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- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
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- Michael Majchrowicz, student @ University of Kentucky
I met this girl last summer. How can I describe her? She was really weird, and that\'s the nicest thing I can say about her. Okay, that\'s not exactly true. Even though I didn\'t know her that well, I consider her a "special" kind of friend. We went through a lot together that summer, and I\'ll never forget what happened.
When we met, it was just one of those days: when the sun\'s shining so bright that you\'re afraid it\'ll burn your eyes out right through your sunglasses. I was away at summer camp and so no one back home ever heard this story before. In fact, Gwen had wanted me to keep this secret for at least a year.
Gwendolyn and I discovered the Fountain of Youth.
Don\'t believe me, right? I didn\'t think you would . . . but listen to my story before you make any judgments.
Gwendolyn and I were on those long mountain hikes we had to take each weekend in camp. You see, Gwen and I didn\'t meet until that summer, but we were in the same hiking group. We both hated hiking and that\'s how we first met, while we were both resting. I still remember her funny-looking camping gear. Her canteen, binoculars case, and backpack were all pastel blue, like matching luggage. But Gwen looked like the type of girl to have ugly pastel camping gear. Her wire-rimmed glasses and her hair pulled back in a ponytail didn\'t make her look like the camping type. I\'m not, either, but I wasn\'t about to spend another summer at home, doing nothing.
Anyway, like I said before, we were both resting. I took my canteen out and squatted close to a rock.
"Why do they make us hike when it\'s 100 degrees outside?" Gwen asks me, out of the blue. Of course it wasn\'t 100 degrees, but when you\'re hiking uphill for about more than an hour, it sure feels like it\'s 100.
"\'Cause they\'re stupid," I said, bluntly. "They think we\'re mules or something." I poured the canteen\'s water all over my face.
"You should\'ve drank that instead," Gwen told me. It wasn\'t like I really wanted to hear advice from her. "Now you\'ll get dehydrated on the trip back to camp."
"Oh, I have some more water in my backpack," I lied. "Speaking of camp, we better catch up to the others."
Gwen and I got up and started walking in the direction the group went. After walking for about five minutes, we came to a crossroad. Our group was nowhere in sight and neither of us could hear any voices or noises.
"Oh sh*t," I mumbled, dropping my backpack in the dirt. "Which way do you think they went?"
Gwen didn\'t look up. "You shouldn\'t swear," she said.
"OK," I said. Was she for real? I know I\'m not exactly a saintly type, but I don\'t swear on every other word. Besides when I\'m real upset or distressed, like I was then, I have to let it out someway.
"Sorry," I said. "But I don\'t particularly enjoy being lost."
"Neither do I," Gwen said. "Let\'s just try the road on the right."
So I picked up my backpack and we walked down the path on the right.
After another few minutes, Gwen started humming. It was the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I rolled my eyes and then she started to sing:
"Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored,"
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"I\'m singing," she said, like it should\'ve been obvious. Of course it was obvious, but why was she singing?
"I think we\'d better stop here and rest," Gwen said. "This is hopeless." We both threw our stuff down and rested. The scene was kind of appealing, all things considered. A waterfall was nearby and the river was flowing right past us. I took out my stuff and looked helplessly at them. I guess I felt like cursing at that moment, but something diverted my attention. I still don\'t know what it was.
It was a strange feeling I had,
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