rachel shifted, unsticking her bare legs from the car seat. She continued to gaze out the window at the road beneath them, silently counting the white dashes. Swhen her head started to ache, she stopped and instead watched a lone fly try to escape. She had daydreamed about this summer. Had waited a whole year. And now they were on thier way. She knew it was unlikely to live up to her expectations but it no longer matterer. So long as he was there.
At the entrance to the camping ground, they pulled up, and her mother went to register. Each year, they camped in the same spot, next to the same people. Rachel liked it that way, but sometimes wondered why they never changed. Didn’t her parents get board?
As they got closer, she strained her neck. There it was. His red tent was already up; its brightness contrasting with the brown paddocks behind. As she opened the car door, she forced herself not to look for him. She unzipped the trailer and pulled out her tent bag, slinging it over her shoulder.
He was sitting under the canvas awning, a magazine on his lap. He glanced at her and she waved. He raised his hand. She wondered if he had been daydreaming about this too.
She put the tent bag on the ground and began unpacking. Her tenet was the closest to the river, and when she woke up in the morning and opened the flap, she imagined she was the only one there. No other campers obsructed her view – only the bike bells and crying babies destroyed her fantasy.
Her father helped her put up her tent, then she began chopping carrots for a salad. She glanced at his tent but he’d dissapeared. Perhaps inside or maybee he was at the willow tree waiting for her.
It had happened so quickly last year. They’d hardly spoken before, but he knew all the right things to say, and his blue eyes reflected the sky above. They’d had to weeks of secret meetings and hurried kisses by the water. But they’d been moments that seemed sharp now in her mind as if the rest of her life had been a dream. His hand at the back of her neck holding her closely.
Her mother chatted while she opened up the stiped fold-up chairs, a routine that had existed forever. Rachel nodded agreement, her eyes drifting up the river. She’d have to go tomorow, there was no way she could escape now.
And then she saw him, emerging from his tent in board shorts. She smiled to herself. But a girl followed close behind him. Blue bikini. And they were laughing. He was holding her hand, helping her out of the tent. Her blonde hair got caught in the zip and he untangled it.
Perhaps she was only a relative. But, no he was kissing her. More laughter as they tried to stand up. Rachel looked down at the carrots. She wasn’t dissapointed. Not really. But she watched as the girl jumped on his back and tackled him to the ground. It had been nothing. She hadn’t really liked him. Hadn’t even known him and she’d forgotten it really. It was only a vague memory, his soft lips against hers.
The girl ran down to the river. So close Rachel could have tripped her. He followed her, wading out, daring her to come after him.
Rachel put the carrot in the bowl, and began tearing off leaves of lettuce. She tried to keep her eyes of him, his broad ches, the way he threw his head back when he laughed. He hadn’t laughed that much with her. The sun was poised on the horizon; the sky scarlet. They were surrounded by light. A bubble of perfection.
Rachel grimaced. Her mother asked if she was alright. She said she was. But inside she felt as if her heart was dying.