Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PICNIC - deadline 7-12-12 @ 9:59 AM NY Time (07/05/12)
TITLE: In the Middle of Nowhere
By Leah Nichols
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Five minutes later after brushing her teeth and splashing cold water on her face, she pulled on the few layers of clothing Jason had recommended she wear. She fastened her favorite earrings and laced up her tennis shoes. Ready.
The sound of gravel crunching in the front of the house indicated he had arrived. She slipped on her jacket and tucked her cell phone and camera in the pockets, then tip-toed down the stairs and out the front door.
Jason grinned at her as she slid into the front seat. “You look gorgeous.”
“Thanks, I think?” she responded. “I probably still have sleepy bugs in my eyes. And zero makeup at this time of night.”
“No need. You're beautiful any time of day.” He pushed the car into gear and began driving. “We'll stop at the 24-hour coffee shop to get a little something to wake up, but don't worry about food.”
“What did you have in mind? A picnic?” she laughed.
“For real? At two in the morning?” Renee shook her head, noting his consistency with oddball date plans. Once he had suggested they walk the suspension bridge just for fun. Another time they had climbed to the roof with star charts and found all the constellations.
Jason grinned again. “Actually it'll be more like four or five before we can enjoy our picnic lunch. Hope you like peanut butter.” He kept his eyes on the road, though it was vacant except for their car.
“So, we must be headed pretty far out, then,” she pressed.
“Not telling! You'll just have to figure it out as we drive.” He reached for his iPod and plugged it in. “Pick something fun to listen to.”
Renee shook her head again as she thumbed through his music collection. Maybe...no, he wouldn't do it today, would he? They had dated eight months, and though they had only briefly talked about the possibility of marriage, she had a sense that a proposal hung just around the corner. Every date had that potential, and yet despite its unique twist, even this one could be just another crazy time due to Jason's quirky romantic style.
Maybe. It'd sure be nice.
Could she marry him? Oh, yes. A life with Jason would never be dull.
* * * * * * *
“PBJ sandwiches, hot cocoa, bananas, and trail mix. I'm glad to see you didn't forget anything crucial,” Renee laughed as Jason spread the bounty on a classic checkered tablecloth. A single battery powered lantern dimly lit the scene, though traces of twilight glowed on the eastern horizon.
Jason gestured behind her. “Rub it in - I know you're the better cook. But have you ever had a picnic with this kind of view? Even if it's only PBJ?”
She turned and admired the majestic mountain rising 14,000 feet from the valley below, its snowy peak glowing brightly in the dim twilight. “How far are we up?”
“About 7,000 feet by the time we climbed the hill.” He stretched out against a rock. “Now that was a hike, huh?”
“I thought I'd get too hot from exercising in all these layers, but it's pretty chilly here with the wind blowing.” She reached for a mug. “I'll take that hot cocoa now.”
Jason winked at her. “Maybe we should sit together and share the heat.”
“Haha.” She poured a cup. “We need to keep our relationship pure, especially this far out in the middle of nowhere.”
“So how 'bout we define it, then?” He leaned forward, sliding his hands into his jacket pockets.
“The relationship. You want to keep having these crazy dates, picnicking on the top of a ridge, watching the sun rise over the mountains?”
Renee leaned back. “Yes, yes of course. This was an awesome idea. I love your ideas. I do love you, for all that you are.”
“How 'bout spending the rest of your life watching the sun rise with me?” He removed his right hand from the pocket, clutching a small black box.
She could not hide her smile. “YES!”
A few minutes later, with the diamond solitaire on her finger glinting in the brightening light, Renee snuggled against her intended and grinned. “Next time, though, I mean it. I get to pack the lunch.”
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