie screamed. “What is wrong with you?”

Jack turned to face her, his eyes boring into hers. “Ha. I guess I could ask you the same question. I really didn’t take you for stupid, Amelie.”

Amelie raised her voice. “Well, I’m so very happy to have proved you wrong.”

“I never got the chance to say I was sorry… but I wanted you to know. In person. Clearly that was my mistake. Anyway, I hope the camera is ok.” Jack shook his head, turned, and walked away.