The Camping Trip ---936 words.

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carlylyncoe

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The Camping Trip

By carlylyn coe


"You're going where with who?"

I was sitting on my sofa, curled up with a book about the history of Montana I had been reading. I was writing a book on this wonderful state and the research was killing me, so when the phone rang I was happy for the reprieve. I looked at the caller ID band on the handset, saw it was my former husband, Dave, and after a little hesitation, pushed the talk button.

"Hello" My standard greeting when I choose to answer the phone.

"Hi," Dave replied, as casually as if he were next to me. He actually lives in Virginia, a good place.

It is a good place because he is a nine hour drive from me, making me relaxed and happy. Conversely, he is not happy about where I live, and has recently been asking me for a second chance at the marriage we don't have any longer...always pushing for a commitment from me. I am slow to answer and very good at changing the subject.

"What are you up to?" he asked.

I, being a wise ass, replied, "About 5 '3", and a hundred and thirty pounds."

There was a pause on the other end.
He never really gets it, but I let it slide gracefully.

"What can I do for you?" I asked him; oops, wrong question; but he's not that fast, so I have time to cover...
"Why are you calling?"

He proceeded to tell me about his latest problem between his girlfriend and himself, stressing how dissatisfied he was with the relationship. She wasn't clean enough in the house, she was over two hundred pounds, she expected him to do things for her when she asked; the list was longer than usual.

"Well, you know what to do if you are unhappy." I stated.

"Yeah, but she's so nice, I hate to hurt her if I break up with her."

"I'd say you have a real problem here, my friend."

I continued to scan the book as he talked, telling me of all the things she didn't do like I did, and how I was thinner and prettier and kept myself in shape...

"Look, I'd like to talk longer, but I have to make a list for this weekend."

"What is going on this weekend?"
He always wanted to know every thing I did.

"I'm going camping."

I try not to tell him more than the actual question asks, hoping he'll let it go. Not this time; he was all ears.

"You're going where?" The disbelief in his voice was so funny I was tempted to toy with him a bit, but I let it go.

"I am going camping, overnight, in a tent, with a cooler and a sleeping bag with strangers." Ok, I did tease him a bit.

"You're going where with who?" came the explosion.

"You heard me; I am going camping with perfect strangers. Well, not perfect exactly, 'cause I don't know their full life histories. There may be a weirdo or two in the pack, but don't worry, I am taking my Glock."

"You have a gun?" he bellowed.

"Yep, sure do. You know I have always wanted one; well, I got one last spring. Works great for me; I feel so safe."

"This is not happening. You can't just go off with these people without me knowing where you are. How many men and how many women are there in this group and where the hell did you meet them?"

"Oh, they're internet friends." I casually replied, and yawned for effect.

"I think there are four or five of us sleeping over, and the rest will show up the next day." I rambled.

"Lyn, I think this is a very bad idea. This is exactly where you would expect to find somebody like Ted Bundy...I do not want you doing this."

"Actually, I am hoping to find someone completely the opposite of anyone I have ever met; and I 'm sure I will...there's Hilltop Daisy, Boxwoods, Gordon Schumway, and several others whose names slip my mind."

"What the hell kind of names are those??"

"User names, Dave. For identity security. I know you don't do computers, never did Valentine's Day, rarely remembered our anniversary, but you want to get back together. I also know you are still doing Cindy. So in all fairness, I will do my life, my way. How's that?"

"Hey, I really want us to try and get back together; what if you meet someone?"

The worry in his voice was so pathetic, I nearly laughed out loud. But this was a threatening moment for him, so I had to tell him the truth.

"I already have met someone, sweetie."

"You mean you've been keeping this from me all these months!?"
Anger and the old remembered sound of beginning control were creeping into his tone now.

"Well, yes, I have, and I guess I should have told you sooner, but..."

"Who is he?" he interrupted, like usual.
" Do I still have a chance?"

"It's not a he, Dave, it's a she, someone I met over the last few years...her name is Lyn and I love her."

"That's you---how can you love yourself?"

"That, my dear, is the very reason we will never get back together. You just don't get it."

There was silence from his end; I felt I had to say something; end the call somehow.

"I have to go now; Lyn and I are reading a book together."

Hanging up, I knew I had hurt him, maybe, if he got it.

 

suziquaif

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I really like this, it has a kind of Brigitte Jones feel to it and I did relate to Lyn, though I fear it may be a 'been there and done that' female thing. 'Fear' because I was happily filling in the blanks in the text with my own pictures. Other readers may be left feeling a bit non plussed by it.

Writing in the first person is not the easiest as it limits your view to what the character sees and how she feels, her interpretation of her world in real time. Not for a second am I suggesting you change the POV, it would mean losing the close proximity to the main character. At the moment we are inside her head, sitting by her side on the sofa and it feels good.

This is only a short piece so any changes should be small and designed for maximum effect.

What its missing at the moment are elements to encourage engagement with Lyn. The how, why, where's and what's. At the moment Lyn is detached, my take was that her condescending aloofness was a defence mechansim against her insecurites and I was happy to build my own back story. Others may need a hint.

I would have a go at placing Lyn. Does she live alone, was it her choice. What does her home look and feel like. The world beyond her window can be a useful tool. The sun highlighting features of the room. The rain leaking through a dodgy window. The sounds outside leaking in, screaming kids, traffic, birdssong or even silence. They all add a sense of place, time and mood.

Who is Dave, what does he look like, how did he and Lyn live when they were together. Flashback and recollection are good tools to make it possible to see him. Tiny things really, a bit like when you have a conversation with a close friend and you remember sound bytes that carry the conversation. Annoying ticks, endearing features - they can be anything you can draw from the conversation and your knowedge of Lyn.

If I was doing this, I would be referring to, or creating a backstory and have a picture of the story beyond the end of the text. No one will ever see them, they just help

Hope this helps
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away