I woke up and my head was pounding. I felt like someone was hitting me with a sledge hammer. At first I couldn’t grasp where I was. I felt the hard, cold ground beneath me. My throat was parched, and I was having some trouble breathing. The sun was shining through a small opening in the tent, and I remembered everything. I felt myself start to blush when Gabriel walked in; I had let him kiss me last night. I knew it was mainly because I was so happy to be safe again, but part of me wanted to be with him. It was a huge step for me. I haven’t wanted to be in a relationship for a long, long time.
“Good morning.” Gabriel was just staring at me. Last time I checked it was rude to stare and not reply. “Okay then, never mind. I’m really thirsty so I’m going to find some water and go clean up.” I walked out of the tent and he didn’t even stop me or say hi. Oh well. I found Justin sitting by himself on a log by the river. The scenery was amazing. There were trees that created shade all around the area. The rapids were rough in the water, one wrong step and you would be whisked away never to be seen again. That doesn’t sound like such a bad idea right now. With Gabriel not talking to me life in this time zone would be even worse. The sky that was sunny a minute ago was now cloudy and gray. It was definitely going to rain. Justin’s canteen took me out of my thoughts. I was extremely thirsty. I felt like I swallowed a hot iron, speaking of a hot iron I was really missing my flat iron! I had my hair in a braid this whole time. “Hey Justin,” he didn’t reply. Was this “don’t talk to Miranda” day? I came up closer to him and noticed he had tears running down his cheek. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” So this was the game we were about to play.
“People don’t cry for nothing.”
“I got a letter today.”
“Oh from who?”
“Well that’s great! That’s nothing to be sad about.”
“She is having a baby.”
“That’s wonderful news congratulations!”
“No it’s not wonderful news,” there was a hint of sarcasm and mocking in his voice.
“Well why is it not good news?”
“I don’t feel like talking about it.”
“You can trust me Justin.”
“I’m already committed to serving my country. It’s hard enough to leave Nicole, but now I have to leave her and my baby.” He had a point. It couldn’t be easy for him to leave all the time.
“You’ve helped me so much while I’ve been here. If it wasn’t for you I’m sure I would be dead by now. It’s my turn to help you.”
“How are you supposed to do that? I’m not following you.”
“You know I’m supposed to be a princess soon right?”
“I still don’t understand you.”
“Oh wow! I’m going to marry Gabriel that will make me Princess. When I’m a princess I can talk to Gabriel and his dad and have them let you off the hook. This way you can stay home with your wife and child.” He turned to me wide eyed.
“Oh I get it!”
“It’s a generous offer, but I can’t let you do that. I told Gabriel that we would stick together. He doesn’t want to be here either, but he is.”
“Like I said you have done so much for me, it’s only fair.” He looked at me with sincere eyes.
“Thank you, you’re going to make an amazing Queen one day.”
“I hope so.”
“So does this mean you’re over the whole “I’m stuck in a time warp” deal?”
“No, I know what happened. I know the truth. Maybe one day I’ll find my way back, but until then I might as well enjoy the ride here. Can I have some of your water please? I feel like I’m dying.”
“Sure, here you go. Gabriel’s a good guy. Treat him right okay?”
“I will, he wouldn’t even talk to me this morning.”
“He’s probably still in shock that you kissed him last night.” All the blood rushed to my cheeks. I can’t believe he told Justin. “We’re best friends he tells me everything. Don’t be shy about.” Without another word he got up and walked back to the camp site. I really wanted to get into the water, but it would be my luck to dive in and get carried away by the current. I just relaxed and watched the rapids for most of the morning. It was nice to have quiet time in nature.