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Laura A.

Each summer, Chris and I travel up to the very northern tip of Maine, where his late father's family lives. This year, Chris set up the trip so that we flew into Portland and then rented a car to drive the further five hours north. Our only goal was to stop at Mt. Katahdin, the site of a meaningful camping trip Chris had taken with his dad before his passing, and go for a hike. We took a leisurely route along the coast, stopping in quaint fishing villages along the way for lobster rolls and souvenir shopping. By the time we reached Mt. Katahdin, it was drizzling and growing dusky, and the park ranger told us we couldn't go up the mountain. I looked at Chris, distraught. I knew he'd really been looking forward to showing me the mountain. However, he didn't lose his cool and instead parked the car and suggested we take an abbreviated hike down Cranberry Pond Trail. We donned our rain jackets but not, unfortunately, sensible footwear, and we headed down the marshy trail in our flip-flops. Within seconds, we were surrounded by tiny black flies that were miniscule but voracious. Swatting at any inch of exposed skin, we gamely continued down the trail. After about three quarters of a mile, I protested weakly, "Okay, let's go back." Chris agreed.

We turned around, walked and then ran back up the trail, leaping over slippery wet stones in the path and miraculously not breaking our ankles. We came to the bend in the path that dipped near the water. Tall trees grew on the pine-needle covered slope. "Babe, let's just stop and look at the water," Chris said, departing from the trail. Two miracles were happening at that moment: 1) I still didn't suspect anything and 2) I didn't snap at Chris despite the swarm of black flies that ordinarily would have caused me to say, "I think I'm just going to get back in the car." Instead, I thought to myself, "This spot is important to Chris because of his dad," and I followed him down to the water. "You know I love you very much," he began, and I started to cry in disbelief and joy. He got down on one knee. Through my tears of happiness, I saw one of the cursed flies land on his forehead, and I swatted at it. Chris is probably the only man in the world who had his fiancée swing at his face during his proposal! All I remember thinking was, "How dare that bug try to bite my sweetheart!" We took one teary, arm-held-out photo of the two of us with the pine trees and the water in the background and then ran for the car. We drove to the nearest gas station, called our families and stocked up on calamine lotion.

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