by Elena Sorensen
“My leg hurts bad so get off the table!” A pause. “Also, no offense, but you look like a rabbit.”
I gazed at Carly Karlson. Blonde, Swedish-Lutheran stock. Daughter of Flat Rock Covenant Church’s Pastor Rick Karlson.
Carly had the right kind of face for her chin-length bob. Sharp, pretty features. My own ordinary blond hair looked lank and the wrong kind of messy for lack of a good shampooing for three days. I couldn’t help that I’d forgot to pack it. She looked me as though I was a bug stuck to the bottom of her white Keds. There were traces of blue at the corners of her mouth from her Blue Razzberry blow pop.
“Besides, you don’t even need to sit on the table. I do.” She pointed at her ace-bandaged right leg, covered in drawn-on flowers and signatures. “Get better, Carly!” in rounded .red cursive ran up her thigh. She held a packet of rainbow markers in one hand.
“Sorry but I’m not getting up,” I said.
“Then shove over.”
“I’m saving this spot for Angie,” I muttered. But I moved over anyway. Carly climbed onto the table, and pushed her leg out so it stuck out at a right angle, thereby taking up Angie’s spot and most of my own. At least I was on the edge of the table touching the wall. I hugged the wall and eyed the bandaged leg. She’d only wrenched her knee a little when we were playing Capture the Flag last night. Considering it was only three in the afternoon, she must have spent the whole day finding people to sign her dumb cast.
The worship leader and head counselor of Camp Squanto–Uncle Scott (the guy counselors were “uncle”) who most of the girls including me had crushes on– went up to the stage and lifted his guitar onto his shoulder. Tossing his bleached hair to one side with a smooth motion of his head, he started tuning his guitar.
When he was satisfied, he turned to us with a big smile.
“Welcome to Wednesday afternoon worship! Let’s lift up the Lord! Just lift Him right on up! And while we’re at it, let’s raze hell!”
He broke into some power chords while the drummer, Uncle Chris beat away at the snare.
I found out early on in the week that raise is two words. You can raise the roof or you could raze a building. It’s OK to say you’re going to r-a-z-e hell because that’s biblical. If you mean it the other way, it is definitely not OK to say it.
Out of the corner of my eye, I watched Carly toss her hair, too. She was looking at Uncle Scott in only the way a thirteen-year-old girl can look at a college man with a guitar.
I scanned the room and caught Angie’s eye from the back row, only a few feet away. She gave me an exasperated look as I pointed my thumb at Carly.
The table was reserved for counselors. Or kids on crutches. The floor was for everybody else. But the floor of Camp Squanto Auditorium is usually warped hard wood, covered in grit and dirt and possibly more than that–since our camp had horses.
If there were no exacting counselors around, or kids on crutches, the table was up for grabs. I’d reserved it right before three by carefully draping my sweatshirt over as much of the surface as possible.
I looked down in annoyance. Carly’s leg had somehow taken up most of the table and her foot was pressing against my left leg.
Uncle Scott wound the song down to a reverent whisper and Carly’s right leg had traversed the table. And my sweatshirt was somewhere on the floor. I couldn’t pick it up. I’d have to get off of the table and when I got back, Carly would be sprawled out on it as if it were a bed.
I glared at her and she tossed her head and looked away. “Rabbit” she whispered.
“Let’s give God a clap offering!” Uncle Scott bellowed into the mic. We clapped. Some of the Lundgren boys amused themselves by clapping each other’s foreheads. It got out of hand because the youngest Lundgren ran out of the auditorium crying with an angry red palm print on his forehead. Uncle Scott appeared not to notice.
“Arrrrright campers! How’s everyone doing? Are we ready to hear a word from the Lord? Can we get excited for GOD?”
The kids roared and pounded the floor. I clung to the wall grimly. Carly had wedged almost her whole foot under my knee.
“Angie! Angie!” I hissed.
Angie turned around. “What?” she mouthed.
“Come back here,” I mouthed back.
She gave me a quizzical look.
“There’s no room.”
“Yes there is!”
Carly sighed and dug her foot under my knee further.
I turned to her. “You are so dead.”
Angie came over and leaned on the wall next to me.
“Climb up!” I whispered.
“No! Look how rickety it is. We’d break it.”
I smiled; an idea was forming. “I’ll give you all my Twizzlers at the cabin if you climb up on this table.”
Her eyes widened. “Really? All of them?”
“All of them.”
Carly hissed: “You nerds need to shut up. I’m trying to listen to the sermon.”
I looked at Angie. Angie looked at me.
One moment Angie was standing in front of me, the next she had launched herself onto the table and ended up in a crouching position over Carly. The table held for one brief second and then with a loud pop one of the back legs gave way. We fell to the floor–a jumble of arms and legs.
Kids started giggling, then cheering, then roaring with laughter. Carly jumped up and stalked away. Everyone crowded round and the Lundgren boys helped us up.
The next afternoon, Uncle Scott announced that there would be no more tables in the auditorium. The auditorium was for worship and razing hell. Everyone would have to sit on the floor, broken legs and all. Was that understood?
Angie and I grinned at each other. We’d taken down the Table and Carly Karlson and managed to draw the attention of Uncle Scott–though maybe not the way we’d dreamed we would.
Elena Sorensen loved summer camp in the Yankee Northeast as a kid. Her favorite things include reading and writing fairy tales, hiking in the Rockies, and vegan cooking. Her essays on life, faith, and place are featured in the You Are Here Stories blogging collective. She lives in Denver with her husband, the artist Daniel Sorensen.