Pretty soon, it was the beginning of sophomore year, and Allie could feel the time passing right in front of her. She couldn't have been more excited to start school and see Quincy all over again. She met with Betty Jane, Laura, and Mary-Anne at school as the three of them were chattering with themselves. Betty Jane saw Allie, gave her a hug and said, "How was your summer, Allie?"
"It was swell," Allie replied.
"I know, I know," said Mary-Anne. "You spent time with him, didn't you?" She gave a wink.
Allie chuckled and rolled her eyes. "Yes, Mary-Anne, Quincy and I spent a lot of time together. He even invited me over to his house one time. He's rich, you know---has a maid and everything."
"Sounds like he is out of your league," Laura said.
"He may be, but he's still mine," said Allie.
Betty Jane was looking at a poster on the wall, which was advertising the Quiz Bowl. The Quiz Bowl was held every other year at Fort Chester High. Then she said, "Hey, maybe we should think about joining the quiz bowl. What do you think?"
"You mean the Nerd Bowl," Laura said with a scoff.
"Why not?" said Allie. "It sounds like fun. I think I want in."
"Great," said Betty Jane. "Two down, two more to go. Mary-Anne, what about you?"
"No, thanks." Mary-Anne said. "I feel like I've been held in Catholic school for too many years to familiarize myself with other school subjects I know absolutely nothing about. I don't have the highest IQ, you know."
"Well then, you two are missing out," Betty Jane said. "You'd better wish Allie and I a lot of luck." She signed her name and Allie's on the poster just as a few students were gathering behind to sign their names as well.
In addition to the academic bowl, Allie and her friends also took part in the annual talent show, which was held every year in the spring, where they joined the Dance Team and did a spectacular performance quite similar to the one Allie had done back in middle school. The Dance Team wowed the audience with all their dance routines, but the biggest star was none other than Allie herself. The rest of that year went by very well and ended on a delightful note as Allie turned sixteen, feeling more like a woman than ever.
That summer, Allie decided that she wanted to open up her own beach club and allow all her friends and other peers become members, which was the idea that crossed her mind on the last day of school. Betty Jane offered to help her out in that. Allie said, "Would you really do that for me, Betty Jane?"
"Anything to earn some money," Betty Jane said with a shrug.
"Yeah, same here."
When she got home, Allie received a letter in the mail that she had been accepted to work at a theater camp for the summer, and then it hit her that she'd applied for a job working at the theater camp for a whole month while they were on spring break. Which may, however, interfere with her hopes and chances of opening up the beach club and running it.
Alexandra gave Allie the envelope, and Allie opened it up and read through it and became excited. "I can't believe it! I've been accepted to work at the summer theater camp!"
"Congratulations, doll." Paul gave her a hug. "We knew you could do it."
Allie skimmed through the letter once again, and said, "Oh, no. It says I have to leave for Imagination Camp by tomorrow, Saturday the first of June."
"What's with the 'oh, no'?" Paul asked.
"Yes, sweetie, aren't you excited?" asked Alexandra.
"I was---I mean, I am, but it's just..........I wanted to start a beach club, and I'm thinking of running it, and.........."
"Alessandra, Alessandra, Alessandra," Paul said, shaking his head. "You'll have plenty of time to manage a beach club. But you've been accepted to work at a camp where you have to make young minds act creatively and express themselves..........re-inventing the young minds of America. Just think about that, Alex---our little girl re-inventing the young minds of our country. I can see the headlines now." He fell into a whimsical state of mind as Alexandra tried to snap him back to reality.
"I'm afraid your father's right, sweetheart," said Alexandra. "You can't give up this chance to have a real job. You'll always have time to run your beach club. At least you'll have something to keep you busy for a month. Besides, that's all it is---just for one month. That's not too bad, is it?"
Allie thought about it for a moment, then said, "No, I guess you're right. One month isn't bad."
"You'll be back by the end of the month, so it shouldn't be too bad," said Alexandra.
"When you get back, you can start your beach club," Paul said. "But whatever you do, do not invite that boy who lives next door who plays with women's hearts." He was talking about Quincy, of course.
"Paul." Alexandra nudged her husband.
"Well, I suppose I'd better get packing," Allie said, and that she did.
The next morning, Paul was driving Allie to the camp in Bethesda while Alexandra was back at home preparing breakfast. When they finally arrived at camp, Paul got up and helped Allie carry her bags. "Thanks, Daddy," she said.
"Allie, I want you to have fun, and write to your mother and me whenever you can," Paul said.
"Of course, Daddy. I promise I'll write to you," she said, and then they shared a hug for a minute.
"Remember, these young children are depending on you to counsel them in every step of the way, so please try to remain patient with them, and don't get yourself involved in any kind of trouble at all," said Paul.
"I understand," she said.
The children, who were between the ages of 1-18, started making their arrival into the camp, carrying their bags and belongings. Paul was about to make his way out, then hesitated for a moment, came back to Allie and said, "Allie, just so you know---I don't really hate Quincy, if that's what you're thinking."
"You don't?" She seemed a little amazed.
Paul shook his head. "I could never hate anybody whom you're close with. As long as you don't get hurt, then that makes me happy. So if Quincy makes you happy, then I'm happy for you two." He smiled, and Allie realized that that was the sweetest thing her father ever said about a boy she really liked.
"Thanks, Daddy," she said, giving him another hug.
"Anytime, sugar. Anyway, good luck and have fun, and write to us whenever you can." Paul waved to her and got into the car and blew a kiss out to her. Allie waved good-bye to him, and then she was off on her own for the first time at a summer theater camp. Allie was then greeted by the woman in charge of the camp.
"Hello, my name is Martha," said the woman, shaking hands with Allie. "You must be Alessandra."
"Yes, ma'am," Allie replied.
"We proudly welcome you to Imagination Camp, Alessandra," said Martha. "Here, we help shape the young minds of America by making them act creatively. Here it's all about the talent, the dedication, the skills, the joys and sorrows of the theatrical world. But I assume you already know that, because that's what it said on your resume---that you have talent in the arts. Correct?"
"Um, yes, Martha," replied Allie, now feeling a little modest. "I've had my fair share of participating on the Dance Team in middle school, and just recently joined the dance team in my high school. I've also joined the Drama Club and the Art Club, and.........."
"That's really nice, dear," said Martha. "No need to brag in front of the children," she added in a whisper. Allie gave her a strange glance, and Martha only nodded. "Makes 'em feel very bad," she added again. Allie just nodded.
Martha announced that everyone gather together and sit on the grass. Allie could see there was a lot of younger people---say, about a hundred of them. Martha then began her speech. "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you all to meet your new camp counselor, Alessandra Sampson. She will be with us for the whole month, and let's show her some respect as she gives me a hand in preparing every single one of you into the world of theatrical and dramatic activity."
Everyone applauded for Allie, which Allie found a little unexpected. All the children really liked her, or so she thought. She took the time to get to know every single boy and girl, the eldest was a seventeen-year-old girl named Dawn. Dawn seemed to be the most mature one out of everyone else, being that she was the eldest. Besides that, Allie also had to deal with the likes of twelve-year-old twin boys who constantly fought and insulted each other non-stop, along with their seven-year-old little sister who was a wise-cracker and a spoiled brat. The only person Allie became close friends with, so far, was Dawn.
The camp was a relatively large area, being that there were many children enlisted, therefore the cabins were divided by each age group---the older ones would sleep in one cabin, the middle ones would sleep in another, and the younger ones in another, so on and so forth. Since today was only the first day, everyone only had a chance to relax and play with each other, and tomorrow would be the first day of acting lessons. Dawn was hardly interacting with the other kids. She wasn't really much of a social butterfly, as far as Allie could tell. They were sitting near a tent together.
"Have you had any experience in the arts?" Dawn asked Allie.
Allie couldn't bring herself to brag, but she had to be honest. "Of course, only about a few years, though. In middle school, I was part of the Dance Team, Drama Club, and the Art Club, and my high school just put on a talent show where I joined the Dance Team, and we were one of the best performances." She grinned.
"Oh, I know that."
"You do?" asked Allie.
"Yeah. Don't you go to Fort Chester High?"
"Yeah, I do. Why, do you?"
"Yes, of course. I'm a senior now---well, I'm going to be, once school starts again."
Allie was amazed that this girl went to her school, and she didn't even know it. "Wow, I can't believe I've never seen you around before," Allie said.
"Ah, it's alright. I'm not really that superstar famous, I suppose," Dawn said with a shrug, then she chuckled. "Unlike you, I guess."
"Yeah, everyone really likes me," Allie said. "I'm the most well-liked girl at Fort Chester High."
"You really are, Allie," said Dawn. "And let me be honest---I only knew you because of the rumors that went around that you're---you-know-what. That you're easy and stuff." She smiled.
"Oh, those crazy rumors," Allie said with a groan.
"Who started it, anyway?"
"Ah, it's just some stupid old rumor started by Mary-Anne McLean---you know her, don't you? The daughter of Nurse McLean?"
"Yeah, I know her. I had her in P.E., Home-Ec, and Photography."
"Yeah, anyway, she apologized for that, and we're really good friends now." Allie said. "She's just a little misunderstood. She's actually quite friendly once you get to know her."
"Wow, you're one to make friends quite easily," Dawn said.
"What do you mean by that?"
Dawn shrugged. "I don't know. I mean, you're lucky enough to be the popular one. I notice the way Quincy MacKenzie always stares at you, and you even won Homecoming Princess last year. That says something, don't you think?"
"Well, maybe I'm secretly a movie star that nobody knows about," Allie said lightheartedly, and they both laughed. Allie hadn't been this happy since quite some time. She thought summer camp would not be too bad after all. After all, it was only one month. She would be back next year to continue to fulfill young American minds in the theater business.
"So, what brings you here to camp?" Allie asked Dawn.
"As you've probably noticed, I'm the oldest one in here."
"Well, why is that, if you don't mind me asking?"
"You see, my family is very poor, and my folks think that if I stayed here for a month, it would sort of help with financial troubles. Long story, can't really explain that much, but you know what I mean."
"I think I do," Allie said, even though she really didn't. Dawn could just be making that up, but who knows for sure? "Anyway, it was great getting to know you, Dawn. And I hope to see more of you when we get back to school in September."
"Three months away," Dawn said with a grin. "You too, Allie."
Back at home, Alexandra was preparing dinner and dessert. Paul thought it was unusually quiet in the house without the presence of Allie, who was having herself a great---if not spectacular---time at summer camp. Paul said to Alexandra, "Don't you notice how unusual it is that Allie's not around, honey?"
"I see what you mean," said Alexandra. "Ah, she's doing just fine, Paul. It's only her first day. Give it until tomorrow or so for her to write to us."
"I'm not that desperate for her company, Alex," said Paul. "Yes, I know she's sixteen years old, but I just want her to feel very at home and comfortable, you know what I mean?"
"Of course she does," said Alexandra. "Allie is an amazing young woman."
Just then, the doorbell rang. Paul said, "I'll get that," and went to answer the door for Quincy. Apparently, Allie had forgotten to inform Quincy, as well as Betty Jane, that she was going off to summer camp for a month. "What are you doing here?"
"Hello, Mr. Sampson," Quincy said. "I'm sorry to come knocking on your door at the wrong time, but I was wondering if Allie was around."
Alexandra then came over to greet Quincy. "Hi, Quincy," she said. "Uh, we're very sorry to tell you, but Allie has gone off to Imagination Camp. She applied for a job there, and they accepted her to work with the young children for a month. We apologize if we forgot to inform you."
"Oh, that's okay, Mrs. Sampson," Quincy said. "I just wanted to know where she was, that's all."
"That's okay, dear. She'll be back by the end of the month."
"Okay, thank you very much for your time," Quincy said. "Good night, Mr. and Mrs. Sampson."
"Good night, Quincy," Alexandra said.
"Good night, Quincy," said Paul as Quincy made his way out. "Strange boy," he added.
"Not to mention, he's also a real gentleman," said Alexandra.
"Well, I suppose that he is a gentleman."