Annie didn’t even like geocaching. She never complained, but Arthur knew that she wasn’t really into it. He was sure she would have been perfectly happy if Arthur had suddenly decided to abandon his hobby and stay home, but every time he reassured her he was ok with her staying behind, she told him she wanted to go. It was more about being with him, she said. And the closer Annie’s deployment date had become, the more they had craved time together.
Annie was right. They’d needed every moment that they’d spent together.
Afterward, Arthur had found himself thinking differently about geocaching. Before, he’d been doing it for fun, but now he did it for Annie. It was no longer about following coordinates, uncovering secret stashes, or going to interesting places. It was about doing something that he’d always done with Annie. It was about keeping that small part of her alive, and maybe keeping himself sane.
In April, Arthur found a note in Annie’s handwriting. A set of coordinates, nothing more. Arthur looked up the coordinates and found that they led to a isolated part of the nearby coast. Out of habit, Arthur searched the public geocache listings to see if anything was hidden there. Nothing, as far as he could tell.
Arthur checked the time. Plenty of daylight left in the day. He drove out to the beach, parked, and then walked to where the coordinates led. When he arrived at his destination, he saw a huge piece of driftwood–really more of a small tree. Arthur circled the tree, inspecting the twisted trunk and thick branches, until he caught sight of it.
Up in a hollow about 10 feet off the ground was something squarish. The corner of some sort of container.
Was that…a geocache? And if so, had Annie hidden it here? Really? Annie, of all people? Arthur had to know. He climbed the piece of driftwood and crawled along a branch until he was within reach of the hollow. Sure enough, it was a small plastic box. Arthur reached in and pulled out the box.
Written on the lid of the box, also in Annie’s handwriting, was “PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE.” Arthur opened the box and looked inside.
Arthur spent a long time looking at the contents, then slowly, he replaced the lid. Arthur understood now. This was for him. He had found hundreds of geocaches listed on the Internet for everyone to see and attempt to find, but this one was for him alone. No one else would ever see this set of coordinates. No one else would find this secret. Annie had done this just for Arthur.
Arthur sat on the branch until sunset and stared out into the sea, clutching Annie’s only geocache between his hands.