Creative Nonfiction by Hannah Grieco
After Elane Johnson
After I found his index card on the activities board of the youth hostel. After I hitchhiked to an ATM machine to get two hundred dollars. After I packed for a four-day trip and locked up the rest of my stuff. After I got into his rusting jeep with the broken windshield wipers, after it started to rain on the way out of Sedona and he had to lean his whole head out the driver’s window to see the highway, after he yelled about our adventure really beginning and looked me up and down and then winked. After the rain stopped and he shook his hair like a dog and it soaked my face and shirt. After he wiggled his eyebrows and pretended to be joking as he stared at my breasts. After we parked and hiked four miles to the first campsite. After he brought out a huge container of shrooms and asked if I wanted to start partying early. After he frowned when I said not yet and he muttered something about a tease, after he made dinner and burned the Ragu, after we smoked a joint and he smiled and told me that now we were talking, after I said I was tired and he crawled into the tent behind me. After I asked him questions about water sources and scorpions and desert snakes until the rain started back up and then thunder so loud it shook the ground. After he told me how alive he felt when he could smell death. After lightning hit near our tent and we really could smell it and the metal in my earrings rang and the hair on my arms stood up. After he yelled over the thunder Are you ready to meet your maker, honey? After I began to cry and he got mad and told me not to ruin this, after I told him that my boyfriend would be worried about me with the storm, after he laughed at me for lying, after I rolled over and actually prayed. After a piece of hail tore open the front tent flap and he started cursing and yelling that I would have to pay for it. After I fell asleep in a tight ball. After I woke up early and made coffee and breakfast. After he crawled out of the tent and began rummaging through the climbing gear and complaining about the wet ropes. After he ate my pancakes and said I was good for something wasn’t I, after I told him I wanted to go home because I just wasn’t used to hard camping like this, after he nodded and said he could tell I was a city girl. After we stopped at the ATM for $200 to replace his torn tent. After we got back to the youth hostel and I walked inside so fast I forgot my only fleece sweatshirt in the jeep. After I sat on the bottom bunk and gathered my dirty clothes for the pay washer in the hostel basement. After I decided not to call my mom. After I took down his postcard and hid it at the bottom of the small trash can by the front desk. After I bought a Greyhound ticket to Phoenix. After I rescheduled my flight. After I stopped thinking about myself as a girl who climbed mountains, as a girl who loved the big sky, as a girl who could fly.