Part 1 of 3.
“One day we could go camping. Make a weekend of it.”
She looks blankly back at him, not quite confused but leaning towards puzzled.
“You know, tents. Campfires. Sleeping bags. Or have you never been camping before, city girl?” He reaches over and tugs a stray piece of her hair, surreptitiously taking in her appearance. Shiny hair, glossy nails – purple, this week, matching her bag – careful makeup and ironed shirt. It was highly likely that she never had been.
She bats his hand away from her hair with a businessy demeanour, as if this was just too much work for her to deal with, and shrugged.
“Yeah, I’ve been camping before. I was ten, in Girl Guides, and it rained the whole time. I got caught in a bunch of thorny crap crossing a river and spent days putting lotion on the various scrapes it got me.”
“Stargazing.” It’s one thing he can think of that might lure her to the outdoors, that might tempt her away from the protection of the city. Sometimes, when she’s feeling very wistful, she laments the city skies and the pollution that comes with them, blocking away the stars. He knows for a fact that she’s got an old astronomy book stashed away among all her paperback novels, and that she tries to learn the constellations but never quite sees them.
And it works, he’s got her attention and she’s smiling ever so slightly. It’s the kind of smile you wouldn’t notice, unless you were looking for it, and he’s been watching her since they sat down. She looks at him now, properly – usually she just stares past him, over his shoulder or out the window. It’s a little awkward having her full attention on him, because it rarely is.
“I could bring the telescope and teach you the constellations. And the valley is some ways out from the cities, so there’s no pollution in the sky. I’ve been there before, it’s totally clear at night. And the weather’s supposed to be good.”
She’s wavering now, he can tell, and he goes in for the kill.
“C’mon. You’ve only got a few more weeks before classes start and you need to make the most of this time.”
“Fine,” she sighs, and drops a five on the table, anchoring it with her now-empty coffee cup. “There’s a camping store in the next block of shops; shall we stop there and see what we need?”
He grins and pulls her to her feet.