The Campfire

Matthew Donnellon

Photo by Christopher Campbell on Unsplash

There are days.

And there are…days.

Today was one of those.

Sometimes there’s a moment when things feel so perfect time stops mattering and the world just makes sense.

But, this was a much, much different kind of moment.

I woke up early to get some of the stuff ready. My pack was full but hers was new and I promised I’d load it for her so she could sleep in longer.

So I packed it up and made coffee, but the sun hadn’t even rose yet so I approached her with caution.

The coffee smoothed things over.

“Is it time already?” she asked.


“I feel we just went to bed.”

“That’s because we did.”

“That wasn’t smart,” she said.

“I don’t want to say I told you so but…”

“Don’t finish that sentence.”

“I won’t but we do need to go. It’s a long hike.”

And with that we grabbed our gear and headed off into the wilderness. The great thing about living out in the woods was the proximity to the hiking trails. And the summer rush had yet to happen so we’d have the forest to ourselves.

As we walked I expected the sun to start coming up over the hills but it remained dark.

“It looks like it’s going to rain,” she said.

“No, I checked the weather we should be fine.”

“Well the weather app is never wrong,” she said smiling.

“We could turn around.”

“No it’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes. Let’s keep going.”

And so we kept walking.

The sport was about five miles of walking but it was worth it. We came down from the hills to the river. The trees started to open up.

The campsite hadn’t been touched since the previous fall. It was at the very edge of the grounds and the maintenance crew hadn’t been there yet, but it was in decent shape and there were no fallen trees.

The view was unmatched. It was situated on a bend in the river so you got the beauty of nature and remained hidden from other campers, which was important in the summer since the woods would be full of vacationers.

I cleared off the tent pad, a flat spot made from four logs arranged into a square and filled in with dirt. It gave you a nice place to put your tent since the rest of the site was on a slight incline down to the water’s edge.

Just as I got the tent up the rain started to come.

We quickly got another tarp out to keep our stuff dry and as well as some wood for later.

The rain came down slightly harder.

“I’m going to go swimming,” she said.

“Good idea. It’s not like we could get any wetter.”

And so we swam and goofed around in the water. It was cold, but after a bit we got used to it and we spent far more time there than I planned.

Until we heard the first crack of thunder and it was definitely time to get out.

We dried off as best we could and hid in the tent and covered up in sleeping bags to try and get warm.

And this is the part where I report that the time in the tent was amazing and we had one of the days where you bare your soul to the other person.

But the tent was warm and the thunderstorm played nature’s lullaby and next I knew we were both fast asleep.

We woke at nearly dinner time.

“Well that was an exciting day,” she said rubbing her head and trying to get her hair untangled.

“I’ll say,” I said, “Must have been all that hiking.”


Some stray drops falling from the trees but the rain had passed so we peaked out of the tent.

I pulled out a rain coat and laid it down so we’d have a dry spot to sit. The sky was no longer the dull grey from earlier.

It instead was a fiery mix of red and orange and yellow.

We sat there for a while watching the creator paint his magic in the heavens.

It was time to eat but the fire pit was a pool of water and it was the only spot we could have an open flame.

“I guess we’re eating granola bars for dinner,” I said.

“I’m good with that.”

We sat there a bit longer until it was dark and the starts were coming out.

“This would be perfect if we just had a fire going.”

“What do you mean?,” she asked putting her head on my shoulder, “This is the best campfire I’ve ever been to.”

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI

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