Posted by: Laura A. H. Elliott | April 11, 2010

Answer: What do you remember about your first camping trip?

Your guess, Fact or Fiction?

Something’s Out There

There were three of us. Penny, Rhonda and I. We didn’t know who’d end up as our fourth. In a way, I kinda felt bad for the fourth girl. She had no idea what she was walking into. The three of us were very unusual. The rarest of the rare. Three best friends. And just how the usual kind of best friends never needed a third. We didn’t want a fourth. Every other girl in the troop knew that. Except the new girl. So when New Girl put her sparkling-equally-new-pink sleeping bag in the tent next to my brother’s old plaid-lined, green sleeping bag, I got the shivers. I was the one who’d have to sleep next to her. The fourth girl.

We had everything we needed. Rhonda brought the flashlight. Penny brought pantyhose. I was on for sound effects.  We couldn’t have planned it any better. The wind kicked up as we were supposedly drifting off to sleep. At the next gust, I buried myself in my sleeping bag and made clacking noises with my tongue. Every so often. The new girl didn’t even turn over in her bag. I got nothing. But that was OK. Clacks were my warm up. I grabbed dad’s old canteen from the bottom of my bag and wiggled its squeaky chain in my hands. Soft at first. Then louder and squeakier. I grabbed a hold of my boot and threw it at the far end of the tent.

“What’s that?” New Girl said.
“What’s what?” Penny answered like New Girl woke her up.
“Didn’t you hear that thing fly into the tent? Something’s out there?” New Girl said, her voice funny, muffled.

I held off for a few minutes. Gave New Girl enough time to settle in her sleeping bag again. And just as I started squeaking the chain, NG bolted upright in her sleeping bag. Rhonda scooted in nice and close to NG and Rhonda held the flashlight just underneath her own chin and clicked it on, shrieking through the pantyhose leg she’d pulled over her face. NG didn’t scream at all. But Rhonda shrieked louder, dropped the flashlight and dove over me, burying her head in her pillow. I picked up the flashlight and Penny and I crowded around NG to see what had gone wrong. Why Ronda was the one who was scared.

NG giggled. An annoying high-pitched giggle. I turned the flashlight on and lit up NG’s face. NG’s gorilla-masked face. Penny and I jumped about five feet off our sleeping bags.

“Ever…” The gorilla giggled endlessly, “ever since I was a little girl…I’ve always slept in my gorilla mask on camping trips.”

And that’s how Shelly became my best friend. And how Rhonda, Penny, Shelley and I became rarer still. Four best friends.

[Delayed due to runaway dog!]



  1. We camped just outside Albuquerque on a lovely flat spot. During the night, it rained cats and dogs and our lovely flat spot rapidly became a raging river….

    • Really??? Ah, yes. There really isn’t anything quite like camping in the rain. Got to love those desert camping experiences. We were once caught in a crazy thunder and lightening storm on the rim of the grand canyon whilst [yes, I’m trying evoke your beautiful Welsh way of turning a phrase here] the whole family was on horseback…we had the Marlboro man for a guide and we lied about Mx being old enough. She was tall. We said she was 6 but I think she was only four and BOY was she brave! hee-hee.

  2. LOL! That’s the desert for ya, huh? FULL of surprises. Sounds exciting AND scary! And a great setting for a book?

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