The anonymous postcards had been arriving for months.
They weren’t strictly postcards. Short scribbled notes, hastily written in the shiny white frame around the back of a polaroid.
Today’s note said: “You’d rather be here.”
I turned the polaroid over, holding its white borders in two hands as I stared at the image. A waterfall plunged into a sapphire pool, lazy palm trees dotted on its grassy banks.
Whoever wrote it was right. I would rather be there.
Part 1 of 5
I laid on our tattered two seater couch, looking out the only window of our tiny apartment. The air was hot and still. Outside, sharp blue slashes of light criss-crossed the artificial sky like a vast, LED-powered fishing net. Tiny beads of sweat pricked my forearm. I wiped them off as I checked my watch.
5:25pm — just in time.
I settled back into the sofa and put my hands behind my head and the lights began to phase. Sharp blue dimmed into a light silver, barely visible on the underside surface of the leaden dome some six-hundred feet above the city. To my right, our TV faded into outline and the rest of the apartment sank into monochrome darkness. I sat up, pulled the gauzy curtain aside to let in more light and lay back down. Fine golden lines appeared and traced each silver thread, softly glowing as they grew in intensity, gradually emitting a warm yellow light. The apartment glowed golden as the lights stabilised.
And then, it was officially night time.
The deck shudders under my feet as the hull of the ferry slams against another wave. Neesha squeezes my hand. Out the window, the rain-blurred horizon pitches at wild angles. My stomach rolls in a different direction.
We are sitting at the back end on the lower deck of small ferry taking us from Lanta Island to Phuket. This is apparently the best location to minimise sea sickness, but the number of green-hued faces around us say otherwise.
The engine hums as it pushes us through waves too big for the boat. The smell of Gasoline fills the air.
We crash into another wave and the deck shakes against my shoes. The troop of cocky lads from London, who’d boarded with their caps on backwards and swaggered right to the front of the boat, stop laughing and put on life jackets.
Authors Note: this is a short piece of fiction written as an exercise in narrative distance.
Tom and Susan stood silently on the well-manicured lawn, looking at a bed of white lilies.
Beams of light from the patio lamps stretched across the lawn and made the flowers look like little stars. A small trowel stood upright in the loose soil, its red handle peeking up, and next to the flower bed, five small, empty flower pots were stacked. A portable sprinkler clicked in tight arcs over the lilies, spitting threads of water that sparkled in the faint light.
Tom held a glass of white wine is his right hand and the glass sweated in the warm summer night. He lifted his left hand and cupped it around his ear. “Can you hear that?”
The man sitting to the right of Neesh catches my eye and smiles. His round, friendly face is flushed pink with alcohol and sweat beads on his upper lip. I’m thankful it’s not just me that’s sweating bullets in this humidity.
I smile and nod toward him, lean forward in a micro-bow. “Konnichiwa.” Hello.
He bows in return and asks, “Konnichiwa… Nihongo?” Hello… you speak japanese? His eyebrows rise halfway up his forehead and his smile broadens.
“Iie,” I say, No, holding my thumb and forefinger close together in front of my face. “Sekoshi.” A little.
He says something else in Japanese.
“Sumimasen, Wakarimasen” Sorry, I don’t understand.
The sidewalks of Shinjuku glisten in the lightly insistent rain. We’re on the side of a major road, rain jackets zipped and hoods over our heads, huddling under an umbrella that shakes in the occasional gusts of wind. To our left, a concrete building rises up, festooned with colourful signs of smiling cats, smiling women, cartoonish noodle bowls and line after line of Japanese script.
We are lost and in search of sake.
It’s about 7pm in Shibuya, Tokyo and we’ve navigated to a recommended Izakaya, a Japanese-style pub. We take our shoes off at the door. Deliciously cool air conditioning asserts itself over the humid heat lingering by the door. The indistinguishable hum of a handful of conversations emanates from the next room. Glasses clink somewhere inside.
A slight Japanese woman welcomes us, smiling, and I hold up two fingers, saying “for two?”
“Hai,” she says, “dozou,” holding her palm out. Please come in.
We step up on the tatami mats, down a short hallway and around a corner and the Izakaya opens up.