11. The Edge

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Before I could touch Isaac's situation, I had to sort out my own

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Before I could touch Isaac's situation, I had to sort out my own.

Alyssa handed us another stack of papers. At the end of all this, I'd have done more weightlifting than the whole year combined.

"Let me go through these and explain," Alyssa said, sitting us down at her desk. Behind her, a few women and men in collared shirts sat behind cubicles and typed away on screens that made their faces look blue.

Alyssa's desk didn't look much different from the rest of them. Though it was a little larger, the ceiling squashed it flat on every side. It was strewn with papers, riddled with splinters, and braced half-heartedly with scrap metal.

She set her fingers on the tops of our packets and shirts. "You're not required to wear the shirts indoors, but they're a must when we leave the campus. Underneath those, we have your day-to-day schedules. If anything changes, I'll be sure to let you know. And it's flexible on your end, too. Just don't forget to write up reports."

"So we're full-time counselors?" I said in the lightest tone I could muster.

Alyssa shook her head. "Unfortunately, we disbanded the CIT program. Counselors at Camp Liberty are given much more guidance in general, simply because we're in such a foreign environment. But it's always been a volunteer job, so we have to weed out the best of the best."

Isaac pointed a thumb in my direction. "How come she gets to—I mean, why does she have to work with someone else? Are the rest of us on our own?"

"You'll have assistance from us," Alyssa said, steering us toward the door. "Now, your campers are waiting. Go ahead and familiarize yourself with the routine. I believe we're going into our campfire time right about now. No campfires today, unfortunately. Your job is to make sure they stay in their cabins and only leave with permission. Okay?"

I nodded slowly.

"Don't worry." Alyssa smiled. "It's more fun than you think. And please remember that Camp Liberty isn't your ordinary summer camp. Ask, and we shall deliver."

Isaac thanked her (since I was still reeling from all the information), and she hurried us out, right as one of the employees behind her rose to his feet and opened his mouth.

The door slammed shut.

Water. The slight, bass-filled rhythm of spa-worthy music.

Ironic for a girl who was ready to rip her hair out.

~#~

Isaac and I parted ways. I liked to think it was for good—after that moment, we couldn't be around each other as much as we were used to—but it wasn't like he disappeared off the face of the earth. He just left to do his own thing.

It kinda hurt.

I sat in bed for a little while, skimming through Alyssa's pages, taking in half of them. I'd only touched my bags to move them closer, and I'd left them unpacked. In a state of unrest.

One footnote stuck out to me in particular. Alyssa had handwritten it in as an afterthought, and the ink was embedded into the paper—a photocopy.

THE COUNSELOR COOPERATION PROGRAM: Exclusive to the Amethyst Cabin. We'd like to start forming closer relationships among the older teens. If you get this message, congrats! You're one of our first guinea pigs.

Guinea pigs. I always hated that word. For one, I didn't look like a guinea pig. I was definitely not as cute as one. And to place my entire job on the edge of a cliff, when anything could go wrong and send me over the edge...it didn't feel nice.

I promptly forgot about all of that when footsteps thundered down the hall, only to slam into my very cabin.

It was a girl. She wore flowered clips in her hair and a worried expression on her face, her sandals flopping with every tentative step. Although she was dressed like a five-year-old, she looked around twelve. "Oh, hi! You're Ivy?"

I nodded and set my papers aside.

"Great," she said, breathless and leaning off the doorknob. "Amazing. I'm Sammy, one of your campers. The Amethysts are not doing well."

"What happened?" I stood. Responsible for a group of rascals I hadn't even met yet. Weird.

"I don't know how to explain this." A hint of an accent slipped through her voice. "It's actually—we were coming back, and Conner—we call him Con because he's slippery—decided to climb over the second floor railing. Now he's stuck."

I pressed my palms into the sides of my head. "You're telling the truth, right?"

"Of course! Come see for yourself."

She ran out the door, and I followed so closely I almost stepped on her heels. I didn't even have time to appreciate the architecture. That was a big deal.

We entered the stairwell.

Good thing: all my campers were in one place, wearing their purple t-shirts and close enough to each other for me to conduct a head count.

Bad thing: the smallest one was holding onto the base of a railing on the wrong side, his tiny fingers slipping. The other two campers tried to create a net beneath him, and Sammy ran down the stairs to join them.

In the middle of it all, Fraser just stood there. Lost in thought.

I crouched. Terrible idea, but I was panicking. If this little guy fell to his death, his family could sue me. I didn't need that in my life. "Hey. How's it going?"

Con kicked his feet and cried out.

"Okay. Just—hold on tight." I clambered down the stairs, but before I could make it all the way down, Fraser decided to do something.

"Wait," he said.

"Not right now," I muttered. "Now's not the time for waiting. Look, girls, we only need one person down here. Four's a crowd."

I reached my arms up as the other campers scurried away. I felt like Rafiki, in a twisted way. Okay, screw that. I couldn't be Rafiki. I was—

Con let go and shot straight into my arms. I stumbled back, but he was surprisingly light, and, as Fraser had put it, feisty. He fought from my grip as soon as I got a hold of him, and he took a deep breath, and he glared me down like he'd eat me for breakfast.

He crossed his arms. "Caete por un hueco!"

"Woah," I said, taking a step back.

"You made me fall!" Con said. "I didn't want to fall. Me hanging there was a part of my plan."

"Your plan to what?"

"I can't tell you."

"God, I—" I sighed and looked around. There were two girls who'd ducked beneath the stairwell, peering at me as if they were cats in the night. There was Sammy, her hair clip glimmering, and Fraser, who was flexing his metal fingers and staring blankly at the wall in front of him.

We were weird. All of us.

"Let's call it a night," I said.

Fraser snapped out of his daze. He watched me hop back upstairs. "We're supposed to go to bed at nine."

"Who cares? I'm exhausted." Exhaustion made me grumpy. It made my mouth spill.

It made the fear go away.

~#~

And there's our main cast! Give it up for the Amethyst Cabin!

I don't really know what else to say for this chapter, but...the next one gets dark. Brace yourselves.

Thanks for reading, and please vote if you enjoyed!

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