The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland

By: Rebekah Crane

Dear Future Campers—

Camp Padua welcomes you to a summer of exploration, adventure, and above all self-discovery. We work toward the highest level of personal growth and healing. In order to best serve you, our campers, our highly trained counselors focus on six essential qualities all people must possess. Without them, we are lost.

We ask that over the next five weeks, you think about the person you are . . . and the person you need to become.

—The Staff





KNOWING YOURSELF





CHAPTER 1

Mom and Dad,

They told me I had to write this. Camp is fine. I’ll see you soon.

Z

PS—I’m fine, too . . . no matter what you think.



The doorknob locks with a single key from the inside of the cabin. My bag hangs over my shoulder as I stare at the silver knob like it might start talking. This can’t be legal.

“We only lock the doors at night for precautionary reasons. And I sleep in the cabin with you,” Madison says, tugging on the key dangling from her neck. She touches my arm. I glance down at her finely painted fingernails pressing into my skin. The magenta polish has a glossy layer of perfection.

“What is there to be cautious about?” I ask.

Madison doesn’t answer me right away. She gives me one of those half smiles and cocks her head to the side, like she’s thinking about what to say next. She picks up her long brown braided hair and inspects the end of it.

“It keeps the bears out.” She pulls a split end free.

“I didn’t think there were bears here.”

“The woods around here are filled with a lot of things people don’t want to admit exist. But don’t worry. That’s what I’m here for.” She touches my arm again.

Madison is dressed in a hunter-green T-shirt with the camp’s logo across the front and black cargo shorts. Her bright nail polish contrasts with her outdoorsy outfit. It doesn’t match.

“I remember my first time at camp. I was so nervous,” Madison says.

“Did you go here?”

“No . . .” Madison trails off. She fiddles with her shirt, smoothing down the front of it. “It was a horse camp in California.”

Madison looks like a girl who grew up wealthy enough to ride horses and wear pink polo shirts and white shorts with whales on them. It would match her nail polish perfectly.

“I’m not nervous,” I say.

“That’s good.” Madison smiles. “Well, get yourself situated and we’ll meet in the Circle of Hope in a half hour.”

“The Circle of Hope. Why there?” I ask.

“If we don’t have hope, Zander, we don’t have anything. It’s the best place to start.” She touches my arm and smiles one more time before walking away, her braid swishing across her back.

“That’s not an answer,” I mumble as a mosquito buzzes in my face. I swat it away, but it’s back within seconds. A door that locks and unlocks from the inside by a single key has to be a fire hazard. I’m right. This is totally illegal. Maybe I could report this place and get it shut down, but then I’d have to go home.

I drop my bag on the ground. It makes a dull thud on the cement floor. Other than the cold concrete beneath my feet, everything in the room is wood—the beds, the walls, the dressers. I sit down on the bare mattress of one of the beds and run my hands through my hair, pulling a little too hard. A few black strands pop loose. I can’t seem to break the habit though it makes my thin hair even thinner and more lightweight.

“Crap,” I murmur to myself.

The door flies open, smacking against the wood wall with a bang.

A girl dressed in the smallest white tank top and shortest red shorts I’ve ever seen stands in the doorway.

“Talking to yourself isn’t a good sign,” she says, circling her index finger next to her temple.

She flings her bag onto the bed. I stare at her. I can’t help it. She’s not wearing a bra. What girl doesn’t wear a bra under a thin white tank top? Her dark brown skin shows through the shirt. All her skin. Even her nipples.

“What?” she barks at me.

She’s skinny, too, like the kind of skinny that gets you hospitalized. Gaunt might be a better term. She is practically hollow.

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