Let’s take a Sunday country drive, he said. We’ll find a nice hike, he said. There’s this one that is eight miles of winding gravel road up a mountain, he said, with glee. She was smitten with him by this point in their getaway. He had taken her to pick apples and baked her a pie. Wooed her with a picnic and a hot tub. Romanced her with a leisurely dinner and a walk around downtown Asheville. So she obliged, despite her fear of heights and her tendency towards motion sickness on winding roads. He probably could’ve gotten her to bungee jump at this point. And off they went. Lost in the mountains, somewhere between Barnardsville and Jupiter (that’s a real city). They were dangerously low on gas. She had had a granola bar for breakfast and two cups of coffee. It can’t be that much further, he promised. But the road just kept unraveling, up the mountain. Up, up, up. Eight miles at ten miles an hour is an eternity. The sun showered through the leaves and danced on their car windows. Beautifully nauseating. No other cars in sight. He asks if they should turn around. He asks if there is room enough on the road to turn around. She says no, keep going. It can’t be that far. Their roles reverse. He’s nauseous. He’s worried about running out of gas. They have no cell coverage. No road signs. Just cliffs and curves. Onward. Until they run out of road, literally. No parking lot. No signs. Just no more road. They park and, both dizzy and empty, hike a rocky trail. He jokes with her on the way up and takes her hand when the rocks are slippery. She tells him how happy she is that they didn’t turn around and they pause taking in the views and their solitude. A hiker passes by, out of breath, with walking sticks. He’s polite and slightly winded. They keep going. And then they hear the water. His pace speeds up, exhaustion exits with the waterfall. She suddenly has to pee. Has to. Rushing water. Freezing temps. And she does, in the woods. Like a hero. They take in the waterfall for a while, split a banana and get back to the car. Driving down, it’s like a roller coaster. The gas light has been on for too long. She prays. Out loud. They make it out and to a gas station and celebrate their endeavor with a giant pizza. This is my love story today.
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