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This is a continuation of Week 3's entry, found HERE




"Oh no... no no. Not now," she whimpered when she woke up. This was terrible. It can't happen now. What am I supposed to do?

"Alex, wake up." She gently shook him.

He groggily opened his eyes. "What?" he mumbled, trying to focus on her. Her mouth was set in a frown.

"My period started. I don't have any tampons or anything. I don't know what to do..." Her eyes filled with tears.

He sat up. "No, don't cry," he commanded. "We'll think of something. Can't you use ... rags? I thought that's what women used back then."

"Not when I have to lug however many pounds of equipment though the swamp. I can't see that working out. I'm about to have really bad cramps. I can't do it..." her voice raised to a squeak and she started to panic.

"I can do something about that," he replied. He left the tent and came back with a bottle of pills.

She instantly lit up. "Ohhh give me that!" She took two capsules of ibuprofen and sighed. "Still doesn't solve the problem of me bleeding everywhere."

"Think," he said sternly. "What else can you use?"

She played with the pill bottle in her hands and turned it back and forth. "You know... I heard that Native women used to use moss when they bled. Maybe that will work?" She looked at him.

He smiled. "Well we are in a swamp. I'm sure we can find that. I'll go get some for you."

"But it would have to be boiled so I don't get an infection. And they aren't very absorbent. I'd have to reboil them often..."

"Let me find some first, then we can talk about the logistics," he left to search for it while she stayed in the tent and thought of everything that could go wrong. What if it didn't work and she bled all over everything? How could she carry all that stuff another day on her period. She really hated being a woman at that point.

He came back soon and handed her the moss. "I guess you can boil it in the bottled water. But we're running out. We'll have to go to the stream faster than I wanted to."

"Thank you." She walked outside when she realized that one of them would have to make a fire every time she needed boiling water.

"Shit. No stove here..." she said.

He stood by her side, and looked at the burnt out tinder from the night before. "I'll show you how to make one," he said, patiently.

"This is going to slow us way down," she sighed.

"Come, help me to find kindling."

They rummaged through the forest for any dried grass, twigs, and branches. When they assembled the materials he showed her how to construe the kindling to keep up a flame.

"The wood here in the everglades doesn't burn that well, so you have to keep adding to it," he showed her how to place the wood and soon a decent flame was burning and she was able to get the water boiling. She boiled all the moss he had collected and then went back in the tent to put it in.

"It feels funny," she scrunched up her face. "I hope it will work." She decided to use some of it and then when it came time to change it, it would be better to rinse it off and put some sterilized moss in it so they could keep going and not have to stop and make another fire.

"Let's pack up and keep going," he looked at the map. "It'll be about 7 miles to the stream."

Seven miles of hell, she thought. She did pack everything and soon they were ready to go. She picked up all 40 pounds of her bag and slung it over her shoulder. They continues to march on. It didn't take long for her sore muscles and her sore abdomen to start bothering her. She at least remembered to put the mosquito repellent on. The pain worsened as she continued on until she had to stop.

"Alex, I can't go any further," she said. Her eyes were filled with tears again.

He looked at her. "We have to."

"But I'm in a lot of pain," she complained.

"You're going to have to soldier through it..." he started.

"But I'm not a soldier!" She exclaimed. "Why don't you try to suffer though miles and miles of walking with all this heavy shit AND an out of control uterus that's trying to kill you and have to deal with this itchy moss because I didn't know we were going to be trekking through the everglades and I didn't bring any tampons. I can't do this." The tears fell with heavy plops on the damp ground.

He sighed. "Just don't cry..."

"Fuck you!" She yelled, and then took off through the woods.

"Shit," he muttered to himself, dropping his own bag and catching up to her. He grabbed her by the shoulders. "Come on, stop this."

"Let go..." she sobbed, but she didn't attempt to flee.

"You can do this, I'll help..." he said.

"No!" she cried.

He then realized that no amount of talking would calm her down. She was too irrational... and possibly too hormonal. He wrapped his arms around her and held her close. "It's going to be ok," he said gently as she sobbed into his chest. He held her while she cried until she quieted down and only then did he let go.

"Are you ok?" he asked, he looked her up and down. She looked worn out, but no longer hysterical.

"Yeah," she said. She didn't look at him.

"You ready to keep going?"

She sighed. "Yes."

"Here, let's see how much more of your stuff we can fit in my oversize bag..." he walked back to the bags and unzipped them both. She then helped him pack up his bag so tightly that it barely closed.

"Thank you," she said, lifting the bag. It felt a little lighter. She asked for more pills and then was able to continue. They walked until they finally hit the stream.

"I guess we can stop here for today," he announced. "We can't go far from the stream anymore since we need the water." He put his bag down. "Let's test what you've learned about fire-starting. You can make the fire now."

"Alright," she agreed and went to collect kindling while he worked on setting up the tent. She put the grass and made a teepee just like he showed her, and then borrowed his lighter to start the fire. She fed it sticks until it burned well enough to keep going. "I am Prometheus!" She called out.

He smiled. "You get an A+ and a badge," he said.

"Yay, I'm a real girl scout now. I should also get this badge for this moss concoction too."

"I think that would fall under the general 'Wilderness Survival' badge," he replied.

They sat cross legged by the fire, another Chef Boyardee. She wondered when they'd run out of rations. I'm sure he's got the hunting thing all figured out she thought. She wondered if he brought a cross bow and would turn into a Daryl Dixon.

"You know, I realize I don't even know that much about you," she started. "I didn't even know you had a kid. What's he like?"

He tensed a little. "He's 16 now. I haven't really seen him since he was twelve. I don't know much about what he's like now."

"Oh... sorry," she mumbled.

"But... he liked to go camping out here when he was younger with me. We had a lot of fun..." his voice trailed off and he looked off in the distance. There was a very sad quality to him, something she barely picked up earlier, but was very present now.

"What happened?" she asked, even though she wasn't sure she should.

"Shit happened," he replied, simply. He then got up and began to get ready for bed. She took his cue and didn't ask any further. She began preparing her moss sterilization.

They lay in their sleeping bags in the tent. They didn't speak for a few minutes, but tonight she somehow seemed less exhausted, more preoccupied with what he just told her. She knew she shouldn't ask any more questions because it seemed to make him sad, but she was curious about his situation. Why would he not see him? Did his mother run away with him? She felt sad for him. She knew he wasn't sleeping. She wondered if he was thinking about his kid.

"His name is Dylan," he said quietly. She wouldn't have to wonder for long.

She shifted about in her sleeping bag until she turned on her side to face him.

"He's a great kid... I'm just a shitty father," he continued. "I did a lot of bad things when he was young. Wasn't around for weeks at a time, did a lot of drugs. My wife finally had enough and divorced me. I could see him for a while, take him camping, but then my ex-wife took me to court and prevented visitation. I was very devastated. I ODed so badly my heart stopped... somehow I made it to the hospital in time and they revived me. Maybe that was my wake up call to do better. I stopped taking drugs and took my ex-wife back to court to win back visitation. I got to see Dylan for a while, but then I guess at some point he decided he didn't want to see me anymore. The court takes that into consideration... I write cards and I try to call. After all the legal crap with the courts, my ex-wife is bitter and doesn't want to talk to me and barely fills me in with what's going on with him. Sometimes he'll talk to me. I think he has a step father now, which kills me even more... another guy to do the stuff with him I'm supposed to be doing as a dad. I really do think about him all the time." His voice broke and she could tell that this was hard for him, he was going out on a line to open up to her. "I wish I didn't fuck up so badly, but there isn't much I can do now, and now the world is ending..."

She wiggled out of her sleeping bag a little so she could wrap her arms around him and lay on his chest. "It's ok," she said. "You'll find Dylan when this mess is over and you can tell him how much he means to you."

He chuckled a little. "You must think I'm the biggest asshole. I keep telling you not to cry, and here I am, crying, and you tell me it's ok."

"Because it is ok to cry. And I don't think you're an asshole. You're just very hard on me sometimes, I wish you'd understand I'm not a big strong guy and I have female issues and I can't do as much as you."

"But that's the thing, you are strong, you're very tough and can handle a lot more than you think. You made it through today, even with your breakdowns, and we made it here. I ask for a lot from you because I know you can give a lot and you have a lot to give. You let fear and pain try to control you, but you fight it, and you come out stronger. You can do it because you've done it, and you continue to do it every day."

"Thank you..." she said. "You believe in me more than I can."

"I'll try to be more sensitive," he paused, "but don't expect a whole lot more."

She laughed. "Ok."

He began to shift around, and she thought he didn't want her to lay on him anymore, so she sat up.

"I just wanted to take my arms out," he said, "you can lay back down if you want to."

It was too dark for him to tell she was smiling. She lay back on his chest and he wrapped his arms around her.

"Night, Viola," he said. He closed his eyes. He briefly wondered if this counted as sharing a bed with a woman? He missed how it felt. He liked her laying on him, her weight was very comforting and it made him relaxed and sleepy.

"Night, Alex," she replied. She was happy and content. She tried not to think about tomorrow and who knows how many more miles he wanted to lug them. She would try to believe in herself as much as he believed in her.

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
fannishliss
Jan. 13th, 2017 03:45 pm (UTC)
A good thing for emergencies is socks. But I wouldn't put them inside! The moss idea is kind of terrifying. :)
majesticarky
Jan. 13th, 2017 03:51 pm (UTC)
I read somewhere that women used that a long time ago. I figured there was a lot of that in the Everglades. I use a sea sponge tampon sometimes. It was my primary source before I switched to the cup. I figure putting sterilized moss up there is something similar.
fannishliss
Jan. 13th, 2017 04:44 pm (UTC)
I also use a cup. It makes me glad that women are learning about it. :) I had heard of the moss idea but I thought it was used as a pad. :)
majesticarky
Jan. 13th, 2017 04:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah they are SO awesome. I used the sea sponge for years, but it had some issues with heavy days and being hard to clean when you're not at home. I still sometimes use them on lighter days. I will never go back from the cup. Best invention ever.
ragnarok_08
Jan. 14th, 2017 04:29 am (UTC)
This was really great to read, very relatable and compelling - well done :)
rayaso
Jan. 15th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
You did a great job with this. The dialog was especially good and believable, and you moved the story along nicely.
xlovebecomesher
Jan. 16th, 2017 05:22 pm (UTC)
I like your take on this prompt!
magazhchi
Jan. 17th, 2017 04:21 am (UTC)

Ah! I am glad they are back and I am liking Alex for the way he is handling her.*smiles* I enjoyed reading this.

alycewilson
Jan. 17th, 2017 09:53 pm (UTC)
Well done! I liked revisiting these characters.
penpusher
Jan. 18th, 2017 06:59 am (UTC)
A nice continuation of the story... you're giving them a breather before the real terrors return!
eternal_ot
Jan. 18th, 2017 07:35 am (UTC)
Good to see these two back and I enjoyed the progression. Nice to know that Alex has a soft heart beneath that tough exterior. Looking forward to more. A nice read!
mamas_minion
Jan. 18th, 2017 09:31 pm (UTC)
This was a nice take on the prompt and I am glad these characters have returned.
my_name_is_jenn
Jan. 18th, 2017 11:06 pm (UTC)
Huh. I've never heard of people using moss. Not sure I'd want to, but hey, in an emergency, if it works...

Nicely done. :)
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )