Do not be concerned too much with what will happen. Everything which happens will be good and useful for you.Epictetus
Granite Falls Campground
Liam couldn’t help but smirk watching Vivien stoically and comically brave the great outdoors, stumbling across uneven grounds, cursing under her breath as she was dodging bugs and other nature pitfalls.
Liam’s sister Leonie was usually the nurturing type, who would have taken Vivien under her wing, but she was so wrapped up in her Zeke and he in her, they barely even remembered Liam and Vivien were there at all.
When they finally had reached the campsite they put up the tents, then started a fire, Liam watched Vivien apply masses of anti-itch cream onto her chewed up legs, making him feel sorry for her, so he went over to join her. Leonie and Zeke went off to go on a hike down one of the many marked trails.
“How are you holding up?”
“Totally in my element, isn’t that obvious? Thinking about moving into the woods permanently. Like the female version of Grizzly Adams, just minus the bear.”
“More like Calamity Jane. We can slap some mud on that, cools and helps the itch.”
“I am NOT smearing mud on my legs, Liam!” Vivien gave Liam that ‘are you nuts!?’ stare.
Her face and response made him laugh.
“I give you that, you are a trooper. The stubborn side comes in handy sometimes.”
“Glad you are amused.”
“I could eat a bear. Ah, not literally though. Please tell me we are not eating any of the animals we saw coming in! Including, but not limited to those man-sized bugs! Yikes! Is someone breeding those suckers out here?”
Liam laughed again.
“No. We are going to eat the animals you and I are going to catch next. Ever been fishing?”
“You are kidding me?! Please tell me this is a terrible attempt on a joke!”
“Nope. That’s camping. We have to catch our sustenance. No restaurants or food deliveries out here, Viv.”
“I am going to stick with granola bars, thank you very much. NO WAY will I hold some dumb pole into a lake, while those goddamn mosquitos eat me alive, only so I can kill whatever I pull out and eat it. Eeew!”
“Well, my family traditionally tends to cook the catch first, but yeah, in essence, that.”
“No thanks. I will watch the camp, while you go off to … kill fish. Maybe I’ll go find some berries or mushrooms or something.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, I haven’t seen any edible mushrooms around and unless you 100% know what you are doing, you may end up poisoning yourself, because to a layman, they all look alike. As for the berries, just remember, bears like berries too as do bugs, especially wasps … If you need me, I will be down that path at the little lake by the waterfall.” Liam was highly amused as he got up and headed to the lake. He could hear elk roaring in the distance, it was fall now and their mating season.
Like clockwork, not even two minutes later Vivien joined him, looking hurried, constantly looking over her shoulder until she was near Liam, where she began to clumsily try to sort out the fishing pole Liam had brought along for her, cursing repeatedly.
“What are you doing?” Liam said.
“Trying to pull the hook thingy out so I can throw it into the water, but it’s not coming out of the pole thingy!” Vivien mumbled busily.
Laughing, Liam helped her get set up and then into the right position, explaining everything along the way.
“It’s called casting. You set it up like this, then pull the pole back like so, then whip it forward and let physics to the heavy lifting for you.”
After several amusing mishaps, Vivien’s pole was finally cast and both were standing next to each other in quiet unity.
Sadly, the idyll was short-lived, a rather energetic beginner’s luck catch nearly ripped the pole out of Vivien’s hands, clinging on for dear life she had already fallen into the water before Liam could help her.
Leonie and Zeke looked surprised finding Vivien curled up by the fire in a towel a while later when they returned from their hike.
“We went fishing … and I guess Viv felt like combining it with doing some quick laundry and a bath.” explained Liam, barely able to keep from bursting into laughter.
“Oh. Interesting. A different approach, I guess, I usually prefer to use a pole, but I guess jumping in to catch the fish by hand is a more involved way of getting dinner on the table. I don’t judge, whatever works.” quipped Zeke, earning him an angry glare by Vivien, and giggles and a kiss by Leonie.
“Hey, she caught a big trout I am jealous of. Almost 4 lbs I would guess. It’s ready to eat over there, guys. We already ate, even little Miss ‘I-Will-Not-Eat-The-Animals-Here’ had her share.”
“Of course I ate some! After what that fucking fish did to me after I caught it, I was about to eat it alive!” Vivien growled.
“Looks more like the trout caught you. At least it was an even fight.” Zeke chuckled, earning himself another ‘If there weren’t witnesses you would already be floating face down in the water’ glares by Vivien, while Leonie couldn’t help but laugh.
“Zeke, come on, give poor Viv a break, you joker. Go stuff that face with fish.” Liam told him.
“Don’t worry Viv, it happens to the best of us. I fell in before. And my wonderful brother and little sister spent all afternoon reminding me.” Leonie told her.
The young couple went on to prepare their dinner, while Liam went to talk to Vivien.
“You okay?” asked Liam.
“Never been better. How could I be? Everybody’s having a good laugh at my expense, while I probably will die tonight after swallowing half the muddy water of that lake, the stench of which I will NEVER get out of my hair, but that’s okay, since it matches the seaweed permanently entangled in it. In other words, I am fucking splendid, Liam. Just fucking superb. Even though it is beyond me how people can find this relaxing.”
“I can give you a buzz cut. Solves the hair problem. Just wear a wig on stage, cuts down on prep time too.”
“If you go near my hair, I will feed you to the fish! Not even joking!”
“Hey, is that a bear over there?”
Screaming Vivien turned to the direction Liam had pointed, but instantly realized he was having her on, then angrily glared at him laughing hard.
“I hate you!” she proclaimed, then stomped off, but only a few steps to take her frustrations out on some tree trunk by kicking it repeatedly.
Liam went over to her.
“I am sorry. You were too easy a target, just having a little fun. Don’t be mad.”
Vivien looked up at him.
“Did you get it all out of your system now?”
“I think so. Only happy thoughts left. You are shivering, it’s getting cold. Come here.” Liam pulled her against his chest, folding his arms around her.
“Hmm … you smell so good.”
“Wish I could tell you the same thing, but you weren’t kidding, you stink.” he replied, but held on to her, laughing, when she tried to pull away.
“Why are you such an asshole to me?! I am fucking trying here!” she protested into his chest.
“Okay, sorry. You are right. How about a peace offering. I know where you could shower. A nice, hot, steamy shower … with soap. And shampoo …”
“If this is another joke I will murder you, I swear!! Don’t do me like that, man!”
“No joke, dead serious.”
“So .. where is that magical civilized place you are talking about?”
“The cabin is only about 5 minutes from here.”
“WHAT?! Are you serious!? Why are we out here in nasty tents on nasty ground with nasty bugs and sumo wrestler fish when we could be in semi-civilization?! WHY?!”
“If you have to ask … But okay, come on Viv. Let’s get our things and I’ll take ya. I think you had about enough for one day. I’ll let Leo know that she and Zeke can go crazy now, without having to worry about us.”
“Is she gonna be okay out here without you?”
“Zeke is so protective of her, and knowing his background, she’ll be fine.”
“His background? Was he a forest ranger in a previous life? Or a bear?”
“No, but homeless. He can take care of himself, and my sister. I am confident of that. He may seem shy, sweet and innocent until he gets to know you better, but that guy has seen a lot.”
“Zeke was homeless?!”
“Yeah. Not something he likes people to know. He is currently living with my parents, Leo and Abby at the Cameron Estate, trying to save up money for a place of his own … and I think a ring for Leo. He is so much into her and she is so happy with him. But that’s a secret. My dad told me Zeke asked him for Leo’s hand, but doesn’t want her to know until he can afford the ring.”
“Awww, that is so romantic! They really are great together.”
... to be continued ...