Every day pushed Josie farther from home and inched her closer to Algonquin Park. The Wednesday before the camping trip she was home with a stomach bug, so she was there when the mail came. There was a letter that said she was assigned to Mr. Franklin’s patrol. She couldn’t believe the letter used the word patrol, as if their tenth-grade ecology class were some sort of military squadron. The same day, her mother came home with a new roll-up sleeping pad that was as comfortable as lying on concrete. The next day, Josie found a small bottle of extra-strength bug spray outside her bedroom door: Musk Oil. It smelled like the name implied, like some pheromone meant to attract muskrats. On Friday, just before her mother drove Josie to school to catch the bus to Algonquin Park, Rita stuffed a poncho and a pair of galoshes into a trash bag and handed it to Josie.

“I checked the forecast. They’re predicting rain,” she said.

Josie dropped the bag and sat on the couch. She reached for the poncho. It was folded into a tidy yellow square. On the front of the package was a picture of a man hiking through rain, a mosquito net draped across his face.

“I don’t feel well.” The woods held clouds of gnats and sharp stinging beetles and that terrible smell of camp smoke and DEET. She’d heard a rumor that on last year’s trip, a girl had tried to suffocate Bevin Barnett with a pillow. The second before Bevin would’ve lost consciousness, she saw God, who gave her the strength to shove the girl away, and that was why she became a Jehovah’s Witness. Josie rested a hand on her stomach.

Rita felt her forehead. “You’re fine. Take some Tums with you just in case.”

“Why do I have to go?”

“So you can get some fresh air, spend time with friends. What’s so bad about that?”

“I like the air in this house.”

Rita sighed and picked up the trash bag. “Go get in the car. I’ll be right there.”

On the way to school, Josie calculated how long the trip would last: one long, smelly bus ride plus one sleepless night plus a bunch of stupid trust games minus one missed shower and one missed dinner with her father. When she broke it up that way, it seemed almost manageable. She’d get through one minute, then the next, until she was back home. When they pulled into the parking lot, though, her stomach roiled.

The diesel exhaust from the bus made her want to retch. She wished they were too late, that the bus had already pulled away, and there was nothing to do but go back home and watch movies all weekend. Bevin wasn’t going on the trip even though she’d failed ecology last year. Since she became a Jehovah’s Witness, she wasn’t allowed to do anything. Her parents were concerned about sleeping arrangements, about use of foul language in the tents. For a second, Josie wished she were a Jehovah’s Witness.

“Mom, I really don’t feel—”

But Rita was busy getting Josie’s luggage from the backseat. “You were the one who signed up for ecology. You didn’t want to take physics, remember? You’ll be fine once you’re on the bus.”

Her mother heaved the duffel into the storage compartment underneath the bus and kissed Josie on the cheek. “Have fun!”

Now that the bus was waiting, home would soon be a distant speck. Josie dragged her feet up the bus steps and turned to take a last look at the parking lot, but a guy whose name she could never remember was already behind her. Perpetually red-faced beneath his buzz cut, he managed to always look angry.

“Move,” he said.

She slid into the first available seat. His backpack swung against her arm.

“This seat’s saved,” the girl next to her said.

She got up and bumped into Stacy, who was stowing a bag in the overhead compartment.

“Bitch,” Stacy muttered.

The bus was starting to move. She mumbled an apology and fell into the seat across the aisle, next to Tiff.

“Who are you sharing a tent with?” Tiff asked.

Surely Tiff didn’t care about Josie’s sleeping arrangements. She was just nosy. Tiff yanked open a bag of sour gummy worms and stretched one’s head with her teeth as far as she could until it snapped. She didn’t offer one to Josie.

“Whoever I’m assigned to, I guess.”

“Assigned? We picked tent-mates last week.”

Josie bit her thumbnail. They must’ve decided on sleeping arrangements while she was sick.

“Maybe you’ll have to sleep in the teachers’ tent. I’d let you in mine, but we already have one too many.”

The bus pulled onto the freeway. The air was stuffy, but she didn’t want to ask Tiff to open the window, much less reach over Tiff and open it herself. Tiff pulled a stack of fashion magazines from her backpack and offered one to Josie. Reading on buses made her queasy, but she took a copy of Seventeen and pretended to flip through it.

When Mr. Franklin clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention, she closed the magazine. He gave a ridiculous little speech: anything they brought to the campsite had to be packed out when they left. He made his way down the aisle. Mrs. Gibbons followed him and nodded after everything he said. Used toilet paper would go in sealed plastic bags. Josie prayed she wouldn’t have to take a shit. The thought of her insides on display in clear plastic made her resolve not to eat for the next day. Mr. Franklin continued: all food had to be garburated. As he said the word garburated, his leg nearly brushed hers. Mr. Franklin would drink the dishwater unless someone else volunteered. Josie felt like she might throw up. Not only did leaving food—even the amount in dishwater—attract critters, it made animals dependent on humans for their food supply. Mr. Franklin turned and walked back to the front of the bus. When he passed Josie, he looked at her and smiled.

The bus rumbled north.

Josie tried to sleep. When she found that she couldn’t, she kept her eyes closed to avoid talking to Tiff, who had out a bottle of green polish and was attempting to paint her toenails.

At the park, Mr. Franklin distributed the tents. After he gave the last group of four their tent, Josie walked up to him. He had one foot up on a picnic bench and was tying his shoe. Across from him, Josie could see the white of his thigh where his shorts crept up. She shifted her backpack to her left shoulder, then coughed a little. He startled.

“Sorry. I wasn’t here when we assigned tent-mates.” Already, she had to pee.

He unzipped the food pack and started reorganizing its contents. “Tiff’s group only has three. You can join them.”

“Tiff said her group was over by one.”

“I don’t think that’s true.”

“Oh. Does it have to be Tiff’s group? Not that I don’t like them, I just—”

“Find a group, Josie.” He hoisted the pack onto his back. Josie felt her chest tighten.

He looked again at her and squeezed her shoulder. “You’ll be fine.”

The tents were already half built. Her backpack was growing heavy; she’d overpacked. No one would want an extra person with too much gear. It seemed that once a tent was erected, the group was sealed. She approached the group whose tent was still lying flat on the ground.

“You’re stepping on the corner,” Michelle said, fitting together a pole.

Josie looked down and took a step back. “I was just wondering if—”

“Could you take another step back?” Michelle fit the last section of pole together and began threading it through the little pouches on the outside of the tent. The orange fabric kept bunching. “Dammit!”

“You’re busy. Never mind.”

Josie walked a ways into the woods until she found a sufficiently large tree. She yanked down her jeans and squatted. Even though she tried to be careful, a little pee dribbled into the corner of her sneaker.

By the time she returned, most of the tents formed a giant circle around Mr. Franklin’s tent—a multi-room affair that housed all the gear. Mrs. Gibbons had a pup tent outside the circle, near the fire pit. Kids were unrolling sleeping bags and shaking out pillows. Tiff and her friends were playing cards in the grass outside their tent. When Josie stopped in front of them, her stomach churned.

“Sorry to interrupt, but Mr. Franklin said I should join you guys.” She tried to look apologetic. “I know it’ll be squished.”

Tiff set down her cards and looked at Josie. “Are you sure that’s what Mr. Franklin said?”

“Well, yeah. Because you only have three?”

“It’s just that you didn’t help us set up. And we think that’s kind of unfair.”

Stacy and Val looked up, nodded, and returned to their cards. People were wandering around the campsite collecting firewood, and it was hard to tell who belonged in which tent anymore. Mr. Franklin was digging a fire pit and stopped to remove his bandanna and wick the sweat from his forehead.

“Maybe there’s something else I could do. To make up for not helping.”

“Yeah, maybe.” Tiff took in the size of Josie’s duffel. “What did you bring in there?”

“A lot of stuff. For, you know, emergencies. My mom gets worried.”

In truth, her mother had made her pack a first aid kit, water purification tablets, and the entire contents of the medicine cabinet. Her mother had also put Josie’s viola and her own decades-old Campfire Girl songster in her duffel. At the time, it had seemed easier not to argue.

“Well, you’ll have to sleep next to the spider. No one wants to get it.”

“What spider?”

“The one we found inside the tent,” Tiff said as though it were obvious.

Josie unzipped the tent, then zipped it behind her. The inside of the tent was hot and musty and smelled like it had been sitting in a damp basement all winter. A patch of duct tape crisscrossed part of the roof; she hoped it wouldn’t rain. She sat in the middle of the tent and scanned her surroundings for the spider, which was much smaller than she’d anticipated. She picked it up between her thumb and forefinger and set it on someone else’s pillow. When she started to sweat, she crawled back outside.

“Did you see the spider?” Stacy asked.

“I don’t think it’s there anymore.”

“You don’t think it’s there? Or you know it’s not there?”

“It’s not. I mean, I didn’t see it.”

Val dealt a new hand of cards. “You know how to play rummy?”

Josie shook her head.

“I’d teach you, but I don’t think there’s enough time before dinner.”

Josie tried to look interested in the game. Maybe she could figure out how to play in case they decided to play again later. She glanced at Tiff’s cards.

Tiff held them to her chest. “Stop looking at my cards.”

“Who cares? It’s not like she’s playing,” Val said.

“I still don’t like anyone looking at my cards.”

“Ignore Tiff. She has PMS.”

It occurred to Josie that used tampons would also have to go in plastic bags. She thanked God her period wasn’t due for another week; she wouldn’t have put it past herself to dig a hole in the woods to bury a tampon rather than let Mr. Franklin see her menstrual blood. Smoke drifted in the breeze, and Josie wandered over to the fire. Mr. Franklin was setting out bags of buns on a picnic table. His broad shoulders were tempered by wire-rimmed glasses. He had shaggy black hair which seemed less like a style and more like he hadn’t bothered to get a haircut.

“Hope you like hot dogs,” he said.

“Oh.” She debated whether to tell him she didn’t eat meat; she didn’t want to seem fussy. “Actually, I’m vegetarian.”

“Hope you like hot dog buns.” He took one and handed it to her.

Her resolve to not eat anything was trumped by her hunger. Josie nibbled at the bun. The white flour dissolved in her mouth almost immediately. She took a bottle of mustard and squirted some on the bun. It wasn’t so bad.

“Josie, I was kidding. We have veggie dogs.”

“Oh,” she said again, and wished everyone would just say what they meant.

“I’ll have one with you.” He opened a cooler, took out a pack of Not Dogs, and put two on the grill. When the skin blistered, he skewered one and stuck it in Josie’s half-eaten bun. He took a huge bite of his own and licked a bit of mustard from the corner of his mouth.

“You have some on your face.” He dabbed a napkin to her chin. “You brought a poncho, right? Looks like rain.” Before she could respond, a group of noisy guys approached, demanding dinner. “Here come the vultures,” he said, and dumped an entire package of hot dogs on the grill. Mrs. Gibbons sat eating a bag of chips by herself. She looked like she’d rather be anywhere else. Josie guessed Mrs. Gibbons was too old for camping.

She felt a tug on her arm and turned. Tiff pulled her aside. It was colder away from the fire.

“We decided what you should do. To make up for not helping set up the tent. And for not getting the spider.”

Josie studied Tiff and tried to figure out whether she was serious. Possibly it was some elaborate joke—she would make Josie think she had to perform a dare.

“Tonight you have to go into Mr. Franklin’s tent.” Tiff crossed her arms and stared at Josie.

“How would I even do that?”

“Tell him you don’t feel well. Tell him you’re scared. Tell him you’re in love with him. That’s the truth, isn’t it? We saw him touching your face.”

“He wiped some mustard off my chin before I could stop him.”

“Yeah, right.”

“I’m not going in his tent.”

“Have fun sleeping outside, then.”

Josie glanced up at the sky. In the distance, storm clouds gathered. “I just have to go in, then come back out, right?”

“Well, yeah. Unless you end up having sex with him. Then you have to tell us.”

“That’s disgusting.” Even as she said it, she pictured crawling into his sleeping bag.

Tiff smirked. “So you’ll do it?”

“I guess.”

At the fire pit, Val passed Josie a bag of marshmallows. Josie passed the bag without taking any. On the other side of the fire, Mr. Franklin was showing someone how to play a chord on his guitar. She had to swallow hard, as if trying to get a phantom marshmallow down. The air was getting clammy as dusk fell, and a mosquito landed on the back of her neck. She smacked it, but not before it bit her. She wiped the smear of blood on her jeans. A flash of lightning sent everyone running for their tents. A group of girls pushed past her, screaming. Josie rolled her eyes.

Inside the tent, Josie turned on her flashlight and tried to read, cheek to damp pillow. Next to her, Tiff, Val, and Stacy took a magazine quiz: Is Your Crush Into You? Josie answered the questions silently, though the results were ambiguous. Rain pounded the roof of the tent, and a bit of spray blew in from the bottom corner, right near her face. She turned a page without having registered what she’d read. Maybe she could just go outside for a bit, walk around in the rain, and pretend she’d gone to Mr. Franklin’s tent. Make up something about how he’d yelled at her, and have that be the end of it. She brushed her hair with her fingers and pulled it into a ponytail. She’d showered this morning, but already her hair felt greasy.

“Trying to look pretty for Mr. Franklin? Here.” Tiff tossed a tube of lipstick at her. The tube hit her arm.

“No thanks.” She set the lipstick back on Tiff’s sleeping bag.

“Come on, don’t be a baby. Go like this.” Tiff puckered her lips and stuck her face in Josie’s. She uncapped the lipstick and dabbed some on Josie before she could protest. “Now you’re better.”

“I was fine before,” Josie said. She reached for her sneakers.

“What are you doing? It has to be the middle of the night before you go. It’ll be more romantic that way. But now you’ll be prepared. Like a Girl Scout.”

Josie’s heart fluttered. “I was never a Girl Scout. Plus I don’t care whether it’s romantic. I told you, I’m going in and coming right back out.”

“Maybe she should just go now while Mr. Franklin’s still awake,” Val said.

“No way. She has to wake him up,” Stacy said.

Tiff nodded and took off her watch. “I’m setting an alarm for 2:30 in case we fall asleep.”

Josie lay back down. The outside of her sleeping bag was slick with condensation, but it was too stuffy to sleep inside the bag. Something hard jutted into her back. She curled up and turned to face away from the spray. She shut her eyes and listened to the petering of their inane chatter. Finally they ran out of magazines, and they whined that they were bored, and eventually that they were tired. Josie watched through a slit in her eyes as Tiff turned away, took off her shirt as fast as possible, and slipped on a lavender nightie. Everyone else was wearing sweats. Tiff was such an idiot. Josie listened to her own breathing, and then to Stacy’s soft snoring, and waited for the alarm. The chirping of tree frogs and crickets filled the silence. She made lists in her head: the approximate number of minutes left on this trip, things she wished she could say to Mr. Franklin, the girls in the world she most hated. She couldn’t tell if she’d been asleep when Tiff’s alarm rang.

Tiff jostled her arm. “Get up, Josie. We’re going to watch to make sure you do it.”

Josie sat up. Tiff switched on her flashlight, unzipped the tent, and trained her light on Mr. Franklin’s blue Eureka. Maybe she would go inside his tent, apologize, and explain that they’d made her do it. Rain still pattered on the roof; she pulled the poncho over her head. She’d look like Big Bird crashing a sleepover.

Outside, the grass had turned into a giant slick of mud. She turned and saw the girls holding open their tent flap, shining flashlights. She held a hand to her eyes and turned back toward Mr. Franklin’s tent. Mud splashed on her calves. Her ponytail had come loose. Ready to gag, she knelt and unzipped the tent just enough to peer inside. She couldn’t make out much other than a dark lump. She drew a breath, pulled the zipper the rest of the way, and stepped inside. Mr. Franklin was curled, shirtless, on top of his sleeping bag. She crouched in the corner. Mr. Franklin stirred, then sat up and rubbed his face. His eyes focused.

“Jesus Christ! Josie? What the hell. Are you hurt?”

“No. I’m sorry. It was a dare. I’m going now.”

He blinked. “A dare?”

“Sort of.” She tried not to look at his bare chest.

He sighed. “Take off your shoes.” He patted the bunched-up blanket beside him.

She shivered and sat down on the blanket. He dug in his pack, pulled out a towel, and draped it across her shoulders. The kindness of the gesture made her burst into tears. For a moment, she thought she felt his hand on the top of her head. He rummaged in the pack again and produced a box of cookies.

“These were supposed to be a treat for tomorrow.” He ripped open a sleeve with his teeth and extended the box.

He was sweet underneath all that muscle. She took one even though the thought of food still made her nauseous.

“Did Tiff make you do this?”

Josie sniffled. “Don’t tell her I told you. Please.”

“Do you want to stay here, just until the rain stops? You can tell Tiff I lectured you for hours. Made you sit up and write I will not break into anyone’s tent a thousand times.”

“Okay.”

Mr. Franklin dug a paperback from his backpack and propped himself on his elbow. Josie wished she had a book, too. Beneath her, the ground was uneven. She leaned against the end of a duffel bag and listened to rain pelt the tent. She felt creepy for just sitting there while Mr. Franklin read, so she took a handful of cookies to occupy herself. When she finished the last one, she glanced at Mr. Franklin, whose eyes were closed. His book had fallen next to his head. She was about to leave when she thought of Tiff, and then of Mr. Franklin—his fleshy arm, the soft expanse of chest hair.

She watched his chest rise and fall. Then she lay next to him as lightly as she could, took a fraction of the pillow. He stirred. Her calf itched, but she didn’t dare move. She prayed he wouldn’t wake up—she hadn’t thought of what she’d say if he did. Lying so still was almost as uncomfortable as trying to sleep on uneven ground. She closed her eyes and breathed in the musty tent smell and Mr. Franklin’s sweat. It was nice, though. Most boys her age smelled like feet when they sweat, and Mr. Franklin was a man. She settled against him a little more. Sometime in the night, he put his arm around her. She couldn’t tell whether he was asleep. She didn’t know what it meant, but she wouldn’t tell anyone—not her mother, certainly not Tiff. And she wouldn’t tell anyone how, just before dawn, she felt him hard against her leg. She lay on her side, rigid, arm sore from the ground. The word erection flashed through her mind, like a ransom note clipped from a human sexuality textbook. Mr. Franklin’s breath was warm against her neck. Tiff and Stacy and Val could talk all they wanted, but no one would ever know what happened inside that tent. Not even her.



Mr. Franklin shifted and yawned into her hair. Josie’s neck was sore. Moving seemed like it would hurt. So did not moving. She raised herself on an elbow, then sat up and turned to face Mr. Franklin, who picked a crust of sleep from his eye and flicked it. He put on his glasses, and his eyes came into focus.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“You said I could stay.”

“I said you could stay until the rain let up. Shit. Keep your voice down.”

Josie felt tears prick the backs of her eyes. She felt pimply and exposed in the sunlight.

“Please, don’t cry. I can’t have you crying right now. I have to figure out what to do. Do you have any idea what this looks like?”

“What about what happened last night?” she whispered.

“What do you mean?” Mr. Franklin struggled into a T-shirt.

“You put your arm around me.”

“Did I?” He zipped his sleeping bag and began stuffing it into a sack.

She nodded and began to cry in earnest. Mr. Franklin set down the sack. The sleeping bag spilled onto the tent floor.

“Josie, what do you think happened? Do you think I did something to you?”

“No.” The thought hadn’t even occurred to her.

“Look, if I put my arm around you in my sleep, it was an accident, okay?” He looked at her and waited. “Okay?”

She took a shredded tissue from the floor and blew her nose. There was still some snot on her upper lip. No wonder he didn’t like her anymore. She must have looked hideous. She realized she wasn’t wearing a bra and drew her knees up to her chest.

“Josie, I have to know that you understand what happened here.”

“I don’t think you did anything bad,” she managed.

“Then why are you crying?”

She wiped her lip with the soaked tissue. Maybe he was embarrassed and had to pretend that putting his arm around her had been an accident. That he’d been unaware of his boner. She tried to stop sniffling. He would never want to date a crybaby. Plus, she was sure her eyes were puffy.

“Could we take a walk later?” she asked. “Before we have to go back?”

“You’re what—fifteen? Sixteen?” He shoved his feet into a pair of sneakers.

“You’re not that old.”

“I’m your teacher. And you’re the one who decided to sleep on top of me all night.”

“I’m sorry.” She swiped her nose with a bare arm. Maybe he really did hate her.

“You need to leave. And for God’s sake, don’t tell anyone about this.”

“I know. I’m sorry,” she repeated and unzipped the tent.

Tiff and Stacy were standing just a few feet away. Stacy whooped. “Holy shit, we thought we heard your voice. Did you totally have sex? Was he good?”

“Shut up.” Josie pushed past them.

“Wait, are you crying?”

“Shut the fuck up.”

Stacy grabbed her shoulder. “Did he like rape you or something?”

“It’s not like that, okay? Leave me alone.”

“God, you’re a slut. Who sleeps with their teacher? I mean, who does that, unless you’re a slut?” Stacy pushed her. “Did you hear me, Josie? I just called you a slut.”

She didn’t have the energy to respond. She’d already told Stacy to shut up. That was the last of her strength, and now the well was dry. Her eyeballs were sore from sleep deprivation. Even her skin hurt.

At breakfast, she couldn’t tell whether everyone knew or if she was just being paranoid. A group of girls whispered to each other, and it might’ve been about her, but she had no way of knowing. Out of nowhere, the red-faced boy from the bus sidled up to her and handed her a donut.

“You want this?”

Josie wondered whether it was some sort of prank since he had never talked to her before, but she couldn’t imagine what the joke would be. The donut looked okay, and she was a little hungry. Maybe he was a nice guy after all. She took a bite. He erupted into laughter.

“Get it? It’s cream filled.”

Red Face sauntered back to his friends, who all laughed. One of them looked at Josie and jacked the air near his crotch. Josie turned away. Mr. Franklin was setting out pre-wrapped muffins on the picnic table. The usual crowd of kids who gathered around him was nowhere in sight. She tried to catch his eye to see if he still hated her in daylight, but couldn’t. It seemed like he was trying not to look at anyone.

She pictured accusations hanging in the air, the words themselves: Whore, Rapist, Slut, Molester, Pervert, Cradle-Robber, Bitch, Cocktease, Nympho, Freak. Kids at her school reserved the last two for girls they thought were both slutty and weird, as in: She’s a Nympho-Freak. Now she would certainly be a Nympho-Freak, unless she had surpassed even that, and they had to make up a new term.

She was careful not to get too close to Mr. Franklin while other kids were around, but she lingered after everyone else left to strike the tents. He was clearing the table of muffin wrappers, and she went to throw her napkin in the trash closest to him. He didn’t look up. Josie took a few muffin wrappers and made to toss them in the trash.

“I don’t need help.” Still, he wouldn’t look at her.

She set the wrappers back on the table, and he jerked his hand away, as if even the wrappers she’d touched were contaminated. Dirt was caked underneath his fingernails, and the nails on his right hand were raggedy, as if he’d been chewing them. Already, it was getting too hot. Her forehead was slick with oil, and her chin was probably breaking out. She could smell herself. The table was almost cleared, she couldn’t think of an excuse to keep hanging around, and just standing there made her feel creepy and pathetic.

“Why are you still here? Go help take down the tent.”

“I don’t think Stacy and Tiff want me to bother them.”

“Well, neither do I.”

It seemed impossible that just hours ago, she’d slept against him. That he’d put a blanket around her shoulders.

By the time she went back to the tent for her duffel, the bus was waiting. Before they could leave, there was some group bonding activity involving everyone standing in a circle, holding candles. Josie slipped away and sat in front of the bus with her bag, weedy grass scratching her thighs until the driver was nice enough to let her on.



At home, her mother had a plate of brownies waiting, as though she’d been gone for a month. Her mother asked how the trip was, and Josie said that it was fine but that she was so tired, her head hurt. There was nothing to tell her mother that would have made any sense. Josie’s mother let her take a brownie to her room as long as she promised to be careful about crumbs.

Upstairs, she swallowed some Advil, ran a bath, and wondered what it would take not to go to school the next day, or possibly ever. She dunked her head underwater. Had she taken advantage of Mr. Franklin? Could a girl violate a grown man? She opened her eyes and looked at her wobbly underwater legs. If she had done something really bad, Mr. Franklin would’ve woken up. And if it was bad enough that Mr. Franklin woke up, he could have easily shoved her away.



Back at school, there was a meeting scheduled with the administration. The principal had gotten wind that there’d been an incident on the camping trip. When Josie passed Mr. Franklin’s classroom during lunch period, she made sure not to even look in his direction and so was surprised when he called her name. He motioned her in and shut the door.

“I shouldn’t even be talking to you,” he said. He was drinking a Dr. Pepper and offered her one. She accepted it just to have something to do with her hands.

Josie didn’t know what to say, but he continued: “I’m sorry if I ruined your camping trip.”

“It was pretty much ruined before,” she heard herself say, then stop. She couldn’t believe he thought she cared about the camping trip being ruined. It showed how little he knew her.

“Did you talk to your parents about it?”

She shook her head and fiddled with the soda tab until it broke off.

“Look, I have to know what you’re going to tell them at the meeting.”

Bubbles fizzed onto the rim of the can, and she slurped at them. “Why does there even have to be a meeting? Can’t we just forget about it? Besides, I’m not even sure what happened anymore.”

He raised a hand as if to pat her shoulder, then let it drop back at his side. Then he gulped his soda. “You have no idea how these things get construed. I could lose my job.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve thought about it.”

“I should never have let you sleep anywhere near me. I should’ve never let you in my tent at all.”

“I wasn’t trying to be a pervert,” she blurted, then thought the word pervert sounded weird and, well, perverted.

Mr. Franklin looked startled. “I know that.”

She nodded and drank the rest of her soda. She crushed the can and threw it in the trash. “What am I supposed to tell them?”

“Tell them the truth. Tell them nothing happened.”

But those two things were different, and she’d never be able to explain what happened in a way that made sense. She’d have to say that she and Mr. Franklin had fallen asleep—that was all—and in a way, it was the truth. There was the other piece of it, though, the part she’d never be able to speak aloud, and that would trail her like a scent for the months and years to come.

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