Two Years Earlier
Sweat ringed my neck and went down to my belly button. I could not remember a time when I had ever been so covered with my own perspiration. As I pushed away the leaf of a tree I had twice learned the name of but had now also twice forgotten, I trudged down the jungle path.
I will never do this again, I vowed. I should be in a lab. Let others collect specimens, I’ll do the analysis.
I sighed when a fat raindrop hit my face.
I knew what came next, as regular as a chime on a grandfather clock, or so it seemed. The first drop was followed by another and another as I shrugged into my camouflage poncho and pulled it over my pack. It would keep my gear dry and most of the rain would be kept from my already wet torso, but my pants were going to get drenched.
I pulled up the plastic hood and adjusted my ballcap while putting my sunglasses into a shirt pocket. The temperature dropped ten degrees but I sweated as I had before thanks to the waterproof covering that locked in my own body heat.
“Your rain slick is not all the way down,” Sharon said from behind, not quite but almost elbowing me to the side as she squeezed past on the narrow trail. “Adjust it or your pack will get wet.”
“Sure,” I said, stepping back onto the path after allowing her to pass. I had long since learned it was better to give in than fight petty battles with Sharon, things went smoother when she got her way. “Thanks for letting me know.” My voice was more polite than I felt as I grabbed the back of my poncho and pulled it down. “We haven’t stopped for a couple miles and this storm is brutal.” I slapped a mosquito that was protected from the rain by my poncho sleeve. I had not intended for it to emphasize my point, but it worked out nicely. “Perhaps we should find cover and take a break.”
“This little storm?” Sharon gave me that condescending smile I had come to loath. “It’ll be worth it. It will be worth it.” Sharon pushed on, elbowing Jen out of the way as she did while I struggled to not make an obscene gesture at her back. It was not long before she had pushed past Bill and was once again at the front of our traveling party.
I could not fathom why I had ever agreed to come on this expedition in the first place. Originally, it had sounded like a fun opportunity when I had overheard a girl—Sandy—mention she was going.
Earn college credit while traveling in the Amazon jungle, hoping to spark a relationship with Sandy, what was there to not like?
Sandy and I had become acquainted but nothing had happened. I had not made a move. It was difficult to be suave when I was always covered in sweat, something I had not anticipated. The novelty of the exotic had worn off quick and I soon regretted my choice.
There are much better ways to meet girls, I thought as I stepped over a puddle.
A gust of wind made me shiver despite the fact I felt like I could not have been warmer. The poncho was sticky against my chest and arms.
A man screamed, driving away all other thoughts.