Excerpt 145


Danno drove slowly, letting other cars pass them on both sides of the road.  Ala held tightly to his arm, slightly squeezing it every time she thought about bringing up the wallet.

“I feel better,” she said.

“So do I.  You look better,” he said, gently rubbing her knuckles with his thumb, sending shivers down her spine.  “We should buy some boots at the airport.  For hiking.”

“Do they sell them there?” She asked.

“I’m sure.  They have everything else you could need. You’ll also have to teach me about all of the poisonous plants and trees to avoid.”

Ala tried to recall the books she had read about Burma.  When she first became infatuated with the idea of a visit, she had chosen the books on a romantic whim, rather than practical preparation. Sitting in a dust ridden hidden corner or the library, she had paged through each volume, running her fingers over the pictures printed on the old paper, smiling.  The more severe the argument with Jase was, the more seriously she studied the text.

She learned about arrow poisons and gloriosa root. She had chosen a wardrobe from a catalogue fit for hiking through the jungle toward the love temple.  It was important to wear sturdy soled shoes, but not anything that could be destructive to the land.  All of the clothes she had with her now were frilly and pretty, meant for a summer filled with parties and boat rides.  She would have to wear layers until they could find proper gear.

“We still haven’t eaten.  Is the club okay?”

“Fine,” Ala said. Danno cared a lot more about the kind of food he ate than she did.  Her parents had always ordered out when they were home.  Neither could use a microwave properly.  Prime rib was a favorite, along with buttered noodles for Ala.  It was the only dish she wanted to eat because meat and onions terrified her.  Her parents never pushed her to try anything else.

Danno reached into his suit pocket and pulled out an envelope.

“This was in the mailbox,” he said, handing it to her.

She felt the grain of the thick ecru paper that she remembered to be Emmanuel’s stationary.  It matched the envelope from the letter he had given her which proposed the summer housesitting job. She put it inside of her purse.  It was important to relax before the flight.  If she were to have another outburst, Danno would not let her anywhere near the plane.

He pulled over on the shoulder before the airport entrance.  A car pulled up and dropped off a man with shiny shoes and teeth.  He approached the driver’s side.

“Hello.”

Danno stepped out and opened the trunk.  The man stepped aside and twitched slightly.  His head moved back and forth rhythm Ala only noticed because she was staring. She let herself out of the car and hurried over and he placed all of their luggage on the curb.

“What is going on?” She asked.

“Give me a minute,” Danno said in a voice that wanted to yell at her, but held back.  He closed the trunk and tossed the keys to the man. Then, he opened the door to the other car and gestured for her to climb inside.

Rainbow was behind the wheel and nodded in the rearview mirror.  Danno climbed in and tapped Rainbow on the shoulder.  He started driving and turned on the radio.

“I sold the car,” Danno said.

“What?  Why?”

“Airfare,” he said.

She had forgotten to take money into account.  It was the reason she hadn’t gone to the temple sooner.  Now she believed she hadn’t gone so that she could meet him.  Still though, she knew he had a lot more money than what the car cost.  The sinfully beautiful car that he could have had many of for all she knew.  She didn’t know if the car meant anything to him, but it meant a lot to her.

He smiled and looked out the window.  He was happy about the transaction.  She nestled into the nook of his arm and took a deep breath.  He wasn’t attached to things like she was.  He was used to moving on.

Rainbow pulled into the drop off lane at departures.

“Bye,” she said.  He nodded.  Danno got out without saying anything. An attendant came over with a rolling cart and loaded their bags onto the deck.  The wheels squeaked and made her very nervous, like everyone was going to notice them and know they were trying to get out of the country.

The airport was very crowded for it not being a holiday weekend.  The line for security was wrapped around three cues.  There were suitcases stacked on trunks and strollers used for random bags and children clung to their parents legs.

“You don’t look so good,” Danno said, his face nearly losing color.  “Go sit down. I’ll get our tickets.”

Ala pulled out her compact mirror.  Her face was deep red, almost resembling a rash.  Her feet barely moved forward.  She had to find a way to calm down. This trip was what she had wanted.  This was the reason she took the job. She made her way over to a scratched plastic chair and sunk into it.  She watched families and business men pass by, nearly colliding into each other from opposite directions.  No one seemed to look where they were going.  Her hands shook as she reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope.

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