August 21st, 2017 - Sublimity, Oregon

 

"Rise and shine, sleepy-head,” Tonya said. “We’ve got to get to the meadow early to pick out our spot.” Her blonde hair tickled Scott’s face as she leaned over him.

“Alright, I’m up,” Scott said as he rolled out of bed. He stretched and tried in vain to reach the ceiling. For the first time in more than a week, he’d gotten to sleep before midnight and he almost felt fully rested. Despite being deep in the forests of Oregon, they had nearly all the comforts of home, including hot showers.

Scott and Tonya Knox were on the ninth day of their honeymoon, and the sixth day at Silver Falls Lodge. He had booked the cabin when he was eighteen and learned that The Great American Eclipse4 would pass right over the cabins where his parents frequently went on vacation. It had been a bit of a rush getting the wedding planned in time, but when his parents learned he was taking her to the lodge for a week, they insisted it wouldn’t be a problem.

He knew he’d married the right woman not only because they were the same height, but by her enthusiasm for seeing both of the twice-in-a-lifetime events. They were already planning a trip to Missouri in 2024 5 to see the next total solar eclipse on American soil.

As they entered the dining hall half an hour later, Scott almost moaned at how crowded it already was. Most of their week here had been fairly quiet, at least in terms of seeing other people. But today there were people everywhere. Well, that was to be expected for such a spectacular event. It took twice as long as usual to get their food, and there was no way they were going to have a table to themselves this morning.

“Scott! Over here!” Kevin called. He was Scott’s best friend all through high school, and easy to spot, still having the build of a linebacker.

“What is he doing here?” Tonya asked as she came up beside him.

“Well, right now he’s got two seats for us.”

Tonya scowled at him.

“Hey, at least we get to sit next to each other,” Scott shrugged as he headed for Kevin’s table.

“I knew I’d find you two this morning,” Kevin said as the couple sat down. “I’ll bet you didn’t even know I’ve been here all weekend.”

Tonya gaped as she scowled at Scott. “All weekend?”

Scott shrugged. “We originally planned this together, along with Mark and Patrick. They were all bummed when I hijacked the entire cabin for just the two of us.”

“Hey,” Kevin broke in, “I stayed out of your way, didn’t I? You didn’t even know we were here.”

“We?” Tonya repeated.

As if in reply, Mark and Patrick sat down across from her.

“Morning, lovebirds,” Mark said. He was the shortest one at the table by a couple of inches.

“I told you we couldn’t avoid them today,” Patrick said. His red hair always made him stand out. “Everyone’s going to be in the same place at the same time this morning.”

“Did you know about this?” Tonya asked Scott.

Scott nodded. “Of course.”

“And when were you going to tell me?”

Scott just shrugged and said, “Surprise!”

“You know I hate surprises,” Tonya said.

“Like I said,” Kevin interjected, “we’ve stayed out of your way so far, and after the eclipse, we’ll disappear again.”

“Just like the sun,” Patrick said with a grin. No one laughed.

“You don’t have to sit with us in the meadow if you don’t want to,” Kevin offered.

Tonya sighed. “I guess it’s okay. I just thought I’d have my husband to myself on my honeymoon.”

“Tonya, honey,” Scott pleaded, “we knew we were going to be surrounded by people this morning. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you three of those people would be my best friends. We’ve barely seen each other since high school. All three of these knuckleheads are in college.”

“So how come you didn’t go with them?” Tonya’s eyebrows were raised the way they always were when she asked a question he’d already answered a dozen times.

“He’s still working on that charity app, right Scott?” Kevin said with a smirk. “You know, the one that will change the world.”

Scott scowled. “Do you have to bring that up now?”

“Ouch!” Patrick said. “Sounds like the honeymoon is over.”

Scott set down his fork, leaned over and Tonya obliged him with a passionate kiss. “Definitely not over,” Scott said.

Tonya smiled back at him. “Don’t you ever let it end.” She paused before adding, “And no more surprises, okay?”

 

An hour later, Scott was sitting in a lounge chair with Tonya at his side staring at the sun through their special flimsy glasses. The moon started to move into place. There were almost a hundred people around them doing exactly the same thing.

“Looks like the show has started!” Patrick shouted.

Whoops and hollers came from the crowd. He’d heard weaker cheers on opening day of Rouge One.

Kevin leaned over to Scott and asked, “You’re not superstitious, are you?”

“No, of course not. Why?”

“Well, they say that an eclipse is a bad omen,” Kevin explained. “That it marks the beginning of difficult times for the lands touched by it.”

“I don’t believe any of that stuff,” Scott said.

“Neither do I,” Tonya added.

“Good,” Kevin said as he sat back. “I’d hate to see your marriage ruined by superstition.”

Tonya gasped. “What an awful thing to say! We just got married, and already you’re talking about our marriage being ruined?”

“Well, no,” Kevin said. “Not if you don’t believe in that stuff.”

“Well, I don’t!” Tonya said.

“Good,” Kevin shot back.

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August 21st, 2017 - Marion, Illinois

Endnotes

4.       August 21st, 2017 - Sublimity, Oregon
A total solar eclipse from coast to coast. The sight of a lifetime! https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/

5.       August 21st, 2017 - Sublimity, Oregon
Eclipse Map — April 8, 2024 Total Solar Eclipse https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2024-april-8 

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