The man waved at the townie sitting by the fire pit. “Do you mind if I have a seat at your fire?” he requested.
“Oh, be my guest!” the townie answered.
The man sat down and enjoyed the song of the woods at night, mingled with the crackle-and-whoosh rhythm of the fire.
“You here alone?”
The townie interrupted the man’s quiet contemplation, but the question made him smile unconsciously, so he didn’t mind the intrusion. He felt honoured to answer, “No, I’m here with my girlfriend.”
The nature townie took issue immediately. “So you’re not married? Why are you wearing a wedding ring, then? Does your wife know that you’re running around the woods at night with another woman?”
“Your questions are beyond rude,” he explained to her. “Who are you to question others?”
“I’m a concerned citizen,” she responded as if it meant something.
“A concerned citizen of what, might I ask?” he pressured her. “Surely you must mean a citizen of the District, because camps have only residents, employees and visitors.”
“Fine then, I’m a resident of this camp,” the townie corrected herself, but continued to pass judgement on the man. “We don’t support that kind of immoral activity in Granite Falls. Everything we do here is about promoting nature, health and good, wholesome living.”
Just then, the man’s beloved emerged from the bathroom and was annoyed–not only by bugs, but also by the sight of another woman chatting up her sweetheart!
She clenched her fists and took a deep breath. Her love made eye contact with her and his face lit up with a loving smile. She knew he loved her and there was no reason to be jealous, but it was a reaction she still needed to work on controlling.
She managed not to stomp as she walked around the left side of the fire pit area, but she kept her fists clenched as a signal to the other female.
“I thank my lucky stars to see you, my love,” he greeted her affectionately.
“I’m sorry I needed to wash some dirt off my hands and freshen up a little,” she explained why she’d run ahead at the end of their hike.
“That’s all right,” he reassured her. “I met this here camper.”
“Oh, I see,” she said. She waved at the nature townie and said, “Hi there.”
The man secretly hoped the townie would leave them to enjoy their evening, but they were not so lucky. Instead, the nature townie told them a local legend. “There’s a myth about this mountain, and how it was protected during the Great Destruction that took out similar locations.”
“There are spirits in these woods,” the townie continued her tale, while the couple listened with genuine interest. “The spirits protect all who are pure of heart, but they cannot tolerate immorality. The rivers weep toxins that kill the fish when people like you spread wickedness in our sacred forest.”
The couple sighed in unison, then the man leaned closer to his love and suggested, “Let’s do the same thing we did with the bear, shall we?”
“That’s a fantastic idea, darling!” she replied. He got up and walked a short distance from the fire pit. As the woman got up, she leaned forward and said, “You have yourself a great night with the spirits.”
The couple put some distance between themselves and the eccentric nature townie, but they felt uneasy. The woman whispered to her sweetheart, “Is it working? She’s still looking at us.”
He whispered back, “I know, it’s seriously creepy. Listen, how about we both go over there, to that cabin? We need to move separately so she doesn’t try to attach herself to one of us.”
The woman agreed. She added in a more hushed whisper, “I know; as soon as a townie thinks they’re grouped with you, you practically have to murder them to get rid of them.” They giggled and tried to evade the townie by taking different routes to the back door of the cabin.
The man reached the back door of the cabin, but the townie followed him up onto the porch. His girlfriend promised to dismiss the townie while he got the cabin’s door open for them to enter.
Finally she was able to go inside with her true love. “Wow, what is this place?” she questioned in awe when she took a good look around the interior of the cabin.
“It’s a type of museum,” her partner explained as he prepared to light the fireplace. “A hermit lived out here a long time ago. The cabin has been restored for public safety, but the land the hermit once owned is now owned by the government.”
“So who uses the place now?” his ladylove wondered. “I mean, look at all these rare frogs and beautiful insects. Someone must care for them.”
The man lit the fire while she examined the specimens on display. “Let’s hope this room hasn’t become an enclosed ecosystem!” he joked.
With the fire lit, the couple quickly felt comfortable and cozy. The woman came closer to the fire to enjoy the warmth, and she noted, “It sure is romantic in here.”
“I find every place more romantic with you in it,” he flirted.
She laughed and stated, “I feel the same way. Even that… hospital we were in was romantic once you were with me.”
“About that,” he began. “You know I was there because I lost my will to fight. I was a mess, a shame, and a wretch. You were the one who got through to me and helped me.”
“You are my only safety,” she replied. “Not just when you came for treatment, but even before, when your men first brought me in there.”
“I didn’t think you remembered much of that time,” he said quietly, almost distracted from his purpose by the memory of the night she was rescued. He’d been amazed that anyone could survive such a thing, and didn’t expect her to pull through, but he stayed by her side so she wouldn’t be alone.
“A lot of it I don’t remember,” she admitted, “but every good memory I have is one with you in it.”
The man couldn’t waste another minute! He got down on one knee and presented her with the finest engagement ring he’d been able to purchase. “Will you accept this ring and become my wife?”
At long last, he was finally proposing to her! She had dreamed of and wished for that moment thousands of times, but she could scarcely believe it was finally happening.
“If you need time…” he began, thinking she couldn’t give him an answer.
“Yes!” she almost shouted. “I’m sorry I spaced out on you. My emotions… I feel so light! I will marry you, I will!”