It had been a mundane day. Bal and I are half way through an 8 hour drive to my Dads house and we are bored. There is an overcast sky making for dull and inspired views. We are forced to surrender our ears to AM radio as the tape deck is broken and our conversation had fizzled 3 hours earlier. Bleak farm lands, power poles and small towns whip by in a haze of monotony. Yawning listlessly, I glance over at Bal who is slumped low in the drivers seat, arm draped lazily over the steering wheel, eyes blinking rhythmically almost in time with the passing poles.
I lean my head against the window and am about to close my eyes when I am drawn to some formations in the mountains. There, sitting commandingly and Fortress-like above the river, are some unique Hoodoos. Eroded over time, the sedimentary rock of the area formed into these impressive spires of rock, normally seen in old Westerns set in the Badlands. I notice they have caught Bal’s eye as well.
“Let’s hike up there!” I ambitiously blurt out.
Bal eagerly sits up. “Let’s do it!”
We pull the car over and happily head up towards the Hoodoos. Nearing the top, I tell Bal to continue up so I can take a picture of him with the Hoodoos in the background. It had been a mundane day, until now.
Until I was thrown to the bears.
Coming out from behind the camera as I set up my shot, I am about to tell Bal that he is far enough. Instead, I watch dumbfounded as a large, Black Bear charges out of a cave.
Straight for Bal. Who, in turn, charges straight for me.
It is Bal, not the bear, who looks like the wild beast. Hair on end, eyes wild and unblinking, face distorted, he bellows, “BEAR!”
In contrast, the bear looks sleepy, disoriented. With ruffled hair and squinty eyes, she has instinctively charged, but then hesitates and slows while trying to assess whether she is, in fact, still sleeping. Thankful for this moment of confusion, I realize when it is me awoken from a perfectly good nap; I look a lot scarier, roar unrelentlessly and attack anything in my way of a snooze. Before the bear has a chance to do just that, I turn my eyes back to Bal who has ran right to me.
Unsure of what to do at this point, I go through the options in my head. Do I play dead? Do I run away? Do I stay still and appear menacing? I end up doing none of these things. I have no choice. Instead, Bal approaches and gives me a shove as he runs madly by. Surprised at the force, I immediately fall to the ground and roll awkwardly down the mountainside. As the sky and dirt and trees and Bal flash in and out of view, I begin to laugh. Did my boyfriend really just push me out of the way to save himself? Then fear, of this realization or of the bear I’m still unsure, causes me to laugh some more. I snort and roll and scream and slide until I reach the bottom of the hill and land beside Bal. He is looking up where we came from and sees the bear has wisely decided we are not worth her time. She slowly meanders along side the mountain instead, nose to the ground as she scopes out a quieter, more peaceful spot.
Seeing we are out of danger, I immediately turn on Bal. “You threw me to the bear!” I cry incredulously.
Bal stares at me dumbfounded. “I was helping you get away!” he retorts. He insists that he was simply trying to get me to move. That he saved me.
I survey my torn shirt, grass-stained jeans and scratched arms. Then I sigh, “My Hero!” and break into more hysterical laughter.