All night wind tore through the trees and I was certain we had finally made it to the ocean. That somehow it was possible for the ocean to arrive in the middle of the night to meet us halfway. But it was much too dark to see the sea, to see anything. Along with all that wind came the rain, of course. I heard it suddenly pelting leaves and then our tent. I thought of the things we might have left out around the site, as we sat too late by the fire, too drunk and tired to care. I nudged Raymond but of course he didn’t budge. I felt the gritty tent floor for the flashlight, which was never where I thought I left it. I felt near the shoes and under the bed mats. I reached over Raymond and felt between him and the side of the tent, careful not to touch the fabric and let in the rain. Eventually I found a flashlight in one of his shoes, clever man that he was. I switched it on and struggled with the zipper and flaps of the door.
I piled as much as I could on the table, leaving the cans and bottles where they were to collect the rain. Then I found the tarp near the car and spread it over the food and stove on the table. I gathered the sweatshirts and jeans we’d laid out to dry and put those under the tarp as well. Then I collapsed the chairs and stuck them under the table. We only had a few logs left, so I tossed those under the car. I scanned around the site with the flashlight. And as I did, something shifted in the woods, just beyond the darkness. It took one more step and then stopped. As I edged the light to where I thought it was, I expected to see a bear or deer, or something even smaller and more ridiculous like a raccoon. The second the light caught it, an owl called out from behind me and I startled. But when I flashed back again, it was gone, without even the sound of another step. I flashed the light everywhere, desperate to see it again. But there was only rain and completely still trees. I was certain what I had seen was not a creature that is usually seen, but only common in stories and sightings.
“Honey! What are you doing out there?”
I climbed back into the tent with wide eyes and every sound too loud to let me sleep the rest of the night.