Girls' Weekend Away
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My friends and I went on an all-girls camping trip for the first time in 10 years. I guess what sparked our interest in doing this together was how our lives had changed over the past year or so. I had become an instant wife and mother when I moved in with Adrian and his four-year-old daughter last year. Karen was now married and had a house. Trish had just celebrated her thirtieth birthday the month before.

But probably the real reason we decided it was time to go was what happened to Sandy over the past year. Sandy had done a lot of soul searching for most of her adult life. When she was twenty, she travelled alone to Peru to visit a Shaman. The Shaman blessed her and told her he had fixed her broken spirit. Even after this, Sandy could not find where she belonged in life.

  
 
One night, while the four of us were enjoying coffee together, Sandy announced she was pregnant. Sandy was the one to experience things first out of the four of us. She was the first to drink, the first to try drugs, and the first to live with a boyfriend. It was only fitting that Sandy should go through pregnancy first. Then the rest of us could decide if we wanted to follow in her footsteps or not. After ten hours of labour and finally having a cesarean, she didn’t sell us on the concept.

It had been three months since Stefan Alexander had been born. Sandy had taken to motherhood like I had never expected. After all of the soul searching she had done in her life, Stefan and Sandy’s boyfriend, Kyle, were the ones who mended her broken spirit.

Our first night of camping was spent in the rain. Of course, it had to rain. I was camping. I have never yet experienced a camping trip without rain. You would think with all of my experience with Mother Nature, I would have thought to close the windows of my tent before the rain hit, but I didn’t. Everything got soaked. We spent the day trying to dry out our stuff from the night before.

Our second night was spent around a campfire, drinking the coolers we had brought and gorging ourselves on Smokies and S’mores.

“Anyone have any ghost stories?” asked Trish. A couple of months before her thirtieth birthday, Trish had broken up with Dwaine, losing all hope of settling down in the near future. We knew Dwaine wasn’t the one for Trish. She was so lively and hyper. She loved being surrounded by her friends and family. Dwaine would rather sit in a corner alone than talk to anyone. I heard opposites attract, but this was taking it to the extreme.

“I have one,” Karen said. Karen had been married to James for a year and a half. Marriage was the only thing she had done before Sandy. Karen worked as an admin assistant. She put up with the drudgery of it, but I think she wanted more. I don't think she had figured out exactly what she wanted, yet.

“I was working late one night when my cubicle buddy, Margie, asked me out of the blue if I believed in ghosts. When I told her I did, she then told me that she had just seen the figure of a man sitting on the desk beside me with his legs crossed and his chin resting on his hands.”

“Any idea who it might have been?” I asked.

“Maybe someone watching over you,” Trish offered.

“I don’t think so. She described him, but he didn’t sound like anyone I knew. I figured he was sitting there waiting for me to leave, so he could use the computer.”

“So what did you do?” Sandy asked.

“I left.” We all laughed.

“I have a story.” I told them. “I think my apartment is haunted. It happened a few months after we moved in. I had just sent Erica to her room because she was throwing a temper tantrum. I was making dinner when a heard a playful, teasing voice say, ‘No dinner for Erica. No dinner for Erica.’ I opened the door to explain to Erica that I wasn’t denying her dinner; she was just in her room until she calmed down. But she was still sobbing. When I asked her if she had said anything, she could barely stop crying to answer me. It would have been impossible to say something in that happy-go-lucky voice one minute, and in a sobbing voice the next.

“Has anything else happened since you moved in?” asked Sandy.

“Yes, another time Adrian walked into Erica’s room and a helium balloon followed him out. It ducked under the doorframe to come out into the living room, and then under the doorframe of our bedroom to follow him in there. Balloons don’t just drop down a foot to duck under doorframes.”

“Strange. It seems to revolve around Erica,” said Sandy. “Maybe she’s the type of person that attracts spirits.”

“I think you might be right. Adrian suggested the same thing.”

“So, when are we going to hook you up with Jeremy?” Karen asked Trish, abruptly changing the subject. “He’s the perfect guy for you. He has a motorcycle, a boat, and his own house. He likes hiking and skiing, and he’s sociable.”

“Yeah, we decided you’re not allowed to pick out your next boyfriend,” I told Trish. "You’ve made too many mistakes, so we’re picking this one out. When are you going to call him?”

“I’ll see when I get back.”

We drank for another hour and told more ghost stories. It was late and it was a fifteen-minute walk to the only bathroom, which was located at the other end of the campground. So the four of us made our last trip for the night - hopefully.

“Okay, let’s go party, now!” Trish yelled joyfully, her flashlight moving from the starlit sky to the ground with every bounce she took.

“Keep the light on the ground, Trish,” Karen told her. “It’s two o'clock in the morning. You’re going to wake people up.”

“They should be awake,” Trish insisted. “They have to come party with us.” Trish was now shining the light into the campsites as we walked by. If her yelling weren’t enough to wake people up, a light shining in their tent certainly would.

L'accord, vous êtes fait,” Karen told her in French, and took the flashlight away from her.

Confused by the words and looking at her empty hands, Trish yelled, “Don’t yell at me in German when I’m drunk in English!”

“What did Karen say to her?” asked Sandy.

“I think she said, ‘okay, you’re done,’” I told her. “But she was speaking French, not German.”

Trish then went over to the water tap, pointed toward the sign and said, “See, the water tap is speaking English to me.” She was right. The water tap did say, ‘For drinking use’ in English.

We eventually made it to the bathroom without getting yelled at by any neighbouring campers. We put Trish to bed, leaving Karen in charge of the flashlight for the tent.

The next morning when Trish arose from her tent, she took out her hand cream and asked, “Would anyone like to borrow my English-speaking hand cream?” That was one thing about Trish. She always remembered what she did. She usually played it down, too. Like the time she pointed and laughed at a woman at a bar saying, “Hey, she’s wearing my tablecloth as a dress,” while the woman was right in front of her. Or the time she scratched a guy's face while she was dancing with him because her hands were flailing around so much.

That morning was our last day at the campsite. We had to clean up the site and pack up everything, something I was used to Adrian looking after.

Sandy sat in the empty lot, looking like a lost puppy. “I’m sure going to miss this campsite,” she said. “Good-bye campsite. Good-bye trees. Good-bye fire pit. Good-bye picnic table. I’ll miss you.”

“We can come back and visit it another time,” I told her. I turned to Karen and whispered, “We really have to get her out more often.”

When she got back, Trish emailed Jeremy, the guy we had picked out for her. They went on a twelve-hour date and by the end, they were in love. A year later, they got engaged. Sandy and Kyle got married the following spring. Their son, Stefan, was old enough to walk down the aisle as the Ring Bearer. Adrian and I moved out of our haunted apartment and into a new house. Karen quit her job and went back to school to study physio therapy.

We were lucky to start our camping tradition that year. We might have gotten so caught up with weddings, and babies, and houses, and school that we wouldn’t have ever gone. It’s been ten years now, and we still continue our tradition. The number of friends that join us have increased, but we don’t bring our husbands and kids. This is our weekend.

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