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  • Writer's pictureAnita Tosh

Beth, Chapter 4

We set out, but this time we pulled over each hour to see if a drone would buzz by. There were no more drones, thank God but, we kept on checking. What if they were every two hours? Every four? We kept an eye on our watches as we sped through the smokey night.

I dreaded the thought of biking with my aching muscles, but after a while the pain lessened. But I was thankful for the rest at every stop. Unfortunately, after sitting I felt stiff again. I hurt all over and longed to put up our tent.

While on one of the stops, I absently rubbed my leg, then my arm.

Carl gave me funny look, “Are you OK? You have been rubbing your leg every time we stop. Then his eyes widened and his eyebrows raised. “Oh my... goodness!” He was trying not to use swear words anymore and caught himself just in time. “I just realized what a long ride I took you on last night. You must hurt like h...anything.”

“I didn’t want to complain. I’ll be alright.”

“I am so sorry! My mind was focused on getting us out of danger. I wanted to get as far away as we could.” He moved closer and began massaging my shoulders and neck.

“Ahh, that feels great. It hurts and feels better at the same time. Form now on I’ll be sure to tell you when I need a massage.”

While we waited for the drone time to pass I asked, “Is it almost time to stop for the night? I don’t feel so good.”

“What? Already?”

I rested my head against his shoulder. “Please?”

Now I heard the concern in his voice, “What’s up, babe? You never whine. You feeling that bad, huh?”

I nodded, “mmhum.”

He looked around at the scruffy little spot we were sitting on and said, “This is not a good place to stop for the night. No room for the tent. But, I will be looking for a place on our next ride.”

We pressed on through the dark night and before long Carl found a knoll for us to hide the tent behind. There were no leaves this time. This time we had bushes and tall dry grass. I just hoped the ground was level.

Camp was up quickly. I went through the process as in a dream. My mind was fuzzy and I was so thankful to crawl into my sleeping bag and lie down.

“Just a minute,” Carl said as he rummaged through his pack. He pulled out something and knelt next to me. “Hold still.” I heard a beep, then, “Good God! You’ve got a fever!” Carl picked up my bottle of water and commanded, “Here, drink some water.”

I dragged myself up enough to drink then lay down again. “Aaahh,” I said and was out. I don’t know how long I slept, but when I awoke Carl told me to drink more water. Then I would sleep again. This repeated and time blurred together. Eventually, I woke up and it was light outside. Carl was sitting next to me doing something that made a rustling sound.

“What’cha doing?” I whispered.

The rustling stopped and he turned to me. “You’re awake, good. You had a nice long sleep. Are you feeling any better?”

“I don’t know.” I thought about it. Everything still hurt, but my head was a little better. I told him so. Carl whipped out the thermometer and checked.

“Your temp is down a little, but you still have a fever.”

I was relieved and hoped having a fever meant I could stay in bed. I still felt terrible. Carl was talking. I tried to focus.

“While you slept, I found some wild mustard and brought in some seeds. They are good for so many things.” He continued listing the things they were good for and I almost dozed off again, when I heard, “achy muscles”.

“Wait, did you say they were good for achy muscles?” My words were slurred in my half sleep.

He gave me a smile and his doctor voice continued for a moment, “Yes, they can be ground up and mixed with water,” his smile widened and I saw a twinkle in his eyes. “and I’m getting some ready for you right now.

“The last time I,” He cleared his throat, “had to use the facilities, I found not only this mustard but a bunch of soral. I washed it off,” He held some out to me, “Want to try some?”

“I wrinkled my nose, “Normally I would love it, but not now. Thanks anyway.” I put my head back down.

“Drink –

Then we heard the sound of a twig snap outside and footsteps crunching on the dry grass.

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