Chapter Fourteen - A call for redemption.
Night was a humid affair. The air was feeling so heavy over the land, that the heat that came with it was almost suffocating as it hung in the darkness. Even the night insects, seemed not to be as active in the steamy weather.
Olivia, the councilor of Cabin Nine had stepped out for a moment. With her charges tucked away in their beds fir the night.. she had slipped out to make a call home to check on things. She missed her boyfriend back home, and wanted just to connect with things to help herself out.
She was leaving the cabin that housed the councilor’s lounge area and was headed back to the cabin with a cool drink to help her fall asleep. It had been so hot through out the time at camp, this had became sort of a ritual with both the staff and campers. On these types of nights, one councilor would cover for another for a short time, just to get a little respite.
The woman was just passing the bathroom area, heading up to cabin number nine, when she noticed a figure sitting in the trees behind the facility. She already knew it might be one of two of her campers out for a nocturnal smoke. She thought she would remind them to get in to the cabin as soon as they were done before continuing on.
She found Mandy sitting alone on one of the lower branches of a tree that grew there, a lit cigarette lighting up the darkness with each drag taken. The councilor found it odd that the girl was alone out here for a change. The girl had usually went for a smoke with Alison, but for the last day or so, the woman had noted that the girl had reverted back to smoking by herself, and not just during the night.
The woman eyed the girl as she neared, and got a odd feeling of sadness coming from the short teenager. She was wondering if when she had gave her heck for going off on her own the day before, that might be the reason for the girl’s very down mood. She headed right over to her, wanting to see if she could smooth her outburst out.
Mandy noted the woman’s presence, and turned. She said nothing as the woman neared, but watched through eyes that seemed hauntingly vacant.
" Enjoying the night air tonight with a smoke, I see..." Said Olivia, looking at the girl who was lit by the moon overhead..
" It was too hot in the cabin to stay there... I couldn’t sleep." Said the girl, taking a drag.
"That was why I went out for a little bit" Olivia agreed. " It has been a hot one over the past few days, hasn’t it?"
" Yeah... it has been very hot." Agreed the girl, seemingly acting way more aloof that usual.
Olivia could see the girl was being very standoffish. This was something that she had seen in the girl in the past, but it had not been like that this year. She could almost feel that there was something that really was eating away at the girl... she hoped that this mood was not the result of her being sterner than she usually was.
" Hey, Mandy.." She asked.
" Yeah?" was the girl’s monosyllable reply.
" Correct me if I am wrong her..." The woman started, sounding like a diplomat in the UN. " Is there... something bothering you?"
The girl turned her head and shrugged. She took a second drag off of her smoke as she looked at the councilor.
" Just somethin’...." She said, although very flatly. " I’m figuring things out though."
" Would it be about what happened between you and me?" Olivia said, leaning up against the tree. " I may have came down on you a little hard... I am not a ‘heavy’ type of person when it comes down to it. I am one who tries to make camp fun."
The girl, much to Olivia’s surprise, shook her head.
" No... Its not about that... I was wrong, and I see that, Miss Olivia" She assured the councilor.
" Then... what?" She asked.
The girl just looked at her, her eyes were still blank looking and her expression was simply nonexistent.
" Its.. sort of a personal type of thing, Miss Olivia." She finally said, after a few seconds. " Just personal."
" I am not blind to the fact that you seem to be backing away from people... That is why I asked." The woman calmly explained what she was seeing through her position as Councilor. " If you got a problem, and want to talk about it sometime...I do have two ears you know..."
" I don’t want to really get into it with anyone..." Said the girl, her voice still very toneless. " I just need to figure out things... that’s all."
Olivia knew what that meant. She had been a teenager once also, and knew that figuring things out could mean so many things. She knew that as a young girl, she did the same thing time and again, driving her parents totally nuts in the process. That aside, she was getting the impression that there was more to it, than a young teenager trying to figure herself out. It seemed more than just the adolescence angst or the confusion of sexual identity, even after the girl had said her piece.
" Like I said....If you ever do need to talk at any time... just come and pull me aside." She said, trying to convey her willingness.
The girl looked at the woman, as she finished her smoke which had now became a shadow of what it had been. She threw the butt into a clumping of rocks and dirt, then hopped off the branch. She looked at the woman for a moment, her eyes seemed to hold a certain bleakness that was disturbing to the woman
" If I do want to talk, I’ll come to you..." She said, walking off. " I am going to head off to bed."
" Good night then, Mandy" Olivia said, still feeling worried about her camper’s state at the moment.
She watched the girl walk up the long hill, then enter straight back into the cabin in the quiet of the night. It was official, something about how the girl was acting struck her as very out of place... but she had no idea just what was going on inside that young one’s head. She was sure that this something was rather big, and she was unwilling to even say anything about it.
Olivia saw the girl go in, then she decided not to go back to the cabin just yet,. She knew that the councilor who she was standing in for her i[ there, would stay there a while longer. She just felt the need to take her own walk for awhile longer, the mood of her camper had touched somewhere deep in herself in a way that made her a little uneasy. It bothered her that Mandy was acting like this... more than any camper she’s had over the years..
The woman found herself returning to the cabin with the councilor’s lounge, and took a seat on the little patio area. The few chairs and tables just outside the building it was in, seemed to be a good place to sit for awhile. This was where most of the other councilors came to smoke and to be protected by the bug zappers just off of the brick pad at the same time. Since it was so quiet and free of anyone at this time of night, she could not pass up the place.
As she sat there in the silence, she saw a person come in to the light thrown by the bulb over the door into the lounge. She looked at the person, and found it was the head of the camp herself.
" Oh, Miss Ashfield.." She said, a little surprised to see her boss out there this late at night.
" I did not know anyone was around here." Said the head of the camp, seemingly equally surprised to find the woman there..
" I just made a phone call home and wanted a few moments of peace before heading off to bed.." Explained Olivia.
" Do you mind if I joined you to have a smoke then?. I know you don’t smoke.. but some company while I have one of my own would be nice on a night like this." Miss Ashfield asked politely.
" I don’t mind at all, Miss Ashfield... my boyfriend smokes, so I am all right with it." Olivia agreed.
The woman lit up and took a seat just across from where the councilor of cabin nine sat. The woman squinted over at Olivia for a moment, as she took the first long drag. Miss Ashfield seemed to have noticed that the woman seemed to be strangely quiet. She took a second drag as she seemed to think for a second.
" I am sure that your out here for more than just a little peace from your campers, Olivia..." Said the woman, blunt as usual.
Olivia looked up and into the woman’s eyes, and let herself give as little snuff.
" Is it that obvious, Miss Ashfield?" She said.
" We are not really working here... call me Alexis." Said the woman, smiling.
" Alexis? " Said the woman, surprised at the relaxed way the woman was talking to her.
She giggled and looked at her fellow Pawa worker.
" My parents named me Alexandria..." She explained. " All of my family had atypical names given to us... but in answer to your question... yes, it is obvious to me that something just might be tugging at you."
The councilor leaned back in the chair and took a long breath in. She looked at her boss, and saw that the woman was really wanting to know what was going on with her She was sort of surprised at the free nature the head of this place was being. She nodded, assured that the woman was asking quite genuinely.
" It has to do with one of my campers." She finally came out with.
Alexis nodded, and waited for the woman to continue. Olivia found herself wanting to unloading her thoughts to the woman. She had been around for a few past heads, but this was the first one that seemed to try and take an interest in not only the campers, but the councilors that worked here at Pawa.
" This Camper has sort of ... been acting more different over the last few days. It really makes me worried for the girl."
" Acting different?" Asked the woman, leaning a little more forward. " How so is the term ‘acting different’ being used here? Is it a good different or perhaps a bad way?"
" I have had this particular camper many times over my years being a councilor here, probably about five times or so..." She explained. " It’s what I am seeing in her that is different."
" So, explain to me just what is so different with this camper?" Asked the head of Pawa.
Olivia took a pause to collect her thoughts for a moment, as she saw that her boss was not going to simply pass off her worries any time soon. She found herself feeling strangely grateful for the woman taking the time.
" She had become more outgoing and vibrant at the start of this years camp, I saw that in her when she arrived back here... but now, she seems to have withdrawn, wanting to be by herself more and more, and interacting as little as possible..." She gave a shallow sigh, and continued. " It has almost been like a light switch has been turned off or something, that is how much of a change has happened."
" That is serious...." Alexis said. " Would there be a personal type of change there... perhaps she has lost some boy’s affection or something... a bully here in camp may be hassling her...."
" No bullies... and it’s not a boy, that much I know..." Said Olivia, shaking her head.
" Not a boy or bullies?" Alexis asked curiously. " Then... what is?"
" It’s a little sensitive to talk about, the things behind all of this...." She said back, visually she seemed to be sort of hesitant. " I don’t know how far I need to explain to let you have the information..."
Olivia paused to think, torn. She knew that this piece of information she held was very touchy... but if she did not divulge it, she would not be giving everything she had to help Mandy. She thought on the girl for a moment, and smiled. She knew that she had to risk actually coming out with certain things, and trust her boss will keep every last word to herself.
" I will explain a little further, but only if it will be in the strictest confidence..." Said Olivia. " I need to have trust from each and every one of my girls ... so I make sure to keep secrets that I know to myself mainly... so I need your assurance that you will keep that confidence also, if I am going to tell you..".
" In most respects, other than if there is a danger to someone’s personal safety, I work on that principle of being totally confidential.". She nodded. " I promise to you that this goes as far as my ears, except if I need to follow up, at which time whoever i go to, will also keep it to themselves."
Olivia looked at the woman, feeling that she was being honest. Now assured of the need for privacy was there... she could finally explain it to the woman.
" Ok... here it is.... there is tension among the girls, but no bullies to speak of..." She said. " The way I know it is not a boy that is causing this for the camper... is the fact that this girl is gay."
Olivia saw the woman’s eyes pop wide open, and there seemed to be a little bit of nervousness in it. She was curious about the reaction, but put it off as the woman’s surprise to what she had to divulge to her.
" She’s lesbian?"
" Ever since I knew she had figured that out. I became aware of that at the same time that I had seen her come out... that was with her first girlfriend who she met here a two years ago." She explained. " I think, in some way, she might be that she still is hurting because that first girlfriend had died awhile back.
" Her first girlfriend died?" Said Alexis, as the news seemed to touch the woman.
Olivia nodded, seeing the woman felt compassion for what she had jut told her.
" Her name was Crystal Campbell, CC to us... she came to camp only once and met up with Mandy then... Mandy Thayer is the camper I am talking about..." Explained the woman. " Her and CC became really close, and during the last weeks of Camp, I watched as their relationship bloomed. The sad part of this love story is... I heard that CC died of cancer sometime ago."
The headwoman seemed to drink the information all in, but her surprised expression seemed to linger to some degree. Olivia could see that the story of Mandy had sunk in deeply to her boss, and felt a new born respect for her.
" She is having some trouble with this her feelings she still has for this girl... and where she was fitting in now..." Alexis said, but there was a quiver in her voice.
" I think it might be a part of it..." Started Olivia, agreeing. " I thought she had started to see another girl that is in the cabin with her, but now... I don’t know if Mandy had been rejected by this girl...or something. They seemed to not be hanging around together now, and there in no indication to why that is.." She sighed. " Adolescent relationships seem so complicated."
The woman leaned back in her own chair, and took a long drag from her smoke. She seemed to ponder things. Alexis seemed a little more at ease, and Olivia wondered why the woman had reacted like that... even if she never really came out to say it.
" She may still be trying to sort out those feelings and emotions from losing the person she loved... and her contusing of loving someone new." Prompted the woman, now sounding more like a boss.
" You think It might be the fact that she still has all of those feelings for CC, even though she is trying to move on with someone else?" She questioned.
" It can be just that... I am thinking though that there may be another few pieces of her puzzle left undiscovered..." Said Miss Ashfield, her mind thinking on the matter. " Perhaps it is also tied to grief..."
The woman took a moment, then continued on with her thoughts, although almost hesitant in some ways. It seemed like the woman was hiding something in a way.
" Grief is a hard thing to contend with... especially as a teenager." She said. " Mandy seems to be trying to do that still long after the fact."
" I am feeling that there is a little more to this with my camper...than that, I suspect."
" You do?" Alexis said, quivering a little again.
" Granted, I am not fully sure or anything... " Olivia said, pausing to think. "... but yes, I do thing there is a little more coloring this."
" Like what?"
" Something deeply personal and something from the heart... that is what I am thinking."
The head of Pawa sat there.
" Do you think she is seeing as if she was caught in a relationship she did not really want, since she still has some things unresolved in her heart." The woman asked, almost as if she was digging for something.
" Seems like something along those lines as well.. but not exactly that...." Olivia said, as she thought about it aloud. " It could be many different things that are jumbled together and working as one... now what do I do?"
The woman seemed to still be a little nervous, but was obviously thinking on Olivia’s camper problem.
" If we could know her past a little more, I find that there might be an answer in there." Alexis decided.
" Other friends she has...perhaps... someone close to her maybe could be beneficial." Miss Ashfield said as she spoke her mind. " Those are the people that might have some information or a unknown insight that we don’t know about."
" I see what you are trying to say... but the only one I know of is CC, and she is passed on."
" Does she know many people here at camp."
Olivia thought for a moment, while Alexis waited.
" There is one gal...Alison. That was the girl I thought she was seeing, and there are one or two others... but no one close though.."
" She use to be a loner type?"
" Very much so....back before she had met CC." Nodded Olivia. " Even thought she has changed a great deal this year... in some respects she is still growing out of that loner mentality."
"This could be something that can be problematic..." Said the woman, going silent for a moment,
Miss Ashfield nodded as she lit a second smoke for herself. It seemed like she had thought a lot through in the few moments.
" Let me think on some things... I will talk to you sometime tomorrow on this." She said. " I need to do a few things before bringing it to you..."
" Thanks for listening, Miss Ashfield." Said Olivia, seeming a little more relaxed at the moment.
" It is what I’m here for."
Olivia stood up and walked off in the direction of the cabin. It seemed like she felt a little better... good enough to finally sleep. She waved at the head of the Camp, and hurried off into the darkness. She seemed much lighter than she had been when she had sat down on the patio just a little while ago.
Miss Ashfield stayed back to have her smoke, her eyes pressed tightly shut. She seemed to be troubled by what she heard.
" Did I cause Mandy to stop going with that girl?" She asked herself, already knowing the truth. " Have I let my libido cloud her mind... did that come into play here?" The woman shook her head to herself. " I think I made this confusion for Mandy.. and now that pretty girl has things going a hell of a lot more complicated.... What have I done!!"
She felt a huge surge of emotion. She had already felt bad about sleeping with a camper... who was barely of age of consent to begin with, but to cause something like this to happen, she felt devastated that she had done so. She rubbed her head and looked up at the star cluttered sky and took a long breath. Alexis was pondering on just what she could do, to try and make things right.
For about ten minutes she thought on everything... her mind slashing through the regret she felt surging through her mind. It was a humbling experience to say the least, knowing that she may have caused a young girl so much internal pain.
Thinking back into her own life, she had been just like Mandy when she had been a teenager, opting for a more experienced lover than someone she had drawn close to. In hindsight now that she was older and wiser when it came to the art of love... she should have picked the close one. Did she make that the same for Mandy, as she had been with her own life?
As she thought on what to do.. she ad to admit that she had done that for the young beauty. Ashamed of herself, she put all of her mind on it.
With a gasp, the woman stood up from her chair and smiled to the darkness. In the silence of the night, she made a few sounds of utter joy.
" I have it!!" She said a few times over, bouncing like a excited little girl on Christmas day.
The woman threw away her cigarette and hurried off as she seemed to be talking to herself. It was not in the direction of her cabin she was heading in to, but towards the outer edges of Camp Pawa itself.
A few minutes of jogging through the night, Miss Ashfield stopped in front of a small house, just off of camp property. The woman looked at the lights that were still on through the windows, and seemed to be relieved for it. Racing up the little steps to the small porch, she made her way and then hurriedly knocked on the door.
The form of Mrs. Granger came into the doorway where Miss Ashfield stood. The older woman looked a little shocked to find her boss standing there in the dark just before one in the morning.
" Is there a problem back at camp?" The older woman asked, her face showing her curiosity at the visit. " It is not like you to bother me at home... little alone at this late hour of the night."
" I need your help... and you are the only one who just might make it happen." Miss Ashfield said as clearly as she could figure out how to.
The woman opened the door wider. The woman’s face now showed that she was more than willing to listen.
" Of course I will help you, Alexis darling..." She said so pleasantly, her face now was bright with the smile on her face. " What are you needing from this old secretary’s decrepit mind tonight?"
Alexis did not waste time, as the woman waited.
" You know who Mandy Thayer is?" She asked, starting it off.
" Why yes, I have known her since she was about eight, I think it was..." Said the woman, intrigued with the question. " She has always been a very proper, caring and always helpful girl since she was smaller."
" How well do you know her?"
" Being a secretary here for this long... I am almost a friend to every family of everyone that comes through Pawa’s gates..." She said. " I help them set up camp times and help them in every way, so the children can have fun.." She smiled so proudly with her service. " Long story short... I know Mandy very well."
Miss Ashfield nodded, seemingly very relieved to hear the woman’s answer.
" Would you be willing to tell me everything you know about her..." She asked with a pleading tone " I need to know who her friends are, maybe even family... Heck, I just need the whole nine yards."
" Why would you need to know that?" She asked, eying the woman.
Miss Ashfield seemed not to hesitate once, her words came out quickly.
" Let’s just say we need to help a sad and confused young girl called Mandy, any way we can." She plainly said. " This is what we need to do."
" That sounds very serious." Observed the woman.
" When it comes to who a person is on the inside... it is very serious thing to ask indeed!" Alexis replied, adding. " In this situation, it’s everything."
The woman thought for a moment, while reading Miss Ashfield’s face. She seemed to see that this was no fakery or any thing bad in the least. She nodded to Alexis and motioned for her to come in.
" What do you need to know first?" The older woman said with a smile as bright as any sun.
" What ever you can tell me legally, as the secretary." She said, as she went into the woman’s house. " Perhaps you could slip me a few of those illegalities too..."
" We will see what I can tell you openly first..." Said Mrs. Granger, as the taller woman stepped into her house. " After that it’s a ‘honestly needed to know’ sort of thing."
The door closed behind the head of Camp Pawa, and the two in the kitchen while her husband snored away loudly in the next room. Mrs. Granger talked and the tall woman listened with a mission in her mind.. She drank in every word, like a man in the desert.
It would be almost two hours before Mrs. Granger’s door would open again. This time, there was a broad smile on the headwoman’s face as she headed back to her cabin for some needed sleep. The next day would end up being a very busy one, she told herself.
That was what was needed to be done, her heart knew. She was willing for that to happen.