We climbed the same hill we had on our first date. Our friends had said it weird to spend our first few hours together sweating our way up a mountain, our little knapsacks bobbing up and down like ducks on our backs. We didn’t care, we were already in love.
I remembered the stile offset at a peculiar angle as though it was yesterday. I had to twist my hips, never a good thing for a man who’d played way too much sport, whereas Caroline took it without even slowing. She was always limber.
The trail grew steeper as if to punish those who’d dared make it this far. I huffed. Caroline puffed. We made it though. We always made it, one way or another.
It was so quiet near the summit I thought the world had fallen asleep. Not a bird in the sky to ruin the mood. Even the trickling streams seemed to have dried for the day. We crested the last rise to a vista of all-encompassing beauty. Nature rolled out before us like an unmade duvet exuding the same comforting patches of warmth. I breathed deep. We both did. Caroline turned and smiled. I returned her gesture with all the kindness I could muster. It wasn’t enough, but at least we’d tried.
We returned to our separate cars in the same silence we’d left them, shook hands and drove away. Such was our life together, polite and purposeless. It’d never be quite the same though. Good.