Posts Tagged feet

Excerpt 146


Her nails scraped against the sealed flap as she looked around to make sure no one was watching her.  Everyone seemed to be concerned about the directions for boarding gates or taking items out of their suitcases to meet the approved weight for checking bags.

Ala thought about calling her parents to let them know she was leaving the country.  She was used to doing so even if she was only leaving the city, and couldn’t imagine their worry when they realized they had no idea where she was. This however, was before their hobby had taken such precedence in their lives.

If she called her parents, and they bothered to pick up the phone, they would try to stop her from getting on the flight. Her father would probably drive to the airport.  They would see Danno and would want to talk to him.  They would think he was trying to coerce her to leave the country.

The seating area was hot and she could feel the bottom of her feet sticking to the leather in her sandals.  She loosened the straps, took them off and stretched her toes.  She ripped the edge of the envelope open slowly.

“Ms.?”

She looked up and saw a security guard towering over her.  He wore a hat that was too small for his head and had a radio in his hand ready to notify someone if he needed help.

“Yes?”

“I have to ask that you put your shoes back on.”

“Why?” She said.

“Well, it’s a public area. And shoes are required for sanitation reasons.”

Ala looked past him at a young woman changing a baby’s diaper on the floor.  A man next to her was sleeping with a stream of drool dripping onto his shirt.  Another man ate from a cardboard container and picked at his ear. It was hard to believe that she could be singled out as being the most disruptive out of these people.

“What about them?” She said, pointing at the group.

“What about them?” He said, shifting his weight, growing impatient.

“They’re clearly not taking sanitation into account.”

“They all have shoes on.”

“You mean to tell me that I can wipe up shit in the middle of this sea of people, but I can’t take my shoes off for a minute?  Even though I’ll have to take them off for security?”  She heard her voice getting sharper.

“Yes,” he said, smiling. His teeth were brown around the gum line and it bothered her. She didn’t like taking criticism from people whom were themselves making the same mistakes. She had always had difficulty with supervisors that she didn’t feel matched her intelligence. Now it made her furious that a man was referring to her as unpolished, when he himself seemed to have poor hygiene habits.

She picked up one of the sandals and stood. Her intention was to smack him across the face with the dirty sole.

“Is there a problem?” Danno said, approaching with the boarding passes.

“Yes.  He won’t let me take my shoes off for a minute even though all of those foul people over there are doing whatever they want.” This she said too loudly and summoned several dirt looks.

Danno smiled at the guard and gently removed the sandal from her hand.  Dropping it to the ground, he said, “Do me a favor and put you shoes on.”

“Why?” She said, knowing that she would be putting them back on, but feeling ashamed that the security guard was going to get his way.

“So we can get on with the trip. Come on. Just do it. Please.”

She rolled her eyes at the guard and sat back down.  Danno nodded at him as he strutted away.  Ala nearly broke one strap by tugging it roughly across her foot. She straightened her dress and swung her purse over her shoulder.

“I got our tickets. There’s only one issue.  We couldn’t get on the same connecting flight from Seoul,” he said.

“Oh really?” She said, deflated.

“You’ll get there before I do.”

“How long will we be apart?”

“About twelve hours.  We’ll be so exhausted at that point, you’ll barely notice. I did my best.”

“I know. Thank you,” she said.

“We are carrying on, so security should be quick.”

She followed him into the snaking line and waited, making sure she did not make eye contact with anyone.

“And how are you today?” A man checking their tickets asked.

“We’re fine, thanks,” Danno said before Ala could respond.  She could tell he felt like she was yanking him into the quicksand with her.  She wouldn’t be surprised if he tried to drug her before they boarded the plane to avoid any confrontations.

They found a table by the window in the club cafe.  The glass slanted forward enough to be able to see planes taking off.  The linens and china were elegant and Ala felt under dressed.  She put on a pair of sunglasses and arranged her hair so that she had more of a side part.

Danno ordered a bottle of white wine for them since it was so hot and a platter of oysters.  Ala worried that her stomach would turn if she had only that before flying and decided to order a chicken salad as well.

“Are you excited?” He said, beaming at her. Among her anxiety, she had forgotten how much she looked forward to spending each day with him.

“I can’t wait to get there,” she said.

“What’s the first thing you want to do?”

“Meet you at your gate.”

“And after that?”

“Visit the Bogyoke Market and buy hats.”

“That’s a great idea.  I read that it’s common for scalps to start frying within the first hour.”

“The book used the term “scalps frying?”

“Of course. Crouton?” He dangled his fork in front of her face.

“No thank you,” she laughed. “But what are you going to do while we’re apart?”

“Work, no doubt.”

“From Asia?”

“Of course.  I used to work out of Guyana years ago.”

“Don’t you think you’ll want a new job?” She said, toying with the hard boiled egg on her plate.

“Well sure, but not until I learn Burmese.”

“What about working in tourism?” She said.  He placed his hand over hers on the table.

“Believe me, you won’t want me to have a different job.  No one will bother us. That’s the beauty of working remotely.”

“Alright,” she said, finishing her wine. He leaned across the table and kissed her.

They lingered at the magazine stand so that they wouldn’t have to pace around the gate.  Ala bought several books and a large blanket.  Danno bought cough drops and a neck pillow.

“My throat always hurts during plane rides.”

“Maybe they’ll serve some nice warm fish soup to soothe you.”

He grabbed her and, pinning her arms to her sides, blew against her neck.

“Stop!” She squealed.

The cashier rolled her eyes as she handed them the bags.

The first six rows of the plane were empty and Ala hoped the stewardess would permit them to move up to first class, even though it was unlikely.  She settled into her window seat as Danno tucked the blanket around her legs.  Takeoff was smooth and the few people on the flight were quiet. Ala drank ginger ale to settle her stomach and was soon asleep.

Waking up, she looked at the black sky out the window.  She liked the idea of flying over the ocean at night, of being midair in the pitch black. Danno was asleep next to her and she was wide-awake. She wanted to wake him and pull him into the bathroom after her, something she had never done. She felt like a restless honeymooner.

A subtitled movie hummed from the screen in front of them but she had no interest.  She took one of the new books from the bag and into page three her eyes began to burn. She took her purse from under her seat and found her lip balm. Applying it, she saw the envelope and took it out.  She finished opening the flap and unfolded the pages.

 

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segment 49


Ala clasped her hand to her mouth and slowly backed out of the scene.  She felt nauseous and tried to breathe deeply.  She had never smelled rotting food in the heat before.  She had never seen such a mess left unattended, especially at the Neely’s.  They were meticulous, as far as she had seen.

She ran all the way down to the end of her street and onto the sand path.  She was panting heavily, but kept going.  She could feel her feet burning through her shoes and socks from the dry scorched sand.  What kind of people do not clean up after a party?  It wasn’t as if this was college and she lived in the dorms.  Her neighborhood was one of the most desired to live in.  All of the men were professionals of some kind.  Most of the women didn’t work because there was already so much wealth.  Things really had changed since she had been gone.  Part of her was surprised she even cared and another part was afraid that because she did care, it bothered her that she didn’t know the whole story.

Ala stopped when she reached the ocean and watched the waves break for awhile.  She wanted to dip her head in the white foam, but thought of her skin drying and cracking on the way back home.  She approached some driftwood and sat down on it.  She had found herself avoiding any and all romantic areas where she would think of jase.  She didn’t want to be reminded of how it felt to hold someone’s hand or nustle someone’s neck.  They had visited the beach often. Jase’s family had many boats and all of their vacations were focused around water.  Ala adored the outings and the crab boils and the sparklers in the tall grass.  She had complete y drank in her life with him, lost sight of herself in her own future, because she was so sure about his.

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segment 48


She read the last two sentences several times.  She wondered if he meant ten thousand American dollars and if he realized what he was actually offering.  Ten thousand dollars to water some plants sounded ridiculous.  She could never accept this offer with a clear conscious.  She laughed to herself and turned the light off.  Burrowing under the covers, something sharp scratched her leg.  Alarmed, she sat up and turned the light back on.  She tore off the blanket and recognized the book about the healing temple that she had brought home from the library, which now seemed like days ago now.  She opened it and took a look at the map again.  Maybe taking a pill before the flight would make it manageable. She thought about this while drifting off.

Ala woke up before six and decided to go running.  The sun was out already and pouring into her stuffy bedroom. It seemed that no matter where she went this morning she would be hot, so better to burn calories.  She dug her running shoes out of one of the boxes marked “miscellaneous” and stuffed her swollen feet into them.  Her parents bedroom door was closed and she tiptoed down the stairs quietly. Filling her water bottle, she heard a buzzing sound coming through the window screen.  She looked in the backyard and saw nothing out of the ordinary, yet the buzzing persisted.  She tried to follow the direction it was coming from, which seemed to be the Neely’s yard next door.  She pushed on the gate and it swung open.  The buzzing got louder and she nearly stumbled at what she saw in front of her.  Glasses and plates were strewn throughout the yard.  The grill was left open, pieces of shrunken pineapple left on the grate.  Wadded up napkins covered the deck. A large swarm of flies floated above a platter of black congealed guacamole.

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