When she finally discovered the little tent, she said, "Oooo!" and "So cute." The football-sized bundle had sat on their side porch for a week — completely forgotten during the silly spat about the mounted deer head he'd picked up for a song at the same garage sale. She'd said, "Oh!" and "That poor, dear beast!" and nothing at all about "cute."

Eventually, by himself, he carefully hung the trophy head in their unfinished garage attic. Eventually, he remembered the bundle on the porch, and together they spread it out and assembled it on the back lawn beside their falling-down shed. Without the aid of instructions, they puzzled over the folds of Egyptian cotton and telescoping aluminium pole, the cords and wire pegs. "This must go here!" "I bet these are for the door." Between the two of them, it bloomed with their excitement into a more or less pyramid. Prim, she thought. Tidy. He noted how such a huge space could be created from such a small bundle. "Five feet tall," she said, drawing a line from the top of her head to its peak. "Cozy," she said. Mmmm, they thought together.

When he'd bought it, he was dreaming of how it could be paddled and portaged into wilderness in quest of his own prize ungulate or some large trout jumping off a plywood oval. He'd never done any hunting or fishing—not yet. The spat about the disembodied five-point buck, however, cooled his rifle-buying, worm-digging ardour. He thought those things could wait until their marriage settled. "Settled" was the word he used—but, of course, not the word he said aloud.

In the meantime, they took the tent in the trunk of their used Taurus to provincial parks in the north and the east and west. They bumped their heads, elbows and heels on the sides of the tent while they made love in the evenings. "We'll need a larger tent when we have children," she said. "When the time comes," he said. "When we're ready," she said. When the marriage has settled, he thought. "When we can afford children," he said. She said nothing at all to that, but she remembered how, when it rained, the tent leaked wherever its sides were bumped.

The marriage did not settle, however, and after a series of progressively unpleasant arguments and infidelities, the couple decided to part company—the tent being packed hastily into a box of tools on the day he moved out. He, of course, as a part of his new life, did purchase a fishing rod and did enjoy using the tent when he ventured out to kill worms and minnows in the vain attempt to produce a fish worthy of taxidermy. She, of course, remembered the tent fondly, how they'd practiced so diligently for that day they might, but never did, attempt to produce children.

It came to pass almost two years after they'd separated, they met by accident on a downtown street in the city where they both still lived, and over lunch the subject of the tent came up again. They both smiled. They both confessed how unhappy they'd been since they'd stopped bumping their heads and elbows and heels against the Egyptian cotton, and they agreed it might be interesting to take the tent out on the whim of the moment, out for one final spin in some park.

It was there, in the semi-wilderness, they discovered how very small it actually was.

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