The Writing Disorder


New Fiction


by Tracy Auerbach


7:00 AM

      I watched the promotional video for Laughing Heron Camp again last night. I am so excited! I can’t believe the day is finally here. I rechecked my duffel bag last night just to make sure everything is all set. The thing I’m most excited to try is the waterskiing. I think I’ll choose that as my first elective. The brochure says we’re allowed to choose three, and we might not get our first choice, so I’m also going to put down wind surfing and swimming; as long as there’s water involved, I’m in.
      Jackie and Christina are soooo jealous. I made them watch the video with me on Tuesday, and they said their summers are going to suck compared to mine. Of course, they rubbed it in my face that they will be hanging out with Mike and Dave, but I don’t even care. Nothing can stop me now, or ruin my good mood.
      I remember feeling like this when I was little; like the whole world was laid out before me, and I could just pick it up in my hands and take it. Today when I get on that bus, it will be with a smile on my face. Everything just seems so perfect, from the bunk beds down to the sports and socials.
      I’m a little bit nervous about the other kids noticing my tics, but with sunglasses and a relaxed attitude it shouldn’t be too bad. I feel like I’m finally going to meet girls I can relate to; the kind of girls who love sports and animals, and just being outside. I have to go now because we have to drive into Manhattan to take the bus, but I’ll write again later.

10:00 AM

      I got one of the seats toward the back of the bus, just like I wanted. It’s one of those luxury-style busses, with armrests and reclining seats. I’m sitting next to a boy named Doug who seems just as excited as me about camp. We both can’t believe that we’re going to be there for six weeks.
      I see the scenery changing as we drive. Highways are being replaced by smaller roads and garbage dumps are giving way to real mountains. The Berkshires are going to be like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I know I’m never going to want to leave.

12:00 PM

      Despite not wanting to miss a thing, I fell asleep for an hour on the bus, and when I woke up we were here. I dragged my duffle bag away from the loading zone and walked through the gates of Laughing Heron Camp. I was a bit nervous to meet the girls in my group. I swear, sometimes the tics make me feel so socially awkward. My eyes were flipping out with the blinking, and I wasn’t sure if the sunglasses could distract from my facial grimaces. But they did make me feel more self-confident.
      There were groups of kids sitting on the main field and counselors were holding up signs. I made my way over to the girls’ side, and saw a blonde counselor holding up the sign for bunk 2B. My bunk! I ran to her and the group of girls surrounding her. In my excitement I blurted out “Hi, I’m Kerry” a little too enthusiastically and I was so embarrassed. None of the girls introduced themselves but they all shot me strange looks, like “Who is that loser?” Oh well, I wasn’t going to let this ruin my first day. The counselor at least gave me a warm handshake and introduced herself as Debra. Some of the other girls were already talking to each other like old friends. I guess they’ve been coming to camp for awhile together.
      Now I’m sitting on the field waiting to go to the bunk that will be my home for the next month and a half. The girl next to me (I think her name is Sheila) is trying to look at what I’m writing, but I don’t want her to see my journal just yet. I’m sure that soon enough I’ll be sharing it with some of my closer friends.

2:00 PM

      I just don’t get it. I’m sitting on my bunk, which is in this back room with three foreign girls who are here for the summer as kitchen workers. There were plenty of bunks when I got in, but whenever I went to take one, the girls told me it was taken. Why would they reserve bunks? Is that even allowed? I’m nervous that I’ll be totally out of the loop way back here. Maybe when they’re all talking at night I can sit in a friend’s bunk so I’m not left out of everything. I’m pretty pissed though.
      Two other girls also got stuck in the back room. We have the top bunks and the kitchen workers are beneath us. The other two girls are all upset and crying that we’re back here, but it’s not that bad. Their names are Shannon and Allison, and they’ve both been coming here for a few years. I tried to tell them that at least we have the best view of the mountains, but they didn’t really seem to want to hear it.
      Another girl, Tanya, has been hysterical about how homesick she is. I don’t get it, because she got one of the best, most central top bunks, and she should be happy about that. Also, she just left home like today so how could she be homesick already? But it must not be too bad for her because all the other girls are flocking around her to comfort her. It would be nice if someone came to talk to me. I am new after all.


      I’m so confused as to why none of the girls are warming up to me. It probably isn’t the facial tics since I’m pretty good about wearing my sunglasses. And I swear I caught some girls giggling and looking over at me, but my parents have always said I’m just paranoid when it comes to thinking other people are talking about me.
      But camp itself was so much fun today. I got windsurfing as my elective, which was my second choice. I went down to the lake first thing in the morning in my red bathing suit. The lake was perfect; beautiful and clear with one small section by the shore covered in tons of lily pads and reeds. The crystal water gave me such calm and wonderful feeling that I just knew everything would be alright.
      The whole elective was just me and this younger boy, so I guess it’s not the most popular one. We dragged our surfboards out into the lake, and tried to stand up and find a balance point before bending over and bringing the sail up. I actually windsurfed for a few minutes toward the end! It was such an amazing feeling. I just wish I had some friends to share it with.
      I showered to wash the lake water off of myself. I was lucky, or so I thought, because I called “first shower” on the way back to the bunk from breakfast. For some reason the other girls seemed pissed even though I had heard them do the same thing last night. None of them got any problem from each other, but for some reason me doing it elicited whispers and giggles. As I stood there in the warm water in my shower shoes, I began to wonder what I had done wrong.
      At one point a girl named Dina threw open my curtain and a few girls laughed at me, naked and exposed. I was really startled and jumped, so I’m not sure if they were laughing at that or my body. I yelled to close the door, which Dina eventually did. I’ve always hated those types of practical jokes that are just mean-spirited.
      We all played a softball game on the big field today. I was excited because softball is something I’m really good at. I was so psyched I didn’t even care that I was the last girl picked to be on a team. I did really well; two at bats and both times I got doubles. It did bother me a bit that my hand was left hanging when I tried to give Allison a high five. She just stood there staring at me like I was crazy or something.
      I didn’t talk to anyone on the way to dinner, and I blatantly heard some girls making fun of my outfit. I couldn’t get into a conversation at the dinner table either. They were all talking and laughing, and I felt like a total outsider. Why the Hell won’t they let me in?
      We watched the movie “Pretty Woman” at night in the social hall, but the seats with my bunk were all taken. I sat next to Debra, the counselor, who talked to her friend Sandy, our other counselor, for the whole time. I’m glad that the day is over. At least I’ll have windsurfing again tomorrow morning.


11:00 AM

      The boy who had windsurfing with me dropped out of it. I think his name was Jeff, but I’m not even sure. I guess I’m destined to be alone here at Laughing Heron camp. The windsurfing itself was enjoyable and I did pretty well. It’s just that I found myself wondering if the counselor teaching it even wanted to be in my company. I’m starting to feel like I’m poison.
      At breakfast this morning they announced “Twin Day,” where each camper has to find a friend to be twins with. I really have no idea how the Hell I’m going to find someone to be my twin, considering I really have no friends here. There is this one girl, Terry, who thinks it’s cool that our names rhyme. She’s kind of a dork, but I guess that here I’m kind of a freak, so maybe it was meant to be. I’ll ask her later when nobody else is around if she wants to be my twin. In the meantime I just need to focus on getting through today. They picked three girls to go waterskiing, but I wasn’t picked today. That means I have to go play volleyball with my bunk. Maybe I’ll just sneak off somewhere and do my own thing. I doubt anyone would notice I was gone.

2:00 PM

      I actually had a really nice afternoon by myself. I visited the nature center, and it was empty except for the counselor who runs it. She told me about the adopt-a-pet program, which I already knew about from that promotional video. I looked among the animals: sheep, turtles, goats, snakes and birds. My eye finally settled on a little black and white baby goat named Rocky. I was excited to fill out the adoption papers. Now I can come and visit Rocky and take him for a walk whenever I choose.
      There were two other girls there adopting animals, and we spoke for awhile. It was nice to just talk to another human being. Their names are Merideth and Brianna, and they told me I could hang out with them in a few days when we go to a local amusement park. Thank God I’ll have someone to hang out with even if I’m sort of their third wheel. I can’t stand being alone anymore. At least I have Rocky now.

6:00 PM

      I can’t believe what happened. Those nark girls from my bunk friggin told on me that I ditched volleyball. I didn’t even think they knew I was alive, but all of a sudden they miss me. Debra pulled me aside and discussed the importance of being together as a group, and told me I would have to sit out of twin day as a punishment. Well, I don’t care. I haven’t even gotten to ask Terry yet anyway.
      We’re gonna go to dinner soon. The girls will probably fight about who has to sit next to me…there’s that poison seeping out again. I don’t know where it came from but apparently it’s oozing off of me now. I have become an untouchable, like we learned about in social studies last year. My parents are probably going to call tomorrow. Parents are allowed to call once every three days. I wonder what I should tell them.

10:00 PM

      Some of the girls snuck out tonight to go to the boys’ bunk. Of course I wasn’t invited, but it really hurt me that they specifically waited until I was sleeping to go out. They came up to my bed and said “Kerry, Kerry, are you up?” Then they said “Hey bitch!” and that stung like a bullet. Why do they hate me? What did I do? I feel my eyes twitching almost constantly now, because I’m so anxious all the time. Thank God for my writing. I’m under the covers with a flashlight now because lights out was about ten minutes ago. Please God, let tomorrow be better. I don’t know what to tell my parents. They spent so much money to send me to this beautiful camp.


      The phone call with my parents was short and sweet. Shannon and Allison heard them call my name over the loudspeaker and Shannon asked me what I was going to tell my parents. I told her that I would mostly tell them about windsurfing, and she giggled. That’s just what I talked about in the ten minutes I was allowed to speak to my parents; windsurfing and the layout of the camp. I choked all the anxiety and the hatred down.
      My mom said she sent me a care package so hopefully it will be here soon. I’ve already gotten one letter from them. Mail is good because it reminds me that I have a family that loves me back home. It helps me to not feel so empty for a few minutes. I tucked the letter into a shelf next to my bed so that I could see it whenever I wanted. But the day after I got it, it was gone. I’d like to tell myself that it just fell down somewhere, but I think somebody actually stole it. I just don’t know why.
      Today was also twin day. Everyone went to the twin social but I stayed here with Sandy the counselor. She talked on her cell phone to her boyfriend the whole time. When Tanya came back to the bunk sick, I heard that sick campers go to spend the night in the infirmary. That sounded really good to me, so I told Sandy that I felt sick too. She told me that I wasn’t and just to wait here while she took Tanya to the medical center. When the other girls came back they were all sorry about Tanya. I sit in my bunk and listened to them care about her, and it made me nauseous. I heard Debra tell my bunkmates that Tanya was really sick but that I was just being paranoid. So much for the counselors defending me.
      I cried a lot in bed after lights out, and when I woke up at around midnight I found that I had peed in my bed. Ashamed to tell anyone, I went back to sleep in the cold, wet pee. I’ll have to change it tomorrow inconspicuously. The last thing I need is another reason for the girls to make fun of me.


1:00 PM

      I have friends at home. I have friends at home. I just have to keep repeating that to myself so I don’t fall apart here. Today we had some time at the lake. Again, I wasn’t picked to go waterskiing. I took out a kayak, and so did several other girls from my bunk. Dina shouted to everyone “Don’t let Kerry come to close or she’ll cling onto you like a little puppy dog.” After that the boys as well as the girls ignored me. I followed Terry for a little bit, and she yelled to some boys “Look what I picked up. Better lose it fast; it’s so annoying.”
      I paddled out to the rope that separates the camp form the rest of the lake. I just kind of stayed there, staring out at the far end. I wondered if I could paddle across the lake and away from everything. I stayed there until the waves pulled me back to shore.

5:00 PM

      Allison came up to me after dinner to ask when I had taken a shower. They are really looking for any excuse to make fun of me. I told her I had, and she walked away. She did see a daddy long-legs on my bed and said “Ewww” before she left. I took the little guy in my hands and escorted him out the window. I’ve never killed a bug in my life except for mosquitoes.

8:00 PM

      I went to walk Rocky while the rest of my bunk was hanging out and talking. That relaxed me a bit. He likes me, and he lets me pet him and talk to him. He really is a sweetie. We walked out over some hills, to the point where the camp was behind us. I wondered what would happen if I just kept going and ran off into the mountains. Would they look for me? Honestly, the only things keeping me sane right now are thoughts of my friends and family at home.
vWhen I returned to my bunk, I found that it had been sprayed with bug spray. The quilt my grandmother gave me had lost its scent of cooking and mothballs that I loved so much. Now everything just smelled like Deet. The girls were laughing and whispering as they saw me take it in. I pulled off the blanket to let it air out and I changed my sheets, but the smell was still there, strong and poisonous.
“Your bed stinks,” Shannon complained. I told her sorry, and I pulled my quilt tightly over my head. Maybe breathing in the stench would make me sick for real, and I could escape to the infirmary at least for a bit.


9:00 AM

      I woke up last night to a horror. The girls were all gathered around my bed, talking in whispers.
      “Is she really sleeping?” asked Allison.
      “Who cares,” said Dina.
      I felt her lift up the blanket, slowly carefully, and slide something that felt like a stick up my back.
      “Pull down her underwear,” she said.
      I couldn’t believe it. Why? Why was this happening? I gritted my teeth as I felt the band of my underwear being rolled down. And then I felt the stick on my butt, rolling around my skin until it found its way to my butt hole. Then it started to slide in. I made a noise and moved a bit to let them think I was waking up. I felt the stick in my butt as they quieted and moved back for a minute, but then I heard them again and felt the stick slide a bit further in. I gritted my teeth and was perfectly quiet until I heard them moving away, still giggling. I waited awhile before reaching down to pull the stick out.

11:00 PM

      Two happy things, at last; my care package arrived during mail call and my parents called me. My mom asked me if I was okay several times during our phone conversation. She said my affect was very flat. She wanted to know if I was really having fun in camp. I assured her that I was.
      The care package was filled with stickers, letters, and candy, kind of babyish things for a seventh grader. But the girls in my bunk were all of a sudden my best friends, asking me to share the candy with them. My mom’s note said to share with my friends. It was her way of helping me to win friends since she knew the tics always bothered me. And I did share my things. Maybe this could be the start of me fitting in.
      I skipped the campfire social tonight and read a book in my bunk. I was enjoying the alone time until Dina showed up and asked if she could hop up on my bed. I don’t know why, but I said okay. She said that she wanted to tell me a story, and she told me all about the Wendigo, a monster that lives in the mountains and comes out to kill during storms. It can burn a person to ashes with a look, and it always attacks people when they are alone. Dina left laughing and I stayed awake staring at the screen that separated me from the mountains. A storm was rolling in and I was scared shitless.


      I don’t know why I did it, but I saw a beetle crawling on my clothes in the shelves this morning, and I knocked it down and smashed it. When I saw its hard shell was cracked, and it was limping but still alive, I chased it around to put it out of its misery. It took at least three more stomps before I was confident that it was really dead.
      I’ve been here one week but it feels more like years. Small parts of me are dying every day. Today we went to the amusement park, and I was Meredith and Brianna’s third wheel, as promised. The rides were a lot of fun, but I never had anyone to sit next to. At least I got to sit behind them and feel like a part of a group. Brianna asked me why I twitch around all the time and I told her I don’t know; I just have a lot of tics. She seemed to accept that, and dropped the subject.
      I went on some pretty awesome roller coasters and thrill rides, including my favorite, the haunted house. I ended the day in the water park’s wave pool. It was nice and relaxing and I was finally with other people. Too bad Merideth and Brianna aren’t in my bunk. They are a year younger. I asked them if there were any spots open in their cabin but they said it was full.
      I was happy until the end of the day when I had to get back on the bus with my own group. I sat down next to Terry, who promptly moved. I was so upset that my worst tic, the throat clearing, started up. The whole bus laughed every time I did it. I rode back to camp with my sunglasses on so that I could cry freely. I didn’t bother calling a place in the shower line. I knew I would be last.


      We had to fill out elective sheets again today, and I got my last choice, swimming. The girl Tanya, who was no longer homesick, got it too, and she seemed really pissed about being left alone with me. Her friends comforted her. I was thrilled when their touching display was interrupted by the waterskiing instructor selecting me for today.
      Getting the skis on my feet on the platform and settling myself into the fetal position in the water, with ski tips up, was definitely the toughest part. The first two times I just got pulled right down onto my face, but the third time I actually got up. The feeling of the boat pulling me was exhilarating, like I was flying. My ski started to drag at one point and flipped off. It wasn’t long after that that I fell. I had to swim to get my skis, which had popped off, and then swim back to the boat. As I felt the weeds and algae tugging at my feet, I thought of the Wendigo again and wondered if he ever spent time in the water.
      The instructor asked if I wanted one more go at it, but I said no. It just wasn’t worth the falling down in the end. Wet and covered in algae, I trudged back to my bunk over the steep, gravel-covered hill coming up from the lake. I noticed that my calf muscles looked bigger after taking this path every day. I found myself perversely wondering whose ass I could kick if I had to. But chances were I wouldn’t fight. I would just lie down and take it, like I’ve been doing.
      We went on a nature obstacle course today, and one girl from another bunk cut me in line. I said “Hey, no cutting,” and she actually shoved me. I tripped and went down, to the amusement of everyone.       “Cool it, girls,” said Debra, but she was actually giggling too.
      The girl who cut me followed me for the rest of the obstacle course muttering obscenities. I pretended to ignore her for the whole time, but each “Bitch,” and “Fucking Freak” cut into my heart a little bit. As I lie here at night, writing, I can’t figure out why I took it. I said nothing at all.
      When I got back to the cabin I punched the shelving on my bunk until my knuckles bled. That helped to dull the pain.


      Today it was raining so we went to a local movie theater. I wasn’t surprised when Shannon came over and told me that nobody wanted to be in the theater with me and hear my ridiculous throat-clearing, so I’d better find another theater.
      As I sat by myself and watched some film I can’t even remember, it occurred to me that I hadn’t pooped in almost a week and a half. My stomach hurt, but nothing could come out. I just wasn’t comfortable enough here.
      I didn’t get to speak to my parents because we were at the theater almost all day. I’m hoping they will call tomorrow instead. Not that I’d even know what to say to them. “Hey guys, thanks for spending all the money but you accidentally sent me to Hell,” probably wouldn’t go over that well.
      As Allison hoisted herself into bed tonight, she asked me if I had showered. I lied yes, but I really hadn’t. I was afraid. It was pathetic, but I am so uncomfortable. As I lie here writing and crying, Allison and Shannon are both yelling for me to shut up and turn off the light. I will see if I have the energy to write tomorrow.

DAY 10

      I tried not to get out of bed today, but Debra and Sandy made me. They said they’re sick of my poor attitude and I’d better catch some camp spirit fast. I hope the Wendigo comes and burns them to ashes with his stare. There is a storm predicted for tonight so maybe I’ve got a shot.
      My parents called again and this time I was there to receive the call. They asked me again if I was okay, and again I lied. I told them all about waterskiing and tried to keep my voice level. They asked me if I wanted to come home from camp and I said no, but I don’t know why. Maybe I just had to prove to myself and them that I could stick it out. My tics never kept me from making friends at school.
      I looked in the mirror today and my deep green eyes were still there, but they were empty. My long brown hair looked dead. There were bags under my eyes for the first time in my life, and they were red rimmed. I had never thought I was beautiful, but I was always okay with myself. Now I stood watching my own twitches, and I looked positively monstrous.
      I punched the mirror. I stared in awe at the blood running down my hand. Shards of glass spat all over the sink. I wasn’t about to go to the infirmary, so I quickly slipped the emergency kit out from under Debra’s bed and bandaged myself up. All I needed was to be known as the crazy girl who punched the mirror. I left the scene and walked slowly down to the lake.
      As I trudged down the gravelly path, I slipped once and bloodied up my knees. I got right up, but apparently some boys behind me thought it was hilarious. I turned around and gave them the finger.
      “Oh look,” said one. “It’s Crazy Kerry. The girls told me about you. Want to come to a party tonight in bunk 4A? I hear you give head real easy.”
      I just kept on walking.
      At the lake, after the boys were sufficiently distracted, I crept back up the path to bunk 4A. So they were planning a party? Maybe I could have a party of my own. I searched their cabin until I found what I was looking for: a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of vodka. I took them, then walked back to my bunk and hid them. Everyone was at the lake so nobody even noticed. I smiled a little to myself.

DAY 11

      My hands, knees and bloated stomach were all hurting me when I woke up this morning. I haven’t eaten in two days, which I suppose doesn’t help the poop situation much, but at least I won’t have to worry about it for long. I feel like my insides are fading away. I just wanted to go back to sleep but I forced myself out of bed. I have a lot of angry energy built up, and I need a channel for it. I won’t find that in bed.
      Tanya shot me dirty looks all through swimming, and I smiled at her.
      “Freak!” she finally called out, but I just smiled again.
      I don’t want to be alone anymore. I’m so alone. I keep trying to think of home and family and friends but it’s getting harder and harder to believe that it’s real. This is my reality now, and I am coldly and utterly alone. I’m getting so restless, but at the same time numb. The numbness makes me feel powerful, like I could really accomplish anything.
      We had a cookout tonight and I attended. I sat by myself, but Dina walked over to me and dumped some grass on my head. I ignored her completely, but then she pulled my shirt away from me and threw some in there too. I got up and began walking away, and she threw a rock. It bounced off my head, startling me. Some of the kids laughed at how it made me jump.
      “You know you have no friends!” Dina yelled after me.
No shit.

DAY 12

      Tonight all the girls were in the mood for horror stories, so I sat with them as they told their best ghost stories. Normally, in my real life, stuff like that would have creeped me out, but tonight for some reason it just didn’t. They all played “Stiff as a board, light as a feather,” where they all chant and try to lift a girl up, each with only two fingers.
      Dina shared the story of the Wendigo with the group, which made Tanya cry. What a pussy. Oh well, not my problem. I have such a busy night ahead of me, and things have to be perfect. I went to bed early.

DAY 13

3:00 AM

      I got up at midnight (I had been lying awake). Everyone in the bunk seemed to be sleeping. I snuck over to Debra’s bunk and pulled out the first aid and emergency kit. I stole a book of matches and then replaced it neatly. Then I crept back to my bunk and got the two bottles of alcohol. I made little pathways to all the girls and right up to their blankets. I smiled to myself as I lit the match.
      Now I stand here, outside the blazing deathtrap I have created. Two dead for sure so far, and the rest injured. I hope I got Dina at least. The head of the camp is beside me crying, and he has told me the police are on their way, and the burn unit.
      “What were you thinking?!” he shouted again, pain and desperation in his voice.
      “Nothing,” I said, and smiled. “I’m the Wendigo.”

“Thirteen Days at laughing Heron Camp” is a dark, psychological story, told in the format of a seventh grader’s journal. It explores the issues of bullying and ostracizing those who are different. It also delves into the outer reaches of maintaining one’s sanity, and what can happen when a typical person is pushed too far.
Growing up with Tourette's Syndrome, Tracy Auerbach had a horrible encounter in camp one year, and this story is her expression of that experience. Today, Tracy is a special education teacher and mother of two. Her work has been published in “Success Stories,” “Spotlight on Recovery,” and the ezine “Microhorror.”

COMMENT        HOME       BLOG


New Fiction

by Patrick Henry

Matt Thomas

by Tracy Auerbach

by Marko Fong

X and Y
by A. Lazakis

by Gina Goldblatt

by M.E. McMullen

by Sarah Sarai

BONUS FICTION: Faith Is Three Parts Formaldehyde...

By accessing this site, you accept these Terms and Conditions.
Copyright © 2010-2011 ™ — All rights reserved