Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Adolescence/Teen Years (07/16/09)
TITLE: Alien Interference
By Phee Paradise
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We carefully planned the overnight canoe trip down ten miles of a slow river. Some parents drove us up with the canoes and seven teenagers. While the six freshmen unloaded the tents, sleeping bags and food, all carefully encased in large plastic trash bags, our one senior, Eugene, exercised his creativity. His mom helped him unload a bicycle and handed him Styrofoam squares which he attached to the wheels with zip ties. No ordinary canoe would do for this young genius.
Wayne helped the four girls and two other boys into the long green army canoes. They brushed aside his instructions and paddled out into the still pond created by the dam just above us.
“Don’t worry, we did this at sixth grade camp.”
This early in the trip we still had enough sense to keep our stuff nice and dry on shore while they practiced. We stood together and watched in amazement; the erratic canoes just missing the boy madly pedaling a slowly sinking bicycle. They followed him menacingly back to the shore, where he hauled his dripping bike onto the gravel, shrugged ruefully and loaded it back into the truck. Wayne grabbed an oar and showed the girls how to steer, while the boys ate a few pounds of chocolate.
Some tense hours later we pushed the canoes onto the bank next to a tiny campsite. The girls plopped on the grass comparing blisters and broken nails while the boys unloaded the gear. They had their pup tent raised and were collecting firewood before Wayne had secured the canoes. I rummaged through the food and gave them each a box of cheese crackers while they watched Eugene hang his sleeping bag between two trees.
I turned to the girls who had raised lopsided tents and were heading for the canoes. When Wayne didn’t stop them, I knew that aliens had stolen his brain too. All four climbed into one canoe and paddled out a bit, their hands and feet dangling in the brown water. They drifted around a bend, but we could hear giggles and splashing. Wayne didn’t even look up from the campfire he and the boys were building. I got out the hotdogs while they whittled roasting sticks. About an hour later we couldn’t hear the giggles anymore; we couldn’t hear anything. The aliens returned Wayne’s brain.
He and Eugene pushed out in a canoe and paddled around the bend. The other boys rolled their eyes and reached for the cookies. Eventually one of the girls waded around the bend in the muddy shallows. She tossed wet strands of hair out of her eyes and wrung out her soaking t-shirt before she climbed the bank to sit by the fire. Two more followed her, dripping water from their muddy shorts. The fourth one came hopping on one foot, holding a sneaker in her hand. We waited silently for the canoes while they brushed streaks of mud off their legs. Finally Eugene waded around the bend, trailing a canoe behind him. He asked for a bowl and started bailing water out of the bottom. Wayne dragged the other one up on shore, his wet shoes slurping in the mud.
“Never again, will I go anywhere with fourteen year old girls,” he muttered, glaring at their cheerful smiles. They were brushing their hair and singing silly songs while the fire dried them.
Our campfire wasn’t very spiritual that night, with giggling girls and boys waving flaming marshmallow swords. But the whispering from the tents finally stopped and we were just dozing off when Eugene’s sleeping bag hammock dropped him on the hard ground with a thump. Grumbling from the girls’ tent accompanied him while he rigged a tarp between the trees and settled on the ground under it. Later we woke to a yell of “Skunk” and bitter complaints from the boys while he squeezed into their little tent.
Morning brought seven smelly, bleary eyed teens and two exhausted adults to a cold breakfast. After a half hearted devotion and a fervent prayer, we packed up in silence and pushed out onto the river. We reached our rendezvous with their parents before noon. As soon as they beached, the kids bounced out of the canoes.
“It was awesome,” they enthused. “Let’s do it again next week.”
Wayne and I shook our heads in weary astonishment. Aliens.
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