Third Person Limited: Day 17 of the Story A Day Challenge

Today’s prompt is to write a story from the third person limited point of view. I am using my stranded in Guatemala story to explore point of view. Click for first person and second person versions.

She and her friend had a leisurely morning, waiting for the country to finish mass so they could make their way to the reserve and have a day not trying to get anywhere. The coffee burned the roof of her mouth, because she wasn’t awake enough to remember to check how hot it was. The ride was uneventful, and once in the reserve, she let the lazy Sunday afternoon seep into her bones.

Although there were some other small groups playing in the water with them, the day wasn’t for making friends. They watched from their own nook of the river, dipping in and talking about everything but nothing. The whoops and splashes of the flirts at the waterfall put an edge in her relaxation. It was time to get out.

The group that had beelined up to the overlook when they had arrived exited the path just as she and her friend left the swimming area. It had to be deserted now.

“We should go now if we are going to go.” Her friend checked her watch. “We have enough time, right?” It would be close, but it would be worth it, judging by the chatter making its way to the swimming hole. They grabbed their cameras and started up.

Birds and bugs and plants and just a complete explosion of nature. Her heart lightens, shoulders relax; she eases into simply being. Her mind wandered to her mother’s talks of God and miracles, the way everything just fits. Tears gather in her eyes. Her friend placed a hand to her back and ghosted her fingers back and forth. She didn’t have to choke them back or play at some ideal-type emotion.

The climb down proved easier than the climb up. Her feet somehow sure where her friend was tentative. She led the way, picking the easy to grip rocks and roots. They emerge into the field before the gate, finally able to talk about the experience of the overlook, but their chatter died as they looked around.

Her brain knew something was wrong before it let her know exactly what, but her stress system tensed her up without waiting for a final diagnosis.

“Where is the bus? And the rest of the people?” Now that it had been spoken, reality laid in. They ran, “No” dribbling from their lips. It already left. She looked at her watch and showed it to the guard. Leaving late was one thing, but leaving early, the very last bus out couldn’t do that. He shrugged his shoulders and continued to close up for the day, mumbling something about another stop down the road. Her friend coaxed out a general direction and took off. She followed as best as she could. Someone just needed to get there before it left.

They were separated for no more than five minutes. They missed their (second) chance. How were they supposed to get off the backroads of Guatemala on a Sunday before the sun went down? Movement is best option, so they started walking. She was still lagging behind, parched and short of breath.

Her sunglasses don’t do much for how bright it is. Her head started to dully ache. Bright lights and little oxygen probably would do that to you. They should split up, so they had a chance. Her friend refused. No one was getting left alone right now. They kept going. Outpacing most of the New Yorkers they knew. Her lungs had trouble getting air in, and she started breathing through her mouth. This was not a good sign. She had to keep going. They had to get to town. If they slowed down, they would never get even close to making it. Her face felt red and blotchy.

She reached around her bag, and her fingers took forever but finally found her inhaler. She should have done this before they even started climbing, but she avoided medicine as much as possible. This current situation was not possible. Her friend was at the top of the hill by her second puff. They had to slow down. It was too hot, and they had no water. She could keep going, but not at this pace. Just a lovely Sunday stroll to safety.

She apologized as they started moving again. The worried look on her friend’s face changes, softens. Different kinds of worry play differently in the skin. This situation sucks, but they would figure it out. They walked together back up the hill and on to the next one, dust coating their feet. The pace worked for her, and though her headache was stubborn, her feeling of control came back. She picked up the pace a little.

The sounds of a car grinding the dirt as it made the curves they had passed made them stop. Someone was coming, and they wouldn’t have to walk all the way back! The truck appeared, bed half full of other hitchhikers. They jumped in the back, and she breathed in the wind and the dust. She was going to buy the biggest bottle of water she could find as soon as they got back.