Togetherness

“Did you find anything?” Jack shouts while fixing the nails of the green tent, which has found a place in a French pine forest, isolated from the countless farms in Normandie.
 
“Oh yeah, you bet!” Elena responds, proudly going out of the bush with a headlamp, fallen over her nose on and some twigs in her hair, dragging a whole pile of wood she has dug out from underneath the fallen leaves in the night forest. Jack looks at her self-satisfied smile with love and surprise, places a gentle kiss on her sweaty forehead, and gets busy to set up the fire.
 
From a wood-woman, she turns into a kitchen fairy – opens the two foldable chairs, places the portable cooler in between to serve as a table and starts cutting some promising French cheese. The bottle of their favorite red wine has never imagined it will be consumed in that setting, but it is also getting ready to play its part in the evening under the sky.
 
Jack is in his element, placing skillfully dry and raw wood on top of each other, to turn it into their source of warmth for the cool, clear summer evening. He lights some old papers and starts blowing with all his lungs, kneeling next to the wood. As the first sparkles appear and the wood starts crackling, Elena looks at him and formally declares with a silly voice, “I just figured, I can never be with a man who cannot make a fire!” He turns towards her, proudly laughing that he has passed the test yet another time and responds “Oh well, that’s sorted then.”
 
Ah hour or two in, several glasses of wine, and cheese almost gone, they are listening to Eddie Veder’s soundtrack of “Into the wild” – his favorite performer, her favorite book. The night has definitively fallen to give them darkness, an infinite dark space, in which they can explore themselves. The only lights are coming from the calm fire, the flying sparkles and the stars hanging above them.
 
“We don’t have those in the city.” she says fixed on the night sky. He looks up, “No, we don’t.”
 
An army of frogs haunts a nearby swamp, they go from silent to howling, in such a sophisticatedly orchestrated manner, which is hardly conceivable outside of the animal world. The wind is echoing in the trees, filling the moment with a scent of mystery. Some tiny wildlife (perhaps the hedgehog they have discovered earlier with an ecstatic joy) is wiggling in the bush behind them, giving them a feeling of not being entirely alone.
 
“How did Chris McCandless do it for so long into the wild alone, hearing all these sounds, and sharing the presence of more than a hedgehog?” Elena has sunk into contemplation. “I feel so free, and yet so vulnerable at the mercy of the nature. I have been longing to do something like what he did, and I always thought I am lacking time and courage, but I realize what he did is in a different spectrum of courage. It must be the acceptance of everything good and bad that can happen to you, which liberates you from all your fears. He must have experienced a different spectrum of happiness, too.”
 
While ultimately absorbed by the fire, Jack replies “But do you remember the conclusion of his diary, baby?”
 
She smiles at her man “Happiness is only real, when shared.” She looks at him, his hair untidy, his clothes soaked in smoke and sweat and she sinks calmly into their quiet togetherness in the midst of the forest sounds.

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