Nicely Johnson and Caylan

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2000

By Daniel Lyons, Illustrated by Miranda Lynne Morris

As I recall, it was early in the morning, around seven or eight, when I first arrived at summer camp. The beautiful summer breeze whisked through my nose, giving me a vague sense of freedom. How I had longed to leave school and have this feeling tingle my senses. This had marked my third year at summer camp, and I was ecstatic to meet my friends again.

I walked across the new green grass leading to the main campus. Directly in front of me, I would say about twenty-five yards, a red-haired boy paced back and forth. He looked at his feet, as if he had just discovered them. I came closer, and noticed his pale white skin. I had never seen anyone like him before. Now, I was several feet from him, but he managed to still keep his head faced to the ground.

“Hello. I’m Daniel Lyons, it’s very nice to meet you.”

I held my hand out for a handshake, making him slowly lift his head up.

“I am Cay . . . Cayla . . . Caylan . . . I am Caylan.”

“Hi, Caylan, it’s very nice to meet you.”

I was puzzled by the way he talked. As he spoke, he would change the position of his head and hands. As I walked away, I got a quick glance at the back of his white T-shirt. “Johnson School for Special Students.” I began to formulate why he was different from the rest of us. It gave me a drooping feeling of sadness, but I kept walking.

Nicely Johnson and Caylan swimming pool

“Hey Dan! What have you been doin’ with that Caylan kid?”

I would say a week or so had passed by when Gary, the head of the drama section of the camp, informed us that we were going to put on the production “Guys and Dolls,” and auditions were to be held that afternoon. I thought I did fairly well, because I earned the part of Nicely Johnson. I would perform the song “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”

I walked down the cobblestone path leading to the boys’ bunk. Caylan walked over to me.

“I hear that . . . that you are Nicely . . . Nicely Johnson. That song you sing. I know the words. Can you . . . you take me out on stage with . . . with you? OK then. Bye.”

He began to walk away.

“Wait, Caylan! Umm . . . I dunno if you can do tha- . . . I’ll talk to Gary.”

He smiled at me.

*          *          *

“You’re it, Caylan!”

I ran away from him laughing. He was laughing more than I was, and I don’t think I’d ever seen him so happy. He reached for me, and missed. I kept running, until he had finally caught me. I now chased him around, until we were both tired. We sat down, breathing heavily.

“So, did you . . . did you talk to Gary?”

“No, I didn’t, Caylan; I guess I will now.”

*          *          *

“No! Are you outta your mind?!”

Gary’s face turned a dark shade of red.

“But he doesn’t understand! He may be thirteen years old, but he’s really just a young child; he can’t take your refusal!”

“No, and that’s final!”

I walked away, my tail between my legs. Caylan walked up to me. I stared at him darkly. He understood, and walked away. I kept walking a different direction.

I smashed into the water, still amazed on the height I gained on the diving board jump. I opened my eyes as a girl swam under my feet. It was Jenna, one of my good friends. She and I surfaced.

“Hey Dan! What have you been doin’ with that Caylan kid? You don’t hang out with us much any more. And why the heck won’t he come in the water?”

“He hates water, it scares him. He really likes to stand on the edge and look in. I dunno why.”

I looked at him still standing on the edge smiling. Krist came up behind him, ready to push him in. I sprung from the water, and rushed Krist, pushing him and me into the water.

“Don’t push him in! You know he hates water!”

“I’m just playin’. What’s wrong with you?!”

He swam down under the water and swam away. Caylan smiled and kept gazing into the water. Jenna swam back up to me, a frown spread on her face. She shook her head and swam away.

I walked down to the boys’ bunk dribbling a basketball. I looked in and there Caylan was. He hummed the tune to my song from the play. He danced to himself, the exact movements I do in the number. He knew as if choreographed by my rehearsals. It was amazing, a flawless mirror of myself! I smiled as he finished, and clapped loudly. He swung around and began to laugh; he bowed and walked past me.

Two weeks had passed since then, and Caylan and I went our separate ways. We talked now and then, but not as much as we used to. I had focused more on my other friends. Now I walked with Jenna and Krist. We were talking, and mid-sentence, Krist was interrupted by a magnificently huge boom. We were showered with water as the sky turned darker. More booms followed, preceding more rain. Jenna, Krist and I ran to our bunks, where roll was called.

“Dan.”

“Here.”

“Krist.”

“Here.”

“Caylan . . . Caylan!?”

Oh no. A feeling of dread shot through my stomach. I ran outside, barefoot, running through the mud. Rain pattered painfully now on my back. I ran to the pavilion. Empty. I proceeded running to the music shed, a great distance away. No one was there either. I ran past the tennis courts, where a white flash glared in my eyes. Caylan was sitting in the corner of the court.

“CAYLAN! Let’s go! C’mon! Now!”

Caylan got up and came up to me, smiling.

“Caylan, this is not a game; stop!”

His look changed to sadness.

“Fine, let’s go, I’m sorry.”

He followed me back to the bunk. The counselor looked at me.

“Caylan?”

“Here . . .”

Finally the day I dreaded, the play. I sat quivering uncontrollably in my suit and makeup, adding to my nervous state. One minute seemed like an hour. Acts came on and passed, but all I could think of was Caylan. I hadn’t seen him lately, and I didn’t know where he was. Finally it was my time, and a plan shot through my head. I ran around the camp calling Caylan’s name. He walked up to me, in a suit.

“And now, Daniel Lyons as Nicely Johnson, singing ‘Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”

I walked out on stage holding Caylan’s hand. A smile breached his face ear to ear. A deafening silence swept the audience. The parents began to whisper, and Gary’s mouth gaped open. This was it. Cheri, the piano player for the play, began to play. The number went perfectly, no flaws and no missed dance steps. Caylan sang great too. He had great fun, and we shocked everyone. From that day on, Caylan and I remained friends; contrary to what people think, Nicely Johnson and Caylan took the show away. And now I really can’t wait for the summer . . .

Nicely Johnson and Caylan Daniel Lyons

Daniel Lyons, 12
Norristown, Pennsylvania

Nicely Johnson and Caylan Miranda Lynne Morris

Miranda Lynne Morris, 11
Nobel, Ontario, Canada

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