"I can't help it. I've got some sort of rash on my ankle."
"Well, I think you're gonna have a whole lot worse than that if you don't stop scratching."
"Oh, you play dirty...I like that."
It was just the two of us in the tent, which was bad enough in itself. What made it worse was that I hadn't met Erik until two days ago. And he wouldn't stop scratching his leg! Jacob would hear about this. Erik had been making creepy, even disgusting, comments all day yesterday. "If you wanna canoe topless, I'm cool with that." "Are you and Jacob just friends? Good." "Can I take a picture of us together?" Just what I needed: proof, and a reminder, that I suffered an entire 24 hours with this strange man. A man! One would think he'd know better than to treat a woman so poorly.
This was supposed to be an enjoyable Spring Break, but I end up in a canoe with Erik while Jacob takes a turn in the kayak. The plan was to choose a campground, spend the night, and canoe the rest of the river the next day. Erik's plan, however, was a little different. "I think they're all ahead of us," he'd said. "We better paddle harder to catch up." So we did.
The current was already fairly fast. Come to find out, we were way ahead of our group. They'd already stopped and set up their tents a mile or two back. Jacob's sleeping bag was in our canoe, so he slept on the cold, rough floor of the tent bundled in all the clothes he'd brought. At least I wasn't the only one to have such a splendid night.
I bummed a cigarette from a guy from Michigan. I'd quit smoking two and a half months ago, but there's nothing like being offered a spot on the park ranger's couch to drive someone back to smoking. That park ranger had said I could spend the night at his place, which was nice...until he added, "Cause I'm single." No thanks, old man. No thanks. Apparently all the single men wanted to make room for me in their lives that night because another man offered to let me stay in his tent.
I didn't want to be with any of them.
Jacob would hear about this. He'd hear it on the drive to Atlanta. Could he possibly not have known that his friend would treat me this way? Even if Erik had been the most handsome guy I'd ever seen, I'd want to get away from him after the things he's said to me. Some of it was flattering, but that was not worth it.
And he's been scratching all morning! At least he built the fire. Then he asked if he could rub my feet. Really? I was surprised he didn't ask me to rub his, but he explained by saying he didn't want me to get whatever outbreak he had on his ankle. I figured it had to be poison ivy. That's what everyone in NY had warned me about when they heard I would be in the woods in South Carolina.
Taking hold of any excuse to leave his presence, I went in search of something to help him. I'm sure he thought it meant that I was in love with him and wanted to take care of him for the rest of his life, but it got me away for a while.
I asked several people if they had anything that would help with poison ivy. I was thankful they said no because it allowed me to spend more time asking other people. One lady was camping with her husband and their son and daughter. She was a nice, southern lady on a canoeing trip with her church. I thought that was just my luck. I'd get a sermon on this Sunday of all Sundays, but we actually had a good chat about my delightful night. She was sympathetic, even said she'd have let me stay with her family in their tent if she'd known.
Now I'm by the fire, waiting for the other four to join us. They must be taking their precious time since they aren't being tortured. I could've walked to their campsite by now and gotten in one of their canoes for a joyride back to Erik. Maybe he'd have the tent down by then...if he could stop scratching his leg long enough.
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