Another short little story with my two new characters. They are still on vacation at the resort and are making memories.
Title: Favorite Memories
Leland struggled to open his eyes. The room was dark so he knew it was very early. He reached out for his phone and was almost blinded when the bright light hit his eyes. Blinking furiously, he finally was able to make out the time. He groaned. No one should be awake at five in the morning. Especially on vacation! But Leland had woken when RJ had slipped out of the bedroom. His husband hadn’t made any noise; it was the loss of warmth and his love’s heartbeat that had woken him. Leland threw off the covers and quickly got dressed. Walking into the kitchen area of the cabin, he saw RJ pouring a bowl of cereal.
“Hey.” Leland’s voice was husky with sleep.
RJ jumped. “Shit! You scared me. What are you doing up?”
Leland poured himself a cup of coffee and drank half of it before answering. “I thought I would go with you today. I’ve not really seen you truly at work. And you were talking about all the wildlife you’ve seen early in the mornings.”
“Oh. Um. I don’t think you would like it.”
Leland tilted his head as RJ turned back to his breakfast. He watched as his husband’s fingers nervously tapped on the counter. His shoulders were hunched up to his ears. Suddenly, Leland understood what was happening.
“You don’t want me to go?” Leland tried to keep the hurt out of his voice, but it was there none the less.
RJ stammered, “No. No. Um....no. It’s not that I don’t want you there.”
“You don’t sound convincing. Turn around and talk to me.” Leland’s eyes narrowed as RJ slowly turned to face him. “Now. Why don’t you want me to come along with you?”
“You just make a lot of noise. Kind of like an elephant in a china shop.”
Leland smiled as RJ eyes stayed locked on his. “Isn’t that saying ‘a bull in a china shop’?”
Laughing, RJ replied, “No, you are more like an elephant. Bigger. Louder.” Then his laughter was mixed with shrieks as Leland grabbed him around the waist.
Grunting, Leland hefted him over his shoulders. With his butt an easy target, he started playfully landing smacks on it. “Me? An Elephant! Take it back or you’ll be a red-butt baboon!” He kept tight hold of his boy as RJ squirmed with each slap to his bum.
“I take it back! I take it back! You’re not an elephant! Just a bully!”
Clutching RJ a little tighter, Leland growled out in pretend anger, “A bully? A bully? I thought you liked it a little rough.”
When RJ’s body went completely boneless as he laughed even harder, Leland gently let his boy slide to his feet.
Once he was steady, RJ grinned. “We’ve got another couple of days before we have to go home. I can try to get some wildlife another day.”
“How could I refuse an invitation like that? Come on. Let’s pack a lunch. We’ll make it a full day.”
They worked together putting a day’s supplies in a backpack. Sandwiches, fruit, granola bars, and water were packed along with bug spray and sunscreen. Leland shouldered the pack as RJ shrugged his camera pack on his back.
To the east, the sky was illuminated in pale yellow as the sun barely rose. Leland followed as RJ lead the way on one of the smaller, more rugged trails.
“There’s a paved accessible trail on the other side, but I like the smaller trails,” RJ said in a quiet voice.
Leland nodded as he pushed past a low hanging branch. After walking a hundred feet or so,
RJ stopped and knelt. Leland peered over his shoulder trying to see what captured his attention.
Nestled deep in a bush were tiny white flowers. Leland would never have seen them. He squinted into the woods while RJ snapped a dozen pictures. Then they continued on the trail. They’d only gone about fifty yards when RJ stopped again. Instead of kneeling, he laid down on the dirt.
“What are you doing?” Leland asked, baffled.
RJ continued to press the shutter as he talked. “There’s a spider web. The bit of sunlight from this angle makes the dew glitter like diamonds.”
Leland nodded in wonder. RJ saw things that he hadn’t ever noticed. The hours went by as they hiked the trail. Sometimes the trail would ascend sharply, at other places, the forest would thin out and the grass was a high as their shoulders.
“There’s deer in the grass. They make their dens in the woods, but come out here to graze,” RJ said over his shoulder.
“And you called me loud. The deer will have all ran off.”
“It’s midday. They probably are resting now.”
Leland nodded. He wasn’t a hunter, but there were plenty of hunters in their small town. He knew the basics. Looking up, the sun was almost directly above them. Time for them to rest too. He knew that unless reminded RJ would forget about eating while he was wrapped up in his art. “Let’s find a place in the woods there to stop and eat.”
They walked a few more yards into the woods and then stepped off the trail. Leland could hear the faint trickling of water. They soon came to a small brook.
“I think this feeds into the lake,” RJ said. “I found it a couple days ago.”
“Perfect place for lunch.” Leland dropped his backpack and sat down. He dug out the sandwiches. He handed one to RJ, then reached back in for the apples he’d packed. Once settled with their food, he leaned back on a tree. RJ must’ve been hungry, he thought as he watched the other man set his camera down. The sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees were relaxing. He knew RJ felt it too.
The contentment on RJ’s face made Leland smile. His heart started beating faster when RJ smiled back at him. “You look relaxed. And happy.”
“I am. I’m here with you. This reminds me of something.” RJ’s smile then held a bit of sadness. “You know what my favorite childhood memory is?”
Leland shook his head. He knew RJ had many fond memories of his childhood, but he didn’t know which one was his favorite.
“One day during summer vacation, Grandma took me to the river. It was a hot day and we were on a tight budget so we didn’t have the air conditioner going. It’s always a bit cooler by the water. When we got there, she handed me her old camera. She told me to go capture the magic of the day. I went through three rolls of film that day. When I got the film developed most of the pictures were garbage, but Grandma pointed something in each picture that she liked. That day is so vivid in my mind.”
Leland leaned over and kissed him. “You were her pride and joy. It sounds like a wonderful day. And it gave you your career.”
RJ nodded and started to say something, but the sounds of splashing distracted them.
Turning toward the sound, Leland saw three deer standing in the middle of the brook. He watched as one lifted it’s two front feet and splashed the other deer. The deer seemed to delight in their midday bath; splashing and prancing.
The larger deer was drinking when suddenly she lifted her head. She looked right at the two men. Leland felt frozen. He didn’t want to move in fear of chasing the animals away.
The deer must not have seen them as she lowered her head to drink some more. The two smaller deer continued to play. The sight was amazing to Leland. The sun dappling through the trees, the sound of the brook as it swam over rocks, it all seemed like a fairy tale scene to him.
It could have been hours or just minutes that they sat and watched. Time seemed to have stood still. Finally, the mother deer herded her fawns out of the stream.
Leland turned and met RJ’s smile. “That was amazing.”
“It really was. I didn’t get a shot of them. I was afraid to move. I didn’t want to scare them off.”
Nodding, Leland understood that RJ had felt the magic of the moment too.
“But you know what?” RJ looked at Leland. “It’s ok I didn’t get a picture. I got something better. Another favorite memory.”
“Yeah,” Leland agreed. “I think this will be something we talk about when we are old and grey. We won’t need a picture to remember this.” Standing up, he held a hand out to help RJ stand. “Let’s head back. By the time we get there, it’ll be dinner time. And then bed where we can make another memory.”
After packing up their stuff, Leland grabbed RJ’s hand. Together they walked the trail back to the cabin, making more memories along the way.