The tall evergreens brushed against each other, whispering in the soft warm summer breeze. The bushes and shrubs shook, shivered and shuddered, causing fresh drops of rainwater to dart and drop, from one to the next, glittering as they went. A red brick path circled a plain grass field at the art center, with the gorgeous greenery gathered around it. A few summer campers played a small game of tag on the field, darting all over and screaming every time a tagger’s hand touched them. The noises of excited children talking loudly to each other filled my ears, along with laughter and footsteps.
“There is no way I am going to do a good job on the next project!” Julie complained, while popping a quarter sandwich into her wide open mouth, and, at the same time, bringing me back to reality.
“You’ll do a great job. You did on the last one!” Ashley protested.
“ I won’t! And mine wasn’t that good!” Julie muttered.
“ Yours was the only one that looked anything like what it was supposed to!” Ashley shouted while staring at Julie. “You’ll do great just like you did in the morning!”
“Will not!” Julie grumbled.
“Will too!” Ashley replied.
On the next “Will too!” two voices rang out instead of one. I had joined Ashley in the debate. Julie’s face burned and her nostrils flared. On her next “Will not”, her voice lowered in pitch and increased in volume, probably to make up for the fact that it was now two against one. I glanced down and saw that Julie’s knuckles had turned white, and stood out against her red hands.
I knew that it was about time to give in. After all, the argument was ridiculous. But just as I was about to, Ashley gave another “Will too” glaring right at Julie. Katie, Anya and I watched the argument progress in silence.
All of a sudden, both girls went quiet. I looked at them. Julie’s face was white, and Ashley’s was red. They were staring at each other with so much concentration that I could have sworn their eyes were going to pop out.
Just when I thought that they would start shouting again, something happened that broke all the tension. A squirrel which had previously been sitting next to a small shrub next to our bench, took three huge leaps. The first landed on the arm of the bench that Ashley, Julie and I were perched on. Ashley’s jaw dropped, Julie’s eyes widened, and I was pretty sure I let out a gasp.
The second leap took the squirrel down to the ground, right between Katie and Anya, their mouths mirrored Ashley’s and their eyes Julie’s.
On the third leap, the squirrel zoomed back up to the bench, landing only inches away from my left leg. The fluffy, gray squirrel stared up at me with huge, warm, chocolate brown eyes. The remaining three quarters of Julie’s sandwich fell to her lap.
That was enough to distract the squirrel. In one smooth motion, it turned and hopped onto Julie’s lap, and for a second I thought my jaw would hit the ground. I could feel my eyebrows suddenly go up and my arms and legs go stiff. My nose itched, but I couldn’t force my hand up to itch it.
Meanwhile, the squirrel gazed at Julie with shining eyes. Nobody moved, not even a millimeter. It was as if we were frozen in blocks of ice.
We stared at Julie, waiting to see what she would do. When she did nothing, Katie slowly eased out her phone from her pocket and snapped a picture. This must have startled the squirrel, because before we knew it, it had disappeared into the bushes. I stared at the spot where the squirrel had been for a second longer, before turning back to the others. We burst into giggles and ended up laughing so hard that I thought I saw milk come out of Katie’s nose.
When we finally found that we could stop, Julie sighed. “Maybe I can do well in the next project!” she said.
Ashley stared at us all in turn. “Told you so” she piped up and for the second time that day, we all burst out laughing. Finally, our counselor lined us up to go inside. I was glad that the excitement was over, but as we trailed into the building, I thought that I saw a small gray squirrel sitting on the second grade table, and staring up at a little girl with sparkling eyes!