by Daniel Carrero ’23
Camp was at its end, and they celebrated. Bright smiling teeth illuminated what the absent moonlight couldn’t. Music played and people danced, arms and hips mirrored in swinging shadows. The pitch blackness of the woods was kept at bay by the fire, resting at the edges of the camp, waiting for the light to die.
She sat amongst the campers roasting a marshmallow, making sure not to burn it. Warmth seeped through her blanket and into her bones. “I feel like a marshmallow,” she giggled.
“Georgia, you making a s’more?” Pepe asked, with his hands behind his back. “’Cause it looks like you’re gonna need s’more chocolate!” he said, pulling out a box of Hershey’s.
She laughed, rolling her eyes, “You’re mad dumb, kid.”
They sat together in the midst of the celebration. Hesitant to get close to Georgia, Pepe placed his hand at her side. Georgia felt like the crowd’s eyes were on them. She sat stiff, resisting the urge to grab Pepe’s hand, afraid to glance in his direction. Their silence was an island surrounded by the music and chatter.
Soon only ashes and charcoal were left. The campers, save for Pepe and Georgia, took their energy to the cabin, keeping the music and laughter alive from the night into the morning. Hand in hand, they held each other at a distance as they headed down to the lake. Pepe knew the trail well enough to get through in the black night.
There was no light to tame the dark. It swallowed the sound of rustling leaves and snapping twigs beneath trotting feet. Creatures hidden in inky corners and crevices watched the couple walk, ready to run at the sight of sudden movement. Drooping branches loomed overhead like sleeping limbs, wiggling in the wind to regain sensation.
On the dock their feet hung above the lake. Without light, the murky water offered little reflection. Hands interlocked, the silhouettes of their arms were like ropes suspended in the dark.
Chirping crickets found their place amongst the silence. The lonely evening nudged them closer together, but Pepe was hesitant to respond. Georgia breathed deeply, inhaling the cool, calm air. She brought herself thigh to thigh with Pepe.
“Pepe?” Georgia asked.
“Um, ok,” Pepe replied, putting his jacket across her shoulders.
“Put your arm around me instead.”
“Is this ok?” he asked.
“It’s perfect,” she whispered.
Leaning into his chest, she felt her heart rushing. Her head rested on his shoulder and she scanned the lines of his face. His attention stayed on the water.
“Pepe, look at me,” she said.
He faced her. She pressed her lips to his. The gentle sound of their kiss rippled through the still air.