American Genius: Response

I walk by the camp’s infirmary, standing gray walls that don’t seem to be promoting health, and feel a combination of anger, homesickness, and guilt, all at once, knowing that a little girl inside is suffering for a belief that was forced upon her at birth.  My steps are continually wobbly because I’m five years old, my shoes are untied, remaining that way because I don’t want to attract attention from the older girls who already seem annoyed by my unchosen young age, and asking one of them to stop and help tie them would also stop the line’s momentum.
The gray infirmary becomes shrouded behind more and more trees as we continue walking, the girl inside, who the other girls say is close to death because of her crazy parents, lies in a bed behind a window with a curtain that is never open.  I walk slow, not just because of the laces, but also because a part of me wants to see her in person, envious of the girl.  Being cared for by a team of nurses in the room, on the verge of having no responsibilities, even for a kid, the whole camp silently offering their sympathies, no one expecting you to be the hero in complicated games you are to young to understand, I think her situation is, in a way, comforting.
My Mom sent me a letter, which made me happy, but now I don’t know what to do.  I want another letter, or cookies, like the other kids who don’t think about their parents until a counselor tells them they got a package.  I think about my parents, sitting at home, proud of their decision, which didn’t involve my opinion, to send me away for the summer.  Before I got the letter I thought I would never talk to either of them again, my new home the cramped and smelly cabin, forever sleeping among girls who remind me I am the youngest.  Camp’s atmosphere does not promote the flourishing of sensitive girls, with heavy wool blankets that make my exposed skin itchy and red, spiders crawling on the ceiling at night, and food that isn’t good enough on its own to taste good, with syrup, ketchup, and barbecue sauce coming with every meal.
The only real difference between the girls and me is that we get excited about different things.  I saw a massive squirrel running vertically up a tree a few days ago, my mouth formed into a smile without my control, it almost looked like my cat back home, and just as I was about to point it out to the girl standing next to me, she squealed in excitement as a boy lifeguard walked by in the distance.


  1. mallory

    you have a good understanding of the inner-workings of a young girls’ head.

  2. Jenn

    This is interesting, Trav.

    Try to avoid the phrase “seem to”. I feel like this should be split up into two parts (but maybe I’m the only person who still does that…?); the tone of the first and second half (infirmary/letters) is markedly different. Nice ending. Oh and I’m an asshole, but “the only real difference between the girls and I.”

    Miss you,

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