Second Person: Day 16 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story from the second person point of view. I am using the story from yesterday as the base to explore point of view.
——
You can’t believe how few tourists are here. It’s the rainy season and a Sunday, but this place is … is like finding Eden that you know it should be overrun with young white people (mostly Aussies and Americans) searching for themselves and running away from their real lives. You and your friend laugh of the stresses of jobs and tragedy that brought you here.

She’s smiling and directing your attention to the half-naked men jumping off of boulders into water and resurfacing to ask for a smile with an “eh eh” from the girl with the tattooed bows and stockings on her legs. She smirks and huffs through her nose. You and your friend turn away to laugh.

Some ex-army guy tries to chat you both up, hedging his bets, and that is the cue for her to declare snacktime. The waterfalls could hold you forever if humanity didn’t need to intrude.

You eye the start of trail up to the overlook.

“Wanna eat up at the top?” She slings her bag over her shoulder.

“Let’s do it.” You grab the water bottle, leave your bag to grab on the way out.

Her thighs easily handle the climb; yours have turned into little whiners. You just keep moving; you can deal with the pain tomorrow. She asks too often if you are okay.

The view at the top is worth the ache in your knees and quads. The landscape hugs you from up here, and the people below are visible only in movement. You dangle your feet into the altitude and wrap your arms casually around the wooden slates at your chest. Toes clench sandals as you swing your feet.

She hands you a tortilla with the avocado already spread on it and then a napkin before making her own. The only sounds as you eat are wind around your hair and the birds singing, keeping experience as rich as possible.

Fewer voices float up. She looks at her watch and breaks the trance.

“We should probably head down.”

“Yeah.” A round of clean up and pictures, and it’s time to leave. Your legs revel in the descent. She’s a little shaky. You ask too much if she is okay.

Your bag is the only one left when you reach the bottom, and you pick up your pace to get to the bus stop. She’s a little ahead, tossing the empty water bottle in the trash.

Do people ever notice the silence when that is what they are craving? No voices from the other visitors. No engines running. No bus. She’s running to the gate and asking where your ride is before your brain identifies the problem.

“We have to run now! It’s at the next stop down the road.” You take off, suddenly wishing for the technology and connectedness and infinite options you left behind.

The road is almost completely uphill. Your lungs poke, shout, and then threaten. You want to stop; you have to stop; you can’t stop. Focus. In through the nose and out through the mouth in a three-step rhythm. Your lungs suck the air through your mouth no matter how you try to change. You give up and turn your attention to your stride. You are running down into the the hill, and you pull your chest up and look up toward the top of the hill, telling yourself you are full of light and air. But that little trick doesn’t work on an incline and your body contracts again.

She’s ahead. Far ahead, but turning back to check on you. You don’t have the air to yell, so your left arm waves her on. She won’t leave you behind, but someone has to get to the bus to make it wait. You counter her increased speed by slowing down.

You have enough brain bandwidth now to remember your inhaler. Shortcuts are not how you like to engage with your body, but … You take your puffs. The medicine struggles to get where it’s needed, your exhales are so insistent. You stop just to give it a fighting chance, leaning on your thighs like you used to in high school P.E.

Her footsteps make you look up. “Shit,” you reply. She’s eyeing your tomato-red face and gradually slowing breathing even as she tells you that you have to keep moving. You cannot get stuck on the backroads of Guatemala after dark. Some truck or something has to come by, and you two will just hitch a ride back to town.

You are going to cry. You need to sit and rest and actually catch your breath. Your thighs are not waiting until tomorrow to protest today. She takes your bag from you.

“We don’t have to run right now, but we have to keep moving.” You aren’t so sure. It is a one lane dirt road and you could just as easily sit still and catch a ride as move. You are not sure you can move right now. The blood thrumming and throbbing beneath your skin is giving you a headache.

You look up at her. That part of you that always gets things done, that martyrs itself, that you locked away so you could relax, that part is waiting.

You take your first big breath since the overlook. On the long exhale, you let that part out of its cage.

You stand up, take your bag back, and start walking. She says she can carry it for you, but that part of you won’t let that happen. The pain soaks into the story the you will tell when you get home.

The walk is faster than it needs to be, New Yorker instincts back in play. The sky turns from blue to pink. Three hills breached to reveal more hills. In your mind, they are getting steeper, but they are only trying to conquer you by quantity, not quality. That part of you, though, is far more stubborn than the Earth. You pick up the pace just a little.

She is saying that maybe you two should slow down, but you growl back (but not at her) that you are fine and to just keep going. As long as you aren’t running, you can do this. She mumbles, “We need to find water.” With no houses and no cars, you wonder where you are going to get it.

A purr climbs up the hill, and you both turn back to greet it. That is definitely a car. The sound grows, slowly, you can guess it is about 5 turns back where down the hill. The part of you that you released protests this ending. It needs to walk all the way back to town. To risk the darkness on a rural road in a country that is not its own. It needs to survive that story. Not the sudden rescue by a stranger on the road. It demands to keep walking, at least get a little farther before the car appears.

You pick up your left foot to take a step and stop. She is smiling and jumping little jumps, relief flooding her face. You mimic the face and squee that you have a rescue! That part grumbles, trying to find a reason for you to keep walking.

The truck appears with a couple of hitchhikers already in back. You wave it down and hop into the back, holding on as it kicks up dust on the way back to town. You smile and laugh and chitchat in Spanish with the others. You ignore the pit of dissatisfaction left behind when that part tucked its tail between its legs and closed itself back in the cage.

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