Another twhack to the temple took my mind off the throbbing blister on my heel. I spit out a pine needle that had gotten lodged in my teeth during the branch rebound.
“How’re you doing, Hon?” Mr. Cheerful asked.
There were no words to tell him, so I trudged behind. I amused myself with the thought that somewhere in heaven, someone tabulating submission points under my name.
“Look, a mountain goat.”
It took me a couple of seconds. I was scrambling around on the trail, trying to upright myself after his abrupt stop.
“Where?” I did want to see a mountain goat. I deserved to see a mountain goat. Three days hiking, stinking, camping and surviving Mr. Cheerful really needed to include a mountain goat sighting.
“He was there, but disappeared behind that big boulder.” The big boulder was approximately 57 miles away and looked like a speck of pepper.
“You saw a mountain goat, there?” I pointed. He turned, inspected the spot and faced me.
“Wow, that carrot consumption has really paid off, you have the eyesight of Superman.”
He smiled. It was an: isn’t life grand, it’s wonderful to be here, I love you, honey and I really want to share this whole experience with you, smile. I returned the smile. I imagine mine said, I love you enough to share this with you, please don’t push it, I am hovering between pushing you off the mountain and kissing you. Tread carefully.
He leaned over, grabbed my overtaxed shoulders and planted a salty kiss on my mouth. “Want some trail mix?”
I held out my hand. M and M’s and the kiss saved his life.
“How long will it be? My boots are rubbing.”
His eyebrows furrowed, his pack hit the trail and he dropped to a knee. He began digging through the pack.
“Moleskin.” He held it up. A trophy of his care and concern. “Sit on the log.” I sat. Thoughts of ticks, mountain lions, snakes and spiders danced through my mind. I gritted my teeth. But the log felt like a recliner after a really long day. Mr. Wonderful untied my boots and slipped them off. I wiggled my toes as he slid my $15 socks down over my ankles. He used his carrot powered vision to scrutinize my unhappy dogs. Deft fingers found the blister. The scream may have helped with the location. He slapped the moleskin over the blister and redressed my feet. I wondered if this was what a vacation at a spa was like. I felt pampered. I did wonder how many poor moles gave up their lives for my comfort.
“That should get you to the camp site.”
“It feels better.”
He offered a hand, I stood. A dull ache, but the burn was gone. “Thanks.”
“My pleasure.” Mr. Charming bowed.
I laughed. “How long til we get there?”
“Not long.” He grabbed his pack and slung it onto his back. “Here” His binoculars in his outstretched hand. I would see a mountain goat yet.
Mr. Detail neglected to mention that his “not long” was an hour and a half longer than mine. The trail provided wildlife sightings, lots of spiders and a snake. Mr. Crabby took me to task when my snake shriek pierced his eardrums. He had superpower vision, he didn’t need flawless hearing. Mr. Crabby didn’t appreciate my comments.
My blister had stopped complaining but the rest of me was producing Big Band music. The sunlight had elongated and our shadows stretched. Mr. Bad-Idea-for-a-Vacation slowed, reached back and grabbed my hand.
“Close your eyes.” Easy, I wanted to curl up and suck my thumb, too. I was pulled, pushed and positioned in front of him. “Okay, open them.” Beauty sucked the air from my lungs. Granite God-formed monuments all around. Tiny trees growing from horizontal cracks. A hawk surfed air currents, swooping against sapphire sky. A million miles below, waterfalls trickled down the mountain face. I could hear nothing and everything.
“Look, a mountain goat.”
I peeked in the binoculars. Mr. Not-So-Bad-After-All helped me line up. The distant cotton ball had beady black eyes. I dropped the binoculars and watched him bound up the brutal slope.
I gave Mr. Wonderful a kiss. He set up our tent. I watched the world at my toes.
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