Campground friends are otherworldly.
Like friends found via an enchanted wardrobe.
Vastly different license plates on campers, parked side by side.
Cowboys and broncos. Cornfields and silos.
We would have our brief, intense adventure, romping across playgrounds, beaches. We would bond, deeply, over the burst of bonfire sparks, across the span of mere days, and at the end of it, part – with a depth of sorrow not given anyone else. After all, a neighborhood friend, or classmate who moves away, might very well be found again, even if only in letters exchanged.
While a campground friend’s farewell – is a taste of death.
Eternal goodbye, their somber wave from the back window of a van pulling away, because you know, heart jammed in your throat, you’ll never find them again, never swing side by side anywhere else, and you know, this is your final glimpse of their sweet, sandy face on this earth.
Summer Hammond grew up in rural east Iowa and the campgrounds of Florida. She earned her MFA from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Texas Review, Sonora Review, and StoryQuarterly. Her fiction was named a 2022 semi-finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize and 2022 finalist for the Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize.