Dot knew it wasn't going to be a good day when she woke up to find that last night’s showers had streamed into the tent through a forgotten gaping flap. It was all she could do to roll out of her Kelty sleeping bag and start picking up camp. It didn’t help that Dogchaser was having one of his “pushy” days. Rushing her along every step of the way. He’d declared first thing, “This is it, today is the day we hit 20 miles!” Not exactly what Dot wanted to hear. She preferred to take her time hiking, to enjoy the sights and smells. She could care less about trying to hike a certain mileage just to have Facebook bragging rights at the next library they found. The way she figured it, just attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety gave her a lifetime of bragging rights.
Now they’d been on the trail for hours, and she was weary of the blazing pace that Dogchaser was setting. She felt resentful. She wanted to sit back on a bed of soft pine needles, breathe in the forest, and eat some trail mix. Instead, she felt obligated to eat on the run, not even to pause while sipping her water, all to make this stupid 20 mile mark.
For the hundredth time since setting off on the AT several months ago, Dot questioned her sanity. Why was she here? She and Dogchaser (not his real name, of course, everyone earned nicknames on the AT) had only been dating for six months when he got the idea to do his epic hike. All the excitement and planning had drawn Dot in, and she was caught up in the energy and romance of the idea. Soon she’d found herself hiking the neighborhoods of Charlotte with him at 5:00 am, their backpacks weighted down with canned food, as they trained for the venture.
Now, after months of being side by side day in and day out, Dot was a little over Dogchaser. Particularly today. Even his swinging gait and the way he held his hiking stick at a jaunty angle bothered her. She wished he would just push ahead on his own, do his own dumb 20 mile hike, and let her meet up with him a couple of days later. Honestly, she could use the break. Dot struggled to adjust her bandana over her hair and secretly glared at Dogchaser’s back. As the miles piled on, so did the resentments. Dot was angry over her ridiculous flighty-bimbo trail name, while Dogcatcher got an intriguing name. She was furious that Dogchaser never seemed to get tired, that the weight had fallen off him over the miles to make a lean and wily hiker, a human mountain goat, whereas Dot had only lost five pounds and still carried pudge around her middle. And then there was the time that Dot got giardia from drinking unfiltered water, yet Dogchaser could cup his hands in any stream and never end up sidelined with three days of stomach illness like her.
She was over it. Over the Appalachian Trail, over Dogchaser, over all of it. Dot felt a hot spot under her wool socks as she struggled through mile 19 of the day. She knew she’d have a new blister when they finally made camp. The trail had become more rugged and tough the past couple of miles. She struggled over several boulders and every inch of her body ached as she pulled herself to the top of the mountain.
There sat Dogchaser, that idiot, on an outcropping of rock overlooking a magnificent vista. The sun was falling behind the valley, and the skies were hues of pink and yellow. It was the most spectacular sunset Dot had ever seen. She plopped down next to Dogchaser, exhausted. He handed her half of their last Hershey bar, the chocolate warm from his pocket.
“Aren’t you glad we did it? Twenty miles! I just wanted us to get here in time for the sunset. I knew you’d love it so much! Are you surprised?”
Dot just looked at him and grinned. Maybe she’d stick around for a few more days after all.
The prompt for The Red Dress Club this week was to write about sex. So I wrote about the differences in the sexes. I was over the word limit by 100 words, please forgive me.