Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Taking a Road Trip and Hoping Not to Fail!


This post is doing double duty on two different blog hops so I hope you’ll visit both links above and see what others are doing as well. Also, that’s my excuse for it being a bit longer than usual…

One day when school let out, Annalyn walked beside little Nambe, the daughter of the family who provided her hut, toward the gardens where she hoped to find the tribesmen with whom she’d started a cooperative. The co-op was working as well as could be expected with no rain, but she feared the unity wouldn’t last when she wasn’t there to answer questions and fix quarrels, of which the tribesmen had many. She glanced at the dusty earth under her feet. Dry and parched, it nonetheless mirrored her soul. When she’d made the desperate decision to leave behind all she knew, she hadn’t realized how much she would miss the magic of rain. Here in Africa, though, she’d discovered a purpose, a life worth living, even if it was without Jack…
“May I walk with you?” Annalyn recognized the voice behind her and scowled.
She didn’t turn as she said, “I thought you’d be at the clinic after all that time you spent at school.” She bit her lip. “I mean—”
“I know what you mean,” Leon Dubocs said, intercepting her. His eyes, usually too serious or filled with mirth, were now, what, sad?  
“Annalyn, I must replenish some supplies before I leave and wondered if you would go to town with me.”
“When are you leaving?” Annalyn shaded her eyes to peer up at the Frenchman to whom she’d taken an immediate dislike.
“In a few days.”
“When are you going to town?”
“This afternoon?”                                                                                                                 
She didn’t want to go anywhere with him, but even Nambe had commented on her rudeness to the charismatic pediatrician from Doctors Without Borders. “Tomorrow would be better, if I go.”
“Tomorrow is fine.” Dr. Leon, as the villagers called him, grinned and his sadness disappeared. She stepped back, astonished at his reaction to her answer.
“Nambe should go also,” she said, desperate to not be alone with him.
He grinned as if he’d read her mind. “Nambe, would you like to come too?”
“Oh yes! After I water the gardens?”             
“Of course. I’ll help so we can leave earlier.” Dr. Leon winked at Annalyn, and she frowned. But Nambe hopped with excitement.
Dr. Leon bent down, “Sh, petite. Don’t dance too loudly or the others will want to come.”
The next afternoon, in the tiny van that the DWB rented, Dr. Leon, Annalyn, and Nambe rumbled through the savannah and into town. Once parked, Dr. Leon called to Annalyn as she started off with Nambe. “Where are you going?”
“You go ahead with your plans...”
“Which are to be with you.” He took Nambe’s hand and said, “Come, before work we must find a treat.” He glanced at Annalyn. “Nambe, tell your friend to smile a little. Her scowl needs a rest.”
                                                                       
                                                                       *****
Journal Friday August 15
Went to town today with Dr. Leon and Nambe. Enjoyed the trip because Nambe was there. Dr. Leon’s “charm” and “easy manner” is wasted on me. I wish he’d get on with his work and leave me to mine.
The long drought is stunting the gardens and the animals show their lack of fresh water. The elders of the village pray every day for rain. Occasional wisps of clouds drag their heels across the sky. Nothing comes of them. Feels like my life, just empty, dry promises.
Conserving water is a habit, as is my bickering when I must work with Dr. Leon.

                                                                        *****
The next morning Nambe woke Annalyn. “Annie! There are clouds!” Groggy with sleep, Annalyn stepped out into the gray dawn. Clouds rolled across the eastern sky in angry swirls. Lightening crackled on the horizon. “Nambe, perhaps this time the gods will answer the elders’ prayers,” she said. The villagers honed in on the implied promise of rain. Even the med crew did, standing by their tented clinic, eyes glued to the distant roiling sky. The villagers could stay if the rain came. Without it they would have to move to another location and leave all their hard work behind. Annalyn had seen it happen elsewhere and knew the cost.
Routine activities continued; school, tending the patients in the med tents, readying a wagon for market, and as if daring the clouds to come closer, the villagers watered the gardens. A wall of rain began to fall so far away it made no difference to them.  
But in the gardens with Nambe and the others, Annalyn too, watched and watered, retracing her steps to the well over and back again. Then, air whipped up with a playful coolness around her ankles, her torso, and her hair. Annalyn tilted her face to the sky. Moisture hung in the air. She filled her lungs with it and something deep inside her moved. The villagers stood still as if of one accord.
The wall of water thundered closer, encouraging promise into certainty. Annalyn glanced toward the med tents. The staff stood transfixed as the rain arrived, overwhelming them all. Annalyn gasped as the sheets of solid wetness plastered her hair to her head, her clothes to her body. Hooplas drowned in the rain pouring from the now blackened sky. Every foot danced, every arm hugged another. A medley of slick little bodies clung to Annalyn and sang with joyousness. Her feet beat the muddy earth and her heart yearned to dance. She hadn’t danced since she’d lost Jack, especially not in the rain. Torn between her past and her present, she licked at the water on her face and tasted tears. Closing her eyes she felt each stinging drop revive her drought-ridden soul. Nambe reached for her hands and together they danced in the crazy rain. Annalyn laughed and wept as half-remembered joy challenged her painfully familiar melancholy. When Jack had gone she’d thought never to be happy again, thought she’d failed. But Nambe’s little hands tugged her into the now, into the pounding rain and she yelled, “Nambe! It’s raining!” Nambe laughed as they ran and leapt and flailed their arms over their heads in complete abandon.
When Annalyn stopped to catch her breath, Nambe hugged her waist. Annalyn hugged her right back and kissed the top of her soggy little head. Then, Leon Duboc’s dark eyes captured hers with a knowledge she’d avoided since their first meeting. Releasing Nambe to dance with the other children, Annalyn stood still in the midst of all that movement, in the midst of all that rain. Leon strode toward her with a purpose she felt in her bones. She silenced her broken heart and took a step toward the man coming for her. She knew that he would ask of her what she hadn’t been able to give for two years.
From The Notebook
Her body thrummed. Leon stopped a breath away, reached up to wipe aside the hair clinging to her cheeks, and put his arm around her waist. He pulled her against him. She held onto him so she couldn’t change her mind. She didn’t close her eyes, stayed present in the now. Leon kissed Annalyn and she forgot everything but his mouth, his hands, his wet man-scent, and the magic of the rain.

Images from:

18 comments:

  1. Hello Lisa. Clever of you to combine two bloghops. Your story is delightful. I loved the setting (of course!), I loved the way you inserted suspense - I was afraid something bad was going to happen with Dr Leon and it would have muddied my love affair with Doctors Without Borders. I'm so glad you didn't! I loved the way the ending was weaved with the backstory of Annalyn's reasons for being reluctant to embrace a new romantic interest. And I also love your images - perfect for your story.

    For anyone reading this and wishing to visit WEP stories, the bulk of entries won't be up until the 21st May! I hope you'll come by then.

    Thank you for posting to WEP, Lisa, and for letting me know.

    Denise

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    1. Thanks for the feedback Denise, and the reminder about when to post on your blog. Sorry I forgot that part!

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  2. Neat little story, and as Denise said, very creative in the way you've combined prompts :).

    I recently featured you as one of the bloggers I recommend, and this post convinces me further that I was right!

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  3. Hi human, Lisa,

    I apawlogise for taking so long to get here. Such is the hectic life of this here diva dog :)

    What a setting. The ambience created within your vivid story enthralled and intrigued. The interweaving is truly noted. Something tells me that this will be a love story Without Borders.

    Road Trip? Ignore me and well done incorporating your pawesome story into two blog hops.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny :)

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  4. Hi Lisa
    Loved your story. Our hearts are slow to mend sometimes.

    Nancy

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  5. Hi, enjoyed your story. Love broken hearts that heal with rain. Love Africa. Both together make a charming tale.

    Nilanjana.

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  6. A lovely story, well written, evocative, emotional in all sorts of ways and hopefully a happy ending that will continue.

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  7. Nicely written! Great work on its word imagery and emotional impact. Love it!

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  8. I love that photo at the end. An interesting weaving of words that brings to mind exotic landscapes, sultry weather and high emotions. Well done.

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  9. That was a refreshing story Li. you did well to tie in her emotions with the environment. Using setting as a character is difficult, but you pulled it off.

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  10. I came back and read it again, and now like it even more. :)

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    1. D! So glad you came back and read it again. This is a story very close to my heart and an excerpt of my next novel so I'm happy you liked it!

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  11. Hi Lisa - so so true of Africa - the big wait ... thankfully for them the rains came .. life-giving in so many ways ...

    Wonderful story telling .. I loved it - very clever .. thoroughly enjoyable ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks Hilary! This is actually an excerpt from my next work in progress! So it was good practice for me to work on it and to tighten the story up.

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  12. Hope things are going well with you. Are you taking a break?

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Better now than a week ago! On the way back from vacation got acute appendicitis and had to have an emergency appendectomy. Am recovering but slowly. Will have my post up tomorrow though for IWSG! Thanks for checking in...

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    2. Dear Lisa,

      Sorry to note you had a medical situation. Indeed, try to take it easy and rest up. Delighted to see you will have a post up for the site dedicated to me. "IWSG aka "I Was Seeking Gary." Yes, I'm still delusional :)

      Look after YOU, Lisa.

      Gary

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    3. I AM still seeking Gary, LOL! Yes, I'm trying to behave and let my body heal. It's my mind telling me all the things I need to be doing that is getting me in trouble. So hard seeing what I could be doing...and not doing it! Pouting face here... Thanks for checking in on me! You and Lee made my day...

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