The truck roared loudly as it came to a stop in front of the forest reserve we had been driving towards for the past two hours. Hank, my husband, smiled briefly at me and then looked through the mirror at the kids who were a bit preoccupied with an argument over who was going to get the small bucket of fried chicken we had brought with us on the trip.
“Dad said I was gonna get it if I kept quiet the rest of the trip!” Sandy was yelling.
“No! Mum said I could get it if I help her get the loads from the house into the trunk!” Gabby, my second daughter, yelled back.
Sam, the youngest and the only boy amongst them kept quiet. He had always been the calm one and seemed only to get thrilled whenever Hank took him fishing or mountain climbing. Neither of that was happening though for the plan this weekend was for the family to spend the entire Saturday night, camping in the woods.
“You know there is enough chicken in the bucket for everyone, right?” Hank was asking the children.
Sandy opened her mouth to argue again but seemed to notice the chiding look on Hank’s face. When Gabby inched forward on the seat to say something too, Hank shook his head, and she kept quiet. I laughed inwardly, always admiring the way Hank could get the children to comply with anything just by looking at them. Eventually, he turned to Sam and smiled cheerfully.
“What do you say we be the men here and get the tent and the generator out of the trunk?” he said.
Sam’s face lit up, and he nodded abruptly. He was out of the trunk in a jiffy followed by Hank while I was left with the girls.
“Well, what should we do then?” I asked, staring happily into each of their deep brown eyes.
“I don’t know. We can get the sheets and duvets out.” Gabby suggested with a soft whisper.
“Or we can gather the woods and set the fire!” Sandy said cheerfully as if she had suddenly been hit with the bright idea.
“Oh great! We will do all!” I told them, raising my palms to hit theirs.
The mood was right, I told myself. Sandy and Gabby rushed out of the truck while I hurried behind them, hoping to help them with the heavy loads before each got ahead of themselves and got hurt. Surprisingly though, they gently carried the duvets and the little flasks and hopped towards the tent that Hank and Sam were already setting up.
“We are coming back for the firewood, Mum!” Sandy yelled over her shoulder.
I grinned to myself, unable to hide how happy I was. In a few seconds, the tent was proudly up, the rays of the setting sun reflecting through it.
“One, two, you ready?” Hank’s voice echoed through the woods. He was starting the generator with Sam, and both of them seemed to be having a thrilling moment, especially since Sandy and Gabby were clapping their hands encouragingly at them.
“Go!” he finally yelled, and the gen came to life. Lights beamed around the tent while music also echoed from inside it.
“You came with the radio?” I beamed brightly.
“Yes, we did.” Hank winked, and I found myself biting my lips. I certainly love the man.
“Mum, the firewood.” Sandy and Gabby said, already heading back towards me and the truck.
I stepped away and let them carry everything they could. When they began to head back towards the tent, I held on to the rest of the firewood and also took the bucket of chicken with me. In the new excitement mood, both Sandy and Gabby had totally forgotten about it.
“I am so glad we brought the generator along,” Hank said immediately I was close to him.
“Why?” I asked, heading into the tent while he walked quietly behind me.
“Why?” He whispered. “As romantic as candle dates are, I think I prefer the beautiful colors of globes and music – yes music blaring through the speaker.”
“Radio,” I said.
“Whatever.” He smiled. “It is working as a speaker for now.”
I shook my head and smiled when he closed the distance between us and planted a kiss on my lips. “Today is gonna be fun.” He said.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“Well, for one, you haven’t stopped smiling for an hour.” He shrugged and then tilted my head to the side so I could see Sam laughing loudly as Sandy and Gabby tickled him.
“It’s been so long we had such family time,” I whispered.
“Yeah,” Hank whispered behind me. I could feel his body plastering against mine, and I closed my eyes, always thrilled to have him so close.
“We should eat first,” I said.
“Mummy said ‘eat’!” Gabby groaned before Hank could say anything and in a flash, the children were sauntering towards us.
“Food!” Sandy grinned.
“Did you get the biggest flask along with the duvets, darlings?” I asked.
Sandy and Gabby shook their heads, and it was obvious they knew what would come next. “Why don’t you go get it from the trunk, and we could get started,” I said.
The last word hadn’t left my lips before each girl ran out of the tent. Sam didn’t bother to follow them. He ran towards me instead and wrapped his arms around my legs.
“What was that for, sweetie?” I asked.
“Nothing.” He beamed. He was out of the tent afterward before I could push further.
“Well, it seems you are right,” I said. “Today is going to be all shades of fun.”
Hank grinned and then pulled me towards him. His lips were on mine again in a second.
“I love you, Hank Gilbert.” I moaned into his mouth.
“I love you too.” I heard him say and I felt an electrifying jolt coursing through my spine.
I wanted to wrap my arms around his neck but everywhere suddenly went dark, the music coming to a sudden stop.
“Mum, Dad!” Gabby yelled from outside the tent.
“Shit!” Hank cursed under his breath. “I think there isn’t any fuel left inside the generator before we left home!”