Kiara woke with a satisfied smile on her face. She loved the early morning feel of camping; the moistness in the tent, the twittering of birds in the trees. She stretched, languidly, then settled back into her sleeping bag, the coziness of the moment settling over her in a wave of sweet tranquility. To lie there just a moment longer was absolute bliss. There were no deadlines looming over her head and nowhere she had to be now.
The calm moment shattered, leaving tattered shreds of terror in its place. Wrapping her sleeping bag tightly around her, she pulled herself to a sitting position. Cringing with fear, she moved to a corner of the tent, as if to remove herself from danger.
What if it’s a bear out there? Or worse, a different kind of predator? One who could harm me in the worst way imaginable?
I can’t just keep sitting here like this, cowering.
What happened to the brave woman who agreed to go on this camping trip with Julie? Alone. By ourselves. No husbands. No kids. I think she must’ve decided to go on another trip. Somewhere less… primitive. Smart girl. I should have gone with her.
OK girl, calm down. You’ve got to see what’s out there and deal with it. You’re used to dealing with all kinds of stuff, remember?
Yeah, but this is out in the wilds of Timbuktu, not the wilds of child rearing and the writing deadlines I’m used to. Get a grip. Riiiiight. A grip… aha!
The flashlight next to her loomed larger than the supposed bear.
The perfect weapon. Well, maybe not. I doubt it could even maim a bear, let alone kill it. But it’s all I’ve got.
She grabbed it, gripping it with both hands. She slipped out of her warm bag and edged toward the door, hoping she wasn’t waking Julie – she had to deal with this herself. Prove how brave she was to her beyond courageous friend.
As Julie entered the tent she exploded with laughter. “Oh. My. You…” She was laughing so hard she could hardly talk. “Kiara… if you could… see yourself!”
“What’s so funny? Wait! What? You’re up? I thought…” A crimson glow crept up her face. “What are you doing?” Kiara asked as she saw Julie rummaging through her backpack.
“I… need a mirror… you have got to see yourself! Maybe I should… take a picture too, for posterity. Here… it is. Look.” She said between outbursts of laughter.
She handed Kiara the mirror.
Not really wanting to see, but obviously having no choice, she snatched it from Julie’s hand.
Looking in the mirror, she chuckled. Her hair was standing out at crazy angles all over her head. The green night goop she used to smooth her complexion was streaked around her mouth where she had drooled in her sleep. She looked a fright. Fright… the snap she heard…
“I have a fire going, and the coffee perking, if you’d like a cup,” Julie said, still giggling.
Kiara snorted, sniggering. “A fire… you built a fire… oh, that’s so funny!”
Julie’s eyebrows shot up. “Building a fire is funny?”
“Uh, no.” Kiara said, regaining her composure, which was kind of hard considering the state of her appearance. “Building a fire is not funny. My being scared at the snap of it, is. I thought you were still in here… I thought there was a bear out there!”
“No wonder you had that look on your face when I came in. You should have seen yourself, what with that green stuff smeared all over your face… your mouth and eyes as wide open as a cavern…. my stomach hurts!”
Roaring with laughter, the two women hugged and fell back on their sleeping bags, wiping the tears from their eyes…
“This has to be the best coffee I’ve ever had.” Kiara said, her hands wrapped around her cup. A sigh of contentment escaped her lips.
“You better enjoy it while you can, you never know when a bear might appear. Snap. Of course, dousing him with hot coffee right in the eyes, if you’re a good enough aim, might be more effective than trying to pummel him with a flashlight.” Julie deadpanned.
Peals of laughter rang through the woods, scaring any bears that might come snapping their way into camp.
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