Vacation

The more I look at the stories in my notebook, the more I realize that I am repeating a lot of specific themes. Sorry if it isn’t original. When I write, I’m not always trying to write the perfect story. I’m usually working on something specific, like dialogue, sentence structure, dialogue tags, metaphors, etc. With this story, I think I was working on using the setting to tell the story as much as the characters and narrator.

This story didn’t have a title when I wrote it. The date was 6/15. I just made up “Vacation” as I’m typing this.

Let me know what works and what doesn’t. I take criticism very well. Hope you enjoy.

Vacation

At the end of the day, I realize I’m not perfect, and perfect is all she wants. I look out my window and see the last bit of light hitting the bleeding hearts at the foot of the porch. It’s a nice moment, so I go and grab my camera. The picture doesn’t come out quite like I’d like it to. The lens is a little too small. It doesn’t pick up the subtle details like the light penetrating the flower itself, making it look translucent, while giving the leaves a white outline. I keep trying, and keep failing. I tell myself the moment isn’t meant to be captured to make myself feel better.

In the distance, she is out in our small wildflower garden picking flowers to press in a book. We both have a desire to freeze time. She’s better at it, though. Page after page is filled with flowers from all the places we’ve visited and from our garden. Each have their own story. I’m just an amateur photographer. My father was great, and I wanted to be better, so I bought my own camera. Sometimes, she’ll say that all she has to do is look me in the eyes, or count my breaths while I sleep next to her. Only then, when I see her smiling, I lose track of everything going on around me.

“Did you hear me laughing at you?” she yells from across the yard. “I could tell from here you couldn’t get the shot right.”

“How?” I ask.

“I can see you breathing heavy, like you’ve just been punched, and you stick your tongue out.”

“Well I have it in my mind.”

“I’m hungry.”

“Dinner will be ready soon. Come in and wash up.”

I throw the pasta in the water and reheat the sauce I made earlier with fresh cherry tomatoes and basil from the garden. The bottle of homemade wine she bought earlier from the farmer’s market is already on the table.

“It smells great,” she yells from the bathroom.

She gets out and we sit. I pour her and myself a glass, and say the usual things about any wine when you first try it: “Woody”; “Dry”; “Not bad for the price.” The homemade pasta cooks quick, so we’re already eating. Next thing we know the bottle is gone.

“Let’s go up to the mountains tomorrow,” she suggests.

“We can go swimming in the lake.”

“What do you think of the sauce?”

“A little too salty.”

“I never give it enough time to develop.”

She instinctually thinks of their relationship. He always rushes things. They’re here so he can propose—again. He tried after three months. It’s only been a little over a year, but she can tell by the way he walks that it’s on his mind again.

“I need a new camera,” he says.

“Yours is fine.”

“It doesn’t work well in low light.”

“So?”

“It never looks exactly like I see it, like when I use film.”

He’s always noticing the little things like the one strand of hair catching the light, highlighting her hazel eyes.

“What?” she asks, startling him.

“Huh?”

“You’re staring.”

“At what?”

“You tell me.”

“Nothing.”

It’s not worth mentioning if it can’t be captured. He’ll try to write about it later and fail. He’ll throw it in a poem and read it to her for her birthday or Christmas. It’ll sound nice, but just miss making the connection she’s looking for.

They finish dinner and go outside. He gathered firewood earlier and lights it up. They lay in the hammock and watch the sparks fly up into the sky, seeing how high they go before going out.

“My father taught me how to build a fire,” he says.

“How is he?” she asks.

“The same.”

“That’s too bad.”

His father wasn’t always like this. He used to enjoy life. Now it’s like he’s just waiting to die. He always felt he has do do everything or else it won’t get done at all. It just stresses him out and gives him an excuse to hate the world, confirms his belief that everyone is out to get you. He hopes one day his father will realize how selfish he is, and understand why it upsets him even though he says not to worry about him.

That’s why he focuses on the little things. His father is always looking at the big picture, but he gets too caught up in it, and gets angry if it doesn’t work out exactly as he expects. He doesn’t know how to take a step back and relax. He hopes he never turns into his father.

“Come here,” she says.

He puts his arm around her. She leans her head on his shoulder, listening to his heart beat. She can feel his anxiety, so she rubs his chest to calm him down. Slowly, he calms down.

“I love you,” he says.

The timing is finally right. She says it back. If he asked her to marry her right then and there, she might even say yes. He doesn’t, which is fine too. There’s no rush. They’re finally sharing a moment together, not knowing when—or if—it will end. They just hope it never does.

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