Summer 2017 bellarke? Or ice mechanic? Or both???
The Summer Day Camp through the Parks Board was basically a bare bones day care. Other places had facilities, enrichment lessons, and organized activities, whereas they just had a multipurpose room in case it rained and Monty’s ability to turn just about anything into a physics lesson. That usually kept about half the kids interested and Bellamy would figure out something for the rest of them— either a game of capture the flag if it was nice out or a story in the other corner of the multipurpose room if it wasn’t. It wasn’t the fanciest day camp on record, but they did okay.
And as long as they told the parents a week in advance and it didn’t involve a bus, they could take the kids on a field trip. The sculpture garden was only three blocks from their park and admission was free, so Bellamy usually planned to take the kids at least a few times each summer. He wasn’t an expert at art appreciation, but it had to provide a little more educational value than yet another scavenger hunt.
Getting the kids there was a bit of a challenge, since kids were generally not the best at walking at the same pace and crossing the street carefully. Monty took the lead with the older kids and Bellamy followed in the rear, holding hands with their two youngest charges to make sure neither darted into traffic. But once they walked through the gates of the sculpture garden (two bright red steel beams) the kids spilled out across the grassy lawn with excited yelps. The garden was completely fenced in so he and Monty let them roam free, each of them keeping to opposite sides of the garden for maximum supervision.
Most of their campers were well behaved, if a little rambunctious, so Bellamy was surprised when a girl about his age in a bright blue shirt that had garden docent stamped across the chest marched over to him. “You’re with the campers, right?” she said, a little more testily than strictly necessary.
“I am,” he confirmed.
“Some of them are climbing on a piece and won’t get down,” she snapped. “Maybe you could supervise them a little better?” She was all righteous fury and indignation and Bellamy never took well to being ordered around, especially by someone who was probably just volunteering because they didn’t actually need the money from a summer job.
Bellamy followed where she was pointing and snorted. “That’s literally a jungle gym, princess.” He’d told them at least a dozen times before coming that they weren’t allowed on the sculptures but he didn’t appreciate her tone.
“It’s a sculpture that has half a dozen ‘don’t touch’ signs on it. And it’s not just a jungle gym, it’s a meditation on the fleeting nature of childhood.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“That’s what the artist statement said,” she replied, suddenly fighting a smile.
On second thought, she was kind of cute, so he relented. “Hey, get down from there,” he hollered at his campers and the guilty parties immediately climbed down.
“They listen like that all the time?”
This is literally the first time that’s ever happened, he thought. “Usually,” he told her, and flashed her his best smile.
She beamed back, all their initial tension dissipating. “Clarke, by the way.”
“I’m Bellamy. We bring these kids here a few times a summer. Hope that’s okay.”
“Then I’ll see you around,” she said, and she glanced back over her shoulder as she walked away.
Bellamy and Monty brought the kids three more times that summer and each time, Bellamy lucked out and found her working. The last time he even stumbled upon her sitting underneath a tree with a few of the older campers, giving them a short art history lesson while the kids watched her, rapt.
He found her on facebook that night–Clarke was a pretty uncommon name, after all– but of course she went to an east coast school, so Bellamy wrote her off as an idle crush. But she accepted his request immediately, and when school started in the fall she surprised him by sometimes tagging him in photos, usually of incredibly stupid art. Each time made him smile, but still.
Futile crush. That’s all.
The next summer Bellamy reapplied for his job, even though Monty would be doing an internship for an engineering firm. He hoped his new coworker wouldn’t suck too badly, but in the end he liked the kids enough to figure it didn’t matter if they did.
The first day of work he got to the park early to set up the multipurpose room and for a moment, he thought he was hallucinating. Clarke was standing on a chair in the corner, tacking a giant piece of butcher paper to the wall. She looked over her shoulder and grinned.
“Hey,” she said, a little shy.
“You’re working here?” he replied. He was kind of dumbfounded and more than a little nervous, to be honest.
“I talked the head of the Parks department into letting me set up an arts program through this,” she said, climbing down. “Hope that’s okay.”
“Probably slightly less dangerous than Monty’s ‘everything is flammable if you believe in yourself’ lessons,” he said with a grin.
Clarke smiled back and Bellamy privately wondered how he was ever going to make it through the summer.