Looking at the last pill placed on her palm, Laura shoved it down her throat in haste. She had been in the tent for almost twenty minutes now, spending the first fifteen minutes looking for her medicines and the other five minutes worrying about how she would survive without them for the rest of the weekend. She was equally worried that Charles would walk in on her and then coax her to tell him what was taking her so long. Luckily none of that happened.
As soon as she headed outside, she was welcomed by the delicious aroma of veggie burgers. Laura’s stomach growled.
She saw Charles a few feet away, coughing loudly.
Laura smiled warmly and walked towards him. When she was close enough, she saw that Charles was in a pool of sweat and he kept blinking, probably because of all the smoke from the grill.
He’s so cute, Laura thought giggling. I hate doing this to you Charles. But I’ll tell you everything you need to know… Soon. I promise.
Laura put on a smile and exclaimed,
Charles did not react and placed the veggie burgers on the picnic table right next to the grill. He sat down and took a serving for himself. Laura followed.
An awkward silence ensued. Laura kept thinking of ways to break the silence, but she was unable to come up with anything meaningful to start a conversation.
“Mmm… this is delicious”, she finally said.
But Charles only nodded and continued eating his food quietly.
Suddenly she heard him muttering something under his breath.
“Did you say something?” she asked.
“What?” Laura’s brow furrowed with confusion,
“Shit. Umm…” Charles was undoubtedly uncomfortable for he squirmed and avoided meeting eyes with Laura. “… you know, because I’ve heard that women have mood swings when they’re on their periods.”
Laura only smiled awkwardly and looked down at her plate.
Charles then said, “Look, I’m sorry if this is awkward for you, but I seriously freaked out when you went from being excited to enraged in a matter of seconds! I just wanted to know why, and I thought this could be one of the reasons.”
Laura looked up and tried her best to look anywhere but in his eyes.
Your periods ended a week ago. Tell him the truth.
“They’ll start a couple of days from now. And it’s okay” a chuckle passed her lips “it’s really not awkward.”
Charles heaved a sigh of relief.
…Like, I seriously didn’t know how to react when you started acting abnormally”
“Abnormally?” Laura’s voice grew louder as she became enraged.
She stood up, glaring at Charles with rage then turned to walk away.
“See” said Charles, pointing at Laura, “there you go again!”
Laura stopped instantly and turned around, her anger melting away. Her lips curved into a smile and she shrugged saying, “you’re right, I’m PMSing!”
Why are you lying to him?
She sat down again, smiling sheepishly.
He chuckled and asked, “Does this happen every month?”
Every time I don’t take my pills.
Why are you hiding the truth?
Charles raised his brows in amazement and smiled. After a moment he said, “You know it’s weird. I’ve never seen you act like this before! I mean, you said it happens every month, but…” he shrugged “…I’ve never noticed it all these years.”
Laura felt a pang of fear. She widened her eyes in shock and immediately looked away.
She began sweating and her hands trembled.
Tell him. Tell him the truth. Tell him your symptoms have returned. Tell him that they’re worsening day by day and that you’re moods are getting out of control. Will he ever understand, though? I know he’ll run away. He’ll abandon me like everyone else has. But he deserves to know. He doesn’t. He does. I’ll tell him everything.
When she finally looked over at Charles, she realized he’d been staring at her with narrowed eyes. Laura smiled and shrugged without saying a word.
She couldn’t tell why she was unable to muster enough courage to tell him her secret. But she guessed it was because she was scared he wouldn’t understand what she was going through and he’d end up judging her and eventually leave. The fear of being rejected had always been her biggest concern in every relationship- be it with a guy or a girlfriend or even a colleague, for that matter. Now, as Laura’s love for Charles grew stronger with each passing day, the fear of losing him grew just as much. She knew she wouldn’t be able to handle another break up and so she decided the right thing to do was to avoid telling him anything that would lead Charles to abandon her.
Sadly, even after being really good friends with him for almost two years, she wasn’t able to trust him enough to confide in him and share her deepest, darkest secrets.
Their relationship had so many flaws, and despite knowing the fact that nothing is perfect, Charles only wished he could do something to make things better. Until yesterday, everything between them was settled and their relationship was back on track. Now, things seemed to haven fallen apart again. What sort of a roller coaster ride is this? Charles asked, laughing at himself.
He did not feel at ease in Laura’s presence anymore. As he sat across her on the picnic table, she felt like a complete stranger to him.
Her mood swings seemed abnormal and he was certain Laura was lying when she blamed it on her periods. Charles knew she was hiding something from him. She had always been secretive, right from the very beginning. First, it was her parents she wouldn’t talk of. Charles had coaxed her to speak of them, but he finally gave up realizing she wouldn’t give in. How is it going to make a difference to me, anyway? he’d thought. And now, it was the secret behind her abnormal behavior and her mood swings.
He shook away the thoughts and decided to focus on their camping trip, instead.
“Let’s go to the National Park!” he exclaimed trying to change the subject.
…It’s unbearable! Forget it Charles. We should probably just stay in our tent.”
And so they did. The rest of the afternoon they passed time by playing cards and then took a quick nap. As the sun began setting the weather became pleasant again with cool breeze blowing occasionally. Laura and Charles decided to explore the rest of the forest. They had only walked for a few minutes and they’d already started sweating. The heat was definitely slowing them down. Fortunately, they came across a green water spring right under a canopy of trees. They instantly dived into the water to cool themselves down.
The water was unexpectedly cold despite the sweltering heat outside.
The surroundings looked just like the Bluffs back in their hometown. Charles was reminded of when they used to go down to the Bluffs and party all night long. Then he remembered their date at the Bluffs the day they got engaged.
These sweet memories made him smile and feel nostalgic. He pulled himself out of the water and sat up on the edge. Looking at Laura swim around he thought solemnly, she seems so distant from me, like she’s avoiding me on purpose. What is she hiding from me? And why ‘is’ she? Everything between us seems so strained and awkward again. How do I get her to tell the truth?
Just then, Charles was pulled out of his thoughts as Laura splashed water on him while she giggled playfully.
“Hey stop!” he yelled.
“What are you doing up there all alone? Come back in the water!” saying this, she pulled him in and they swam around lazily until dusk.
Once it began getting darker, the two headed back to their tent. They had an early dinner of canned beans and soup. The cool night breeze seemed almost unbearable, so they gathered around the camp fire to warm themselves up. They roasted some marshmallows…
…and Charles told the only ghost story he knew while Laura listened attentively.
An hour or so passed after which they lied down and stargazed for a while. When Charles looked at his watch, he was surprised to see that it was only half past eight. They sat up again, next to each other in silence wondering what they’d do to pass time. The night was quiet with the usual sounds of crickets chirping and owls hooting in the distance. Charles closed his eyes trying to focus on the night sounds and to get his mind off the million questions that kept brewing in his mind.
Suddenly he felt something touch his shoulder and he opened his eyes, looking to his right. It was Laura who had moved closer to him and had placed her head on his shoulder.
“It’s so cold, isn’t it?” she almost whispered.
Charles nodded in agreement and placed his arm around her. They snuggled then made out.
When Charles pulled his face away he looked deeply in her eyes and whispered under his breath,
“For what?” Laura asked, confusion apparent in her voice.
“Well, ugh… you know I was thinking maybe we should… ugh, woohoo…hooh” he chortled.
Laura’s eyes brightened up, “Yes we should.” She stood up then sat down again, her eyebrows burrowed, “but you had said I wasn’t the right girl. That you-
“No,” he cut her in, “I never said that!” he yelled in anger. “I only said I was saving myself for marriage. That had nothing to do with you. You were and always will be the right girl for me, Laura. And having said that, I feel I’m finally ready to let go of the promise I had made myself. I only wanted my first time to be with someone special and to be honest you are so much more than that. You mean the world to-”
But before he could finish Laura gave a peck on his lips and stood up immediately, tugging at his arm as if asking him to get up. Leading him over to their tent, she entered in then gestured him to follow her inside.
That night, they finally made wild love in the wilderness. And as they opened up, letting go of their fears and exploring each other, their love strengthened further putting an end to all the awkwardness that had existed between them.
There had been something magical about that night, Charles realized as he reflected on what they had just done. It was the way Laura’s lips had touched his, sending electric waves throughout his body, or perhaps it was her beautiful face that had gleamed in the moonlight, all of which had somehow made him give in to his forbidden desires. And as he lay beside her, he was glad he had not fought back the urge to let go. The day had been long and tiring, but before falling asleep he made sure to kiss Laura’s cheek and whisper the three magic words in her ear.
Laura smiled as Charles snored softly in his sleep. She felt heavenly, lying beside him in his arms. She’d been worrying about woohooing with him ever since he’d told her he was going to wait. What if he’s horrible? She’d thought to herself. What if he’ll want to do it with someone else? She’d worried. But none of that mattered now, especially not when he’d whispered in her ear before falling asleep, how much he loved her and how incredible he’d felt. Laura couldn’t agree more, it had been incredible and now that she thought about it, she blushed red.
She only wished he had stayed awake so they could talk; there was so much she wanted to tell him; about her depressing past, her rebellious teenage years, her illness that only Eva knew of.
You’ll know everything eventually, she whispered, just give me some time. Placing a gentle kiss on his neck, she dug her face in his arms and before long she drifted off to sleep…