Once at summer camp this girl named Chrissie who was older than us but assigned to our cabin for unexplained reasons stood up before lights out and announced that she had to pee. We were like ten years old and not trusted to go to the latrine alone after dark.
“I need a buddy,” she’d said to the room full of girls who had just laid down in their diaper-mattressed bunk beds and hugged their comfort objects goodnight (blankies, tattered lambs named Fluff).
After a brief, but not impolite pause where we all hoped someone would offer first, a girl finally agreed to be her buddy and hopped down from her bunk.
It was too late though. Chrissie, a twelve year old, a woman with a period who towered above us in her training bra and plaited braids, had already wet herself on the plywood floor.
We all sat up and watched in silence as the puddle expanded its borders and drifted outward across the knotty floor. When it was in its final form and our counselor had run to the closet to get a mop or a bucket or whatever was available to her, someone observed that the puddle was shaped like China.
“China,” we’d all repeated flatly, repressing the reflex to bully overtly, but still craving the release of articulating that something’s ridiculous in its precise moment of ridiculousness. There was objectively not enough time to reach the bathroom. Even if we had all offered at the exact moment she’d asked, we would have made it to the cabin door, max. Pee. Bodies.
I remember one tiny tear budging imprecisely across Chrissie’s face while she stood, soggy-nightgowned, and waited for the mop.
We helped her clean.