Nikki sat in her bed, staring up at the ceiling. There was a bit of chatter among her cabin mates, the loudest of which being Wendy and Britney having it out with each other. Neither was pleased that they were in the same cabin, even though they were on opposite sides of the room.
"Well you'd better keep those slimy hands away from my bed! If I find that you've even touched my perfect sheets, I'll rip you in half!" Nikki glanced over at Britney's bed. It reminded her of a princess' bed, with its pretty pink sheets and elegant blanket.
Wendy snorted. "As if I'd even dream of sleeping in something as prissy as that! I'm just telling you that you'd better not pull anything this year. I'll throw you in that river and watch you drown, just like that other girl." Britney went quiet all of a sudden. "H-How could you say such a thing! How disrespectful!"
"What? You don't actually believe that trash story, do you?"
"N-No! Not at all! I was more worried that you'd ruin the run for everyone else!" She blushed furiously, turning her back to Wendy. Wendy scoffed, trudging over to her bed. "Whatever," she shrugged.
Nikki looked over to Jenna, who was sitting by herself underneath Britney's princess bed. She had only brought a sleeping bag and pillow.
"Won't you be cold?" Nikki asked Jenna. The small girl looked up at her with big eyes, whispering a response that Nikki couldn't hear. When she noticed that she hadn't heard her, Jenna spoke up.
"N-No! This sleeping bag is...is very warm! I...I've been warm in winter before with it."
"Oh, okay. I was just making sure. I have an extra blanket somewhere if you want it, though." Jenna was so flustered she barely managed to squeak out a pitiful "Thank you!" before squirming back into her corner of the bed. Nikki glanced at the other characters in their cabin, all of whom had seemed to be enjoying Wendy and Britney's quarrel. In total, there were eight of them total in the cabin, so this meant that Nikki still had four people to befriend if she wanted to be thoroughly impressed with herself. Though she wasn't quite sure of Britney. That girl did have some sort of problem.
One girl was quietly drawing in a sketchbook. Her pencil swiftly made lines, both soft and harsh, across the page. In the absence of the bear and the swan's obnoxious arguments, her scribbling was one of the only things to be heard. The girl underneath Nikki was muttering gibberish to herself and decorating her space. Nikki decided to make conversation.
"So, who are the rest of you guys?" she asked.
"Ann," grunted the girl from below her.
"Kaedyn," said the sketcher.
"Zoe," moaned another.
"Ellie," came a hidden voice from around the corner.
"Cool," Nikki let the words hang in the air. "So, uh, what are you drawing?" She directed the question at Kaedyn. The girl looked at her, slowly turning around her sketchbook to reveal a highly detailed drawing of a-
"Grilled cheese," she said.
"Grilled cheese?" Nikki repeated.
"Grilled cheese!" Kaedyn exclaimed.
"Honestly, I'm not surprised," Wendy drawled from the top bunk across from Nikki's. "She's been raving about them ever since she first had one here. Never knew someone to have an almost fetish-like love for the things."
Kaedyn rolled her eyes. "You don't get it, do you? The savory melted-ness of the cheese upon the crisp, oven-fresh bread..."
"Aaand here she goes again.This is about the time I tune her out." Wendy buried her face in a book titled "Guns: A Handbook", clearly making the effort to avoid human contact. Nikki glanced out the small window by her bedside. It was dark now, the Madam having announced that after a long-winded game of capture the flag, in which the opposing team which Wendy, Ellie, and Jenna were on had won, that they were to head to bed and have free time until ten o'clock. The watch upon Nikki's wrist told her it was eight-thirty. Her eyes returned to the outside world, and she felt herself get absorbed within the beauty of it all.
The moon had risen high, it's serene glimmer shimmering across the grass, where dew was already starting to form. Nikki imagined running out into the brisk air, breathing it in and falling flat on her back to watch the stars as they spoke their stories to her. As a little girl, Nikki's mother told her that all stars had a story. She knew that this couldn't be true, for stars couldn't talk, but Nikki always found that she had most clarity while gazing at the stars. There was just something different about them instead of a cozy corner in her bedroom.
She gazed at the stars and smiled, a memory of her lying on the grass and watching them surfacing. She had remained there for so long that she fell asleep and her mother had to carry her inside. Nikki woke up the next morning amazed that she had teleported to her bed.
Her gaze shifted to a dark butterfly, barely visible in the dim light of the moon. It fluttered around mindlessly, being the only moving life form that dared to face the night. Nikki couldn't tell what colour it was, which slightly disappointed her, but she still stared out the window even as the butterfly sheltered itself from view.
"Have you thought about what you're going to do for the right of passage this year?" Ellie asked Wendy.
"Oh, I've got loads of ideas...but I won't spill them now, Nikki can't know a thing prior to the challenge."
"Not even one?"
"Nope. Hey, Ann, don't you think that pencil is a little short? It seems like it would be a pain to hold..." Wendy pointed to the idle pencil that was shaved down to the smallest fragment. Ann was scribbling in her notebook, writing some unseen nonsense, but abruptly stopped when Wendy addressed her.
"Short? ...SHORT?! I'll have you know that this pencil is perfectly fine, thank. You. Very. MUCH!" she shouted the last word. Wendy held her hands up in defense. "Whoa, chill out. I just thought I'd help a girl out. What's your problem with shortness, anyway?" The pencil dropped to the floor, making a silent thud as it fell. Ann stood up, her head quite a few inches shorter than the top bunk in which Wendy sat upon.
"I have a low tolerance of people who make fun of the shortness of others, that's all. And I would appreciate it if you did not use the word to describe me." Wendy looked like she was struggling not to laugh.
"What?" Ann scoffed.
"Please, I've got to know...how tall are you?" Nikki could have sworn she saw a vein bulge in Ann's neck.
"Four. Feet. Ten. Inches."
"That's adorable!" Wendy exclaimed, giggling her head off. Ann's head could have been hot enough to cook an egg. "Shut up!" she said. "I'm not growing anywhere but outwards! It's enough to drive me insane!" Wendy stifled her giggles.
"Okay," she said, clearing her throat. "Okay. I'm done laughing. I think you're actually shorter than Jenna. This is amazing! I'm sure you'll grow eventually."
Ann scoffed. "As if,"
Ellie spoke up. "Hey, at least she has spirit."
"Spirit? This poor girl is a little too hotheaded, if you ask me." Britney brushed her hair behind her shoulder. Ann glared at her, descending back into her bed space.
Wendy sighed, jumping off the top bunk and sitting in the center of the room. "Well, I figure that this will be as good a time as any. If you'd all please, a circle." Nobody moved. "I said get in a circle you ungrateful little shits." Everyone slowly made a misshapen circle.
"Good. Now we're going to settle some things. First, we all know names and such, aye?"
"...Aye?" A mixed chorus of girls sounded.
"Sweet. Now we're going to tolerate each other somehow, right? Right. So I know it sounds cheesy-" Kaedyn chuckled at the mention of cheese. Wendy continued, "but we're gonna go around and say our hobbies, okay? Great. I like hunting. Next, Zoe."
"Er...I kind of like listening to music."
"What kind?" Wendy persisted.
"Classical. It lets me think of all the problems society faces today." Wendy opened her mouth to say something most likely sarcastic, but ultimately decided to point to Ellie, who was next in the circle.706Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡWQvh3dsRNp
"I don't really have a specific hobby. I just like hanging out with people." Next up was Britney, who was rightfully on the opposite side of the circle - as far away from Wendy as she could be.
"Well, if you must know, I play the violin, enjoy chatting with other aristocrats, typically over tea, and by far one of my favourite things to talk abou-"
"Okay, next." Wendy interrupted, a bored look on her face. Britney fired a striking glare at her.
"I-I'm fine with reading. Books are nice," Jenna squeaked, blushing and staring at her feet. Ann clicked her tongue. "Music is fine. I won't get started on the type, though, nobody else ever likes it." Wendy took it all the same. The last answer awaited on Nikki's shoulders.
"I'm a fan of stargazing." She shrugged. And silence ensued. After a moment of this, Wendy stood up and walked over to her bed.
"This was a bad idea. I'm going to sleep. Goodnight." She pulled the wolf pelt over her head and lay there for a while, still as the night. There were a few glances exchanged and thrown around, but ultimately most ended up in their areas once more. Nikki didn't feel like sleeping, however. She wanted to talk. She wanted to make another friend. Her eyes drifted to where Jenna sat, already lost in the contents of a book, a soft smile caressing her petite face as she read on. Maybe it was time to strengthen a friendship instead of forming a new one.706Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4jQ0ilE1KA
"Hey," Nikki slid her way over to Jenna, still sitting on the ground. Jenna looked nervous, but still replied with a quiet "Hello".
"What are you reading?" Nikki asked. Jenna breathed out a small laugh. "It's kind of in its own niche...not very many people that I've met like it. Have you heard of...the Harry Potter series?" Nikki's eyes lit up. "Not very many people you've met like Harry Potter?! What kind of insane friends do you have? I know dozens of people who love the series!"706Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡBjvmGQ1sb6
"Well, I don't know that many people. You're actually one of few that I've met who even knows the series."
"Why don't you tell me about it?" Nikki put her head in her hands. "Harry Potter, I mean. Tell me your favourite parts and what you criticize the most." Jenna went pink. "What? But...wouldn't that be a bother? Surely you don't want to hear me rant on something like this."
"Go ahead." The next hour was filled with Jenna genuinely expressing her thoughts on Harry Potter, everything from the film to book comparisons to tiny character points she disagreed with. Nikki had never seen her so passionate about something. She listened intently, only ever speaking when Jenna ran out of words to say on a given topic. Nikki and Jenna only went to bed when several of the other girls told them to stop talking it was so late. Nikki fell asleep with a smile on her face and a reassuring feeling in her heart.ns126.96.36.199da2