It began like any other field trip: a long, hot bus ride to the middle of dusty nowhere, biology problem sets interrupted by tepid conversation, the anticipation of another great dig. Adam loved the thrill of anthropology, but his real passion lay inorganic farming. He was a biology major, with a minor in environmental studies. A perfect combination for a farmer, Adam thought. Organic kale, non-GMO spinach, pesticide-free rhubarb, onions, carrots, arugula… Suddenly, the bus jumped. A pothole. The girls on the bus shrieked. Adam smoothly glanced up from his notebook. His dark eyes met another pair unaffected by the pothole.
Dylan Anna Washburn’s heart skipped a beat. The boy—or, she should say, man—calmly met her gaze as the rest of the bus exploded into chaos. It was Dylan’s first time on an anthropological dig, and she didn’t know what to expect. She certainly didn’t expect to meet anyone as imposingly good-looking as this. He was tall, about 6’4, with long, toned legs and the physique of a swimmer. His strong hands held his pencil confidently, like that wasn’t the only thing he could hold.
“Hi,” Adam said cheerfully. “I’m Adam.” Dylan’s heart melted.
“I’m Dylan Anna Washburn,” she replied. “But don’t call me Anna,” she added quickly. “I much prefer Dylan.”
“Alright,” Adam said. He wasn’t uptight about these things. Or anything, really. His cool attitude was like his shoes: although Adam wasn’t expensively dressed, his shoes were a nice sort of casual, transcending normal tennis shoes without the douchey pretense. Indoor soccer shoes. Dylan had played soccer in grades two through five. She felt they had a connection already.
The bus arrived at the site of the dig. It was hot and dry. The students filed out of the bus. Adam looked at the barren landscape. This is no place for an organic farm, he thought.
Adam circled around to the back of the bus to help unload the equipment. Dylan noticed his ease in lifting the shovels, trowels, and sifter screens down from the bus, as if he were only lifting cardboard presentation boards. Once the bus had been unloaded, the students began to trek across the field to the excavation site.
“So do you do any sports, Adam?” Dylan asked conversationally, eyeing his shoes.
“I swim mostly,” Adam said. “I did ballet for a few years—to help with my swimming.”
“That’s very cool,” Dylan enthused.
Encouraged, Adam added, “Now I salsa dance when I have time.”
“I run. Cross country and track,” Dylan said.
“Nice,” Adam said.
Tumbleweeds, sparse trees, and dry grass littered the field. On the far side, a red rock cliff sat invitingly. The sun loomed overhead. As Dylan and Adam helped set up the grid site, the only thing they could think about were triangles and getting that perfect 90 degrees. The grid site was finished efficiently, and the students began a walking survey.
“I plan to go into organic farming,” Adam told Dylan.
“Wow!” Dylan knew nothing about organic farming. Dylan wanted to be a podiatrist.
“I’m very passionate about it,” he said. Dylan could tell that despite this passion, Adam was not a hippie; he was very cool about organic farming, and realistic. Suddenly Dylan too wanted to be an organic farmer. She wanted to grow sustainable vegetables, not handle other people’s feet. Dylan entertained the idea of her and Adam living on the farm, working together just like they were doing now at the anthropological dig.
The grid site was divided into squares, and each square was assigned to a student. Dylan and Adam’s squares were adjacent. They began to dig. Despite Adam’s contagious passion, Dylan realized that she actually didn’t want to be an organic farmer because she still didn’t know about organic farming.
Adam’s strong hands gripped the shovel convincingly. He made digging graceful, an art, something to appreciate. Adam and Dylan quickly found that their squares had nothing—there was just dirt. Because the other students were still working, they had some time to kill before going back to the bus. Adam looked up at Dylan, and their eyes met. A second passed, and in that time Adam saw the depth in Dylan’s milk-chocolate eyes, which made him think of well-fertilized dirt–perfect for growing delicate sugar snap peas or tomatoes. Adam smiled.
“Do you want to go look at the cliff over there?” he asked, gesturing to the cliff.
“Yes,” Dylan said, remembering Ms. Congeniality and the importance of “yes” to femininity. Adam seemed impressed.
“Alright,” he said. They began to walk over to the cliff, kicking up the dust as they went.
Besides the students and the bus, not another soul could be seen for miles around. Adam remembered the ecosystems he learned about in his first year biology class. An organic farm is like a mini-ecosystem, he mused. The job of the farmer is to keep it balanced and healthy.
When they got to the cliff, Dylan adventurously found a path that led up it. Adam followed right behind her, and they hiked up, having to climb occasionally.
“Wait!” Adam said suddenly.
“What?” Dylan turned around. Adam was right behind her.
“Let’s go in here,” Adam suggested, pointing to a dark, narrow passageway between the rocks that Dylan had missed.
Dylan wasn’t sure about it, but she didn’t want to appear weak. “Ok, why not?” She followed Adam into the crack.
It quickly got darker as the pair traveled deeper and deeper into the narrow void. Adam thought he heard the sound of water in the distance.
“Is that water?” Dylan asked.
“It sounds like it,” Adam replied.
Suddenly the sound got much louder. A dim light grew until Dylan and Adam stepped out into a small oasis, surrounded on all sides by the cliff walls. A waterfall poured down into a small, clear pond. Dylan looked at Adam. Adam looked at Dylan. Adam was reminded of dirt again.
“Do you want to see what it’s like behind the waterfall,” Adam said mysteriously. It wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” Dylan whispered. The pair walked to the waterfall, inching along close to the cliff in order to get behind it.
As they approached the edge of the waterfall, their anticipation rose. The water droplets began to dampen Adam’s dark, curly hair.
“I don’t think there’s anything back there,” Adam said cynically.
“We could go underneath the waterfall,” Dylan suggested playfully. “In the water.”
Adam was the type of person who was on top of his sh*t. He didn’t normally do things like go in waterfalls. But he did have a wild side: he didn’t wear a watch and used a shoulder bag rather than a backpack. So he said yes.
“Yes, let’s do it,” Adam said. They stepped out under the water.
“Wow,” Dylan said, noticing again Adam’s strong hands.
“I have a secret,” Adam said quietly, “and I need to tell someone.”
Dylan was all ears. She loved gossip. She also saw this as an opportunity to get closer to Adam. “What?” she asked.
“I once…” This was hard for Adam. Dylan moved closer to Adam, putting her hand comfortingly on his shoulder. “I once beat up my cousin so badly that he became disabled,” Adam continued, with increasing speed. “Everyone thinks he just fell, and we’ve told no one. Only my cousin and I know—and I guess now you, too.”
Dylan didn’t know what to say. “My, that is a deep dark secret,” she said. She thought about her own secret. Should she tell him? she wondered. “I have a secret too,” she decided.
“Gosh,” Adam said seriously. “Did you disable your cousin, too?”
“No, but it’s close.” Dylan looked down. “My mom…” Dylan trailed off.
“It’s ok,” Adam said. “It’s ok to tell me.” He stepped closer to Dylan. They were practically touching hips.
“My mom was dying, and I didn’t want to go to the hospital to see her,” Dylan began. “I was afraid of hospitals!” Dylan turned away. She said softly, “But now I regret it because she died and… I was old enough to go to the hospital. My family keeps reminding me of that.”
Adam put his hand on Dylan’s shoulder and turned her to face him. Dylan didn’t resist as he clutched her close to his leanly muscular chest. Adam looked down at Dylan. “Did you still want to go underneath the waterfall?”
Dylan, though her eyes were shiny, threatening to overflow with tears of anguish and regret, smiled. “Yes.”
Adam’s hands were still around Dylan as they both stepped to the left into the cool shower of the waterfall. Adam thought briefly of natural irrigation systems before he leaned down and kissed her.
Reader, think chimichanga when you picture this love scene: a tortilla of touch wrapped around a meat filling, deep-fried in emotion. The water fell down around Dylan and Adam, and the sweet flavor made their smooth and soft flesh special, a warm cheek touch contrasting with the cool mist. I’d cream his nut package, Dylan thought.
“I’ve realized something,” Adam said softly.
“What?” Dylan breathed.
“I really care about you.” Adam thought of his future, and his organic farm, and suddenly he could not picture it without Dylan. “Do you feel the same way? Would you like to go on a date later this week?”
She did care, and yet… Can she just put it in? “Yes,” she whispered.
“Smile, you tender fish,” Adam replied, smiling mischievously.
Adam harvested her moist muffin. Their favorite positions were extra loud, and the private honey oats bloomed from the spice pockets.
Epilogue: Dylan and Adam did not miss the bus back to school.