After driving for hours we finally got to the camping park, we barely got to see Rotorua, it was starting to get dark. Emma doesn’t really like to go out at night, she likes to rest and read rather than going out for a drink. I parked the camping van — which was more like a repurposed Toyota SUV than an actual camper — near to a beautiful clear lake. I went to pay for the night and then came back. Emma was asleep, she didn’t even notice we were at the park already. When I came back Emma was taking photos of the lake.
“Nice place, huh?” I said with some pride in myself for picking the best spot there.
“It’s so pretty,” she replied without looking at me.
“Wanna eat something? We can have chicken-flavored instant noodles or chicken flavored instant noodles from another brand,” I said somewhat joking.
“Surprise me,” she said smiling.
As I was boiling the water at the “kitchen,” Emma grabbed my ukulele and attempted to play it.
“Why is it so hard to play? It’s just four strings!” She said now looking at me.
“You’ll get the hang of it, we still have a month left from our trip,” I replied.
“Yeah, it ended up not being as awkward as I thought,” Emma said while “tuning” the instrument.
I poured the boiling water inside each noodle container and placed a plate on top of their lids.
“Awkward?” I asked.
“My sister said going halfway across of the world with a friend, alone, would be awkward,” she replied.
“I knew you would come, you tend not to care what other people think,” I replied.
“I don’t. It’s just, everyone back home thinks we’re having sex all day long but in reality, we just eat instant noodles and you sing me songs with this thing,” she said tapping the ukulele.
“Do you wanna have sex all day long?” I asked jokingly.
“Shut up! I’m being serious,” she said hiding the giggle.
The noodles were ready, I gave one to Emma and we started eating. Emma couldn’t eat without listening to music and since no one has yet discovered how to sing and eat simultaneously she hummed. Desire from Ryan Adams was playing, she loved Ryan Adams.
As I was opening the lid I noticed how clear the sky was. You don’t see that many stars in San Francisco. You’re more likely to bump into a Hollywood star than seeing an actual star. I told Emma to get out and check the sky. As her eyes were hooked on constellations which names I’m too ignorant to know. I could see a perfect reflection of each and every star on her deep brown eyes.
“Wanna stay out for a while?” I asked her.
“Sure,” she replied.
I took out a pair of foldable chairs and placed the two next to each other. I also took out a can of mosquito repellent and sprayed both of us. Now we both smelled like what Off thinks eucalyptus smells like.
“Do you ever think about that day?” She said not looking at me but the sky.
“What day? The day?” I said.
“Yeah, at Patrick’s house” she replied.
“We were drunk it was just a kiss,” I said. “Or, was it?” I continued.
“Yeah yeah, just a kiss,” she said softly.
“We could kiss now,” I said regretting it as I finished the sentence.
“I mean if we kissed at that party at Patrick’s house which had nothing special… I’d say this view demands a kiss,” she said, also seemingly regretting saying it.
I looked at her, our chairs were less than 2 inches apart, now she was looking at me. We kissed. Then as I was starting to go back to my original position, she held my hand. We were holding hands. And we fell asleep while listening from the distance “Just in Time” by Nina Simone playing on Emma’s phone inside the van.
© Gabriel Berm