Lila asked, “What’s the difference between a bog and a swamp?”
“No idea. Standing water in a swamp?” JJ peered out over the cattails from beneath the brim of his cap. Early afternoon in sticky late summer.
They lounged under a tree on dry ground above a bog in New Hampshire. Or was it a swamp? It smelled like a swamp. But, everything below the mountain ridges smelled swampy and fetid in the humidity. The shade was good, especially if you stayed still. Dragonflies hovered and darted, like technicolor futuristic bi-planes. JJ thought dragonflies to be living proof of God. What a creature! Of course, God also created the mosquito, so hold the applause.
“That sounds right. Standing water. Pools of water in a swamp. Spongy ground in a bog.”
“Either way, it’s nice to be up here above it all. High and dry.”
“High and dry,” she murmured and dozed off into a boggy half-sleep. A murky continuing of a dream from the night before. A variation on the chasing dream. She is being pursued through a mazelike series of scenes from her life. A camp where she used to be a teenage counselor. She hurried through the arts and crafts cabin and overturned a bin of perfect oak leaves for tracing and art projects, and felt a surge of sadness. Then she was in Boston from her college days, pushing through tourists at the public gardens and disrupting wedding pictures on the bridge above the swan boats. The wedding party all looked at her without expression as she rushed through. She fled the gardens and emerged on a street in Paris, where she always wanted to go but had never been. She somehow found a bike and sped down the Champs Elysees like a figure in an Impressionist painting, more panicked now because she speak French at all. Weren’t they snotty if you couldn’t speak French?
Who was the pursuer? Who wouldn’t just leave her alone? She never got a clear look. Sometimes she would turn and just get a glimpse of a figure wearing a dark hoody walking after her, unhurried and relentless, not concerned at all that she could get away, biding his time until she tired and fell or just stopped.
Paris broke up, her dream bike wobbled, the image faded, the fear remaining.
“Lila,” JJ whispered and shook her shoulder.
“Let’s get moving. We have to do another 5 miles before dark.”
Oh yeah, backpacking in the heat, in New Hampshire.
“You know,” she said. “Let’s go ahead and invite Carl for a few days.”
JJ was quiet. “I thought we decided about this.”
“I know, but he was really weird when we called the house. That tornado…a close call…”
JJ sighed. “Okay. I guess it’s the right thing to do. Especially with his marriage all messed up again.”
“We’ll call when we get back tomorrow.” Don’t seem too eager, she told herself.
“Okay. Let’s go.”
“You go ahead,” Lila said. “I’ll follow you.”
“Ha,” JJ snorted. “I’ve been following you since yesterday.”
“My turn to chase you,” she said and hoisted her pack.
“Who’s chasing anyone,” JJ said and hoisted his own.