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Authors: Elaine Wolf


BOOK: Camp
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Elaine Wolf





Sky Pony Press New York

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are from the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.


Copyright © 2012 by Elaine Wolf

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Sky Pony Press, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.


Sky Pony Press books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Sky Pony Press, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Wolf, Elaine.


Camp / Elaine Wolf.

p. cm.

Summary: In 1963 at a Maine summer camp, fourteen-year-old Amy Becker is forced to face the camp bully, Rory, family secrets revealed by her cousin Robin, and worry about having to leave her mentally challenged brother with their cold, harsh mother.

ISBN 978-1-61608-657-2 (hardcover : alk. paper)

[1. Camps--Fiction. 2. Bullies--Fiction. 3. Mothers and daughters--Fiction. 4. Brothers and sisters--Fiction. 5. Secrets--Fiction. 6. Maine--History--20th century--Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.W81855165Cam 2012





Printed in the United States of America



In loving memory of my mother, whose story I can only imagine.


Chapter 1 I Hate Her

Chapter 2 The Requirement of Perfection

Chapter 3 Boys on the Brain

Chapter 4 Please Don’t Let Them Hurt Me

Chapter 5 A Little Fun with the New Girl

Chapter 6 I’d Rather Eat Worms

Chapter 7 I’m Not Fooling with You Now

Chapter 8 An Eye for an Eye

Chapter 9 It’s Just a Package

Chapter 10 The Laughingstock of Senior Camp

Chapter 11 Indecent Behavior

Chapter 12 It’s Our Secret

Chapter 13 Scrawnier than a Month Ago

Chapter 14 A Liar and a Misfit

Chapter 15 What in the World Is Wrong with You?

Chapter 16 Enough!

Chapter 17 You Don’t Know Anything

Chapter 18 I Opened the Lid

Chapter 19 How Was This Possible?

Chapter 20 Tell Me What Happened

Chapter 21 Pick Up the Pieces

A Note from the Author




The past is never dead.
It’s not even past.

William Faulkner,
Requiem for a Nun

My parents’ past
is mine molecularly.

Anne Michaels,
Fugitive Pieces

Chapter 1

I Hate Her

hen I was fourteen, not quite four years ago, I’d lie awake at night and pray my mother would die.

If I had known her secret, I might not have hated her. But my parents didn’t tell me about the ghost that slipped into the hospital the day I was born. It crept across my umbilical cord, linking me to my mother’s past. Then it wedged right between us. My father said doctors couldn’t explain the purple blotches on my chest. But now I’m sure of this: That phantom punched me hard. And though the black-and-blues faded before I could crawl, the ghost kept pushing my mother from me, flexing its muscles, bulking up. So by the time my parents sent me to sleepaway camp, that ghost was larger than I was. I just hadn’t seen it yet.

Dad sprang the news about camp on us in the fall when I was in ninth grade. “I heard from my brother today,” he announced at dinner as my mother carried a plate of lamb chops to the kitchen table. The smell of meat thickened the air. “Ed closed the deal on that girls camp he’s been looking at.”

My mother’s hands shook on hearing Ed’s name. Back then, in 1962, I couldn’t have guessed the real reason my uncle rattled her, though I would find out in time.

“And there’s great news for you, Amy,” my father told me. He smiled so wide I saw his gold tooth. “Guess who’s going to sleepaway?” Dad used his happy-birthday voice, the tone usually followed by a brightly wrapped package.

But camp was a present I didn’t want. What if all the girls knew each other from past summers? And how could I leave my little brother, Charlie? Who would play with him when he’d come home from summer school at The Woodland Center for Handicapped Children? Who would read to him while our mother made supper or brought the laundry up from the basement or mopped the bathroom floor?

“Dad, I don’t want to go,” I said flatly.

“You’re not worried about the cost, honey, are you?” He kept talking before I could tell him that wasn’t it—not at all. “’Cause everything’s worked out already. I’ll help Uncle Ed with the bookkeeping, and you’ll go to camp for free. Isn’t that great news?” My father lifted his water glass as if to toast me. “The two oldest cabins are for girls just your age.”

My mother uncovered a pot. The lid clanged the stove. “Lou, you said we’d discuss this when the deal went through. We need to talk about it.”

“We will. It’ll be fine.” My father faced me and smiled again.

“Dad, I really don’t want to go.” What if nobody liked me? I’d be all alone. Not even Charlie to talk to, to care for. I slid closer to him and jabbed a bite of meat. But when I held out his fork, my brother refused it. Instead, he drummed the table—a kind of frenzied patting.

“Don’t be silly, Amy,” my father said. “Of course you want to go. Who wouldn’t want eight weeks by a lake in Maine?”

“Lou,” my mother said once more, turning from the stove this time. She stared hard at my father, then fixed on Charlie. “I said we need to talk about this.”

“But Ed says it’s a beautiful place.”

“What could Ed possibly know about running a camp?” “Sonia, come on, Sonia. He’ll learn. And the property’s terrific. In great shape, Ed says.” “I don’t care what Ed says.”

“Why can’t you just be happy for him? We’re family, for God’s sake. Brothers support each other. And anyhow, Ed got a good deal, and Amy gets to go to camp. What could be wrong with that?”

“I told you,” my mother answered. “Ed doesn’t know the first thing about running a camp.”

“And I told you he’ll learn. And he won’t even have to change a thing. He already talked to the head counselor. She’s been there two or three summers, and she said she’ll come back.”

“Dad, I really don’t think…” I placed a hand on Charlie’s, stilling his fingers. Everything stopped: the air in the kitchen, the swish of my mother’s spoon in the vegetable pot, the questions in my mind.

BOOK: Camp
10.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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