Back in the yurt, we turned on the small space heater and then hurried to the unattached showers while we waited for it to generate a little heat. Though we had put on warm pajamas, we were still shivering with damp hair when we ran back inside the yurt. We stood next to the heater, wrapping up in the extra throws we’d packed. Exhaustion was beginning to weigh on me but, even though we had stopped for a late lunch before getting to the park, I was beginning to feel a bit peckish again. I commented as much to Gene and he went over to our pile of supplies sprawled out on the bunk bed, pulled out a can, and showed it to me. I looked at the can and then looked at him in undisguised disgust.
“You brought canned chili for us to eat?” I asked him, incredulous.
He stared at me and looked at the can. “Well, yes,” he said, looking back at me.
The repulsed curl of my lips deepened. “Ok, first of all, canned chili tastes like dog food and, second of all, I’m not eating chili and then sleeping in a single room yurt with you,” I said a little more loudly than I’d intended.
It took him a few beats, but then his lips started to twitch before they morphed into a mischievous smile. “We could get to know each other really well with canned chili and a single room yurt,” he said, almost sneering at me wickedly.
I opened my mouth in horror. “No!” I exclaimed. “I don’t want to know you that well, sir! And you don’t want to know me that well, either!”
He put his hand on his hip with an air of faux aristocratic disdain and said rather haughtily, “Madam, I don’t think you know what I want to know.”
I lunged for the can, but he pulled his hand back and turned to block me. “I’m gonna throw that can of chili outside for the raccoons,” I threatened.
He pretended to be offended by the suggestion. “No way,” he said. “Then everyone in the entire camp will have to smell raccoon farts and nobody wants that! Everyone already hates the raccoons to begin with.”
“Oh, I see!” It was my turn to feign offense. “You don’t want to feed the raccoons chili, but you’ll feed me chili!”
He stuck his tongue in his cheek. “You know what, maybe I brought the chili just for me. Maybe I’ll eat the chili.”
I tried to grab the can from him again, but he moved away from me. “Nobody is eating that damn can of chili! Besides, you’d have to heat it up.”
He shrugged. “I could just eat it out of the can.”
I curled up my lips again. “That is even more disgusting!”
Gene walked over to the bunk and pseudo-dramatically tossed the can back from where he’d retrieved it. “OK, OK. Fiiiine. Nobody is eating dog food flavored canned chili,” he said sarcastically. He rummaged around and then pulled up a slim rectangle with a green wrapper. “I’ve also got honey oat granola bars.”
I looked at him petulantly but let my shoulders sag in surrender. “Ugh, fine. I’ll eat the damn granola bar. At least I won’t offend anyone,” I whined, holding out my hand.
“Am I allowed to eat a granola bar?” he inquired, pulling out a second one and holding it up.
I rolled my eyes at him. “Of course you’re allowed to eat a granola bar.”
“Well I have to ask in case that upsets you, too. I might get oats stuck in my teeth or something, and I don’t know how you’re going to react to that,” he remarked.
“Oh, shut up and eat the damn granola bar,” I smart mouthed him, unwrapping the thin green foil, and biting into the pressed oats irritably.
“Hey, I’m just asking. I already got in trouble for bringing canned chili. I don’t want to get in trouble over a granola bar, too,” he argued facetiously.
I sighed dramatically. “You are allowed to eat granola bars.”
“Oh, thank you!” he exclaimed ironically, holding the second bar delicately in the palm of his hands as if I’d bestowed him with a terrible gift.
“You’re a dork,” I laughed, feeling heat ruddying my cheeks as I said it.
“You’re a brat,” he countered, making a show of ripping the wrapping, biting into the crunchy granola, and then kissing me on my lips.
“You taste like granola,” I complained obnoxiously.
“So do you!” he retorted while grinning at me with teeth covered in granola bits, making me laugh. I self-consciously covered my mouth in case my teeth were flecked with granola as well. “Quit laughing at me, brat,” he said with a fake pout.
I put my arms over his shoulders and kissed him as compensation for being a challenging camping partner. The granola bar was not satisfying but we were both too tired to fuss with anything else. We decided to sleep off our lingering hunger pangs with a plan to make a big breakfast in the morning. It was effort enough to trek back to the bathrooms for a last round of toileting and teeth brushing.
Gene shifted the futon to a flat position and unrolled a heavy featherbed on top of the green vinyl mattress. Then he pulled out a set of flannel sheets and asked me to help him stretch it over the featherbed and futon. While he unfurled a blanket over the bed along with an unzipped sleeping bag, I tossed the pillows we’d brought at one end, and then I climbed on top of the freshly made futon and stretched out, wriggling into the featherbed and pillows.
“Oh, this is quite comfy,” I stated, watching his face for a reaction.
Grinning at me, his expression giving away nothing, he asked if I wanted to watch a movie. I shrugged, agreeing to the suggestion, and he pulled his laptop out of its case and placed it on the wood dining table near the foot of the futon, angling it so we could both view it easily. As he sat on the edge of the futon waiting for it to boot up, I put my chin on his shoulder, encircling his waist with my arms. Navigating the computer with one hand and touching my fingers with his other, he ran down a list of titles he’d downloaded for viewing offline until we both agreed on one of them. When he set the film to play and switched off the lights, I moved over and lifted the covers so he could slide in the bed next to me. He lay on his back, propping his head up with the pillows and I put my head on his. He tucked one arm behind his head and the other went around my shoulders, his fingers absently sliding up and down my bicep.
By the time the film’s second romantic scene unveiled, I could feel his breathing turn heavy with the rise and fall of his chest. His hand moved to my hair, pulling it away from my face so that he could plant rows of kisses on my forehead. I shifted myself to face him, and my hair spilled over my shoulders on to his chest as I leaned on him. He brushed the long strands away and tucked them behind my one ear, but they just fell again as soon as I leaned forward to kiss him. His head sank deeper into the pillows and he put his arms around me, squeezing me tightly. I felt his tongue touch my lips, but I pulled away, teasing him, and then parted my lips, bringing my tongue forward just enough to trace his lower lip from one corner to the other, sliding it back along his upper lip. He let out a low groan as I gently bit his lip, gripping the back of my head with his hand as he put his mouth over mine, caressing my tongue with his.
Rolling me on to my back as he kissed me, he pushed his knee between my legs and lay his weight on me. His hand drifted from my side to just beneath my breast, and his thumb brushed along its curve. But then he pulled his mouth away from my lips and sighed against my cheek with a small kiss, lifting his head to look at me.
“Kittie…” he whispered, not finishing the sentence. His face was serious, hovering over mine, illuminated by the light of the laptop’s screen, his lids blinking heavily as his eyes searched mine. I curled my hands around his shoulders and squeezed them.
“Yes, Gene,” I whispered back, more a statement than a question.
He hesitated a moment longer but finally with a sheepish grin said, “I’m so exhausted I’m about to fall asleep right now. I’m sorry. I feel really old.”
We both snickered. Neither of us had that boundless youthful energy anymore. “I completely understand,” I told him “I feel like I’m made of lead right now.”
He glanced over his shoulder toward the laptop then looked back at me and asked, “Do you want me to leave the movie on or shall I turn it off?”
I told him he could shut it down because I’d never be able to stay awake to the end, so he closed the laptop, leaving us in darkness. After adjusting the blankets around the both of us, he weaved his legs between mine again and draped his arm over me as he kissed my forehead. It didn’t even take a minute for me to drift away into sleep.