We're meant to be cleaning. The old house is thick with dust and jammed with clutter; in this bedroom you can barely reach the canopy bed and she soon stumbles over a stack of Daily Telegraph's from the 1970s.
"You're not wearing very sensible shoes," I point out,(more) gesturing to the red heels.
"I can take them off if you want," she says. I want to make a joke about that but my mouth has been sucked of saliva. She fumbles with the straps and then wiggles a free ankle. All her body is lithe, constantly in motion.
"I can't believe I'm spending a Saturday night doing this. Why are you here?"
"Same thing as you, placating your aunt." I'm shoving newspapers in a black bin bag, but in truth I'm not in too much hurry to leave.
"What's she got on you?"
I shrug. "Caught me knicking from her shop. This is how I'm paying her back."
"Hardcore," she says, only semi-sarcastic. "Jesus, I'm sweating already."
I look up, but I can't see any perspiration. She smells citrus clean and her hair sits undisturbed in a sleek mane down her back.
"I'm going to sit down," she carries on.
She parts the curtains surrounding the bed and I follow her in. It smells of mothballs but the feeling of being enclosed in the dark away from the rest of the world is delicious. There's something naughty about it, slacking off work in this secret enclosure, the same feeling as pinching sweets on a dare.
"You have newspaper ink on your nose," I tell her, squinting in the dark.
She is still for the first time. I do not breathe. I bring my fingers up to touch her skin, moving up to part her lips.(less)
It's raining in the early afternoon. Dense jungle teeming with life now soggy. I am alone here under a roof of sticks and straw.
But this is not a sad time, not for me. I love the rain and I love this temporary home. My gracious hosts will(more) be back soon from their daily hike. The smell of this food will reach them before they reach the hut. There is peace and simplicity out here, and there is now peace and simplicity within me. The jungle. The rain.
Dense woods put me in a dreamlike state. It's as though I wake up every day here on another planet, on a television screen image that surely cannot be real but is.
There is world to explore after all, and I could not be more thankful to my hosts for cooking and eating me in such a memorable environment.(less)
Sometimes, Emily Godwin wonders what Valca and Head would have made of modern vanships. It would be strange, she decides, for them to fly the Grand Stream without the wind whipping across their faces, without the roar in their ears promising threats of roiling thunder. She wonders if Valca(more) would've appreciated the shelter provided by a glass canopy, if only for Alvis Hamilton's sake, or whether Head would find security in a barrier between gravity and herself when Valca executes his signature turn...
She shook her head. No, they would have wanted to touch the sky with their fingertips, like the rain birds that crosses Prester's skies habitually. They would've wanted to be free and taste the clouds.(less)
The quarters are engulfed in shadow. I look from a window at the immense stretch of cobblestone I'll have to traverse in order to follow the instructions I was given.
Two things can make a large yard become immense: having to cross it unseen, and doing that unde(more)r a full Moon. It's still a few hours until sunrise, so this may actually be my best chance. I'll take it.
For the billionth time I ask myself why all the haste. Once more I have to remind myself I'm no good liar. Not the absolute truth type, because a Hand's words consist of what he's told to say, far from reality as it may be--as long as it fits the will of the Powers, that is. Inscrutable wisdom governs us all.
I know they'll see it right through my eyes, faster than they would should I choose to use words. Thus I rush so that I'm not killed before I can do something--so that I can do something before my guilt kills me.
Many doors open into the cold yard, half of them obscured in shadows. Not those on this side, as it happens. At least I can suppose this will read better in the stories, if I can make it that far. I'll have to take as many small consolations as I can get.
The skills I learned here help me unlock and open the front door without a rustle, but they didn't teach me how to be invisible. I must either hug the wall and let the whole plan balance on that, or just give up.
After a few steps that felt too many, I stop to rest under the shadow of a door canopy. I can't breathe.
Inscrutable wisdom governs us all. That part might actually be true.(less)
I sat in a hammock in the northwoods of Wisconsin.
Music was flowing through my headphones, mingling with the smoke swirling around the campsite. My immediate area was pierced by brilliant sunbeams, streaming down through an emerald canopy of ash and oak.
It was summer, I w(more)as 16, and I'll never forget it. Although I made sure I forgot what the music was!(less)
For anyone who has never been in the jungle, let me tell you that it is different than any other place in the world. The jungle is mysterious and magical, and holds secrets you would only find in your wildest dreams. Haven't you ever wondered why treasure hunters always(more) go deep into the forest to search for their treasure? Or why pirates always seem to dig up the most loot in an island with a jungle?
Many treasure hunters think that magic seeps from the ground and into the air, and the reason why jungles are magical is because the canopy of thick leaves holds it in just long enough for it to infect the air around it. The aroma of magic, they call it. It holds in the magic, and creates a tear in the normal fabric that is the rest of the world.
"I want to get out of here", you tell me, unblinking into white sun as we sit in your porch. The jeans you have hacked into shorts are unraveling a thread at a time and your cotton shirt pastes itself in an arc down your back. We are in(more) the middle of miles of desert scrub with no cover for miles, and I cannot imagine where you would possibly want to go.
You wipe a rivulet of sweat off your temple. "I'm tired of this town", you explain.
"Oh", I squint at you, still wondering why you would want to step out from under a shaded canopy into the sun-drenched world beyond.
A fly buzzes past. You dog opens one eye and then closes it again. I look at you as you look far beyond the world you've lived in all your life. Your eyes are glazing over the edge of the earth, and you've always told me there's a lot you can tell about a girl by where she looks on the horizon.
But I don't understand. To me, the world is an inscrutably large ocean and we are the most inconsequential beings in it. Too little to know who we are and what we look like. Too little to know what to eat or who to swim with. Too little to know how every fish in it turns.
I tell you all this and you laugh.
"Well, an ocean's better than this damn desert."(less)