This is a slightly revised copy of my entry into CAW #25, based on the photograph of a lake provided by CAW SOP. ***** "Staci, what are you doing?” “Hang on. I need one more selfie in this cute nightshirt I bought today before I take off my make-up. Isn’t this just the most adorable thing ever?” She struck a pose in the bathroom doorway. “I thought the most adorable thing ever was the purse you bought the other day. What’s on the shirt? Comic book pictures?” “Oh, please, Todd! They’re animated characters from the new movie that’s coming out. They just released this design in adult sizes. I saw it when I was shopping, so I had to buy it.” She finished in the bathroom and got in bed next to me to upload the photos to all her social network pages. Satisfied, she grabbed the magazine she bought on today’s spending spree. “Take a look at this, Staci. I miss it. Dammit, I need this in my life again.” She lowered her fashion magazine. “You need what?” “The outdoors. A break in routine.” “We could go to a stadium concert. I know someone who can get tickets to almost anything.” “Not that kind of break. Camping by a lake. Maybe a three-day weekend in nature, cooking over a fire. No internet. Catching fish for dinner. My parents used to take me camping all the time. Look at this picture.” I showed her the image on my laptop. “Very pretty, Todd, but you don’t like fish.” “I don’t like sushi. I like catching a fish, cleaning it, and frying it in an iron skillet over a campfire.” “Cleaning it yourself? Gross. Cooking over a fire on dirt?” she asked. “I thought even those shitty economy campers had little stoves. And why no internet? Don’t some of the big, nice motor homes have mobile wifi?” “I’m not made of money, Staci, and that’s not camping anyway. I’m talking about a tent and sleeping bag. I know a place that looks a lot this picture. I used to go there with my folks.” “Eww. That’s so primitive. Why would you want to live like some third-world refugee? If I don’t have a nice shower and a place to plug in my hairdryer and phone charger, count me out.” She wrinkled her nose in that dismissive way she has and went back to her article on new trends in nail art. Why am I dating this girl? Well, despite being somewhat of a materialist, she’s smart and funny. She has a job that pays for her shopping addiction, she could model swimwear, and she’s great in bed. Staci’s basically a good person, but she’s an automaton. She’s a consumer. She acts like it’s her calling from God. Social media and shopping are her life. It was fun for a while, but I’m not sure this is working. A few weeks later I called my Dad. “Is my old camping equipment still in the attic?” “Yeah, but there’s a lot of stuff piled in front of it. Your mother’s things are up there. I wasn’t ready to throw them out right after she passed, so that seemed like the best solution. We’ll have to move some boxes around to get to your camping gear. You haven’t touched it since you left for college. Why do you want it now?” “I have the urge to get out of the city for a few days, commune with nature, that sort of thing.” “Staci agreed to go camping?” “No.” My dad chuckled. “I couldn’t imagine her washing metal plates in a stream.” “Hardly. When she found out I wasn’t talking about renting a luxury motor home, rational discussion stopped, so I’m going alone.” “Is she okay with that?” “No.” “Ah, I see. Well, where do you plan to go?” “Probably that area where you took me camping as a kid. Do you want to come along?” “No, Todd. With my bad back, my camping days are over. Besides, you need to think this thing with Staci through on your own. I can’t help you with that, and I shouldn’t try. Do what you need to do. If she’s not the one, move on.” “You think I should?” “I think a man should be able to go camping. We don’t all like the same things, and there’s no law yet that says we must. You should each have your own interests. If that puts a strain on your relationship, you need to look at your priorities.” “Maybe some time away will help me think, Dad.” “Maybe. Remember what I told you a long time ago. There are plenty of women worth dating, but not many worth settling down with. I didn’t even meet your mother until I was older than you are now. I’m glad I waited. She was the right one for me. Sometimes we need to look at our lives and where they’re going. It’s best to do that without distractions. The wrong woman can cloud a man’s thinking.” ***** Staci and I argued that night when she got home from shopping. “What’s that crap in the living room?” “My camping gear.” “It smells funny.” “It was in Dad’s attic for ten years. It’s old but serviceable. The tent and sleeping bag are hanging up to air out. I sharpened my knives and my hatchet and checked out the fishing tackle. I won’t have to buy anything but a new first aid kit and supplies.” “You’re really going to do this.” “We discussed it how many times, Staci? You knew I took tomorrow off so I could have a three-day weekend. You said you didn’t want to come along. Like I told you, I’m leaving in the morning.” “Just like that. You’re going to leave me here all alone and go to some boring lake.” “Peaceful, not boring. When I first got this idea, I asked you to come with me, remember? You said it yourself – it’s slow as hell at work for you right now, and Fridays are pretty much dead. We both know you could take tomorrow off. The tent is big enough for two. We can get you the right clothes at the camping store where we buy your sleeping bag. They have everything – practical underwear, socks, hiking boots,…” “I’m not dressing butch!” “For fuck’s sake, Staci! It’s not butch. You need the right clothes for outdoors.” “I bet they don’t have any of the labels I like.” “This isn’t about style. It’s about function.” “Camping is so … uncouth. Where do you shower?” “You don’t. You take your soap and shampoo to the lake or you bowl bathe with water you heat over the fire.” “Yuck! That’s just plain gross.” “Honey, it’s not bad. Being out in nature is fun.” “It sounds disgusting. I’m a city girl. In the city we have climate-controlled buildings to protect us from nature. We have the basic necessities of life right here – plumbing, wifi, shopping, delis, restaurants, night life…. I can’t believe you want to go out there in some stupid woods and spend a whole weekend without those things.” “It’s nice in the woods.” “Sounds awful. I’d be bored to tears.” “Maybe you would, but I need time to think.” “Are you saying you need time away from me, Todd?” “I’m saying I need time to sort my head out, and the best place I can think of at the moment is a tent. If you want to come along, great. If not, I’m still going.” “I might not be here when you get back.” “What’s that supposed to mean?” “It means I can’t believe you’re going off on this childish Daniel Boone wilderness quest and leaving me behind.” “You’re welcome to come with me.” “I’m not sleeping on dirt!” “Dammit! You don’t sleep on dirt. The tent has a water-proof floor, and you sleep in a bag. I’ll get us an air mattress – super comfortable. You might actually enjoy it if you let yourself.” “Don’t be stupid, Todd.” “Whatever. I’m going. I need fresh air and quiet. It’s time to slow down and figure some things out.” “What things? About me? Maybe you won’t have to. Like I said, I might not be here when you come home.” She started crying then, dramatic, mascara-smearing, forced tears. That dirty trick wore thin a while ago. “Why are you crying? It’s not really about camping, is it? What’s the real reason?” “The real reason? All right, dammit! I’ll tell you the real reason! You won’t give in!” “For God’s sake, Staci! It’s one fucking weekend. This isn’t about ‘giving in’!” “Yes it is! I don’t wanna go camping!” “I got that, but I do. Why do we have to do exactly the same things?” “Because I want my way! You’re no fun anymore! I want a guy who will take me to clubs and trendy restaurants and shows, not to some dumb lake! I don’t date cavemen!” “No? Fine. I’m leaving in the morning. When you have your shit moved out, leave your key on the kitchen table, and lock the door behind you. I’m sorry this isn’t working out.” She stomped around the place, clearing out her side of the closet, her bureau drawers, and all her crap in the bathroom. Her last words were, “You’re making a big mistake Todd. You won’t find another like me.” I didn’t say it until her car disappeared into traffic. “Maybe that’s just as well.” ***** In the morning, I loaded my camping gear in my SUV, filled a cooler with food, and headed for the mountains, into the area where my parents took me camping as a kid. A lot had changed. Houses stood where fields once were, and even some of the woods along the country road were dotted with homes. Eventually civilization was in my mirrors. There wasn’t much out here other than trees. Somehow I found the old gravel road that led up a long hill and then turned to a weedy dirt path to wind its way back down through the forest to the shoreline. Ancient evergreens kept watch on the clear water sparkling in midday sun. I parked in a clearing off the beaten path and set up camp near a stream, in an area that gets late afternoon shade, exactly where we camped when I was younger. Large predators were unheard of in this region, but there were some deer droppings nearby. This spot would be safe and quiet. Actually, it isn’t quiet in nature. Birds cried in the trees, maybe upset about my intrusion into their world, and insects argued loudly in the weeds. The occasional breeze made the treetops talk in stage whispers. Twigs crunched underfoot as I hunted for rocks and kindling for my campfire. I had packed plenty of food since I didn’t want fish for every meal. A ham and cheese sandwich was lunch before I set up my tent. Then, I built my fire ring and set off with my hatchet to find wood for tonight and to cook breakfast in the morning. Dinner was a potato baked in foil near the fire, brown bread, canned soup, and a tomato from my lone plant on the deck at home. With the ambience, it was gourmet cuisine. Dusk comes early in the woods. It was summer, but the air cooled as soon as the sun dipped below the treetops. I added some hardwood to my fire to build up the bed of coals so they’d last through the night. Satisfied things were secure, I bedded down and let the cicadas sing me to sleep. The sun was above the trees when I awoke. I never get more than five or six hours sleep at home, so almost double that was amazing. I was ready for a good day. I got water from the stream, stoked up my fire, and made coffee and bacon to have with a muffin I brought along. Then it was time for a bath. I stuffed a towel, soap, and clean clothes in a backpack and headed to the lake, toward the rocky swimming hole we used years ago. The water was as clear as I remembered it, warmed by the sun in the shallows, but cool farther from shore. I washed and swam. When I was done, I stood on a boulder in the warm sun, toweling off and looking out over the water. I was relishing my solitude when I heard movement in the woods. “Is someone there?” I called. A woman’s voice responded, “I didn’t see anything. I’ll come back later, or I’ll go somewhere else.” Shit. I covered myself with my towel. “Sorry. Just give me a minute. I’ll be out of here in no time.” I turned my back to the shoreline and dressed hurriedly in the clean boxers, tee, and cut-off jeans I brought with me for the day’s warmth. “Okay. I’m decent. You can come out now.” She wasn’t pretty, at least not scene-girl pretty like Staci. Her appearance was much more simple and honest. She wore no make-up, her brown hair was in a ponytail, and she was dressed in boots, sensible jeans, and a flannel shirt. She was taller than some girls, and what little I could see of her figure spoke more of lean health than sexy curves. “I really didn’t see much but your head,” she said. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know anyone was here.” “It’s all right. I’m sorry I sneaked up on you. My name’s Carla.” “Todd. Nice to meet you.” “I saw your campfire last night.” “Where’s your camp? I thought I knew this area pretty well, but I didn’t see anything when I came in yesterday.” “You came in from the southern end. I heard your car. I was done with my chores for the day and reading in the sun, so you wouldn’t have heard me. I wasn’t planning to cook last night, so I let my fire die out. You couldn’t really have known I was there unless you looked. I’m a couple hundred yards north of you, since I came from that side. It’s where my family always camped when I was little. We used this swimming hole here, since the shoreline is muddy near our campsite.” “How long have you been coming here? My family used to camp where I set up, but I haven’t been back since high school. That was ten years ago.” “Wait a minute,” she said. “Todd? Todd Keller? Is your mother’s name Donna?” “She passed away about five years ago, but yes. Why?” “Oh, no. I’m so sorry to hear that. She was really sweet. But, Todd, it’s me! Barbie Carla Thomas. I was Barbie Jenkins then. Always hated being named after a doll. I don’t look like her at all. I managed to get people to call me Carla when I went to college. Don’t you remember me?” “Little Barbie Jenkins?” “Yes! We used to make mud pies and skip rocks.” “Oh my God. Barbie? I mean, Carla? You were so short. I teased you about it all the time.” “You certainly did. Our parents called us Mutt and Jeff. You got taller too.” “I guess we both did. How long has it been?” She thought for a second. “We stopped coming here when I was ten and started going to the beach for summer vacations, so it must be about eighteen years. I can’t believe it’s you! Are you married?” “Nope. Never got that far. My latest girlfriend moved out when I said I was going camping. It was a good excuse to break up. I guess it needed to happen.” “Ah. Well, better to figure out you’re not compatible before marriage. John and I didn’t. I kept his name since my degree and certifications say ‘Thomas’. “What do you do?” “I’m a librarian. My parents always had to bring extra batteries for my lantern so I could read here at night. Books are important to me. You?” “I work for an ad agency. Copy writing, contracts, presentations, that sort of thing.” “Sounds exciting,” she offered. “Stressful, if I’m honest. That’s why I’m here. I needed a break from the day-to-day fun.” She smiled. She still had that cute dimple in her right cheek. “What are you doing for lunch?” “I dunno. I packed food, but I might see if the fish are biting.” “They were the other day. I’ll show you the spot I found.” “Great!” “After my bath.” “Oh, right. Sorry. I swear I can’t see this part of the lake at all from camp, so when you’re finished, follow the smoke, and come find me.” I re-filled my backpack and walked up the path into the woods. Carla showed up in a tee shirt, hiking shorts, and boots, her damp hair tied back, carrying a fishing pole, bait can, and shovel. “I’ll show you a good place to dig for worms.” We followed the stream to the lake shore and then made our way north. With little digging, we had all the bait we’d need. We left our boots and socks on the shore and waded through ankle-deep water to a rock big enough to sit on. “Wait a couple minutes,” she said. “This water is so clear, when the silt from us wading over here settles, we’ll probably be able to see the fish. The last time, it took about two minutes to catch dinner.” She baited her hook and lowered it into the water without casting. It wasn’t long until something pulled on her line. A fin flashed, and the line went slack. “A smart one! He got lunch for free,” she laughed. She put another worm on her hook and dropped it back into the water. “Maybe he’ll tell a friend who isn’t as clever.” Her prediction turned out to be true. We threw back the small ones, but in less than half an hour we were cleaning two nice trout. “Your fire or mine?” she asked. “I’m sure I can find a log for you to sit on.” “No, thanks. I’m an old-school camper, but my one concession to civilization is excellent camp chairs and my battery reading lamp. Now, I have one with a solar charger, so I can have light to read by late into the night. We’ll cook at my site.” We walked through the woods to the dirt track I had driven on but turned the opposite way. Hidden from my camp by a thick stand of brush and trees was her site, exactly where it had been decades ago. “I remember now,” I said. “Your dad built that stone fireplace. We played hide and seek in those evergreens behind your tent.” “And we made s’mores with your mom at your camp. She always had to supervise us. I loved my ‘Aunt Donna’. May I ask what happened to her, Todd?” “Brain aneurysm. We didn’t know anything was wrong with her. They said she was probably gone before she hit the floor. Dad found her when he came in from mowing the yard. He took it pretty hard at first, but he’s doing okay now. I tried to get him to come camping with me, but his back is acting up.” “I’m glad he’s coping with losing your mom. Tell him I said ‘hi’.” “What about your folks?” “They still live in the same house and work at the same jobs,” she said. “They seem really happy. They rent a beach cottage for a month every summer. I think they may retire to the coast some day.” “You said you were divorced?” “The marriage was a mistake, as much mine as his. We fell in love with love, not with each other. After about three years we realized we shouldn’t have done it. No real drama, all very civilized. We don’t hate each other, but we’re not at all compatible. Staying married was a ridiculous idea.” “Maybe I knew Staci wasn’t really my type all along, but in some ways we were good together. Just not long-term-relationship-level good.” “Partners have to be flexible,” she said. “You don’t really know a person unless you’re old friends or you’ve lived with them for a while. You both have to be willing to change some things to make it work, and you have to adapt your relationship as you grow. John and I couldn’t do that.” “That was my problem with Staci. She felt I was the one who had to change. Everything was about her.” “Were you friends with her before you started dating?” “No. We met at a club.” “John and I met at a frat party. He complained the drinks were weak and mentioned he had an unopened bottle of cognac in his room. The rest, as they say, is history.” “He sounds like the kind of guy Staci would like. With her, it was Red Bull and vodka, but she was the one who insisted I go home with her. Same eventual result.” “The single life isn’t so bad, Todd. I thought my life was over when we actually said the word ‘divorce’, but John and I agreed later it was the smartest thing we ever did. It may sound callous, but if she wasn’t right for you, you’ll get over her.” “Plenty of fish in the lake, huh?” “There must be a few worth snagging. How long were you together?” “We dated for a couple weeks before she brought a suitcase with her. We passed the six-month mark a few days ago. Technically, she never moved in. Sometimes we slept at her place, but all I kept there was a toothbrush. Everything she had at my house fit in one carload when she packed up and left.” “Do you think you’ll miss her?” “I probably sound like a bastard, but no. This was brewing for a while. I decided I needed a camping trip to clear my head. A change in routine, you know? I wanted to do something I like for a change. One lousy weekend was all I asked for. Camping is something I enjoyed as a kid, and I wanted to do it again. She was appalled that I’d sleep in a tent because it’s ‘uncouth and primitive’. She refused to go and didn’t want me to go either. She said she didn’t date cavemen.” “Cavemen? What? Because there’s no valet parking out here? I’m sure you’ve changed a lot over the years, but I can’t see you with someone like that. I remember who you were as a kid. You always loved camping, Todd. You used to say you didn’t like sleeping in your own bed at home.” “I didn’t. I always liked it here. I cried one time and refused to help pack the car to leave. Dad told me he wouldn’t bring me camping again if I didn’t straighten out. It didn’t take me long to shut up and help.” “We had good summers here,” she mused. “You know what? I’m going to make these fish like my mother did. Do you remember?” “Olive oil, lemon, shallots, and peppercorns?” “And dill. Don’t forget the dill. I cook like a camper, but food doesn’t have to be plain.” Lunch was amazing. I took the plates and pan to the stream to wash them. When I got back she asked, “How long are you staying?” “It’s about a three hour drive home, so I’ll probably leave Sunday after lunch.” “I was here all week, but I have to go home too. Hey, do you want to go swimming? We’re big kids now, so our parents can’t make us wait an hour after eating, and it’s getting pretty hot. Come on! You were a good swimmer.” “I didn’t bring trunks.” “Wear that,” she said, pointing at my cut off jeans. “It’s more than you wore this morning.” “I thought you said you didn’t see anything.” “I didn’t, Todd, but I could have. If I had wanted to look, I could have been quiet.” “How do I know you weren’t quiet for a while until I heard you?” “How do I know you didn’t hide in the bushes and watch me bathe?” “You don’t, I guess, but I didn’t. I wouldn’t.” “Plausible deniability for both of us,” she chuckled. “I think we’re good. Now, I’m going to hide in my tent and put on my bathing suit.” She zipped the flap door closed to give herself privacy. In a couple minutes, she came out wearing a reasonably conservative bikini and her boots. Her hair was down, soft brown waves on her narrow shoulders and spilling over her modest breasts. Flat belly, thigh gap, slender hips, trim, strong-looking legs. Oh my. I know I stared a little too long. “Yes, Todd,” she laughed. “I grew up. Ready?” “I should get a towel.” “Lead the way. You’ve seen my campsite. Now let’s see your wilderness bachelor pad, caveman.” We walked down the trail to my camp. “It isn’t much. I bought my own gear with Christmas and birthday money when I was twelve so I could be a big boy and not sleep in my parents’ tent. As I got older I added stuff, but when I left for college, I stopped going camping. This is my first time in about ten years.” When we got to my campsite I shed my shirt and grabbed the towel that had dried from my morning bath. “The swimming hole?” “Of course,” she answered. “Wow, you really grew up too! You obviously don’t sit at a desk all the time. Not bad. You used to be such a scrawny kid.” We walked down the path to the water and stowed our towels and boots on a dry rock. “Let’s go out to ‘Sliding Board Rock’. Remember it? Our families used to swim out there.” I followed her as she picked her way from boulder to boulder until we reached the sloping stone. I found a place on the low end to wade into the water. “I always wondered how deep it is at the high end of the rock. My folks let me swim over there, but I wasn’t allowed to jump in from the top of the rock, even when I was in high school. Dad dove in one time and tried to swim down, but he ran out of air. He came up sputtering.” “I remember that!” she laughed. “Your mom looked really pissed off at him. I got a stern lecture about never trying a stunt like that from both my parents when we got back to camp.” “You should have heard it in our tent. Mom read Dad the riot act and then made him explain all the horrible injuries I could get. He had a daredevil streak in him that drove her nuts.” “When I was little,” Carla said, “one of our neighbors was a scuba diver. He used to come here sometimes. He said it’s about fifty feet deep right under this rock. It’s on the edge of a big hole. Apparently the center of the lake is about two hundred feet down. Icy cold.” “It’s warm on the surface.” I cupped my hand, slapped the water, and splashed her. “You bastard!” she laughed. “You always did that to me. You’ll get yours.” She ran into the water until she could swim and came after me, laughing too hard to make much progress. I stopped where I could still touch bottom to let her catch up. “It’s pretty nice when you’re wet all over,” I teased. “Yes, but you’re still getting dunked.” She grabbed my head and pushed it underwater. A quick tickle a little above and to the left of her belly button ended the game like it always had. She dissolved into helpless giggles. “You didn’t think I’d remember, did you?” She fought to make her face serious. “No one knows that about me but you and my parents, and they stopped tickling me when I was a little kid, so they probably forgot.” “Really?” “Really, Todd. I shared secrets with you. Everyone knew how ticklish you were. When we rough-housed, I could always win if I tickled your arm or your back or anywhere. We all teased you about it, but then I felt bad and told you how you could beat me in a tickle battle. I should have kept my mouth shut.” “Yeah, well, I had to get you back. I owed you a couple summers of torture.” We swam and splashed for a while and then waded out of the water to sun ourselves on the high, flat part of the rock. “I missed you,” she said. “I wondered what happened to you, too. I loved coming here with my parents, but it wasn’t the same without a kid my age to play with.” “That’s what we were, wasn’t it?” she asked. “Summer playmates. We didn’t do the gender stereotype thing here. We were best friends and thought we knew each other so well, but I bet you didn’t know I took ballet and tap-dancing lessons.” “You? No, I never even considered it. I knew girls in school who did, but I never pictured you in a tutu.” “Sometimes I insisted on wearing it around the house. Believe it or not, I wasn’t all tomboy. I had a cap pistol, but it was pink to match my cowgirl hat. I read a lot of books and loved playing with my dolls.” “I led a double life too, Carla. I wanted to be G.I. Joe or a fireman or an astronaut, but I was also an avid coin and stamp collector. Kind of a nerd.” “No way!” she laughed. “I was seriously into it. My great grandpa was a merchant marine. He brought back stuff from everywhere. My grandfather added to the collection and gave it to my dad who passed it on to me. We couldn’t afford the college I wanted to go to, so I sold the stamps. The coins will go to my kids if I have any.” “Family history is important,” she said. “Yeah. I like links to the past. Staci never understood that. If it wasn’t new and trendy, she had no interest. When our relationship cooled off, I started questioning the kind of woman I should be with. You know, should I keep dating girls like her, or should I try to marry ‘a girl just like the girl who married dear old Dad’? I needed time to think. This was my childhood happy place, so here I am.” “Do you really want a woman like your mom? I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t love her, but is that what you want? Is that even a reasonable goal? I’m not sure there are many like her. She was pretty special.” “Never really thought about it in those terms. Mom had a lot of good qualities, and I loved her completely, but she was Mom. Devotional love is different from romantic love. You need both with a partner, but devotional love comes later. I don’t know. I’m not sure what I want in the romance department anyway.” She turned onto her stomach to sun her back. “I thought I knew. John was a tall, dark, handsome, guitar-playing party boy with money. Really a decent guy underneath all that, but a bit shallow. When I started thinking about growing old with him, it just didn’t make sense. I finally said it out loud, and he thanked me. He had been thinking the same thing but was afraid to say it. We had no idea what we really wanted when we got married, truthfully, but we figured out it wasn’t each other.” “There’s no one now?” “A man in my life? Being celibate isn’t that bad, so I’m not looking.” “I see.” “You see what?” “Nothing.” She rolled on her side to look at me and grinned. “You sounded disappointed.” “That’s not what I meant.” “Really? Maybe I’m disappointed.” “Oh? Why?” “Come on, Todd, we’re single adults. You don’t expect me to buy that crap about you not peeking when I bathed this morning.” “I didn’t.” “Okay, now I know I’m disappointed. Didn’t tempt you at all, huh?” “Carla, what do you want me to say?” “Oh, I don’t know. I’m a librarian in a bikini in the middle of nowhere with a newly single hunk who I really liked a lifetime ago. You know what they say about us bookish, quiet types. We like to have fun sometimes. You could ask if I want to go skinny dipping.” “Do you?” “Do you?” she laughed. “I dare you.” “You got me in trouble so many times when we were kids. I never backed down from a dare.” She stood up and shed her top. “I remember, but I never thought of daring you to get naked.” She kicked her bottoms off and jumped in the water before I could move. She came to the surface slinging her hair off her face. “Well? Chicken?” she called. I pulled off my jean shorts and boxers and jumped in near her. She let me get within arm’s reach and then turned, her bare. slender ass flashing in the sunlight as she dove under the surface. She came up a few yards away. “I knew you’d do it.” “Do what? Strip?” “Yeah. I could always get you to do stuff on a dare. It’s not so bad being nude with me, is it?” “No, just unexpected.” “Why? We bathed here naked this morning. We both could have looked. I like the freedom of being without clothes. I’m nude at home a lot. I make sure the curtains are closed there, but here, who cares?” “It’s just that I never thought of seeing you undressed.” “I didn’t think I’d see you nude either, Todd, but I’m glad I did.” “Oh? Why is that?” She swam to me, and we treaded water as we kissed. My hardening manhood pressed against her belly. “Because now that I see you naked,” she said, “I start thinking about being very naughty on that big rock in broad daylight. I dare you.” We made it to waist-deep water and began touching. She took my cock in her hand. “He’s getting big.” “Well, yeah.” “I haven’t had one in a long time. I’m clean and still on the pill, if you wondered.” She stroked me gently, so I played with her waxed pussy. “You’re slippery wet, Carla.” “I am. I honestly didn’t look at you this morning. I knew someone had camped near me, but I didn’t hear anyone. When I saw it was a man standing there drying off, I’ll admit I got interested, but that damn twig broke. And now I know it’s you, and I’m playing with your dick.” We climbed onto the rock. “Let’s go to the top where it’s flat,” she said. “If we’re going to have sex outside, let’s be on display.” She got on all fours. “Go ahead. We can have more fun later, but right now, I want you to mount me like an animal.” I positioned myself behind her and played with her cute butt. She reached back to grab me and help me aim. Even with no foreplay, she was soaked. Her slickness enveloped me when her lips relaxed to let the head of my penis inside. She was a lot tighter than Staci, and that girl hadn’t been bad at all. I used gentle thrusts to go deeper. “Come on, Todd. Fuck me. I’m not kidding. I’ll make love to you later, but right now I need you to pound my pussy.” I grabbed one firm breast and squeezed a little. “So, you’re a very naughty librarian?” “Yes!” she hissed, “Spank me!” and she thrust back hard, pressing her buttocks against my belly, taking me to the base. I gripped her slender hips and thrust back. We fucked deep and hard. She squealed when my cock first hit her cervix, but she rocked her weight back to make it happen again. I smacked her ass and played with her clit, and she ground against me so I could go balls deep. Moans and the slapping of wet flesh rang out over the calm water. “Oh, God, Todd, I’m going to cum so hard! Fuck me! Fill me!” I was close too. When she tensed up, her pussy clenched my cock and milked me until I was spent. We parted when I softened, sweaty and breathing hard. “When you accept a dare, you accept a dare,” she chuckled. “I might be sore in the morning. Damn, I needed that. I forgot to bring my toys with me.” “Toys?” She smirked. “I’m single, but I’m not a nun. A girl needs her toys. I don’t pick up men. But with you, it’s different, somehow. I’m not usually this impulsive. Did it upset you?” I pulled her slender body close, and she cradled her head on my arm. “No, Carla, it sure as hell didn’t upset me. I was bit shocked, I admit. I like this wild side in you.” She rubbed a finger over her messy pussy. “I could tell.” She licked her finger clean. “Dare you to jump off the rock with me.” I wiped sweat out of my eyes with my free hand. “What?” “I said, I dare you to jump off the rock with me. We need to get cleaned up, you probably shouldn’t get too much sun on that lovely penis, and we never went off the top of this damn rock before, so I dare you to jump with me.” She stood up and walked toward the edge. “Are you chicken?” I got to my feet and joined her. “It’s about a ten foot jump.” “Right, like the high dive at any big pool. We know the water is deep enough. Come on.” “Not yet. I want to look at you. Really look at you.” She got an embarrassed smile on her face, but she pulled her hair back behind her ears and struck a pose displaying her modest, perfect breasts. She turned slowly, allowing me to inspect her from all angles. When she faced me again, she looked at my swelling manhood. “It seems you like what you see, Todd. I know I do.” “No one could have convinced me you’d grow up like this. I didn’t give much thought to the idea you were a girl. That didn’t matter then.” “But it does now?” I pulled her to me and grabbed her ass with one hand and a breast with the other. “Hell yeah.” She rubbed my cock, hard again and sticky with our combined mess. “Good. Let’s get the sweat and everything off us. Jump with me. We would have gotten in a lot of trouble when we were little. We’ve very much adults now, so let’s do it. I’ll stand here, you go over there so we don’t hit each other, and on the count of three, we’ll go.” I walked a few paces from her and balanced on the edge. “One, two, three.” We both hesitated for a moment and then jumped, laughing on the way down. She surfaced, still smiling. “I didn’t think you were going to do it.” “I wasn’t sure you would.” “I did set you up a few times when we were kids,” she admitted. We swam to shallower water where we rubbed ourselves and each other clean. “What would our parents think?” she murmured, doing a thorough job of washing my cock and balls. “I can keep a secret,” I said. “Me too. Let’s go back to my tent and make some more.” We dried off and put on our boots to walk unashamed and naked to her campsite. She spread our wet things over her chairs to dry and then pulled me into her tent. It was barely tall enough to stand in there, so we knelt to kiss. We unzipped her sleeping bag completely to create a makeshift bed for two. “I want to taste you,” I said. We lay down, me on my back and her on top, her wet sex above my face. She lowered her pussy to my mouth and her head to my groin, kissing and nibbling, making me desperately hard once again. I spread her lips with my fingers and licked from her taint to her pearl. She responded with her tongue, taking the head of my cock into her mouth and licking the part of the shaft she could reach. Her hand took care of the rest. Her clit came out to play, and I pulled on it with my lips. I worked two fingers into her slickness and found her little ribbed bundle of nerves. When I touched it, she shook, so I began working it as I sucked on her lips and the button at the top. She took me deeper and jacked me harder, shifting her weight to her elbows to free a hand to fondle my balls. “Carla, I won’t last forever.” “I’m not moving till you cum.” I worked her until her body trembled and then grabbed her hips and buried my tongue in her pussy. She let out a cry that silenced the birds for a moment, and her juice flowed. Before she stopped shaking, she went back to work on my needy cock. “Cum for me, Todd! I want it!” She put her mouth back on me in time to catch the first burst, and her tongue and hands coaxed me to empty myself against her throat. She swallowed, licked up anything she may have missed, and then rolled off. “Wow. I hope you can go again.” “I’m sure I can.” “Good. Now, I’m going to clean up a little and get dressed. It will be time for dinner soon, and I’m not cooking naked. Once, I tried frying bacon in just my panties. John thought it would be sexy, but grease burns on the nipples ruined the mood real fast.” “I have a ham steak and some potatoes we could share.” “Ooh, pan fried ham steak. I can make something fancy from that.” “I’ll go get it. Depending on what else you have in your cooler, we might be able to construct a regular feast.” “Why don’t you bring your cooler and sleeping bag here? We can open the bag on top of us like a blanket tonight.” I crawled from her tent and stood in the afternoon sun. She joined me, naked as I was. I tickled the magic spot on her belly. She scampered away, giggling, and ran to a camp chair. “At least let me put my boots on if you’re going to chase me through the woods for a tickle battle.” “I’m not sure I want to tackle thorny underbrush without pants, and my clothes are still damp, so no.” “You could probably use help carrying stuff, so let me throw something on, and I’ll come with you.” “I dare you to walk bare-ass naked with me to my tent, Carla, right down this dirt path in the open. Let’s just wear boots.” “You’re getting bold in your advancing age,” she laughed. “You can put on dry clothes there, and I’ll walk back to my camp naked, carrying your stuff, caveman.” When we got to my tent I put on fresh clothes and grabbed a sweatshirt for the evening. I rolled up my sleeping bag and turned to see her standing tall, slender, with just enough curves, her drying hair blowing in the breeze, looking at the water. If not for the boots, she would have looked like a wood goddess. She bent at the waist facing away from me to re-tie a lace. I moved behind her quietly and grabbed her ass. “Librarian, huh?” She wiggled her little butt when she pulled away. “At work, I’m a proper lady. Modest panties. The whole bit.” “I bet you look hot.” “Please. If we met under different circumstances you wouldn’t say that.” “I’d think it. Besides, it’s not just your body.” “It’s not just yours either, Todd. We were playmates in a past life. I’m glad I met you again.” We gathered what we needed and went back to her camp. She dressed in a tee and shorts and helped arrange our sleeping bags for the night. She dragged my cooler next to hers and opened them both. “Now, let’s see what’s for dinner.” ***** The woman is a good cook. When we were done, we washed everything in the stream and then gathered wood for the morning. “Evening swim?” she asked. We behaved, more or less, even though we didn’t bother with suits. We played in the water, splashing, ducking each other, much like we had so long ago. This time though, we touched differently than we had ever thought to touch before. Eventually, we sat on the sun-warmed rock in the evening sun. She wrung the water from her long hair, dried her skin, and made a turban of her towel. “May I see you again, Carla?” “I’m sitting with my legs spread, naked on a rock. Look all you like. I’m flattered.” “That’s not what I meant.” “I know, but it’s fun being bad sometimes.” “You could be a brat when you were a kid.” “That hasn’t changed,” she deadpanned. “You didn’t answer my question.” “About us getting together again? You could come to my place after work on Friday. We can go out for a late dinner and drinks, or I could make burgers on the grill. I’m pretty low maintenance. Just be prepared to spend the weekend. On Sunday, I’ll take you to my parents’ house for lunch. They always want me to bring a friend, so you’ll be it.” “I’d love to see your folks again, but what will they say?” “I guess it depends on what we tell them. I’m not asking you to move in. I’m just asking to continue our old friendship with new benefits.” We talked for a while around the fire when we got back to her camp and continued when we were nude in her tent. I made slow, tender love to her, and she seemed to enjoy it very much. When we were both exhausted, she snuggled against me, and before long, we slept. ***** “Todd?” “Hmm?” “You awake?” “Uh huh. More or less.” “You snore when you lie on your back. I had to make you roll over and spoon with me.” “Sorry.” “I’m not. You snuggled in and put your hand on my breast. It was hot. Comforting. I’m fine with everything.” “Then I am too.” She kissed me. “We both have to go home today.” “Yeah. Where’s home for you?” She worked her way out of our cocoon to stand unclothed in the morning sun. “About a half hour that way,” she said, pointing northward on the dirt road. “I’ll give you my number.” “I was going to ask.” She bent over, displaying her lovely ass as she slipped on her boots. “Let’s get cleaned up so we can get messy again,” she said, and she grabbed shampoo, soap, and a towel and headed toward the lake.