I’m still in Tolstoy’s short stories. Again, one particular sentence just struck me as perfect. So here’s the challenge: In the below comments, let’s see if we can write with similar excellence. (One sentence.)
The bonfire was extinguished, the forest no longer looked as black as before, but in the sky the stars still shone, though faintly.
Here’s my attempt: The young boy stopped running, the city moved even faster, but he still felt her hand in his, though now she did the squeezing.
The woods are
Always darkest first, I remember.
It’s just the two of us.
He says we need to hurry because
It’ll be too dark to see
Each step directly in front of the last,
The trail’s raised edges keep my vanishing course sure.
Darkness encroaching, he says to go faster.
I am struck by terror.
It is dark,
We’re separated from the group,
We are alone.
He is big,
I am small.
Could I out run him?
The plants are coming faster now,
Like my heartbeats, thoughts,
I want to sprint,
Campfire voices announce the end.
I look into his eyes.
He says he’d rather not
Be out so late next time.
No doubt durable, the brown, rubber coated metal picnic table was exploding with sandwich ingredients: two loaves of bread, two packages of ham, two packages turkey, one package of pepper jack cheese, one package gouda, one bottle of mayonnaise, and one bottle mustard. Present also were the sides to include individual bags of chips, apples and oranges; and dessert–nutty bars. Lastly there were sandwich bags. All this was resting amidst coolers filled with beer and dinner, a couple camp stoves, their personal cookware, and some French presses lazily soiled with the morning’s coffee grounds.
As socially graceful as possible they all took turns preparing their lunches that they would then carry in various forms of Camelback backpacks. Each person’s pack matched their personality. The veteran’s was camouflage, the ladies’, trim. The photographer’s had pockets large enough for a professional quality camera; the different guy used a modern word for fanny pack.
Once packed, the group packed the unused food in the cars, and grabbed the morning’s trash bags. Ah, bears. The probably unnecessary precaution justified itself through the addition of the slight thrill of danger. That and being prepared is never a bad thing.
The hike now well under way, storm clouds populated the distant horizon. The group pressed onward. The intervals between the unseen lighting’s thunderclaps decreased as the distance they traveled above the tree line increased. A light sprinkle had not yet become annoying as they began to notice most of the blue sky had become shades of grey.
One party became two.
As those with significant others present headed back down, the alone-and-unafraid pressed their luck.
Unifying them all was a hunger. Friend helped friend as they unzipped each other’s packs and grabbed the sandwiches. Was it the rain? Was it the hiking? Was it the company? Whatever it was, they had never tasted as good a sandwich as at that moment. And never had smiles spread so quickly.
Upon finishing their chocolaty peanut butter goodness, the two groups discovered they weren’t so far apart after all. The clouds parted and the sun’s return was interpreted only as it should have been—the punctuation to the joy incarnate they knew to be lunch on the trail.
One wake up. That’s all that stood between him and the mountains. Having just arrived home from work, he decided to go ahead and bring the necessary gear stored in the garage into the house. Man, he hadn’t used his blue Kelty external frame pack for years. Lifting it off the bottom shelf of the tall grey wooden shop-cabinet in the garage, he was immediately awestruck by how familiar the metal felt within his hand. The memories came rushing back.
The outermost flap pocket was bulging with a several yellow trash bags which doubled as poor-man rain covers for the pack when necessary. His very own four season, dual door, dual vestibule Eureka K2 XT tent finally rendered those unnecessary. He put them aside.
Curiosity took over. He wondered if the pack still had the devotional and music books from scouting days. Yup.
What other treasures did the pack contain? Muskol–the best insect repellent available. Ah, deet. He chuckled to himself as he remembered that he used to derive great pleasure from reading other brand’s deet percentages knowing they had only puny, laughable amounts of deet. Yes, Muskol was the best ever, and it was his.
What else… Oh, here’s something: a Ziploc bag filled with materials for a homemade first-aid kit. What’s this? Three quarters. “Wow,” he startled himself not realizing he exclaimed that out loud. It all came rushing back. His scout leaders always recommended carrying a few quarters in case a pay phone was needed. Those quarters had been in that bag, in that pack for over 15 years. Those three quarters exemplified the two most eloquent, powerful words he’d ever heard: Be prepared.
Happy Labor Day.