Public Key (Lix)

I awoke clutching my guitar like a lover. I wish I could say that was the first time that had happened.

I had been away from my hut for a day and a night. All the earth I’d walked, the people I’d seen, but that’s what made me smile all in wonder. I’d left the safety of my home. I’d gone out and enjoyed my freedom. Maybe it was stupid. It definitely had balls.

I looked around me to make sure everything was as I had left it. For better or worse, it seemed that way.

I saw I had some cabbages that looked like they needed eating and I certainly needed to eat them. I went out to build a fire and make myself some stir-fry. And a whole pot of tea.

I put a few potatoes in the fire, turning them every few minutes so they roasted evenly. Then I wilted the cabbage in bubbling butter and mixed it with wild ramps and shavings of salsify and little hunks of stale cornbread. I had to grab the potatoes out of the fire with my bare hands. I really needed to get a fork, one of these days.

By the time I finished eating the sun was already low in the horizon. Once again my sleep schedule was good and fucked. It would right itself soon, I knew. Not that it needed to. But with the sun and moon just out my window, the rhythm of the world was hard to avoid.

I went up to take a shower and get the river smell out of me. My hair was getting long. It made me harder to recognize, I knew, but it also made me go through a lot more Castile than I would otherwise. Also it made me look like a flower child. It would need to go.

As I was leaving the shower stall I saw someone leaving the bathrooms. I thought about ducking back into the stall. Too late. They’d seen me. I was stuck.

Then I stopped caring, because it was a new person to talk to. And a girl. And pretty.

She was about five two. She was about twentytwo. She had a round face and big eyes. Her hair was back in a tight little ponytail. She was wearing a flannel shirt. She was wearing shorts.

Like most men, most straight men anyway, there are parts of a woman’s body that I have to remember not to stare at. I can’t remember the last time I had to pull my eyes away from a lower leg.

Hi!, she said.

She was American.

Oh, God.

Hi there, I said, gripping my towel in my hands.

She walked towards me. Are you staying here?

I decided to throw my towel over my shoulder. It looked debonaire. In my head.

Yeah, I said. Just down there.

I cringed. Had I just pointed out my hidden home? And for no reason? Yeah, I really kicked ass at this incognito thing.

But you’re so far away! she said.

Yeah, I guess. I guess, I guess I drew the short straw.

Oh. How long are you here for?

Oh. A little while. Just passing through.

Me too. I’m heading out tomorrow.

Oh, I said. You, heading back to America?

She looked taken aback. Then she laughed.

What?

Oh, it’s just, I’ve been telling people that I’m Canadian. For, like, forever. I haven’t seen an American in a really long time.

Oh. Yeah. No, I mean, I’m cool with the States.

Yeah. Yeah! Oh but, yeah, no, I’m just heading out into the mountains for a few days. I hooked up with some old friends on Facebook, they’re out here too, so we’re gonna meet up at this lodge on Mount Thabana.

Thabana Ntlenyana, I corrected her.

What?

Oh. I mean. Thabana means ‘hill.’ So it’d probably be Mount Ntlenyana.

Oh, do you speak, like, the language?

Very little, I said. And Ameri-blushed.

That’s cool. I speak French, it was really helpful in Senegal. Pretty much everywhere else I’ve been they speak English.

Yeah, I said. It’s, uh, kinda strange.

I know. Language imperialism, I mean, I read about it, but it’s really different to see it firsthand.

Yeah. Not much of a problem here though.

Yeah. But this is, like, a really isolated country.

Yeah.

It’s been fun to be here though. Where are you going next?

Oh. I’m not sure. Uh. Did you like Senegal?

Yeah, Senegal was great. The music was amazing.

Oh. Maybe I’ll head up that way.

Yeah.

Awkward pause. Awkwardpauseawkwardpauseawkwardpause-

Oh, she said, but, yeah, I should definitely let you get back to your camp. Let you finish getting dried off!

Oh, I said. Yeah, yeah I guess I should at that.

It was nice to meet you, she said. What did you say your-

Really nice to meet you too, I said. I’ll see you around!

You too! Bye!

I death-marched back to my camp. My home. I came inside and bolted the door behind me. I drew my curtains. I threw the towel on the floor. I climbed into the hammock, and adopted a good position for groaning.

Oh, God, I needed to cut my hair.

Oh, God, I needed to be cool.

Oh, God, I needed to find some weights to lift.

Oh, God, I needed to get a cover-story.

Oh, God, I needed to dress like a normal person.

No, God – I just needed to remember how to talk to a girl.

 

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~ by davekov on 28 February 2011.

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