1980 – The Year of the Woodchuck
She shouldn’t be here. Derek kisses her and Ann pushes him away, doing the sneak-a-glance-at-the-door-while-still-trying-to-look-cool routine. It’s hard to pull off, though, since she’s half-choking on the stink of moldy canvas and eau-de-dirty boy-clothes. He wants to make out. She knows it, she’s just not into it. What if they get caught?
Derek’s bunkmate has life guard duty until four, but Ann eyes the screen door like it’s about to burst open Kool-Aid man-style.
His enormous bangs block her view and she shifts around. She has to be able to see the door.
Something on the far side of the mountain of sweat socks and stockpile of BooBerry cereal catches her eye. It’s a large ceramic…woodchuck?
Derek, floppy hair falling into his face, asks, “Something the matter, babe?”
“What’s that?” Ann points to the statue. “You a big fan of Caddyshack or something?”
“Just my good luck charm. Don’t worry about it.”
He makes like a rabbit and nibbles at her ear, leaving a thin trail of slobber dribbling down her neck. Do guys drool on Brooke Shields, too? She fakes a cough, using the chance to wipe off the drool with the back of her hand.
His roommate could walk in, or worse, her sister-
Placing her palms against his chest, she pushes him back and hops off of the cot. Picking her way around the piles of clothes and old tennis rackets, she grabs the little woodchuck.
“No, babe, don’t-“
“Why does he have such big teeth?”” She runs her fingers along the faded paint.
Derek lunges at her from across the bunk. “Put it down!”
She jumps. The statue falls. It shatters. She gasps and bends to pick up the shards. Way to go, she’s ruined her boyfriend’s good luck totem and now-
Her hand freezes over a piece of ceramic woodchuck.
“Let me explain,” Derek says, his voice high.
Her fingertips numb, she sees a piece of bright pink cotton cloth on the ground. And another, this one blue. Her throat tightens. Panties. Tons and tons of panties, strewn about the pieces of broken woodchuck like confetti. No, no this can’t be.
Quick, someone tell her it’s not true.
Her stomach twists. Her eyes fall on a pair of pale orange briefs with little pink flowers. Oh my God.
He has her panties, hers! Stuffed inside his good luck charm? Her breath comes in quick little fits.
Did he sneak into her cabin? Or worse, did he take them the other night when-
She grabs her panties in her fist and grinds her teeth, “You steal panties and stuff them into a woodchuck! What’s wrong with you?”
“It’s a beaver, actually.” He says, his voice small.
She screams so she doesn’t punch him in the face.
Ballads will one day be written about her remarkable self-restraint, she’s certain.
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