“Uh oh,” he said.
“What? What’s wrong?” she asked looking slightly worried. This was not something he said often.
“I think this is where the steam is beginning to wane.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know, you start asking yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. You want comfort. You want good food. You want your warm soft bed.”
“Your bed isn’t soft though,” she replied.
“That’s not my point. I’m losing steam. I’m in the middle of the bridge and I’ve got to decide if I’m going to go back, or if I’m going to keep going forward.”
“Why wouldn’t you want to go forward?”
“Because going forward doesn’t guarantee comfort. Going forward doesn’t guarantee normal. Going back does.”
“But going forward offers accomplishment.”
“Sure, but right now that’s not enticing enough. The excitement is wearing off, things aren’t going as well as in the beginning – ”
“Like what?” she asked surprised.
“Well, you sprained your ankle last week, we had problems at that diner in Indiana a couple days ago. We’re running low on supplies – ”
“That’s nothing! My ankle’s fine now, we’re never going to see that blasted diner woman and her cockroaches again, and it’s not like we can’t restock. Tell me you don’t enjoy this,” she said sweeping her hand across the sky. The two were swinging in hammocks recently purchased and hung around two sister trees in a field. The were in one of the remotest locations they’d seen so far. Looking at the ground, the two could see nothing for miles, just darkness. But above them were millions of stars dotting the sky and overlapping each other for space in the vast sky.
A movie came to her mind and she felt it appropriate to quote it, whether he’d know it or not, “Beautiful, gorgeous, wish you where here!”
He knew the movie. He smiled slightly knowing she wouldn’t be able to see it. “I’m not saying this isn’t gorgeous, I’m just saying I really miss my french press, and the ability to watch the World Cup, even if it is the Women’s World Cup.”
“This is not the time to start discriminating against the sexes.”
He sighed loudly and was quite for a while. She laid there impatiently waiting for him to talk. She waited for a while.
She decided to say something but before she could, she could hear light snoring coming from his hammock. She gently poked it and heard the creaking of the hammock against the tree. He made no movement other than the swinging of his body with the hammock. She hoped he would not have this feeling again and closed her eyes, trying to quiet her mind for sleep.
She woke with a start at the voice and saw him looking directly down to her.
“Hi,” she croaked. He smelled of coffee and he looked clean.
“Where’s the coffee?”
“There’s a venti caramel latte waiting for you in the van.”
It was bright, almost mid morning, and warm, really warm. She started to get out of her hammock and saw that his was already taken down. Most of their makeshift camp was already packed up. She noticed a tarp held up by broken branches attached to a tree.
“I created a sort of shower for us. The water’s cold, but it’s really refreshing.”
“What time is it?”
“About?” The sarcasm did not hide well in her voice.
“Come on, come on! We gotta get back on the road. Listen, I know it’s not on the schedule, but I figured we could go to Wisconsin and then Canada and then Minnesota and Iowa before South Dakota like our original plan. I talked to a local where I found the coffee and he was telling me about this place called Elephant Trunk Rock in Wisconsin.”
“Elephants? I like elephants,” she said perking up a bit as she let the cold water wash over her.
“Yes I know. So I thought we’d take a detour. If we leave in the next seventeen minutes, we should be able to get there by evening.”
“Can you hand me my clothes please? I laid them out on the front passenger seat.”
He grabbed her clothes and handed them to her. After a couple minutes she walked out and let him take down the shower. He quickly finished packing it in the van and turned to her as she took her first sip of her latte. Her eyes were closed and he allowed her a minute to bask in the savory taste of caramel, espresso and milk. Then he spoke.
“So what do you think?”
She opened her eyes, then smiled. “Let’s do it.”
He clapped his hands and smiled widely as he ran around to the driver’s seat and got in.
“Glad to see you’re back on board,” she said as she buckled herself in and started up the playlist.
“I took a few steps past the middle. Can’t really go back now.”
“Nope,” she said sipping her coffee.
Though cliche, she felt it necessary to add U2’s “Beautiful Day” to the playlist. She was reminded of this as it began to play, starting off their new day.