It seemed entirely fitting that we headed off into opposite directions. Before my farewell visit to the hole in the ground, I extinguished the fire, successfully wrapping up the breaking down of our camp. I even put the water jug and the shovel into the back of the truck and secured the net.
When I returned, I could see him already sitting in the driver’s seat waiting on me. I thought he might have turned the truck around while I was gone, but as I approached, I noticed he did not move the vehicle at all. I considered putting my backpack in the bed of the truck, but I didn’t want to remove the netting since everything was ready to go.
As I climbed into the cab, I could tell that he disturbed the gear in the back of the truck himself, as he definitely cleaned up. His hair was damp and he smelled of the same intoxicating scent he wore the previous day when he showed me how to fish. I remember really liking that guy a lot and I wished we were still back on yesterday and I was still the silly girl who didn’t know how to fish or who still believed something, anything, could have sparked between us. His book occupied him, passing the time until my arrival, and perhaps waiting for something else as he didn’t stop his reading once I closed the truck door. He must have finally reached a stopping point when he set it down and looked at me.
“Yes?” I inquired, not waiting for him to break the silence. The way he carried conversations, we could have sat in the truck for hours.
“You have the keys.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You should. I gave them to you yesterday when you parked the truck here.”
Oh my gosh, he was right. What did I do with them? I’m sure he could tell from my face that I was retracing my footsteps in my mind, trying to remember when I last held them. I lifted my backpack off the floor and dug through its various pockets. No luck. I considered likewise searching my purse, but I hadn’t used it all weekend so I knew with certainty they would not be there.
Did I put them in the hanging pocket in the top of my tent? I sometimes did that with my keys when I camped. If I did, wouldn’t I have felt them when I rolled up the tent? Maybe, but if I made that mistake, I would have to completely unfurl it to check. I sat with my hands placed evenly on each thigh, staring out the window at the empty campsite considering any other options or possibilities that would prevent me from having to unload the tent.
He interrupted my train of thought. “I’m glad I am not the only one who forgets what happened from one night to the next morning.”
I looked at him and he offered a slight grin on his face. For a moment I considered how thoughtless of him – these two mistakes were not even in the same category – until it occurred to me that we could be stuck here a very long time without the keys and the severity of my mistake escalated.
“I’m so sorry, I’m sure they are here…” and in an instant, I remembered. Grabbing my backpack, I hopped out of the truck, popped the netting off the bed, dropped the pack and yanked out my tote. I rummaged through my dirty clothes, until I found yesterday’s jeans. I dug into the pockets, and there they were: his keys tucked inside. As I hooked them around my finger and began to return the wayward clothes back to the bag, I realized I tossed shirts, panties, and even the moose pajamas around the back of the truck. When I looked up, he was watching me, smiling, obviously delighted that I located the keys. I secured the net and returned to the truck.
“I’m so sorry, here you go.”
He took them, but he didn’t start the engine. He just kept looking at me.
“Were you worried you lost them?”
“Yes, a little, until I remembered where I had them last.”
“You made quite a stir back there digging them out. I wonder if last night looked something like that.” Why was he suddenly willing to joke about something he didn’t even want to discuss earlier? I wasn’t sure I wanted to even talk about it, since he still implied he didn’t recall the scene, but if he wanted to make light of it, well then so would I.
“Yes, except this time I was the one grabbing my pajamas.”
He nodded, making me wonder if he really remembered. “Cam-moose-flage. Hmmm.”
NEXT: Breaking Camp – Part 52