Welcome to the Attic!

Card Challenge: Day 30

Card Day 30: A compass resting on top of a piece of a map.

“We said no cell phones,” snapped Teresa from the driver’s seat, shooting a sharp, disapproving look his direction.

Brian dropped the phone into his lap, exasperation in his movements and voice. “Babe, I was just going to use the GPS to figure out where we are.”

“That’s why I brought the map,” she replied, nodding her head toward the backseat where the paper map sat ungainly and unfolded.

“I don’t know how to read one of those.”

“How do you not know how to read a map? You just look at it, find the road we’re on, and find the one we want to be on. Then tell me where to go.” He was unconvinced at her description of the “simple” process, but it was not worth the inevitable fight to continue angling for his phone.

“If it means that much to you, fine, I’ll use the map. But we’re going to get way more lost before we find our way.”

“Do you want to drive and I’ll navigate?” she offered, glancing his way as wave after wave of corn fields flashed past the window. She raised one eyebrow, suggesting she already knew what his answer would be.

“You know I hate driving, and I already drove three hours this morning.”

“And I did not get you lost once. Everyone has to pull their weight in this car,” she chided with a smile, turning her attention back to the road.

“Well, if you had not insisted on packing your entire apartment into the trunk, there wouldn’t be so much weight to disperse, now would there?” His mischievous grin vanished as she swatted at him, laughing.

“Shut up.”

The rest of the trip was passed in companionable banter and inside jokes, with a reasonable break for scanning the radio waves. Teresa had the magic touch for finding just the right driving music, which was today a mix of late 80s and early 90s hits that both could sing along with. Eventually, under Brain’s careful guidance, they pulled into the turn off for the state park. Her eyes lit up with excitement as they descended beneath the heavy canopy, winding along the narrow pavement towards the camp grounds. Teresa rolled down her window, cranking it diligently, and let the wind whip through her long, wavy hair. It filled the car with the scent of soil, leaves, and fresh air. Brain smiled, watching the sunlight play across her face from the branches overhead, and rolled down his window in turn. The early spring breeze rippled through the car, the only sound the crunch of the tires over the pavement and the whistling of distant birds.

“I reserved number four,” he said after the brief drive, pointing to a small turn off. The campground was empty, probably because it was the middle of the week and early yet in the season.

Brian gave an exaggerated stretch as he exited the car, breathing deep and then yawning animatedly. “Glad we made here in one piece. You gave me some scares.”

“Ha-ha,” she deadpanned, tossing one of the duffle bags towards him. “Quit whining and help me set up so we can get some exploring in before dinner.”

“Yes ma’am,” he responded with a salute, pushing past her to grab the tent out. “I found a geocache not too far from here, thought we could look it up?” he offered as he began unpacking the tent.

“Uh, sure, but we don’t have a GPS, so that might be hard.”

“Seriously?” he asked, freezing in the task and giving her an incredulous stare.

“What? I’m serious, no phone—“

“No, you, the geo-expert, and you don’t even know how to do it without your fancy GPS. Psh.” He reached into his back pocket. “I printed off the map, and brushed up on how to do this sort of thing old school. It’s just reading a map, right? Can’t be too hard.”

She laughed, her eyes beaming with appreciation. “Ok, Mr. Wilderness, sounds like a plan. After we have a place to sleep tonight,” she finished, pointing at the assorted pieces of the tent.

“I’ll have it done in a flash,” Brain replied with a smile and a wink. Teresa busied herself with sorting through the remainder of their baggage, dragging the heavy cooler near the front of the trunk and sliding the clothes towards the back. She tugged the battered red sleeping bag from the bag, where it had been crushed in their haste.

“When you get that thing ready, I’ve got the bed.”

“Almost there,” called Brian from behind the now open tent. “Did you find the fire starter?” he asked, brushing his hands against his pants and leaving dirty brown streaks.

Without a word, she tossed him the bundle of wood and lighter fluid from the trunk.

“Sweet! Hotdogs tonight!” He dropped the log into the ashen fire pit, and turned towards her excitedly. “Now, on to the main event.” He again produced the folded map from his back pocket, thrusting it out towards Teresa. “Lead the way, captain.”

“I thought you were the one who knew how to do all this? She responded, shoving it back towards him, but he was persistent.

“Come on, it’s just a map. Any idiot can use a map. Just find where we are, find where we want to be, and lead the way,” he echoed, a sly glimmer in his eye. Rising to the bait, Teresa snatched the paper from his hand.

“You’re terrible, you know that?”

“But you love me,” he replied, giving her a quick peck on the cheek as she studied the map.

“Okay, towards the lake.”

The two set off with the late afternoon sun falling behind them, casting long shadows under the limbs of the trees. Teresa pointed out directions, examining the map carefully, always moving closer to Brain’s hastily marked ‘X.’

“Did the poster say anything? Any clues about if it’s underground, in a tree, anything?”

“Nope, nothing special. I’m guessing we’ll know it when we see it.”

“I hope we aren’t on a wild goose chase,” she said, laughing and smiling over the map at him.

He smiled back. “I’ve got a good feeling about it. And I’m guessing we’re pretty close?”

She turned the map towards him, pointing to a spot just southeast of the penciled ‘X.’ “Should be closing in.”

“Good, cause I’m getting hungry, and those hotdogs won’t cook themselves.”

It was only one or two more landmarks and consultations of the map before Teresa led them into a clearing, a grey metal box patiently waiting beneath the roots of a gnarled oak. The two rushed over, the air heavy with the anticipation of discovery.

“Do you want to do the honors?” suggested Teresa, nudging the box towards him. “You did choose it, after all.”

“Hey, you were the fearless leader. You take first look.”

Teresa’s smile widened, grinning like a kid unwrapping the last—and biggest—birthday present. Carefully she lifted the lid to reveal another small, black box.

“Geo-ception,” she chuckled, lifting out the box.

She eagerly opened this, awaiting her final prize. Inside, sat a ring, glistening with diamond and gold, accompanied by a crumpled piece of paper and familiar handwriting.

“I found the one. Say yes?” it asked. She looked at Brian, his face smug and pleased with the plan. Her head bobbed a quick and decisive yes, one of the few times he had successfully left her speechless.

“Told you I had a good feeling about this one.”

Creative Commons License
This work by Katherine C is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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