After four days, Allison wished she had made the journey alone. 230 miles was a long way to go with no one to talk to, but he wasn’t the man she thought he was back in DC. The walk was Allison’s idea, but in a few days, James had taken command of the route and pace. Fatigue was setting in, and he changed to a more direct route to keep on schedule, despite Allison’s protests.
On the fifth night, Allison was in the tent when James came in from the rain. After shaking out his jacket, James proclaimed “At least this’ll keep the pollen down tomorrow.” “One can only hope” Allison replied while sitting up. James took his shoes off and looked at the developing blisters. “How much farther do we have to go?” he asked looking up at Allison’s blank expression.
“We have to cross the Susquehanna River tomorrow. Should try another bridge though, something with a shoulder.”
“Babe, we can’t keep changing course like this. We’ll never get there.”
“No, we won’t get there if we get arrested or killed because you refuse to see the big picture.”
“The hell are you talking about? I got us this far didn’t I?”
“This was my trip, I invited you along. This isn’t just point-A to point-B. It’s supposed to be like a walkabout; a physical, mental, and spiritual journey.”
“With these blisters, the rain, fast food every day…why don’t we just drive?”
Allison closed her eyes and exhaled “This isn’t working out.”
“What? I took all my vacation time to chaperone your little walk to New York—”
“You didn’t have to! I just asked if you wanted to join me…now I wish I hadn’t. You don’t get it. Yeah, I could have flown to New York, but that’s missing the entire point.”
“What is ‘the entire point’ again?”
Allison sighed and closed her notebook as the rain seeped through the supposedly water-proof tent. “I don’t know what to tell you. Are you sure you want to carry on? I was going to do this myself anyway.”
James looked appraisingly at Allison. This passionate explorer was nothing like the demure Global Health student he met in DC.
“Of course I want to keep going babe.”
“There will be some conditions then. First, this is my trip, I want to keep walking with you, but I determine the route.”
“…Fine, I can live with that.”
“Second, we walk alongside each other now. No more leading me by ten paces.”
“It’s not my fault you walk too slow.” James snapped as he put his pack outside.
“Your legs are longer. Finally, call me Allison or Ally, not Babe.”
“Sure thing babe.” James smirked while taking his shirt off and crawling into his sleeping bag.
Allison shook her head and turned off the lantern. She got into her sleeping bag, turned away from James, and watched the raindrops pitter-patter off the tent wall.
“He’s not the one” Allison thought after a few minutes. “He doesn’t understand me at all.”