The Camping Weekend
*Written for Dustbunni5*
Jenni and Michelle had been planning their camping trip at Yosemite for months, and finally the big three-day weekend had finally arrived. The drive from their dorm at UNLV seemed to take forever, and as they hit California, the weather reports predicted rain to hit late Friday night.
"Rain?!" Michelle said in a disappointed tone, "It can't rain this weekend!"
"Don't stress about it," Jenni said, "Look, the weather is beatiful outside and we are only an hour and a half away from Yosemite. Besides, weather men are wrong all the time."
The two college sophomores pulled into the guest check- point at noon, a hot California sun beating down on the ground.
A ranger greeted them as Jenni rolled down the driver side window, "Afternoon ladies, are you two going to be here the entire weekend?"
"That's right," Jenni said, "Looks like it is going to be a hot one," she continued, trying to make small talk.
"You'd be surprised how quickly the weather changes here, it gets cold quick at night, so I'd recommend setting up your tent early and put a tarp underneath in case it rains," the ranger replied. He continued on with a speech about not leaving food out and carrying a flashlight at nighttime, and then waved the girls through. Jenni rubbed her nose and thanked him for his help.
Driving up to their campsite, Michelle said, "I can't believe it, we are finally here!" She opened the car door and ran out to the open campsite. Fresh wild flowers of every color were in bloom, and the trees reached so high the tops couldn't even be seen. Jenni laughed at her friend dancing in the grass and flowers, and got out of the car. She gently rubbed at the slight tickle in her nose and sniffed as she walked to where Michelle was, "See, the weather is beautiful, *sniff* this is going to be a great weekend."
Michelle, smiling from ear to ear, still ecstatic about finally arriving at Yosemite, said, "This is going to be the best weekend ever! Hey, are you okay?"
Jenni sniffled and laughed, "Yeah, my nose is just a little runny. Let's set up the tent." Her smile quickly faded as she felt the tingle in her nose grow. She then quickly realized she needed to sneeze, and as was her habit, she announced it to Michelle, "Uh oh, I ha.. have ah.. to sneeze." She stopped walking and gave her full attention to the sneeze quickly working up momentum in her nose. Her eyes began to close as she let out a series of short gasps, "ha..huh..ha..heh..huh." Her long nose began to crinkle at the bridge as she brought her hands closer to her face to cover the impending sneeze. "Hah.. hah-hah...heh..HACHOO!" Jenni sneezed powerfully into her cupped hands, her head snapping forward as she did so. She sniffed again and rubbed her nose, which had begun to itch, "Bless me, what a relief to let that one go!"
Michelle laughed, she was always amazed at how non- chalantly Jenni regarded sneezing, as she always warned those around her before she sneezed and she always made some comment about the sneeze when she had finished. Many of their friends at UNLV thought she did it to get attention, but Michelle just thought it was cute.
The two walked back to Jenni's truck and unloaded the box with the tent inside and the two sleeping bags. Jenni rubbed her itchy nose again to try to appease the tickle, but had no luck and sniffled again. She then picked up the tent box and began to carry it to the camp site when again a sneeze quickly worked up in her nose. "Ah... ah.. gotta..ahh... sneeze..ah-ah...again.." This time it came faster, and she had to drop the tent box to cover her face, "ah..huh..HUH-CHOO! HACHOO! ah..ah...HACHOO!!" The sneezes came quickly and forcefully as Jenni sneezed into her cupped hands again, barely catching them as her body shook with the power of the sneezes. She wiped the light mist off her hands onto her shorts and picked the box back up, "Did you hear that Michelle? Three times, I never sneeze three times!"
"Well then bless you thrice! Are you sure you are okay?" Michelle asked.
Jenni sniffled and said, "My nose is itchy, but otherwise I feel all right. Do you have any tissues in your bag?"
"Umm... I think I have an old Kleenex travel pack buried some where,do you want it now?" Michelle asked.
"If you wouldn't mind, my nose is still running," Jenni replied, sniffling every few seconds. "And I... I ha... have to...huh...heh...heh...sneeze. Hah-hah-HACHOO!" Jenni sneezed once again, this time louder than before as her head shot forward into her awaiting hands. "Okay, I think I have sneezed just about enough now."
Michelle rummaged through her bag for a minute and finally found her travel package of Kleenex. She grabbed it and walked over to Jenni, handing her one, "Here you go, but it looks like I have only a few left, so I hope you don't have to sneeze anymore."
Taking the tissue, Jenni blew her nose and said, "Me too, I got a little light-headed after that last sneeze!" With one final sniffle, Jenni put the package of tissues into her pocket and picked up the tent box again. Along with her nose, her eyes started to itch a little bit as she and Michelle set up the tent, forgetting to putdown the tarp underneath like the ranger recommended. A light breeze passed through the campsite, gently blowing the grass and flowers to and fro. Minutes later while hammering in a tent peg, Jenni felt the familiar sensation of a sneeze building up.
"Can you believe this?" she asked Michelle, "I have to sneeze ah...ahh...again! Why...hah-hah...why am I hav... ahh...having to snee.." Her voice rose while trying to get the words out, but the urge to sneeze was too great. Quickly pulling a Kleenex out of her pocket, Jenni folded it in her hands and brought it up to her nose and mouth to catch the sneeze as it violently erupted from her. "Hah...ha...ah-ah...heh...HACHOO! Ah-Ah-HACHOO!CHOO! Hah...ah.. heh..." But the fourth sneeze refused to come out, it remained in her nose, tickling and itching, not allowing Jenni the satisfaction. She stood with a pained expression, her eyes teary and squinted, her nose scrunched up waiting for the sneeze to manifest itself. Finally Jenni stared up into the sun, forcing her eyes to shut and the sneeze to explode out from her, "HaaaaaaAAACHOO!" She blew her nose again, pulling out a fresh Kleenex from her pocket and said in a nasaly tone, "Ugh, this is getting to be out of control. What is my problem today?"
Michelle looked at Jenni. She had never seen her friend in such a state, as Jenni's eyes were now getting red and her nose was too, along with the now constant sneezing. "I don't know Jen, do you think it could be allergies?"
Sniffling, Jenni replied, "But I don't have any allergies, I've never been allergic to...uh-oh, gonna sneeze... ahh.. heh-HACHOO! Bless me, I've never been allergic to anything my whole life."
"Well, you've lived in Nevada your whole life, maybe it is something here that is setting you off," Michelle replied. Picking a single wildflower from the ground, she had an idea, "Here watch me." Michelle brought the colorful flower to her nose and smelled its' fragrance, "Mmmmm... see, not even a sniffle! Now you try it."
Determined to prove her friend wrong, Jenni picked five of the most beautiful flowers she could find, and brought the bunch up to her face. As the sky above her began to grow cloudy, Jenni smiled at Michelle and took a long, deep breath through her nose, taking in the flowers' aroma. Michelle then watched as Jenni's smile quickly turned into a frown as she vigorously rubbed her nose.
"See, no problem," Jenni said as her nose itched and ran from the pollen she just inhaled. "I told you I'm not all.. aller... ahh...hah...allergic...hah-hah...huh...heh... ha-ha-AH-HACHOO! Ha-hah-HACHOO! Ha-HACHOO!" Jenni sneezed again and again, unprepared for the violent reaction the flowers would provoke. She pulled the remaining three tissues from the package and covered her nose and mouth, continuing to sneeze, "heh..heh..heCHOO! hah..hah..haaa... HACHOO! CHOO!HaaaaaACHOOO! Ha-ha-HACHOO! HACHOO!"
All Michelle could do was watch her friend in the midst of a full allergic attack. Jenni continued to sneeze every few seconds, nose running and eyes watering. The tissues in her hands were now soaked and useless, and between sneezes she asked Michelle, "Mi..ahh... Michelle, do you ha..haa... HA-CHOO! Have anymore Kleenex? ahh-ahh...ha-HACHOO!"
"No, that travel pack was all I had, do you have any in your car?" Michelle asked.
"Haaaaah-HACHOO! No *sniff* remember, I used...hah.. heh.. HECHOO! Ha-ha-HACHOO!*sniff* I used them ahh.. all ahhh.. to clean the-ahh HA-CHOO! The soda spill in car," Jenni sniffled loud and hard to control her runny nose.
Jenni rubbed her nose and said, "Thanks, I owe you ha... hah-hah...heh...HA-CHOO! Hah-HACHOO!"
Laughing, Michelle replied, "Don't mention it. And I'd recommend not rolling in the grass!"
Jenni managed a smile before falling prey to another paroxym of sneezes.
The general store ended up being a over a mile away, but Michelle didn't mind the walk. Yosemite was more beautiful than she imagined it would be with Half Dome in the distance and the colorful flowers that were scattered about the national park. She thought to herself, "I don't think Jenni is going to have a lot of fun the next two days if these flowers continue to make her sneeze. Maybe the store will have some antihistamines too."
An hour later, Michelle found the general store as the skies above threatened rain. A husband and wife were leaving the store as Michelle approached it. The woman was holding a handkerchief in her hand and brought it quickly to her nose as she was overtaken by a sneezing fit, "hachoo! hachoo! hachoo! hachoo! hachoo! hachoo!hachoooo!" The woman's sneezes were quieter and less powerful than Jenni's, Michelle thought, but this woman seemed like she couldn't even take in a breath of air inbetween sneezes. Her husband blessed her as did Michelle, to which the woman smiled meekly and thanked them.
The clerk inside asked, "Afternoon, something I can help you find?"
"Yeah," Michelle replied, "My friend is suffering from bad allergies."
"Your friend and half the people up here this weekend," the clerk replied, "The wildflowers decided to bloom early this year, and so now it seems like everone's sneezing and sniffling. Unfortunately, I wasn't ready and didn't have a large stock of allergy medications on hand. I'm sold out except for decongestants, which probably won't help your friend much. The next delivery truck won't be in until Monday morning."
"How about Kleenex?" Michelle asked, hoping the clerk hadn't sold out of tissues also.
"Yeah, up here at the counter," he replied.
Michelle walked up to the counter as the sky grew darker with the threat of rain. She purchased one large box of Kleenex and two travel packs for when she and Jenni would go hiking. She paid the clerk who asked her, "Anything else you need?"
She thanked him and told him that the Kleenex would be all. He smiled and said, "Okay, hope your friend feels better soon. Come on by if you need anything else."
He was attractive and probably only a few years older than Michelle, and she wanted to stay and talk to him for a while. But the thought of Jenni sneezing and sneezing and blowing her nose with less-than-soft napkins make Michelle take pity on her miserable friend. She smiled at the clerk, and looking at his nametag said, "Thanks again Brian."
Michelle left the general store with a smile carrying her bag of tissues for Jenni. About halfway back to the campsite, a light rain began to fall. Michelle didn't mind, she was still beaming from her brief encounter with the cute clerk Brian. However, the rain began to fall harder and the temperature outside began to drop. She pulled the hood on her sweatshirt over her head and began to jog back to camp. It began to pour and Michelle gave up, laughing at her misfortune. She took off her hood and walked on in the rain towards the camp site.
The rain had subsided by the time Michelle got back to the camp. Even from a few hundred yards away, she was able to hear Jenni sneezing. Apparently her allergies hadn't calmed down, as Michelle could hear a loud "ha-HaCHOO!" every ten to twenty seconds. Michelle walked up to their tent and unzipped the front to find Jenni sitting cross- legged inside, surrounded by a dozen crumpled up napkins. Her eyes were red and bleary, and her nose too was red from all the blowing. Michelle pulled the large box of Kleenex from the general store bag and handed it to Jenni, saying," You don't seem to be doing much better than when I left you."
Smiling, Jenni replied, "Well you missed the worst of it! After you left, I tried unpacking the car but I was sneezing so ahh... hah...hah-hah... heh-he-HACHOO!hah... HA-CHOO! So often, I just came in here to try to avoid everything outside that was making me sneeze." Jenni looked at Michelle, who was soaked from head to toe, asked, "You're drenched! Heeeehhh..hehhhh..HECHOO! I'm sorry I made you go get me Kleenex."
Michelle replied, "Don't worry about it, I had fun while I was gone, and by the looks of it, you definitely need the tissues!"
Jenni blew her nose with one of the tissues Michelle brought back and said, "Yeah, it got so bad I just sat in.. ahhh... in here... hah-hah-HACHOO! Excuse me, it got so bad that for thirty minutes literally all I did was sneeze and blow my nose and sneeze again and again. I actually started counting how many sneezes I let loo..huh-huh... I let... hah-hah-haaaahh-HACHOO! How many sneezes I let loose!"
Michelle felt bad for her allergic friend and asked, "So how many times did you end up sneezing?"
"Well, I think when it finally subsided ahh.. ahh.. a little bit, I counted fifty-HACHOO! Excuse me, fifty two sneezes," Jenni said, rubbing her still-itchy nose.
"Hopefully you'll start feeling better soon. I tried to buy you some medicine, but it seems a lot of people have allergies up here, and so they were sold out," Michelle said, changing into dry clothing.
"That's okay, at least I know I'm not the only one sneezing my head off!" Jenni said.
The two friends spent the rest of the evening playing cards, eating sandwiches and drinking Pepsi, and counting Jenni's sneezes.
Michelle woke up Saturday morning to the sound of Jenni loudly blowing her nose. "Sorry about the noise, I couldn't even breathe!" Jenni said, pulling another two tissues and continuing to blow her red, sore nose.
"My nose is kinda stuffed up too," Michelle said, pulling out one of the tissues, "It got really cold last night."
"Looks like it rained again," Jenni said, noticing the beads of water clinging to the sides of the tent, the morning sun highlighting them.
Michelle then asked Jenni, "Hey, how are your allergies now?"
"Actually, I feel pretty good," Jenni said, "but I haven't gone outside yet, so we'll see."
"Hopefully you'll be okay today, I want to hike up to the waterfall and take a few pictures," Michelle said, taking another tissue to further clear her nose.
Jenni opened the front of the tent to look out at the beautiful Saturday morning. A fine dew covered the grass and the flowers, and Jenni took a deep breath to see how her day would be. "Hey, my nose doesn't itch and my eyes don't burn. I think the rain cleared out all the pollen in the air. I should be sneeze-free today," she said, turning back to Michelle.
Michelle replied, "I don't feel so optimistic." She coughed and blew her nose again.
"Do you have allergies now?" Jenni asked.
"I don't think so, I think I caught a cold when I was walking back in the rain yesterday," Michelle replied, "My nose is totally stuffed up and my throat hurts."
Jenni said, "This is totally my fault, if you hadn't gone to the store to get me Kleenex, you wouldn't have gotten sick. I feel terrible."
Michelle tried to reply but was overtaken by the urge to sneeze, "Huh-eshoo!" Her body doubled over as she sat in her sleeping bag. She sniffled and said, "It's okay, I'm not going to let a cold stop me from hiking today. Huh-eshoo!!"
"Bless you," Jenni said, "Well, I still feel bad about getting you "Don't blame yourself," Michelle replied, pulling her long, blond hair back into a pony tail, "Let's get hiking, exercise always make me feel better."
Jenni and Michelle reached the top of the waterfall after a few hours of hiking. They took frequent breaks so Michelle could blow her nose and rest from a lack of air. At the top, they took off their backpacks and rested on the cool granite surface of the mountain. Michelle again pulled out a Kleenex to blow her nose.
"How are you doing?" Jenni asked, opening up a granola bar to munch on.
"Still sick, huh-Eshoo! 'scuse me, but I'm more embarrassed, "Michelle confessed.
Jennie asked, "Why are you embarrassed? We made it here in pretty good time."
"No, not that, I just felt really stupid having to stop every ten minutes to blow my nose and sneezing all over the place," Michelle said.
"Don't feel bad, I sneezed hundreds of times yesterday! I could have been the poster girl for Kleenex!" Jenni said and the two both started laughing.
"Yeah, but it's different when other hikers are around. I feel stu... huh-ESHOO! Excuse me, I feel stupid and self-conscious sneezing all the time," Michelle said.
Jenni replied, "Well if it will help, I can try picking another bunch of flowers, misery loves company."
"Now you're being silly, but thanks anyway," Michelle said.
"I've got an idea," Jenni said, pulling a camera out of her backpack, "Let's get that cute guy over there to take a picture of us. Go stand over by the railing near the top of the waterfall."
Michelle was in no mood to have a picture taken of her in her sick state, but did as Jenni said anyway. She was in less of a mood to put up any sort of a fight. Although she wished she had when Jenni came back with the guy to take the picture. She looked at him and said with an embarrassed grin, "Brian?"
"Hey there! Long time no see!" he replied smiling broadly at Michelle.
She was about to reply when she felt a strong tickle in her nose, "Huh-ESHooo!"
"Gesundheit!" Brian said, "Hey, you said you bought those tissues for your friend?"
"She did," Jenni interrupted, "I was sneezing like crazy yesterday but Michelle was a sweetheart and got the Kleenex for me, but she caught a cold in the rain coming back. Isn't she the best?"
Michelle was blowing her nose when another pair of sneezes overtook her, "Huh-ESHOO! Huh-ASHOOO!"
Jenni and Brian blessed her and he said, "She must be the best. You've got one beautiful...er..special friend in her." Michelle blushed at his compliment as he brought the camera up to his eye, "All right you two, get together, this is going to be a great picture."
Jenni ran over to Michelle and threw her arms around her, their two faces pressed against each other.
"Okay, on three say 'sneeze.'" Brian joked.
Michelle said, "Hey, quit picking on the sick!"
Brian laughed and said, "Just kidding, say cheese. One... two..."
Just a moment before Brian said three and took the picture, Michelle felt a sneeze come on and she couldn't hold it in for the shot, sneezing "Huh-ESHOO!" just as Brian clicked the shutter.
"Ewww," Jenni said, pulling away from her friend, wiping her face off, "that was gross."
Michelle couldn't stop laughing because of her ill-timed sneeze," Sorry, but that's payback for getting me sick!"
Brian too laughed and said, "That was great timing!"
"Very funny," Jenni said, "thanks for taking a memorable picture."
Brian handed the camera back and then said to Michelle, "Seriously, I hope you get over your cold soon, your nose is too lovely to be subjected to such torment."
Michelle blushed again and thanked him. He handed her a piece of paper and said, "Call me if you ever make it back to Yosemite." He then continued his hike up the mountain.
"He is so into you!" Jenni said excitedly to Michelle.
"Huh-hashoo! Heshoo! Do you think so?" she said.
"Of course, you are totally sick and he still gave you his number and asked you to call him," Jenni said.
The two sat up by the waterfall for hours and talked about life, school, and Brian until finally heading back down the mountain and arriving at their campsite late that night, where they promptly fell asleep.
Michelle woke up late Sunday morning, her head cold and the previous day of hiking had really worn her out. Her nose was still stuffed up from the cold as she pulled a couple of tissues from the now three-quarters empty Kleenex box, and blew her nose for a minute. She tried not to blow too hard as not to wake up Jenni, who still lay motionless in her sleeping bag. Michelle smiled as she listened to her friend softly snore next to her. With her nose somewhat cleared, Michelle yawned and stretched as the morning sun warmed her through the tent. She started to wonder if the worst of her nasty cold was over when the urge to sneeze interrupted her thoughts. Michelle was never the type to hold in a sneeze, her mother had always taught her never to do so, but rather to let the sneeze come out naturally. But Michelle was now afraid of waking up Jenni, and she did her best to hold the sneeze in, "Huh-eshp!" Michelle managed to keep from waking Jenni, who continued to sleep, but the act of holding in the first sneeze only brought on a more violent pair of sneezes, and she knew that it would be impossible to hold in these two. Desperate to muffle the sound, she grabbed her pillow and sneezed violently into it, "Huh-ESHOO! Huh-HASHOOO!" She held the pillow to her face a few more seconds to be sure her latest sneezing bout was over, and then removed it and gently placed it back down. She then quietly got up and exited the tent, taking the box of Kleenex with her.
The day looked to be a beautiful one, the sun rising about the trees of Yosemite. Michelle sat down on a tree stump near the tent, pulling out another Kleenex to blow her nose. Suddenly, from inside the tent, Michelle heard Jenni let loose a wet sneeze, "Hah-CHOO!"
Inside the tent, Jenni shook her head and sniffled loudly after the sneeze, looking around for the tissue box to blow her stuffy nose. Unable to find it, she grabbed atone of the old napkins she had used on Friday and blew her nose. From outside she heard Michelle say "bless you!" "Thanks," Jenni said, surprised at how her voice sounded a bit hoarse. She coughed and blew her nose some more, and feeling another sneeze building up in her nose, she said, "He-here we go ah... hah... againhah.. HA-CHOO!"
Michelle opened up the tent, handing the box of Kleenex to Jenni, who grabbed one and wiped her nose as she said, "I think I caught your cold. I'm totally congested, I'm starting to sneeze, and my heh... my head hah...ah... another sneeze... ahhh..HAH-CHOO! Bless me, my head throbs."
Michelle said, "It's no fun, is it? I'm sorry I gave you my cold, I can relate to how you..." Her voice trailed off as she quickly grabbed a tissue from the box and brought it up to her face, "Huh-eshoo! Excuse me, I can relate to how you feel!"
Jenni laughed and said, "We must be quite a sight with our red noses and puffy eyes."
"Let's just hope Brian doesn't stop by and see us in our...HESHOO! pitiful state," Michelle replied.
Jenni sniffled hard and got out of her sleeping bag. She unzipped the tent and stepped out onto the grass, feeling the sun warm her face. "What a beautiful morning!"
Following her out of the tent, Michelle said, "Yeah, it hasn't beent his nice since we arrived on Friday." She looked to Jenni to see if she would agree, but Jenni was preoccupied with the suddenly itchy nose she had developed. "You okay?" Michelle asked.
Her eyes squinting, Jenni said, "My nose is really hah...hah... sensitive right now huh..hah... because of the cold. I think... hah..ha-HACHOO! Ha-HeCHOO! Hah-hah-HASHOO!CHOO! Haaaaaah-ha-CHOO! Excuse me, I think my allergies are starting to act up again, Ha-AAAACHOO!" She sneezed over and over again in between words.
Michelle sneezed too, almost in sympathy for her suffering friend, "Huh-ESHOO!"
The two looked at each other in complete misery, and without saying a word, they gave up on their perfect weekend. Michelle began packing their things as Jenni went and sat in the car to try to avoid the pollen setting off her allergies. She held the box of Kleenex in her lap and alternated sneezing and blowing her nose. Even from inside the car, she wasn't able to experience much relief. When her cold caused her to sneeze, it would set of an allergic fit of another five or six sneezes.
Michelle quickly packed up their campsite and tossed everything in to the back of Jenni's car. She got in the driver's seat and grabbed a tissue to cover her nose and mouth as she sneezed, "Huh-eshoo!" She blew her nose and looked over to Jenni, who laid back in her seat, holding a tissue to her runny nose. She quickly sat up and sneezed, "ha-CHOO! hah-hah-HACHOO! Ha-CHOO! Haaaaah-haaaah-HA-CHOO!"
"Huh-Eshoo! Let's get out of here," Michelle said in a congested voice, starting the car's engine.
"Ahh-ahh... Ha-CHOO! Agreed," sniffled Jenni, "I've had enough fun for one weekend."
The two laughed and began their long drive back to college, stopping only for food and to buy more Kleenex.