Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Page 158 of my novel Afterglow Rain - The Rough Road to Rekong Peo

attraction only growing when I saw a film recording the path.
  – But there is more to it to Leila, isn’t it? Afterglow said casually. – She has longed for it, very much like a salmon moving up the river.
  – Yes! Leila breathed. – Yes!
  For once Janet had turned the table on her, but Leila didn’t care. She had her attention cast forward almost every single moment.
  – I guess the various portals have called me my entire life, she acknowledged. – I’ve always been restless, never truly settled in any brief-home. My boyfriend wanted to get married. I said yes, but decided on a whim to participate in the Sao Paulo triathlon instead. He got the message.
  – I remember, Stuart said. – You were far more excited than the rest of us. It was almost as if you suspected that you would never return.
  – As stated, I almost didn’t make it to the boat, Leila whispered, – but when I ran flat out in my desperate attempt to do that, it felt like the most important thing in my life.
  The drive started out normal enough, with the roads not being too bad, but they turned progressively worse the higher the old bus climbed. It started raining and the road resembled a stretch of mud, even though the ground didn’t turn that soft, not beyond a certain point. There were trees, trees with green leaves surrounding them. It felt totally out of place, but there it was.
  The driver hummed a melody. He couldn’t sing. Whatever came out of his mouth sounded totally out of tune. Afterglow still heard the music and her eyes grew distant again, and she started humming as well. The driver stopped and she continued. Leila joined in as well. They easily started singing in tune.
  It had stopped raining, and the ground was dry and dusty, and the valley was far down there, and the road didn’t exactly grow wider.
  – This is it, an excited Caphie cried from the back of the bus.
  They looked outside, and they felt like the bus could slide off the ridge at any time, imagining that they heard the sound of it doing that all the time. The road had literally been dug into the mountain, carved out of the rock. The dusty road was wide enough for one small bus exactly and that was it. Josie leaned out of the window and the vehicle threatened to tilt, and fall down, down into the vast ravine. Josie quickly returned inside.
  – Its reputation is more than justified, Leila shuddered.
  But her eyes glowed in excitement and anticipation.
  – Close the windows, Afterglow told them.
  After the road took a turn to the right, they spotted a small waterfall flooding the road, making the ground even more treacherous. The water splashed the roof and would have practically drowned them if the windows had remained open.
  They arrived at Rekong Peo, a city quite different from Shimla not long after noon. There were distinct traces of western influence here as well, but only traces,
advertising and such.
  – I will find lodging for us, Dipda said.
  Afterglow stopped her with a wave.

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