This story is by Julie Grenness and was part of our 2017 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Connie and Johnny were feeling their new found love. They had fallen in
love in their Autumn days. This was their time of life, over sixty, and in their
golden age. But, there they were, hot, perspiring, annoyed, trapped behind
three caravans in sequence, traipsing along a highway. A neverending
carmageddon, seemingly going nowhere in particular.
Connie was a respectable sixty year old divorcee, all water under the
bridge. Her adult children had moved out of home, off her hands at last, the
empty nest. Connie kept herself fit, but she was slightly chubby. Her hair was
greying blond, sleek, her couture appropriate but smart. Connie was only of
average height, but smiled at everyone she met, and impressed with her
Connie had, one afternoon, joined an online cyber dating website for
seniors. Johnny had approached her, they had emailed, chatted on the phone,
and finally encountered the dreaded, but compulsory, coffee chats. There flew
‘sparks’, that umbrella term for attraction. Yes, they fancied each other.
Johnny was taller, a retired professional, an affable and genial guy, slightly
bald, and paunchy. After several ‘dates’, he convinced Connie of his true
affection. They needed ‘to grow old disgracefully’, according to Johnny.
“Listen,” said Connie, I wrote you a poem…”
“OUR GOLDEN AGE.”
An ode for baby boomers today,
These are our golden days,
Over-sixties in our third age,
We’re sixty shades of senile and grey,
Either old, or fat, or grey,
Or men looking like Sinead,
Gravity has won along the way,
But, we’re optimists, let’s say,
Our folks had no T.V., and no pill,
That’s why we’re here, no dills,
Did we really stop a war?
Or was it media driven at all?
But, hey, we do it our way,
Let’s all kick butt today,
In this, our third age,
Over-sixties in our golden age!
Six hours later, flustered and bothered, Connie and Johnny,
accompanied by his terrier, Bubbles, (a boy), had arrived. They really felt true
love as they attempted to establish their camp site in the gloom. The weather
was muggy, swearing was heard to be said.
This was it, a holiday in the golden days of Fall, for Autumn love.
Unfortunately, when the tent was half-erected, (Connie’s inner pun), Johnny
sank into a camp chair. He groaned profusely and vigorously, sweat pouring
down his now florid face.
“You’ll have to finish this! My back is aching!”
“Oh, great,…” Connie said.
Never being a quitter, trying to ignore Johnny’s loud commands, Connie
persevered with tent erection. (Again, a wry grin. Connie had a slightly bizarre
sense of humour).
Johnny sat in his chair, sipping a tinnie of beer, while Connie at last
completed tent construction. She was just securing the last guy rope, when she
“Great, I’m falling in love.”
“Never mind,” said Johnny, “the tent is up!”
Finally! Johnny masterfully connected the power and water.
“Lucky we’ve got the best site in the caravan park,” he grinned, “right next to
the river. Time to feel the love….”
Connie refrained from asking him about his bad back. She was really
feeling this falling in love, as mosquitoes clustered and plunged each proboscis
into her sensitive well maintained skin. Connie had forgotten to pack insect
repellent. She sauntered off to the ablution facilities to freshen up, change into
night attire for their evening of sensuality and intimacy, anticipating the
passion and romance awaiting her.
“Gross!” muttered Connie, but she managed. Connie strolled, returning to the
tent, with her armed escort of blood sucking insects. Loud music suddenly
blared from the next tent, it was a party hearty fun and funky boozy weekend
for the young bucks next to Johnny and Connie’s love tryst.
A casual cup of tea, a snack, then wine was poured. They kissed, groping,
heavy breathing. Connie was developing a migraine from the pounding bass of
the young heart throbs’ karaoke, only a couple of metres away.
Johnny doused the lights, and guided Connie to their double sleeping bag.
“Feel the love.” he whispered, and after a few intimate moments, promptly fell
asleep, snoring raucously. Connie had also forgotten her earplugs. Connie was
underwhelmed by this pent up passion.
“I could have done better myself.”
Awake all night, bitten by feral tiny insects, and listening to the party
next door. By five am, Connie was feeling the love, Johnny was still snoring, her
backs and hips were aching from reclining on the ground all night, unthrilled by
“Time to get up and make a cup of tea, breakfast, anything.” Connie
muttered. Bubbles had left a doggy surprise, Connie really felt real love for her
new fur friend, as she trod in it with her bare feet. It was exactly at that
minute, that the heavy, muggy weather erupted into fierce lightning, a
cloudburst of drenching rain, the loudest, scariest thunder Connie had ever
Connie felt the familiar twinge of cystitis, a bladder infection. She had
to gird her loins and reach the toilet, blocked or not, in the dark, in all the
“This is feeling the love!”
Johnny kept on snoring on, as Connie realised she also had not packed a
raincoat, or decent footwear.
Connie turned on the overhead light. She capably wiped the doggy
surprise from the foot, aiming to have at least a cup of tea. But she had cystitis.
The boys next door were blearily welcoming the day with more of their all
night fiesta. Connie now had a total migraine.
“So, this is camping,” Connie pondered, “I feel the love.” Right then, there was
a massive thunderclap, rain descended even heavier, the power went off, and
the tent started leaking.
“Could this get worse?” Connie wondered, as Johnny kept on snoring on.
“Yes!” Bubbles, was terrified by the thunder, like most canines. He burrowed
under the door flap, and disappeared, never to be seen again.
“I am so not feeling much love here,” Connie decided. Now there would be no
cup of tea, and no little doggy for Johnny or Connie.
“Brilliant,” thought Connie, “now I’ve lost his precious dog. Why aren’t I at
home in my soft cosy bed, with interior plumbing, no loud music, and no
Now Connie had to get to the toilet pronto. Burning. Youch! Manfully
and bravely, Connie located a functional torch, and attempted to reach the
ablution block in time.
“Made it! What a stench! Best not look.”
The campsite was sodden, the pouring rain was now flowing like little
channels, right through the riverside camp. Connie reached their tent,
saturated, really not feeling much love for Johnny or his passionate and
romantic camping weekend of tactile trysts. Was this to fall in love? Had she
fallen out of love?
Johnny had been awoken by a leak in the tent roof, right above their
sleeping bag, thoroughly damp and moist.
“Is Bubbles with you? Any tea here? Bloody music, didn’t sleep all night!”
Connie didn’t know how to respond, flabbergasted. Half an hour later, Johnny
and Connie were not having a deep and meaningful relationship, feeling not
The music kept thumping, the rain kept descending, Bubbles, the dog,
was gone forever, there was no power, and no toast or tea. The camping
ground manager appeared at their tent’s doorway, grim-faced.
“Good news, happy campers, there’s a flash flood heading down river, be here
in an hour’s time. God’s going to float us all away. Best pack up your gear and
get out of here. Have a good weekend.”
Johnny’s vivid vocabulary was very enriched, Connie decided, by now,
really not feeling much love for Johnny, camping, hot passion, intimacy, or the
bush where there was no doctor or chemist for her lady’s ‘issues’.
Swelling river water, the gloomy downpour, the thunderstorm, no
Bubbles, speedy dismantling of their tent of tryst.
“Funster guy,” Connie muttered to herself, “Best not so converse.” Silence was
best option. Tight-lipped, drenched and saturated, Johnny and Connie joined
the exiting campers, as the floods were submerging their camping ground of
“What a non-event,” Connie concluded, thankful to be heading home. Johnny
was still whinging and snivelling, Connie had switched off, no longer feeling
love, only a desperate desire for indoor plumbing, a hot shower, dry clothes,
sleep and a cup of tea!”
Ultimately, finally, and thankfully, Connie was dropped off at her front
door by Johnny, whom she did not invite her parlour.
“Creep!” she yelled. Connie attended to her most urgent needs first, then rang
a locum doctor to attend her, then her nearby married daughter to get some
medicine from the 24 hour chemist.
Some hours later, Connie was in her own (dry), cosy bed, she was
alone, she had healing medicine, she had several cups of tea, she had no
Johnny, she was never going camping again. Bliss, sliding into slumber, smiling,
“Now I feel the love for my bed. I’ve fallen in love in Autumn, now I’ve fallen
out of love. These are my golden years. Creep!”