The campfire

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i have always imagined what it would be like to finally wake up next to you the morning after “the camping trip” that we had once upon a time talked about. i always imagine that i would lay there quietly listening to you sleep, feeling the rise and fall of your chest as you lay next to me, gently brushing the hair away from your eyes so i can actually¬†see you. the you that has no pretenses, the you in your most unguarded moment, the you that i fell in love with.

i would imagine that i would have to eventually leave your side to make sure the fire was going so that i could get the coffee going and get the supplies from the bags to make our breakfast. i would step outside of the tent and take a big breath of the morning air in the forest and realize that nature had nothing on what it is like to wake up next to you, my face nuzzled into the nape of your neck, breathing in your scent, memorizing every nuance of the way you smelled. making sure that scent is forever burned into my memory.. my mind memorizing the exquisite curve of your neck..

in my mind, it would be the smell of coffee and breakfast that would finally rouse you from your beautiful slumber.. you would come out of the tent, your hair still a beautiful mess, rubbing the sleep from your eyes and stretching that beautiful body of yours. i would have my cup already in my hand, and i would just watch you… in my mind, thanking the universe for giving me this moment in which to imprint this specific event in the fabric of time.. i would just look at you, smile, and wish you a good morning. id then walk over with your cup, open my arms and let you wrap your arms around me in a morning hug.. and we would just stay like that for a moment. you in my arms, in our little spot in the universe… and for that moment… everything would be perfect..

oh how i miss you..

Goodbye summer

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this picture is all i have to remind me of her.

i think it was late summer, maybe it was still in the early fall. all i knew is that i could sense that something had changed in her. i knew that she had big plans, or at least she had been hinting that plans were afoot and i wasnt sure if she was trying to brace me for the inevitable.

we must have walked for at least a mile holding hands in silence. the ocean with its constant waves was the only thing that kept reminding us that the moment was real. the water covering our feet and then rushing out was almost like a timer, counting down the seconds till she would speak.

“you know john and carol are getting married later this year” she finally began. she turned and looked at me with that same smile that had gotten my attention almost 2 years ago.

i smiled back at her and responded with ” yea, i had remembered that they wanted us to bring something that would remind them of our trip from that summer”.

she smiled for a little while longer and then turned back to the sand at her feet as we kept walking. another long silence and then she finally pulled her hand away.

it was then that i realized that this was going to be the moment that i had been dreading. it was going to be now, here, on this beach where we fell in love.

” i think i need to go ” she said. ” there are so many things that i want to do, that i cant do, because part of me doesnt want to hurt you. i want to see places, do things, and experience life outside of here, this place that we have always known “. she turned to me, her eyes red with tears that she was trying hard not to shed.

” wow ” was all i could muster initially. ” what do you want me to say ?”

the wind had picked up and i could see that she was cold. the spray from the sea didnt help. i offered her my jacket to ward off the wind. she shook her head. instead she wrapped her sweater just a little tighter around her.

” i want you to say that you are ok with me leaving. leaving here, leaving us. i need to know that i can be free with you being in a good place and that we didnt part hating each other ”

” thats not my call to make anymore ” i said with my hands in my jeans pockets. my head was swimming, my face was flush with both hurt and sadness all at the same time. ” i wouldnt ever want to be the reason that you couldnt go out there and find what makes you happy. your happiness is my happiness.”

” please dont be mad at me, this is not about anything that you did. this is about me, my needs, my wants. i need to get out of this place. im here because deep inside, i still love you. im here because even though im dying inside, i want to still be a part of you ” she said while tears were falling from her beautiful eyes.

i started walking away from her. she stayed exactly where she was. i turned, lifted the camera from its place on my chest and took the picture. i wanted something to have of this moment to remember what she looked like, how beautiful she was, and how much i loved her.

” you need to go calie ” i said to her through the wind. ” the rest of your life is over there ” pointing away from me and back to the direction from which we had come.

i turned away from her and kept walking. it was the last time that i saw her. the only thing that i know of her is that she moved away and was making her life in the big city. i knew that she came back from time to time to visit her family and that she would ask about me. they would all tell her the same thing. that i still lived in the same old house that we had bought together on the same old street. that i had a good job in the community hospital and that i still hadnt married.

there are times when my friends and family would ask me why i havent married. all i could tell them is that there are times when you have to have faith in the universe. that in its infinite wisdom, the universe will send you the person that is meant to journey life with you when the time is right. there have been several relationships since that late summer that calie left, but none of them felt right and i usually ended up being the one that called things off. i like to believe that there are people that are meant to be with you, people that are meant to travel with you and people that are meant to grow old with you. i wasnt sure which one calie was, but i knew she was going to be one of those people. i know in my heart that the universe will send her back to me, i just have to be patient and give her time to grow and realize that everything she wanted in her life was here all along.

it has been 5 years now.

 

the girl

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i wasnt quite sure what i was thinking when i first saw her. what i did know was that i wanted to capture this moment before it slipped away.

she was beautifully framed in the light, the glow from her lighter casting the perfect shade of light on her face. i wasnt even sure if it was important whether or not i got her name… somehow, in this one brief moment in the cosmos, everything was aligned just right, and i could preserve this moment forever.

“did you just take my picture?” she asked me, as she looked up.

“yes, yes i did” i replied, “the moment was perfect, you were beautiful and if i told anyone i saw someone as beautiful as you, they would want a pic or accuse me of making up stories”

she took a long drag off of her cigarette and gave me an equally long glance.

“so your a photographer” she said, exhaling the smoke past her perfect lips.

“just a guy with a camera, hoping to capture perfection when it happens”

“maybe you have a name?” she asked. it was only then that i noticed her accent. not quite russian, but definitely close enough to almost sound like a soft purr as she spoke.

“marcus” i replied. “and yours?”

“anna” she said, now slowly walking towards me.

i wasnt sure where or what i was supposed to do. here i was, in a foreign country, taking what i had hoped were perfect pictures to show to friends and family the places i had been. now here was this european goddess walking towards me with eyes as smoky as her voice. i was sure that i had seen a scene like this in some spy movie. the poor sap always gets killed by the girl. i was hoping that i wasnt going to die.

“you know, if you want me to delete the picture, i can always do that” i said

“no, i just want to see the picture of me that you say is perfect”.

she moved next to me, leaning on my shoulder, looking over at the small screen of the camera. i could smell the sweet smell of her perfume mixed in with the slight acidity of the cigarette smoke on her clothes. she leaned in a little more and i could feel the heat from her breath. the curve of her breast began to mold itself to the back of my shoulder and i could feel the firmness of her nipple bury itself into my skin. my breath was a little more ragged and short, my hands began to slightly tremble.

“you seem cold” she whispered

“nervous” came my reply.

“relax, im not going to kill you silly, i just want to see my picture”. her hand was amazingly hot as she put it around mine to steady the camera, “im just a girl from another country wanting to see what a foreigner found beautiful about me”.

she pulled the camera up to where she wasnt leaning in over me. the pressure of her breast came off my back, and oddly enough, i wish she had never moved.

“you take a good picture american” she purred as she handed me back the camera, “now you have proof you met a beautiful woman on your adventures”

“i guess i do” i replied as i took my camera back.

“there is one thing that you will have to convince them of then” she said

“oh?”

she cupped my face in her hands and kissed me. it wasnt just that “hello stranger, thank you!” type kiss. it was one of those “your going to have a cosmic experience” type kisses. the type that can suck your soul straight out of your body. for one brief moment, just in that fabric of time, i could taste her, smell her hair, and memorize how she framed my face with her fingers. in that moment, she burned a memory so vivid in my mind, that no matter what happened to my camera.. no matter what my friends back home wanted to believe, i would know that this moment actually happened.

and then she was gone. like a dream. like the scent of her cigarette. there i was, alone, on an empty street with nothing more than a photograph of a girl and a memory.

the camping trip

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i remember when we first met. she was and still is a nurse on the med unit at the local hospital. we started out with just usual jokes and not quite so work appropriate comments as ice breakers. over time, we realized that we had a “connection” that we couldnt deny. eventually, the conversations became more in depth and included things such as our hobbies, where we have been, what we like to do.

“so do you like to go camping?” she finally asked me.

“ummm yea, for the most part” i replied. Truth being that i hadnt been camping in quite some time. the last time i went camping, i must have been about 17, and that was in the jungle in a third world country.

“well then, we should go, like maybe this weekend” as she leaned in to me.

there in is the issue. there are times when i love when she does that, and then there are times when i wish she wouldnt do that. jenny has this way of looking at me that makes me feel like if she wanted to, she could just lean in and literally steal the breath from my lungs. this was one of those times. it is not easy to focus on work when the girl that steals your imagination and your heart is close enough to set you on fire.

“could you scoot back a few inches?” i asked. “ill need to look at my calendar and see” as i pulled out my iphone.

she plopped back down into her chair and opened one of her charts. i could tell she was still staring at me as i looked through my phone for the calendar app that i kept my work schedule on.

“well?”

“im looking… give me a minute”

i finally got the app opened and looked at what my hours were going to be.

“this weekend is good, if you want, we could leave friday morning when you get off your shift. just bring your backback and we can throw it into my 4runner and go” i said.

jenny wheeled her chair over to where i was sitting and gave me the softest and most tender kiss on me cheek.

“you are going to have a great time” she whispered in my ear.

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the week went by faster than what i had thought. jenny usually works nights which makes our relationship a little rough, but somehow, we managed to make it work. my shift lets me be in the hospital just as she is coming on, and so for a few minutes before she gets shift report, we have a little time together. all she could do was gush on and on about our trip. all i could do was make sure that during that week i had gathered everything that i could possibly need from my bag, to my roll, to the tent, and everything else that one could need for a weekend trip in the wherever we were going.

friday finally arrived and as i was pulling up to the hospital, i could literally see jenny running out the door, throwing her work jacket into the back of her kia and then pulling out her own camping bag. she was really proud of her new bag. it fit her just right and it had a pocket for everything under the sun. i had hoped that when she inspected my bag, i wasnt going to be shamed for making sure that i was fully prepared.

she opened the back of the 4runner and looked at ALL the things that i had packed away.

“seriously yo?”

“you never know” i replied. “we might actually need that stuff!”

she smirked at me, closed the trunk and made her way to the passenger seat. with her she had a smaller bag that she had detached from the main camping bag.

“whats in the bag?” i asked.

“you dont seriously expect me to go on a road trip in a car dressed in scrubs did you?” she replied, as she was pulling extra clothes from the bag. “just drive, i got this”

“ummmm, ok.” i replied. i had known that girls were pretty damn good at changing in a car, i wasnt sure how jenny was going to do a full undress and redress as we were heading down the highway. after a few minutes of catching glimpses of her flailing limbs and a couple of satisfied grunts, jenny was in her travel clothes. shorts, cotton shirt and hiking shoes. all done in under 3 miles of road. that must be a new record somewhere.

for the next hour we drove. actually, i drove. jenny doesnt really like to drive, which is ok with me. she is a great driving companion with her talking about which patients she thought was cute, who pissed her off and what the latest gossip was around the unit. one of the best parts of the drive was where we would hold hands while she talked. there were parts of her story where she was very animated with her hands, but never once did she let go. i enjoyed that because in my mind, she was letting me part of the story, letting me be part of her life.

we finally reached the camping site. it was off the main road by about 3-5 miles into the woods. i was glad that we were in my 4runner rather than her kia. the ground was a little soft and im pretty sure that her kia didnt have the horsepower to get us through some of the softer parts of the trail. we finally arrived at a clearing and pulled to a stop.

“we have arrived” i said quite satisfied with my driving skills.

“no we havent babe” jenny said as she went around to the back of the truck.

“ummm dont people usually camp at a clearly indicated camp site?” i asked.

“we arent most people” she replied, “get your pack and other essentials, and lets go!”

so i grabbed my bag and the extra smaller pack of first aid materials, locked up the truck and followed her into the woods.

“can i ask exactly where we are going?”

“no, but i can tell you that it is going to be someplace that only the two of us will know about” came her reply. she was maybe 20 yards ahead of me, carrying her pack like it was a box of kleenex. jenny is maybe 5ft 4″ tall on a good day and probably 120lbs at her worst. from behind, her pack looked bigger than her, but she was so hell bent on getting us to wherever it was that we were going, the weight of the pack didnt seem to bother her at all.

after maybe another 5-6 miles up trails and down trails, we finally came to a spot that was near the river, but high enough into the tree line that we were clearly away from any sign of civilization. the stars were starting to come out and the sun was beginning to slip below the trees in the distance. jenny shrugged out of her bag and turned to me.

“ok, NOW we have arrived.” she said smiling, “do you like it?”

“how did you ever find this place?” i asked while shrugging out of my pack.

“google maps” came the reply as she had sauntered off in search of firewood.

i was kind of glad that she had gone off. i was about to pull a brand new tent from its bag, and i didnt want her to see that i was NOT and accomplished tent pitcher. too bad where we were provided ample supply of firewood so close to our camp site. im pretty sure she could see that i was struggling, but instead of coming over and doing it, jenny dug the pit for the fire and got it started like any good camper would have done.

i think she let me struggle for the better part of an hour before coming over to help.

“need some help?” she asked

“id be lying if i didnt say yes” i mumbled.

“its ok love” she said as she kissed me on the cheek.

in a matter of minutes, she had the tent up and was already unrolling our sleeping bags inside of it.

the rest of the night was pretty awesome. we watched the rest of the stars come out and had a simple fireside meal. we talked about our plans for the future, both individually and as a couple. we wrapped ourselves in a heavy blanket as we watched the moon cross the sky and pretty much sat in contended silence until jenny fell asleep on my shoulder. i moved us back to the tent and as i drifted off to sleep, i could only look up and thank the universe for sending me this awesome red headed spark plug that made me feel like i had everything in the world i needed.

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so this is my first attempt at the photo/story challenge. i hoped you guys liked it. it is an english major/editors nightmare, but whatever. i said i wasnt here for literary awards, this is just me, writing what i feel as i look at a picture. “jenny” is a real person, not her real name. the events stated are things that i made up for the story itself. hence, the story is fictitious.