CSMS Magazine Staff Writer
By eight o’ clock that morning, Celine reaches the pick of Morne Zombi of which its ridge slopes down toward the western bank of the Acajou River. The sun is sluggishly rising from behind the towering mountains, still looming in the distance. She raises her hand above her forehead to shield her eyes from the piercing sunray, but the lime-green décor of the tropical atmosphere steals her heart. It looks far different from the barren landscape of the southern part of the province. Here, the tropical surroundings is quite stunning—its fresh-smelling mountains, the flowery undergrowths that fill the bed of its hills, its fresh dawns, its hazy mornings and its enchanting twilights, all are entangled to create a picturesque vista, a florid diorama that Celine cannot seem to overlook, even as a morning fatigue begins to creep into her tireless body.
To recharge herself, she sits down, resting on a half-rotten log surrounded by wild citronella and tall guinea grass. The last vestige of the morning dew has just vanished, and a cool breeze is sweeping through the branches of the nearby trees, which begin to crackle in mounting fury. Then, a bird shoots a strange shrill and cacophonous sound that sends Celine’s heart to leap in a frenzied spook. It reminds her of the nightingale she was accustomed to, back in southern Scotland. In a blur, she is back on her feet, glancing at the trail before her, shaded by mango trees undulating in the morning breeze. It abrades like a snake creeping downhill. Lines of cacti split by clustered of wild lauriers lit the foliage with reddish bouquets, but the heady fragrance of the citronella warms her heart.
It has been more than an hour since the last time Celine had an encounter with someone going to the opposite direction. Albeit the occasional murmur of crickets chirping overhead, Celine’s world is now nothing but a deathly, an agonizing, eerie atmosphere that she wants to leave behind as fast as she can. Behind her, stand the tall trees with their dark-hued shadows, looking like savage werewolves lurching to get her. But before her, on the eastern bank of the river, a breathtaking valley floor is ready to greet her—a tapestry of lush, green foliage embellished with slews of freshness and rural perfumes brushing below the aslant ray of the sun. She grabs her backpack that she’s laid at the foot of the log and begins her march downhill while being very cautious to avoid being stung by the thorny cacti. No one is spotted in the distance.
She is thirsty and she urgently needs to quench her thirst. Upon reaching the rocky riverbed, she unzips her backpack and pulls out a water bottle and half-empties it in one gulp. She then rolls her pants up to her knees, ready to cross. Then, the rushing river and its crystal clear current moving downstream attract her attention. She takes off her polo shirt and her tennis shoes, lies on a giant rock near the water’s edge and falls asleep with her hands folded behind her head, as her feet are dangling in the water. Her angelic beauty enlightened when a ray of sun shoots its yellow glow on her saintly body. Naked from the waist up, her firm small breasts bulge upward and look like custard apples wrapped in a reddish-brown cinnamon skin. Life seems at a standstill.
All of a sudden, the mooing of a cow and the braying of a horse with its hoofs crackling on the pebbled pathway awaken her. She bolts out of the rock and quickly puts her shirt back on. She glances in all directions, but no one is potted, and the sound, that she has just heard, is now faded, lost in the silent murmur of the tropical rain forest. Freaking out, she hurries across without looking back and follows a little path along a field of grass leading through the trees.
She has always known that Louisinette’s parents live east of the Acajou River, but that’s all she knows. She does not remember their names. She is betting on Louisinette’s infamous name and story, which was big news after she got kicked out of her parents’ home in Saint Louis for having been raped by a sexual predator. So, she has high hope that the villagers on the east bank will eventually lead her to Louisinette’s home. She wants to meet her, hug her, squeeze her, interlace with her, beg her for pardon and ask her to help whiten and heal her heart from the pain, the guilt that have been ravaging her soul. She wants to tell Louisinette that life has some major twists and turns. No one knows what tomorrow will bring, and one cannot judge the world to the dimension of some mad individuals. She wants to tell her that against all odds she must keep the faith, but she is not sure if she will be able to either maintain a firm composure or find the right words to express her deepest, her sincerest and her most frantic sympathy when she finally faces her. But human heart is such a complex thing. She simply does not know how Louisnette will react upon spotting her silhouette strolling up toward her. She would like to snatch her away from her infinite, nightmarish state of melancholy that she must be living in, especially each time she looks at the baby conceived in one of the most horrific conditions. But for now, she rather not dwells on the uncertainty of the next hour. She must stay the course with the same childish glee that has been firing her up to come this far.
The path meanders down to a canapé of green foliage, which completely blocks the sunray from permeating the forest floor. It becomes dark again, as if Celine is advancing into the hollow of a subterranean world with unforeseen results. But she is not afraid, for reuniting with Louisinette before midday is her prime motivation. And her hope is now being reinforced by the cackling of gossipy hens and roosters, the shriek sound of mocking birds chirping in tree branches and the hee-haw of a stubborn, little donkey in the distance. All this is indicative that people presence is not far off. (End of Part 2)
Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is essayist and novelist. He is the author of Alicia Maldonado: A Mother Lost. Go the Poetry and Literature section to read some his works. This story is part of creative writing. CSMS Magazine welcomes creative writers.