Read Alex's Challenge Online

Authors: Melissa J. Morgan

Alex's Challenge

Table of Contents
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Copyright © 2005 by Grosset & Dunlap. All rights reserved. Published by Grosset & Dunlap, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014. GROSSET & DUNLAP is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. S.A.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Morgan, Melissa J.
Alex's challenge / by Melissa J. Morgan.
p. cm.—(Camp confidential ; 4)
Summary: During the last weeks of summer camp, eleven-year-old Alex Kim has trouble hiding a secret from the other girls in bunk 3C while also trying to meet the high standards she sets for herself in sports, relationships, and other activities.
eISBN : 978-1-101-04298-4
[1. Camps—Fiction. 2. Friendship—Fiction. 3. Secrets—Fiction. 4. Diabetes—Fiction.
5. Perfectionism (Personality trait)—Fiction.] I. Title. II. Series.
PZ7.M82545Al 2005

Dear Bridgette,
I'm still here at Camp Lakeview.
Just two more weeks left before we can hang out—in person—again! I'm so excited to see you.
Thanks for the letters and manga books you've been sending me. I'm really trying to love anime as much as you do, and I'm getting into some of it. When I read that last one, I thought of you the whole time. I love how the Ninja Supertwins trick their kidnapper into letting them go. You're just like the brainy one (I'm the one who can fly and do flips and stuff—ha ha ha). It's fun to imagine that you're right here with me.
But you're not.
Do you know how much I miss you?
Brynn and I have been keeping busy—we're always swimming or jumping rope or staying up way too late. She can be a handful, though, always wanting me to practice lines with her (you know, she's a literal drama queen) and to help her find the stuff she lost in our big old bunk. I'd like to see her practice soccer with me! She doesn't like sports all that much, and, as you know, I live for anything athletic.
We're so different that sometimes I can't believe we're such good friends.
How's summer practice been without me? If I come back and you're a whole lot better than I am, you're just going to have to teach me your new moves. Deal?
I'm learning some new stuff—from boys, of all people. I get to play with the counselors a lot, which makes me better. But sometimes, I think they let me score points when they shouldn't. I'm not complaining, though. I'm having a blast. Anyway, I can't wait to play with you!
Just know that I miss you and think of you all the time. You don't know how much I wish you were here right now! Ugh. I don't have to pretend around you. You know how it is.
I miss you. Did I say that already? Well, I just said it again!
Best Friends Forever,
Alex had just gotten into bed and was trying to relax. If only her brain had an off switch! She was deep in thought, wishing she could be one of the Ninja Supertwins. She wished she could just have special powers so her life would be easier. Every time she hit the soccer field, she had to score at least three points for her team. Every time she left the bunk, she had to worry if she'd stay strong for the rest of the day. And every time her camp friends had issues—like when Jenna thought Chelsea had tripped her at lunch—they looked to Alex to keep the peace. Alex couldn't understand why she felt so much pressure and where it was all coming from.
At that moment, Jenna was causing Alex's stress. Jenna was addicted to sugar, and her parents liked to feed that addiction with packages from home. Sometimes, Jenna got cupcakes. Other times, she passed out Swedish fish. That night, she had the largest quantity of Nerds that Alex had ever seen. The round, little balls of candy were pink and purple. As Jenna passed them around—she was totally generous—some Nerds inevitably went flying. Gnat-sized streaks of unnatural color dashed through the air like Fourth of July sparklers.
Alex couldn't help herself; she peeked up from her letter to watch the scene, her mouth beginning to water. She loved the sharp-sweet flavor of Nerds. Just as she was going back to writing, a handful of the hard sugar pellets nicked her left cheek.
“Agh!” Alex yelled. Those buggers were dangerous.
Some girls started to grumble while others laughed. After six weeks together, everyone knew who'd get cranky (Chelsea) versus who'd get goofy (Jenna, Grace, Natalie). That's what had happened at Camp Lakeview every year Alex had been there, and she'd been going there for a lonnnggg time. The girls grew “thisclose,” and sometimes there was this magical warm and fuzzy feeling between them, like you'd met eleven soul mates. Other times, during the War of the Nerds, for example, “thisclose” was a recipe for calorie-infused disaster.
“Hey, did you get any?” Valerie whispered to Alex.
“Yeah, they left bruises on my cheek,” Alex said, passing up the sweet treats as usual. This time, Alex went back to writing for real. She started on another letter to her soccer coach. She had to concentrate on seeming busy so the girls would be less likely to pay attention to her. Alex wouldn't disturb a fly—and she liked herself that way. She was the original get-along girl who never instigated feuds or showed up late. She didn't even yell at Jenna's twin brother, Adam, when he pranked the bunk—leaving fake bugs on all the girls' pillows. Though that prank was pretty irritating, not to mention uninspired. Except for Brynn, who was her best camp friend, most people didn't know what made Alex tick. And sometimes even Brynn didn't know.
“Okay, cool,” Val said. “More for me then.”
you didn't just hit me in the eye!” Chelsea yelled into the air. Lights-out was in fifteen minutes, but she was always in bed first. She claimed that her face broke out if she didn't get enough beauty sleep. Chelsea even tried to get the other girls to quiet down early, as if that ever worked.
“Aye aye, Captain Chelsea,” Grace mimicked. “You'd better watch out, or you might lose a tongue, too.”
“Grace, please stop,” Chelsea said.
“Oh, we're just having fun,” Jenna added. With so many brothers and a sister, she was pretty good at keeping the peace—as long as she wasn't doing battle with Adam.
“Well, not to be a party pooper,” said Natalie, “but I stayed up way too late doing everyone's nails last night.” Alex didn't let Natalie put all that colored gunk on her hands or face; makeup just seemed hot and slimy. But Alex did love Natalie nevertheless, who was the daughter of the mega-star Tad Maxwell.
Tad Maxwell!
Alex had taken down her posters of him after she'd found out Natalie's news at the beginning of the summer. It was way too weird to worship her friend's dad. Though Natalie's father
the most amazing athlete Alex had ever seen on screen—he even did most of his own stunts in the
movies. Alex's favorite scene was when Tad jumped off Mount Fuji when the deranged monk was chasing him. Anyway, Alex had to hand it to Natalie; Natalie wasn't stuck-up or glamorous or Hollywood at all. Even if Natalie did love teen magazines, she was down-to-earth.
“Boo!” said Alyssa, Natalie's best friend at camp. Alyssa, a funky, artsy girl, hurled a few more candies at Chelsea teasingly.
stop it,” Chelsea yelled again. Brynn and Grace talked about the summer play again, and that made the others girls roll their eyes. Natalie put her head under her pillow to avoid all the noise. Jessie and Candace started whining about how hot it was, and Valerie and Sarah started singing “My Dog Has Fleas” for absolutely no good reason. Despite the colorful Nerds that had just been launched around the room, the girls seemed only blue.
Alex just didn't get it. She wondered why it was that every year, people got down in the dumps toward the end of camp. It was that weird time where kids weren't glowing from the newness of Lakeview anymore, and Color War was still a little bit too far away to get excited about. Plus, the kids all knew one another well enough to get touchy about the slightest things. Natalie was worried about Simon, who hadn't looked for her during free period that day. Grace complained about her parents, who were making her read
The Jungle Book.
Chelsea whined that her skin was oily (it so wasn't—no matter how mean she was, she was still super pretty). Brynn didn't know how on Earth she'd memorize all of her lines in time to perfect the voice she needed to deliver them. Alex, of course, had offered to help out as usual.
Alex breathed in deeply, trying not to get teary. She knew it wasn't nice of her to be jealous of them, but she was. She would've traded any one of their problems—she would even take two or three of their issues at once!—to get rid of her own. She wanted to know what it was like to be concerned about stuff you could actually do something about. She would've given her athletic ability—all of it—for just one day where she didn't have to worry, worry, and worry some more. There she was with the girls who knew her best, if anyone knew her at all, and still, Alex felt totally alone.

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