The fire at my back is only embers now. My clothes are smokey, and soot-stained. I can still taste the hot dog I just ate, and my fingers are marshmallow-sticky. I sit at the edge of the precipice, and look across at the temple on the mountain, and the radio towers on the opposite peak. Down below on the valley road I can see the headlights of a few passing cars. Could they see my fire? I wonder.
It's cold, so I get my sleeping bag from the tent, check the fire to make sure it's out. Almost- a few angry embers glare up at me when I stir the ashes. I lay on my back, and stare up at the big dipper. Around me the ridges of the mountain frame my view. It is so quiet. I am so alone.
I read my pocket New Testament by the dimming light of my flashlight. The batteries are dying- I tuck the book back into my backpack. 'It's dangerous!' My students warned me, when I told them where I was camping. 'Dangerous? How?' I asked, 'There aren't any bears, or anything.' 'Well, there are thieves and bad men.' And they tell me urban legends of past campers attacked here. I look down the mountain at the steep trail up here and laugh. No, I won't worry about that tonight.
-Later, in my tent, in and out of sleep. Time is marked by the indiglo of my Timex. Noises: a wild chicken squaking in the bushes, tree branches scraping against the tent sides. Wind. Then slowly I see the tent getting lighter, and I know dawn is here. Before it is full daylight, I am gone. I glance back once at the plateau, where I've been. Then I slide down the scree to the valley road, with backpack and sooty clothes, to face the morning joggers' suspicious looks.