I woke up by someone gently shaking the bed.
It took me a couple of minutes to fully wake up. I just wanted to go back to sleep — why get up early for another day of being beat by your former best friend and her new bestie?
But as soon as I remembered what today’s challenge was, I jumped out of bed like electricity coursed through my veins.
On the ground, I took a step toward Team Jules’ bunk-bed to wake them up, but stopped short.
Jules’s bed was empty.
I had assumed that it was Charlotte who had shaken the bed to get me up, but a glance over my shoulder proved me wrong: Charlotte was still snuggled under her covers.
So Jules had gotten me up?
I tugged some sneakers on and left the ski lodge to look for Jules.
A minute later, I saw her sitting on a brick ledge, a scarf and hat thrown on over her pajamas.
I tip-toed closer to her. A few yards away, I called out, “Jules?”
She jumped when I spoke.
As she slipped off the ledge and hurried away, I got a glimpse of something tied around her neck — a graphite colored cross, with a circle that read “Bff.”
I slumped onto the ridge and sighed. Closing my eyes, I thought about the necklace I had at home, hidden in my sock drawer. It looked exactly like the one Jules was wearing, only gold.
Beside me on the brick was a piece of paper.
I turned it over . . .
and saw that it was a picture of me and Jules.
I knew this picture very well. I had one just like it, stashed away with the necklace. It was from the day that Jules had given me my BFF necklace, and we had promised to best friends forever.
I almost laughed and almost cried as I stared at the photograph.
We had promised to best friends forever, hadn’t we? It didn’t really seem like Jules had remembered that pledge lately.
A tear trickled down my cheek, freezing from the cold breeze. The picture seemed so old, even though it had only been taken three years ago. I wondered if I would ever be able to put my arm around her like that again . . .
I gazed after Jules, another tear squeezing out from the corner of my eye. She had been wearing her BFF necklace, and looking at a picture of us?
Could she possibly want me back?
“Oh, Jules,” I murmured.
I stood up, shivering, and headed back to the ski lodge. But before I left, I picked up the photograph.
When I got back to our room, Venus and Charlotte were still sleeping, so I tucked the picture under Jules’s blanket.
An hour later, Team Tori and Team Jules were assembled on a road that was closed to traffic.
Sianne, Ashley, and Teresa hadn’t come outside because of the cold, but they were shouting rules and instructions at us from an open window.
We would spend the night outside, using just the supplies we had packed in our backpacks. There was an exception for the team that had the least points (meaning Charlotte and I): someone would drive out on a snowmobile and deliver us our sleeping bags.
The two teams set off in opposite directions, one cameraman trailing after each.
The only good thing so far about being the losing team was that me and Charlotte got to ride on a snowmobile for awhile. Charlotte sat behind me, and I started its engine.
As we crested a hill, I crossed my fingers — without letting go of the handle bars, or course — hoping that I wouldn’t get Charlotte or me hurt on the snowmobile, which I had never driven.
After about ten minutes, we saw a big red circle, and I slowed the snowmobile. The marker signaled that we had to get off the machine.
I let go of the handle bars, slipped off the leather seat, and followed Charlotte into a world of white.
“Here we are,” I announced. “This is where we’ll set up camp.”
We had picked a swath of snow in between two rows of tall thorns. We hoped that it would protect us from the wind, but I didn’t think anywhere would be safe from the frigid gusts tonight.
Charlotte slipped the backpack off her shoulders, and handed it to me. I dug around in the bag and fished out a black tarp.
We spreed the tarp out on the snowy ground, placing rocks on the corners to keep it down.
We shivered and talked until nightfall, when Teresa rode out on the snowmobile and gave us our bedding. We would have built a fire, but we couldn’t find any wood on the hike out.
Charlotte and I climbed into our sleeping bags, pulling the fabric all the way up to our chins. We didn’t even think about taking our shoes, hats, or jackets off. We drifted off to sleep with all our layers on.
The sun was just peeping over a mountain, sending gold, pink and orange beams of light over the snow-covered world, when we woke up.
We were fully charged, but it was raining, so we rifled through the backpack and pulled out our ponchos. Rainbows sparkled in the sky, dancing a duet with the sunrise.
I didn’t bother joking about finding a pot of gold, because I knew the treasure was right beside me.
“This is great camping weather,” Charlotte said sarcastically.
“Yeah,” I replied with a smile as a raindrop hit my nose.
We packed up camp, and ran all the way back to the road where we had set off the day before.
When we arrived at the ski lodge, Teresa, Ashley, and Sianne were sitting on a zebra striped couch, wrapped up in pink patchwork blanket. They were staring at a screen, so I guessed they were watching a movie. But then I noticed that the two girls moving on the screen were me and Charlotte! They were watching the film the cameraman had taken of us the day before.
Charlotte and I shed our wet ponchos and jackets, hats, scarves and mittens, and slid under the warm blanket next to Teresa.
Watching myself drive the snowmobile on the screen, I thought just how AWESOME I looked. Nobody would guess that the only thing I had every driven was on Mario Cart.
Thirty minutes later, Jules and Venus tramped into the ski lodge. I’m not sure, but I think I saw an icicle hanging from Venus’s nose!
We had finished viewing Team Jules’s attempt at surviving outside for one night, and Teresa leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You won!”
When I told Charlotte, she leaped into the air, celebrating.
I jumped up after her, flexing my muscles.
As I wrapped my arms around Charlotte, I decided that we really could win this after all.
We can do this . . . We can do this . . .