The air-conditioned bus swayed over the road. The passengers were friendly, there were just a lot of us. Every seat was taken. The smell of salty sweat and suntan lotion hung in the air while we took in the beauty of Maui’s Road to Hana. Our party of nine filled half the bus, and as the last pick-up, we had the honor of sitting in the very back.
Shoulder to shoulder. Knees against the seats.
I’m prone to motion sickness.
I had reservations about taking an 8-hour bus tour along the notorious Hana highway, but the thought of my children experiencing part of their vacation without me was not appealing. I tried to focus outside the bus, watching dense greenery dancing, searching for waterfalls. At every stop, I breathed deeply, filling my lungs with fresh dewiness to replace stale recycled air. The excitement of reaching the had waned. My stomach and the kids were restless. Lunch couldn’t have come at a better time.
After eating lunch under a canopy of trees, I decided to take a walk with the girls. This stop was no more than a dirt road, flanked by one restaurant, a post office, and a couple of souvenir shops. A big yellow Labrador sprawled across a deck caught my eye, at the same time my ears met the soft strum of guitar.
“Can we pet your dog?” I asked, bending down to stroke the dog’s sleeping head.
“Of course,” a stranger replied, smiling.
The Tortoise, The Hare, and I lavished hugs and kisses on his Labrador, much like we used to soak in our sweet Chelsea Girl. We chatted comfortably with this stranger, his name was Eric. He was a writer. This made me smile, immediately telling him I was a writer too. There was a gentleness in his face, a patience in his voice, and unyielding grace in his spirit.
Within minutes I wanted to know him, to be his friend.
“Have you tried one of these?” he asked, handing The Tortoise some type of Caribbean fruit.
“You just bite through the skin, then suck out the insides. The seeds are a little crunchy, but sweet.”
Without hesitation she bit into the fruit, a smile spreading quickly, confirming its goodness. The Hare and I followed her lead. Soon it was time to climb back on the bus and finish our tour, but I wasn’t ready to leave this magical spot. So I bought his book to take a piece of him with me.
As we started driving, I quickly flipped through the pages of my purchase, the sweetness of the fruit still on my lips.
This post was inspired by Write On Edge. We had 400 words to write about a collision this week. We could write fiction or creative non-fiction, and the collision could be literal or figurative.