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Positivity Camp Part XXV

Positivity Camp Part XXV

The madness continues as Daniel struggles with what he should or should not do. For those of you paying attention, you know what’s next in Daniel’s schedule! If not, I hope you enjoy this wonderful surprise!

PART XXV

Previously on Positivity Camp: Daniel struggled to answer questions about his experience with Mr. Petrel. Later, Dinner announcements were interrupted by Wendy as she boldly faced off against Teacher and hinted at knowing his true name. 

Start from the beginning View previous chapter

            “Welcome, Campers!” Counselor Melinda called out as we made our way down the steps toward the benches and the stage. I was in such a daze that I had already forgotten that my next stop was back with the song counselor.

            When I remembered that she had made us sing about our knowledge on the camp, my mind tried to come up with another clever twist. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how I could top my Know Know Knowledge song. I shook my head. I needed to start behaving myself, not making camp worse for everyone else. The less I did, the less they suffered.

            “Ah, and welcome back, Daniel.” Counselor Melinda looked a bit shaken to see me, but she recovered quickly. “Ahem, well, due to some rather creative methods, I have changed up our fun song time. Keep those smiles bright! We’re still coming up with fun and wonderful songs! We’re just focusing on numbers instead of words! So, pick a group and come up front for pencils and a clipboard with paper! Then write a song about a number…or two!” Counselor Melinda started laughing at her own terrible pun and several campers groaned.

            As I reached for a pencil and clipboard, Counselor Melinda pulled me aside. It wasn’t far enough, however, as several curious campers leaned in to hear what she had to say to me.

            “Daniel, I understand you are working on doing better here at camp, but I would like you to work alone. If anything happens…”

            “I understand.” And I did. I couldn’t help but remember the shy girl who had partially paid for my creativity earlier. If I went down, that was fine, but no one else should have paid for my actions.

            “Happy to hear it!” Counselor Melinda practically beamed at me. “Just so everyone understands,” she said, raising her voice so everyone could hear her, “Daniel is going to be working by himself. Is that understood?”

            Several campers agreed, which seemed to satisfy the counselor. I wandered off to go sit by myself. I needed to be alone anyway.

            “Hey, uh…so I was hoping I could talk to you...for a bit?” some kid asked as he stepped in front of me. “I…I think you and Wendy are real creative.” The kid kept his eyes glued to the ground.

            “You heard her, I'm in a group by myself.” I brushed past him and wandered over to a vacant bench.

            “I kn-understand. I understand,” he said, following after me. “It's just that I wanted to share something with you."

            “Thanks…but I’ll have to pass.” There was an awkward silence as I waited for the kid to go away.

            “It’s…uh…my name…it’s um…Terry.”

             “What did you want, Terry?” The words came out harsher than I had intended, but they had the desired effect, sort of. Terry did back away, but I could tell I had hurt his feelings. I hated that, but before I could think of what to say to make things better, he started talking again.

            “It’s just…well, we have that number thing to do…I’m…well…I think you are way more creative than me…that’s all.”

            “Is that all you came to say?” Again the words came out harsher than I had intended, and once again I found myself cringing at my bad behavior. Terry didn’t deserve my bitter words. I tried appearing apologetic, but Terry was looking at the ground again. “I’m sorry. Did you have an idea for the assignment?” I tried to sound apologetic, but I just wasn’t feeling much of anything.

            “Well…have you ever studied another language?” Terry asked, only momentarily looking up.

            “I’ve seen a few others, but I have…yet to study any of them,” I answered, a bit confused by the question.

            “Well…” Timmy dragged the word out, wearing on my patience further with the delay. “Do you know the number nine…the number nine…it…it means something else in German.”

            I was about to interrupt, but the kid barely paused for breath as he rushed to explain himself, probably before I could stop him...or before he could be bullied. I brushed the thought away as I tried to focus back on what the kid was saying. “...why my mom had me learn German.” 

            “Why was that again? Sorry.”

            “Oh, it's fine. It's fine. The two brothers, they came over from Germany. It's my heritage, you see. She wanted me to learn the language they had learned, or something like that. And I've been learning it-”

            “And?” I asked impatiently. 

            “And...” he looked around cautiously before continuing, “...the word N-E-I-N, it sounds like the number nine, but it means something else in German.”

            “What?”

            “Oh! You kn-understand, it's forbidden.”

            I sighed.

            “Oh...um...ah! I kn-understand!”

            I sighed again at his continued stumbling over avoiding the word ‘know’. 

            “It's the word Kimberly used when that kid went after the lizards!”

            Despite all my earlier desires to turn a new leaf, I couldn't help but feel a rush at the idea of getting a number put on the list of forbidden words. 

            “What's going on over there?!” Counselor Melinda demanded. Honestly, I was surprised she hadn’t noticed the kid talking to me sooner.

            “Oh, he was just telling me a really interesting story about how his -er- rather two brothers had immigrated over here,” I said quickly. My mind was racing as I went with the first thing that popped into my head. “It was a fascinating story about how they worked nine to five jobs!”

            That was it!! I had my number’s song!!!! I was back!

            “Oh...well, that sounds very...interesting. Um, carry on then,” Counselor Melinda said uncertainly. The poor counselor had no idea what she had unwittingly sanctioned.

            Terry looked paralyzed with terror, so I gently turned him back toward what I hoped was his original group. The movement must have helped because he took off without any further prompting.

            In no time at all I had my Nein song. It was a bit tragic when read the proper way, but it also felt somehow appropriate. I wasn’t really sure what the two brothers had gone through as immigrants, but then I had heard living as an immigrant could be tough, so the song wasn’t totally unreasonable. As I waited for my turn, I revised the final line, searching for a happier ending to the sad tale.

            When the song was finished, I paused. I’d become so caught up in the moment, that I hadn’t even considered what I had been doing. I’d written another song to bully an innocent counselor! What was wrong with me?

            “Alright, Daniel. You’re up!”

            “What?” My head shot up. When had the other groups gone? I remembered hearing some of them, but I had been so focused on refining my work that I had stopped paying attention to anything else!

            There were a few chuckles at my expense. “All the other groups have gone,” Counselor Melinda said patiently. She was so nice. She didn’t deserve another awful song!

            “I, uh. I have…” My mind went blank. How was I supposed to lie and say I wasn’t finished when I clearly had it done?!

            “You can do it!” Counselor Melinda said, mistaking my sudden panic for stage fright. “Or…did you want help? I could have someone else read it?”

            She had clearly forgotten her own rule of having only me to blame if something went wrong. I had to go. There was no choice now. There was no way I was letting someone else take the fall. Not this time.

Nein Song

Nein, nein, nein. 9 to 5 jobs.

Need bread and milk, so gotta work.

Nein, nein, nein. 9 to 5 jobs.

Got mouths to feed, a child on the way.

Nein, nein, nein. 9 to 5 jobs.

Have a landlord to pay, need to work. 

Nein, nein, nein. 9 to 5 jobs.

Being an immigrant's tough. Just gotta find those 9 to 5 jobs. 

Nein, nein, nein. 9 to 5 jobs.

Found me a job, now I'm workin' a 5 to 5 job! Mouths are fed, landlord paid, and a child on the way.

            “That was wonderful!” Counselor Melinda said with a robust round of clapping. “And you made this up after hearing about Terry’s immigrant past? Oh, how wonderful!”

            I stepped down off the tiny stage, feeling a flurry of emotions. I couldn’t look at anyone, but that didn’t keep them from seeking me out.

            “That was great!” someone whispered excitedly as I approached the benches. “Agreed!” “How tragic, but it had a happy ending.” “How do you do it?” The congratulations and the questions kept coming, but I had to sit down.

            “Reminds me of the railroad,” a girl said joined the huddle that had somehow formed around me.

            “The what?!” someone else demanded, Greg maybe? I wasn’t sure I cared enough to find out.

            “My mom told me a bit about it. So, I might not have things exactly right.”

            “But what does this have to do with a railroad?”

            “I think she means the underground railroad,” someone behind me answered for her.

            “Exactly. It was a way for slaves to escape to the North. Anyway, they used songs to communicate things.”

            “Like hidden meanings?” I asked, suddenly feeling curious, despite my melancholy at having betrayed Counselor Melinda’s trust…again.

            “Exactly!”

            “But what does this have to do with a railroad?” someone whined. He was immediately shushed.

            The girl looked around to make sure that Counselor Melinda was still preoccupied. Satisfied, she began talking again. “The songs had hidden messages that the slave owners didn’t…er…um, think? about. So, while they heard a catchy tune…”

            “That was all they heard,” I said with a half hearted grin.

            “Just like Counselor Melinda,” Greg said.

            We all turned to look at the counselor. She was still busy reading over my paper, appearing delusionally happy. Ironic, really…considering I’d sung her yet another No song.

            “You were right…” I said slowly, still feeling sorry for the duped counselor.

            “Oh, sorry! My name is Chelsea,” she said, misinterpreting my pause.

            “Well, you were right, Chelsea. Thanks!” I lied.

            “You should be happy, Daniel,” Chelsea said. “This camp is torture for us! Constantly fearing that…that we could slip and say a word that…that…oh!”

            “She’s right! You give us hope,” Greg chimed in. It had to be Greg.

            “They’re taking our language away from us. Words that we need! You saw what happened to Counselor Kimberly! How was that fair?”

            “Yeah, how was that fair?” I asked darkly. I still felt the snub of their betrayal.

            “We’re sorry.” “Yeah, sorry.” “Teacher scares me.” “Me too.” “And Mr. Petrel.” “Yeah.” They were all talking at once, offering their apologies. Honestly, how could I blame them for not standing up against Teacher and Mr. Petrel? The counselors had the power, not us. And they were abusing it.

            “You guys are right,” I said, ending their stream of apologies. “I’m…well, I might be able to use the railroad idea. For now though, let’s let Counselor Melinda enjoy the Nein song.”

            We dispersed then so Counselor Melinda wouldn’t become suspicious, but she was still thoroughly enjoying my simple lyrics and mumbling something as the pencil flashed across the page. Was she erasing and respelling my nein to nine? Honestly, I really didn’t know, or care. The resistance was back!

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