“Okay, I just got off the phone with the coordinator and she said she can add you to the list. Enjoy your first summer camp, Sojung!”, your mom just about screams in excitement.
You are less than thrilled at the idea of spending your precious summer vacation with people you don’t know, but you give her a tiny smile because you know how hard she worked on getting you on that list. They already closed the registration a whole 2 months back but your mom had connections, and she wouldn’t let up. “Thanks, mom.”
“Let’s go to the groceries tonight so you can start packing soon. The camp officially starts in the next 2 days so you only have tomorrow to prepare.”
Next thing you know, you’re in a bus full of teenagers waiting to depart the pickup point- some from your own school, some from others within the same area. A short blonde girl with a tall fair-skinned redhead and short brunette-haired girl is passing around snacks already, while there’s a handsome silver haired girl with purple streaks introducing herself to the new faces per bus row.
You don’t bother looking around and attempting to make conversation with anyone, but you do notice that there is an entire row in the back that only seats 2 people even if it’s big enough for at least 5. Long jet black hair with bangs, dark red lips, face of an editorial model, wearing a gorgeous pastel-coloured Sunday dress, punctuated with a yellow gold cross necklace. “A Jesus piece!”, as your best friend back home would call it. She’s busy chatting with the other person who seems much taller than most teenagers their age, unfair proportions, wavy brunette hair framing her beautiful face. The realisation comes to you late, you remember she goes to the same school as you do. One of the popular straight A students who had a weekly column on the school papers. You didn’t recognise her because you barely had any classes together, and you’ve gotten too used to only seeing each other in your school uniforms. Sowon’s here. I wonder who the other one is.
You shrink further in your seat feeling slightly uncomfortable because you are honestly not the biggest people person out there, you like to keep your circle small. In fact, you desperately asked your mom to also get Bora on the list so you could at least be with someone you already know. You and Bora have been best of friends as early as you could recall, you met at a playdate arranged by your parents’ who were co-workers.
It’s not that you’re anti-social, you don’t hate people per se, but there is comfort in solitude. The quiet allows you to think and write music which is where your true passion lies. If anything, you are actually well-adjusted since your parents are probably the biggest social butterflies in the neighbourhood, and too many times, you have been brought over as an accessory or conversation piece at gatherings. This summer camp isn’t exactly the worst idea because you feel that being around nature and watching other people could truly inspire you. You might even find your muse here. Who knows, really?
The seat next to you remains vacant, as the engine of the bus comes to life. You plug your earphones and press play on your 2005 ipod- a device most of your classmates claimed too primitive in this day and age. These kids have zero taste and zero respect for classics. You would always say to yourself as if you weren’t a kid yourself.
Just as the driver is about to step on the pedal, the vibration coming from heavy footsteps makes your neck crane to the aisle to see a short girl running to find a seat. The girl is wearing an adorable bucket hat with her hair in pigtail braids, laid nicely on each side. She spots the empty seat next to you, and you instinctively move closer to the window to make room for her even if it doesn’t really make any difference.
The bus practically lurches forward just as the short girl settles in her seat. Her eyes wrinkle as she extends her hand to you and says, “Hi, I’m Park Soobin! I am sooo SOOO excited to be on this camp. I heard the nearby woods is quite bio diverse so I’m positive I could add in a few more to my growing cicada larvae collection.”
Your eyes almost bug out of their sockets because what the actual heck??? But you politely respond with, “Cool, I’m Sojung but you can call me ‘Exy’”. You give her a tight-lipped smile, slide down your sunglasses, then go back to your music because you felt tired from only finishing your packing in the early hours of the morning because of your indecisiveness. The biggest dilemma possibly being how to fit in your favourite cowboy boots when you no longer have the luggage space for it. You can still remember Bora removing it from your luggage as you argue back, "But it goes so well with my cow print iPhone case!!"
“Okay, Sojung AKA Exy Ms. I’m too cool for school”, she mocks you and even shapes her hands to pretend that she’s also putting on sunglasses.
Her loud voice goes past the earphones so you hear every bit of what she said. You scoff at her and say, “Excuse me?”.
Soobin just snickers at you and says, “I’m kidding. Geez. Hey, wanna see my collection?” She pulls out a rustic looking wooden case from her bag before you could say NO. You watch in horror as she dramatically makes sound effects and grand hand gestures as she opens the wooden case to proudly display the said larvae.
In the background, you hear a tall blue haired girl talk to her cute tiny brunette seatmate, “Well, the camp is 4 hours away from the city so we should be there by lunch time.”
4 hours? This is going to be a LONG trip.