High school is often a lonesome place for people with strange and interesting ideas about the world, and so it was for me, and for Henry. When I was fifteen, I wanted to study literature and become a writer; Henry wanted to study biology and find evidence of Bigfoot. Henry’s braided cowboy hats and leather duster jackets had already caught my attention. Just two years earlier, my devotion to Bruce Campbell’s Western steampunk character on The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. had given me an appetite for men in bolo ties and high heels. He thought I looked like Dana Skully from The X-Files.
It took months, but finally Henry asked me out on a Bigfoot-hunting date. I wanted to know what, exactly, one did when looking for a creature that might not exist–but I also wanted to be alone with Henry. If I was too young to think about love, I certainly was old enough to consider desire. I wanted to be admired, pursued, studied by him. Like Sasquatch, only sexy.
Not long after that, Henry picked me up and we headed for Salt Fork State Park, Ohio, to meet other serious Bigfoot hunters. As it turned out, I was a terrible Bigfoot hunter. I began to wheeze as we hiked up the steep hillsides. My shorts began to ride up indelicately; I amended my stomping to a demure waddle. When I glanced behind me, Henry’s gaze was chastely downcast. The group delved into long discussions of recent reported sightings; stories of jokers in gorilla suits; the questionable reliability of audio clips. Occasionally, one of the team stopped, cupped his hands to his mouth, and uttered a long, haunting bellow that echoed across the countryside. We all would freeze, and listen.
Then we got lost. The trip was a bust, with zero Sasquatch sightings; it took us hours to get out of the woods. Back to Henry’s house, we ate potato salad and charred hot dogs. We sat next to a bonfire in silence, occasionally poking at the glowing logs and scratching our mosquito bites. Finally, my date looked tenderly at me over the snapping orange flames, and then slowly lifted a sweet vidalia onion to his mouth. Henry bit into the onion like an apple, producing a satisfying crunch. I looked steadily back at him. Henry took a few more bites, then gently set the onion on a log. He looked away.
“Frailty, thy name is woman,” he whispered.
“Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble,” I said, because I could quote Shakespeare, too.
And then he kissed me. Forget the onion; I did. I remember instead the way his hands cupped my face; the surprise of his kiss; the way he pulled me close. I remember thinking, in that instant, that we were both such misunderstood creatures. That we were both howling into the wilderness, waiting for someone to recognize the sound of our voices.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Megan Kerns was raised in small town in east Tennessee and rural Ohio. She is currently an MFA candidate in nonfiction at The Ohio State University.