The following weekend, they were on their way to Granite Falls for a two-day camping trip. Laura was so excited, she kept rambling the entire time in the plane while on their way to their destination.
…you know this is the first time I’m flying? Man I wish I had the window seat… why didn’t you book us the window seat Charles? To be honest these seats aren’t comfortable at all… Oh what’s that noise? Why’s everything shaking? Is there an earthquake? What’s happening?”
Charles couldn’t tell if Laura was excited or nervous or maybe she was both. He couldn’t help but smile at how cute she looked. “We’re taking off” he said, placing his hand over hers in an attempt to calm her down.
Laura shut her eyes and buried her face in Charles’ arm.
The woman sitting beside Laura smiled awkwardly and handed Charles a paper bag. Thankfully, Laura managed to keep her insides intact and an hour and a half later, they landed in the beautiful world of Granite Falls- a lush pine forest with mountains so high that they touched the blazing sun. The best part about Granite Falls was it never snowed there. The sun shone throughout the year, with occasional showers of rain that kept the air moist and cool.
On this particular day, the sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky.
“Aaahhh” Laura took a breath,
Charles couldn’t agree more. But neither the snow nor the sun mattered to him as long as he had Laura at his side. He looked at her, admiring her beautiful face gleaming in the sunlight.
“So what should we do now?” she asked enthusiastically.
Charles suggested they pitch their tent before heading out to explore the woods, but Laura being the impulsive enthusiast insisted they go hiking.
“Look, this part of Granite Falls… what’s that…” she said pointing at the map she held in her hand, “The National Park… ooh, this sounds exciting! Charles we should go here first.”
Laura rolled her eyes and pouted,
she said, making a puppy-dog face.
How could Charles refuse her, when she looked this adorable? Laura surely knew his weaknesses, because in no time, he’d forgotten about his fatigue and they were on their way to the National Park.
They walked for over an hour, exploring the woods. Everything was so quiet and serene, nothing could be heard except the sounds of birds chirping in the distance. The air was fresh and a cool breeze blew over despite the hot sun blazing above their heads. Laura was ahead of Charles during most of the hike.
It seemed to him like she preferred her own company and while he longed to walk beside her hand-in-hand, he decided to give her the space she undoubtedly wanted. On the contrary, Laura only wished Charles would be as swift as her to keep up, but she did not bother asking him to walk faster, nor did she slow down herself to match his pace. The two walked in silence until they reached a river.
“I seriously think we’re lost. We should camp here for now. I can’t walk any further and it seems like there’s no way we can cross this river. So please can we just stop?” Charles muttered, panting frantically while bending over with his hands on his knees.
“But I can’t… walk… any further” Charles managed to say, despite being out of breath.
“But Charles we can’t stop, now that we’re so close! I can see it in the distance, look!” she pointed at some rocks a few feet away.
“We’ll go in a bit… just, let me take a breather.”
“Yeah, that’s because you didn’t have to carry this,” he took off the ginormous haversack from his shoulders and placed it on the mossy riverbank.
“I’m going to pitch the tent. You can go, if you want to,” he said as he began unzipping the haversack.
Laura looked at him, enraged,
“I never said that,” he chuckled, “here, read me out the instructions from the manual”.
She pulled the manual from his hands and without a word, she flung it into the river.
It took some time for Charles to realize what had just happened. When he did, however, he burst out, “What the hell Laura! Why’d you do that!?”
She said nothing and began unloading the haversack.
Charles was dazzled. Running down to the river, he saw the manual floating in the water. He didn’t bother pulling it out. He ran back up, “How the hell are we going to pitch the tent now? What are looking for?” he asked, as Laura scattered their stuff around.
Getting up she said arrogantly,
Charles looked at her puzzled. “I didn’t mean to offend you Laura,” he said calmly, “but you shouldn’t have thrown away the manual. How are-”
“I can pitch a tent all by myself” she cut in, “and I don’t need a manual or a man for that.” Saying this she hammered a nail in the ground then glanced coldly at Charles before resuming her work.
Woah, he thought, that was unexpected. What had ever happened to her? He decided to stay quiet so as to not infuriate her further. It was strange; at one point she was so elated, so overjoyed throughout the hike and suddenly she was mad at him for trivial reasons. He shook off the thoughts and sat down on the folding chair they’d brought along with them, waiting for Laura to be done.
Almost two hours later, Laura stood up, sweating profusely, “There,” she said, throwing the hammer down,
She walked down to the river, while Charles followed her with his gaze, still trying to make sense of what had just happened between the two. He had a million questions buzzing in his mind but he was too afraid to ask. He sighed and decided to nap in the tent. He walked over to the tent and began inspecting it.
Charles was startled and turned around with a jerk. It was Laura standing right behind him, a wide smile spread across her face. She moved towards the haversack and pulled out a bottle of water.
When she was done drinking, she said rather excitedly, “Oh look there’s a grill back there! How convenient! Could you make some veggie burgers for us? I always end up burning them! I’ll be there in a bit!” saying this, she disappeared into the tent.
Charles stood right where he was, unable to move. What the hell just happened here? he thought, as he finally began moving absentmindedly in the direction of the grill, a few feet away from their tent.