“I hate this cold.” Dana tightened her scarf and returned her arms to their firm position crossed over her chest. Eric turned a little on the bench the two of them were sharing to look at her and watched as her hair gently blew over her face in the cold autumn wind. The wind brought with it the faint smell of burning leaves.
“Say,” Eric began. “You know what this reminds me of?”
“What?” Dana watched Theodore chase Thomas up the playground equipment. Thomas made it to the top of the slide just before Theodore did and flung himself down before Theo could wrap his arms around him.
“You remember that camping trip we took? In Petalbrooke?” Eric knew Dana would remember. Dana smiled.
“Yeah, I remember.” Of course Dana remembered Petalbrooke. “But we didn’t take a camping trip.” Dana had planned a camping trip with her two best friends, Margaret and Katie. They had just finished their Junior year at Livingston High and wanted to celebrate with a weekend of independence from their parents for a weekend. “And that was in the summer.”
“Yeah.” Eric took a moment to inhale the cool air. “But it was colder than usual. At least, it was at night. You burned leaves at night.”
“For kindling. It’s not like leaves were all we burned.” Dana knew what night Eric was talking about. Eric and his buddy Ralph stumbled into Dana’s campsite to ask if the girls had any extra wood for their own campfire. The story was that the boys had only brought a couple logs of wood and not enough money to buy any more from the campground. The truth was that Ralph had found out Katie was going on a camping trip, so he enlisted Eric as wingman on their own little camping trip so that Ralph could get some alone time with Katie. That was how Dana met Eric.
“We should do that again sometime. Get away. Spend a weekend in the woods.” Eric leaned forward and hovered his hands in the air, palms down. “Get in touch with Mother Nature.”
“That’d be nice.” Dana laughed. “But you know that’s impossible.”
“Come on.” Eric leaned over and bumped Dana’s shoulder with his. “Why not?” Dana turned and looked at Eric quizzically.
“The kids.” Dana said.
“Ah. Right.” Eric understood. You couldn’t blame a man for trying.
The two of them sat at that bench for a while longer, letting the kids play. When the sun started to get low, Dana called, “Theodore! Thomas!” and the two grudgingly trotted to their mother.
“I’ll see you later, Eric.” Dana said as she stood to meet her children. Eric dragged himself up, as well.
“See ya, Danny.”
Then the two of them parted ways, each to their separate families.