Sleeping underneath the rain

I met Elaine, a girl from Smith, backpacking through Uluru. She was the only other American besides my fiance and I in our small tour group consisting of 7 Germans, 2 Koreans, and a very large Canadian.

It was so hot that evening no one could fall asleep, so we sat around talking for a while. It started raining phantom rain drops as the sun-scorched earth drank in the rain immediately so you could barely tell the difference between a spot where it had just rained and the areas around it.

“Here’s to a lovely night sleeping underneath the rain” I muttered underneath my breath.

Elaine sensed the disappointment in my voice but pretended not to notice. She swept her shoulder length blonde hair behind her ears as she began to unroll her swag.

“So what are you doing in Australia?” I turned towards her, still trying to figure out how to sleep comfortably on the ground while repositioning the head flap of the swag so that the rain drops weren’t hitting my face.

“I’m here on a year long work visa.” She replied.

“Oh, cool” I said automatically as I usually say when I have nothing interesting to say to keep the conversation going. She didn’t seem to notice.

“I just finished working at a ranch in Queensland. I’m taking a week off to travel.” She continued on. “I was working there for 6 months. The guy who owns the ranch was a total dickhead. People who’ve worked with him before told me they were surprised I stayed for so long.”

She paused just long enough to entertain what seemed to be an unfinished thought but then quickly turned to me to asks me what brought me here.

“I’m here on vacation with my Fiance for three weeks.” I said.

“Oh, so is this the pre-honeymoon?” She joked.

“haha, sort of.” I cringed a little thinking of the three other vacations that could have also qualified as pre-honeymoons we’ve taken since getting engaged.

The rest of the conversation was about the places we’ve visited in Australia and places that we’d like to go. Then the rain stopped and I let out an involuntary yawn. We had to wake up early the next day to catch the sunrise on Uluru.

That night I had a dream about that movie where a young woman goes on trek across the Australian desert with four camels and her dog. Instead in the dream I was the girl and my dress gets tangled up causing me to fall every time I took a step forward. The camels laugh at me and move on. I try to send my dog out for help but he is no where to be found. I end up screaming for help.

“Alice, are you ok?” Jack asked as he shook my shoulders.


It was another nightmare and I could now hear people turning uneasily in their sleeping bags.

“Is everything alright?” The guide called out from the other side of the camp.

“Yeah, I’m alright! Just had a… bad dream… haha” I yelled back from the confines of my swag cave.

What a freak.

I slowly unzipped my sleeping bag, kicked the heavy canvas away, and breathed in the red, dusty air beneath me. I slept the rest of the night with the rain gently pitter pattering against my sweat soaked skin.