“Great,” Megan said with a grunt as she shook her leg to pry off the mud that so desperately clung to the bottom of her boot.
“Look, I promise to God. I thought I knew where I was going,” Dan replied. “Clearly, you don’t,” she roared back at him.
Now, Megan sat on a rock and watched the trees sway back and forth with the winter breeze. Dan gradually approached her.
A brief pause.
She didn’t look his way, not even slightly. Was she being unreasonable? No. He knew perfectly how much she despised getting lost. Her life had always been so meticulously planned out so that things of this sort wouldn’t happen–ever. And since a situation of this kind was out of her hands, she could at any moment go mad, foolishly mad.
“Daylight is slipping away,” she said as her eyes scrutinized the dark foliage of the trees.
“How bout we just stay and camp out,” Dan said.
“We’ll find our way back in the morning,” Dan said this so quickly almost as if he was afraid of his own words, his own thoughts, his own fears.
“I guess you’re right. I’m acting crazy,” Megan said.
He turned to her with a surprising fidget as though he was expecting her to disagree with his crazed suggestion. Nonetheless, all he could make out to say with desperate courage was, “You’re not crazy. I’ll start the tent.”
“What a fucking idiot.” Megan looked down at the tent which was situated much too close to the fire. As of any moment, it would have burnt at an instant. With lightning speed, she moved the tent a good distance away from the fire.
“Got more wood. We doin s’mores tonight?” Dan examined Megan’s stone cold face.
“What did I fucking do this time?” he asked with frustration.
Megan snatched the wood from his arm and said, “How bout next time don’t put the tent so fucking close to the fire. Dammit.” She dropped the wood aiming at his feet but missing by a few inches. Dan turned his shoulder to face the tent and then glanced at the fire.
“What the fuck are you talking about, the tent is 20 feet away,” he said.
Megan howled at him, “BECAUSE I HAD TO FUCKING MOVE IT.”
She opened a Hershey’s bar–of course, it was king size–and perched on the floor near the fire. Dan wore a dumbfounded look. What the fuck was she talking about? I had placed the tent just there where it is now, he thought. He marched towards her with, “I left the tent just there before I went to go get wood.”
She stuffed her face with a marshmallow and replied, “whatever,” with a nonchalance. By contrast, he looked entirely concerned. The tent and the fire could not escape his mind.
“Are you trying to tell me that YOU moved the tent away from the fire?” Dan asked.
Megan cackled. “Stop fucking with me, Dan. I’m tired and I’m going to take a nap.”
Just as she was making her way towards the tent, he clutched her arm.
“I’m dead serious,” he remarked.
She pulled away pushing him hard to the floor. “No, you will seriously be dead,” she said.
Now, on the floor, he watched her get in the tent. Boy, was he pissed. And she was sound asleep when she felt her tent shake abruptly. You have to be fucking kidding me, she thought.
“What the fuck?” she yelled as she stumbled outside the tent.
Dan was completely silent. His eyes were fixed on the fire. At this point, her bitchiness did not phase him, not even remotely.
“Stop playing with me Dan,” she said.
Still, Dan didn’t look her way.
He seemed vacant of emotion. Almost lifeless compared to the vivacious flames of the fire. She marched to him and nudged at his head. He snapped out of it.
“What the actual fuck?” he finally let out.
“What the hell are you doing?” she growled.
“NOTHING!” He stood up almost as if he wanted to go somewhere. But where? There was nowhere to go. They were lost.
“Quit it, Dan, I’m not joking.”
And with that, Megan went back to the tent.
It was 1 a.m. Dan rested his head on a piece of wood watching the fire. Megan was sound asleep in the tent.
To this, Megan awoke abruptly. And then it came again, louder than before.
Without a second thought, she zoomed out of the tent. Dan was lying still by the fire. His pupils red and still vacant of emotion. She let out a nervous laugh.
“Are you trying to scare me, Dan?”
Her words startled him, as though he had not been aware that she was standing over him. He finally stood up.
“What the hell are you talking about? he asked.
She glared at him, a devilish look. “Look, I heard you laughing, I don’t care to know why, but don’t make me come out again,” she said. He stared at her and studied her face. By the look of it, it seemed sincere. She couldn’t be crazy. I can’t be crazy, he thought.
“What laughing?” he asked.
She rolled her eyes and said, “You can’t be serious.”
“ Oh, I’m dead serious,” he said.
“No, you are dead,” Meg replied.
“What?” his words stumbled out of his mouth.
“You’re going to die,” she said again.
This time, he actually let out a cackle.
“You got me,” he said, Come, sit by the fire. Let’s start over.”
She sat next to him with a grimace. They watched the fire. She gradually lifted her hand and placed it on his cheek. He leaned in for a kiss. He devoured her, as she did to him. But now she placed both of her hands on his neck, gripping it tight, almost choking him.
“Not too hard,” he said with a laugh.
With this, she gripped on tighter.
He coughed, panic in his eyes. Tighter and tighter and still tighter she gripped until his face turned purple, and she watched him collapse to the ground. Now, he was literally lifeless. To this, she let out a cackle.
No, it was not an ordinary laugh. It was insidious, too familiar. As a matter of fact, it was the same laugh she heard while she was in the tent. Why it was her very own laugh.
It was her all along.