Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Short Story: "Nothing To Write Home About"

This is a new story I just wrote, based on a self-imposed writing prompt. My challenge to myself was to take a well-worn cliché and use it as a title to write a story around. This (hopefully) humorous piece is what I ended up with. Hope you will enjoy reading it...

Dear Mom + Dad,

Thanks a lot for sending me to this stupid summer camp! I'm having TONS OF FUN so far!

Firstly, I'm not getting any sleep at night, which you've always said is important for a growing boy. (Do you feel guilty yet? Wait for it – you will.) The main reason why I'm not sleeping is that I am being forced to share a room with three other boys – Marshall (who smells funny), Dawson (who looks funny), and Tobie (who thinks he's funny). I talked to the camp director and told him how much I – like most kids my age – value my privacy. But the camp director just said, "Tough noogies!" and walked away. (Is it even legal to insult an innocent child like that? I think not!) Also, the bed is made of a very hard wood frame and is covered by a "mattress" that's as thin as two pancakes (not the fluffy, scrumptious kind that Grandma makes, but the flat, burnt ones that you're good at, Dad).

Secondly, contrary to what you told me before I came here, I have not met lots of nice people, nor have I made any new friends. I can sort of have a conversation with Marshall, as long as I can stand at least four feet away from him (upwind) and still hear what he's shouting. But then about five minutes into our conversation, Marshall will let one rip and they will have to evacuate the whole cabin again (this has happened six times so far in the three days I've been here). Every time I try to talk to Dawson, I accidentally take a look at his face, then I get queasy, and have to make another unplanned trip to the bathroom to ralph up my lunch. (More on that later.) Frankly, I don't enjoy barfing three times a day; therefore Dawson will not be making the cut on my "new friends" list. Whenever I try to talk to Tobie, he says, "Knock! Knock!" and I try to change the subject, but he keeps saying, "Knock! Knock!" over and over again until I say, "Who's there?", then he says something stupid like "Atch", to which I reply, "Atch who?" to which Tobie says, "Gesundheit!" Then I'll try to walk away, but he'll grab me by the shoulder and start telling me some other dumb joke. Ten minutes and twenty-plus groans or (if I'm feeling kind) fake smiles later, and I'll finally think of some excuse that'll get me out of there, like that I have contagious rabies or something.

Thirdly, the brochure said that we would enjoy "delicious, piping-hot meals three times a day." They were lying to you. For breakfast, they give us donuts – and not the good kind either. The kind of donuts that taste like they were made three days ago by somebody who doesn't even know how to make donuts, and doesn't really care that their donut-making skills are sub-par. I'm pretty sure they don't even add sugar. It's disgusting! Even you wouldn't like them, Dad, and Mom always says you're a human garbage disposal because you'll eat anything. (Was I supposed to repeat that, Mom? If not, I apologize.) For lunch, we get hamburgers that we have to patty out ourselves and cook over a campfire (they say doing it ourselves builds character, or some junk like that). The clothes hangers they give us with which to hold the burgers over the fire aren't very sturdy, so more often than not our burgers drop in the fire and get ashes all over them. And then when they're finally cooked – if they even make it that far – they refuse to give us buns, because (they say) this is a carbs-free camp – which, if you think about it, is kind of stupid since they feed us donuts for breakfast. Unsweetened donuts, mind you, but donuts nonetheless. Whether or not we get supper each night depends on how well we do on the daily challenge. For instance, yesterday we were doing this ropes course (which I wasn't real excited about, since I'm scared of heights). For every obstacle or element that you conquered you earned one boiled potato (these were piping-hot, so there was maybe a tiny bit of truth to the brochure). If you got all the way through the course successfully, you earned ten potatoes. I did okay on the low course, but when it came to the high-wire stuff, I was scared so I just quit. I earned a total of four boiled potatoes, which didn't leave me hungry but certainly didn't make me full.

Fourthly, this girl Felicity won't leave me alone. I think she likes me or something. Don't get me wrong – she's real pretty and everything, but I'm 12 years old – I'm not ready to settle down yet! She was like, "Be my friend on Facebook," and I said I would once I got back home to a computer, and she was like, "I'm going to write on there that we're married, and all you have to do is confirm it on your page." And I was like, "That's just gross, Felicity. Only old people get married – you know, twenty-five-year-olds." But she didn't listen. She said some junk about how time and distance mean nothing when two people are in love, and I asked her who the other person was who was in love, and then she slapped me. I thought that'd be the end of it (this happened last night after the ropes course), but then this morning Felicity insisted on eating breakfast with me, and she showed me this list of names she'd written up and tried to get me to pick which ones I liked best for naming our future children. I know it wasn't a nice thing to do, but I did shove a few donuts in her mouth when she said that. Not a ton of them, just enough so she couldn't talk anymore. Then I ran back to my cabin and locked the screen door.

Fifthly, they're making us row a canoe across the lake tomorrow. As you well know, I have an irrational fear of lake monsters, a fact which I also mentioned it to the camp director this afternoon. But he just said, "Deal with it!" and walked away. If this is the last letter you ever receive from me, it will be because I have been eaten by a lake monster. If I am killed, please remember me fondly, and know that I will miss you both very much. Also, please don't mention to anyone we know that I was once a huge Power Rangers fan. Even in death, I would like that painful truth to stay buried.

Sixthly, it's extremely hot here. I haven't stopped sweating since I got off the bus. The cabins are not only not air-conditioned but also barely ventilated, the showers and sinks only spray out hot water, we cook our lunches over open flames, plus they make us wear these heavy fleece sweatshirts and sweatpants at all times (they call them our "fun uniforms", which is not quite the words I would use to describe them). I'm pretty sure that this would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment, though it is quite "usual" around here.

Seventhly, you owe the camp $1.50 for me having written this letter. They said that the Camp Terms & Conditions agreement you signed clearly states in tiny print that "camp fees do not include any materials used for the writing of letters to parents, friends in prison, or Congressmen while the Child is at Camp, and any materials needed or used for that purpose will be charged to the account of the Child's parent, legal guardian, or parole officer." The $1.50 is actually the price for a whole pack of paper, but the camp director said he would not have had to open the pack or "break the set" (whatever that means) if it had not been for me, so the entire cost of the pack must be charged to you. Sorry about that! If it makes you feel any better, I'm making this letter extra-long in order to get your money's worth out of it.

Eighthly, I understand that I am a good seven hours away from home and that gas is expensive, but please, please, please, please, please come pick me up! I hate this place with every fiber of my being. I'm not real happy with you two for sending me here, but I promise to forgive you immediately if you'll just come and get me! I don't like hanging out with kids who smell funny or look funny or think they're funny. I'm tired of donuts, hamburgers, and the occasional boiled potato. I don't want to get married and have babies with anyone until I'm at least thirty-five. I don't want to be eaten by a lake monster. I crave air conditioning, thick mattresses, cold water, and lightweight clothing. I promise I'll do my homework whenever I have any, I'll wash the dishes without complaining – I'll even clean my room! Just please don't make me stay here another day!

Your son,

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