On the eighth day I awoke with dry lips and a splitting headache. I squeezed my eyes shut and felt stars dancing behind their lids. As I came more and more to consciousness I realized that I had curled up uncomfortably during the night. My head was bent as if I had been trying to tuck it under my arm. The blanket I had once thought of as warm winter fare wasn’t heavy enough to keep out the mountain chill.
With a sigh I sat up, holding a hand to my forehead. Automatically I turned my head to look at the back of the wagon, but the old woman was still asleep. Fumbling, I grabbed my flask of water and felt the last bit of it trickle over my lips. Great.
After pulling on a cleaner and heavier skirt (gritting my teeth all the while), I climbed out of the wagon and jumped down to the ground. The air was definitely thinner up here, and I could see my breath faintly as a puff in front of my mouth. The trees were low, stunted things; more common were dark green bushes with small, almost prickly leaves. The “road” was just a part of the path where the bushes had been tromped flat by occasional horses—no, there was also a series of faded pink ribbons along the trees on the left side of the wagons. For all I knew the caravan owners might know this route backwards and forwards; had I been a driver coming up for the first time, though, the ribbons would have been the only thing keeping me from disappearing into the scrublands.
I had hardly noticed that I had made it up to the front wagon until my hand raised to knock on the door. There was a sound of movement inside, then the door was flung open. I raised my head and immediately brought up a hand to shield my eyes.
It wasn’t Brand. It was the older driver, peering down at me with a cigarillo in his mouth. I saw his eyes shift to a small smirk before he stepped back into the gloom of the wagon.
This is an excerpt (written today) from a story named “Caravan”, which was inspired by Vienna Teng’s “Blue Caravan”. I have tried and failed to write this story all the way through multiple times, so now it just sits around on my hard drive. Maybe it’ll get finished some day, maybe it won’t.
Part of NaCreSoMo; join us!