Who belongs to this?

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Who belongs to this?

500 Words: Cringe


I always hated school camps

Travelling for hours on hot, sticky buses to some godforsaken outpost that no amount of Education Department spin-doctoring could ever make look good.

Teenage girls far from home and gone feral.

Worn out teachers with too many kids to look after and not enough control.

A nightmare that just had to be endured.

Using the amenities block was the worst. The disgusting smells, the ancient taps and leaky shower heads, the grey cement floors and mouldy broken tiles, the cracked mirrors and tiny, cramped stalls.

At the end of the camp day, shower time was always an ordeal.

Trying to get a shower cubicle. Trying to get a shower cubicle with a door that actually locked. Hoping there would be enough hot water left. Praying that the bullies would pick on someone else tonight. Praying that the bullies wouldn’t kick the door in or perve over it, or throw something under it while the shower was on.

My friends and I soon learnt to wait till last so that the troublemakers would be long gone to suck on that last forbidden fag before lights out.

By the time we had showered and made our way back to the dorm, most of the other girls were sitting on beds, gossiping, playing cards, just hanging around.

I made my way to my bunk, clutching my toiletries bag and my day’s clothes to my chest. I just wanted to get to my bed quickly and safely and pray that lights out would be soon. As I packed my stuff away, I heard laughter and sniggering. It was growing louder.

The camp bully was clearing her throat, demanding everyone’s attention. She clapped her hands together. All the girls turned to look. She was waving a beige bra high above her head.

“Who belongs to this?” she yelled as she scanned all the faces in the dorm.

I suddenly felt sick. I scrabbled through the clothes I had just dumped on my bed. I cringed. Something was missing and I now knew where it was.

If I’d been smart, I wouldn’t have owned up. But in those days, clothes and underwear cost money and you weren’t allowed to lose them or let other people take them. And another thing …underwear was exactly that…under wear – there was no way you’d ever let it be on show, and never in front of feral teenage girl bullies!

So, as the dorm of girls cackled like crazed hyenas, I walked the walk of shame right up to the bully and snatched back my undergarment. The soundtrack of cringe, inadequacy and embarrassment played loudly in the background as I stopped myself from bolting back to my bunk.

I always hated school camps.


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