Microjourneys | Multiple Authors

“Bon choix,” the gray-haired shopkeeper nodded approvingly as he nimbly reached into the Victorian chateau, lifted the tiny man and his ruffle-collared lady friend from their velvet parlor chairs, and set them down on the mahogany counter. He selected a rectangular box built for two and placed the Monsieur and Madame carefully inside the narrow container, but then blushed to realize his dollhouse figurines were laying chest to chest, lip to lip; he turned the petticoated lady around to face the opposite direction, but quickly decided spooning was even worse. As he arranged and rearranged the indiscreet couple, the lines on his wrinkled brow deepened  and his cheeks reddened with each increasingly suggestive position – missionary!…female on top!!…69!!! He paused a moment to examine the situation through his wiry spectacles, then suddenly with a burst of inspiration grabbed a sheet of tissue paper, folded it several times, and covered the miniature monsieur with the prudently thick tissue blanket. Satisfied the lady was safe from all advances, he nestled her on top, wrapped the box in twine, and placed it lightly in my hands with the slightest of dignified grins. -Vicki Valosik 

 

The taxi gone, Adam and I peer past the ranger’s station on the first excursion of our Panamanian honeymoon, and I think I can detect the lushness of the 48,000-acre Soberanía National Park, with its large, green-leaved trees, the chatter of toucans and howler monkeys, and the fresh, humid smell of the rainforest.

We walk on, past white-faced capuchins and the agouti…all in cages.

At the end of the day, when our Spanish-speaking driver picks us up, we try to think of ways to explain the mishap.

Adam suggests, “Marina and I had intended to go hiking in the tropical rainforest, but instead you dropped us, inexplicably, at a children’s zoo, where we walked among pink-backpacked toddlers on the concrete paths of a harpy eagle exhibit sponsored by Visa.”

But, without a dictionary, all I can cobble together is “Nos gustan los monos”–“The monkeys please us.” -Marina K. Ruben

 

In the master bedroom of a house nestled on an island of key limes, margaritas and gentle breezes lay a floor that creaked, groaned and wept with the wails of sin and sex and six-toed cats. Of depression, alcoholism and a lovelorn wife – make that four. Of a chandelier that dripped of crystal, sexual ambiguity and a Nobel prize, lighting the way of generations to come. -Marilyn Campbell

 

Much like celluloid’s favorite ‘downsizer’ Ryan Bingham, she loved airports. The sanitized air, the rhythmic announcements, the suspended isolation, the unchanging routine and an overarching sense of urgency and purpose. While frequent fliers bemoaned the wait and lost time, for her, this was a source of immeasurable relief and peace. For, it was within those synthetic walls, amidst the organized clutter and in the company of random strangers, that her Zen garden came alive. It was here that she stopped to breathe, pausing for a moment in a life whizzing past her, to look inward, to view her life as an outsider and savor the moment. But with the new role at work cutting her travel needs in half, it had been months since she’d set foot in an airport. And every time she heard the loud rumble of a plane outside her window, her mind longed to get away. A ridiculous, irrepressible sort of longing. -Charu Menon

 

It was a morning I never expected, Abed, when I met you at the top of the Mount of Olives Cemetery in east Jerusalem. Following cautiously behind as you scrambled with ease over ancient graves, prickly weeds and crumbling walls of stone, we stood in front of the tombs of my great-grandfather and his parents; it was tough to picture you as the “old man of 86” you repeatedly called yourself in your heavily-accented English. You smiled gently and stood quietly while I cried and said the Jewish prayer for the dead. The hot, fragrant mint tea you served us in your tiny office, the cramped space littered with papers describing your countless years of service preserving the graves and memories of the world’s Jewish community, heated by hand on an antique kerosene burner, chilled me. But your tight hugs, your rough, tanned arms, warmed me, taking my breath away and forever connecting me to family I’d never expected to meet. -Faye Rivkin

 

Her idea: a romantic picnic dinner in Central Park for their last night in New York. The field is already packed by the time they arrive, but after ten minutes of searching they finally find an open spot and unpack her basket like treasure: pre-sliced bread (12 pieces), a whole watermelon (cut into perfect, bite-sized cubes), vegetable tray, both red and white wine with accompanying plastic cups. In such a large crowd they are invisible, one wild flower in a field; she will miss being able to kiss or yell or cry among them without notice when they are transplanted to suburbia. As the Philharmonic players raise their instruments and begin, a reedy old man in a straw hat stands up among the seated crowd and begins to dance. His swanlike hand movements attract a sea of imitating children who follow him around the field, and later with glow sticks in their hands they remind her of individual stars. -Kelly Jacobson

 

I stand near the marble fountain and watch my breath burst through the night air in puffs as I contemplate the emptiness—the space seems eerily calm without the waves of people that swarm here during the day. The circle is a dim island this January night, surrounded by the bright lights of the shops and restaurants, embassies and office buildings that line the streets protruding from the center like nine spokes on a giant wheel, the pulse of the city a constant hum dancing around the rim of my consciousness. The lights of the lampposts scattered around the fountain are cold beacons shimmering through the transparent fog that lingers after the evening’s rain. As I turn toward Massachusetts Avenue, the contrast of light and shadow becomes more discernible, as two of the lamppost lights have burned out, leaving pockets of darkness in the air. The trees reach their bare branches like slender fingers toward the night sky.  -Lisa Lance

 

The emaciated cow suckling its calf in the middle of the road was perhaps as good a metaphor for this place as I could ever manage to conjure up. Stark, heart breaking beauty, as one chugs along the narrow roads from Bhubaneswar to the sleepy little lagoon village called Satapada. The swarthy figures of children splashing about in the moss colored water and the flash of white and pink lotuses in the middle of the ponds, glowing in other worldly radiance evoke an aching sense of loss for something we all must have known. Once the dust has settled over those once green saplings (scorched and drained of all their tenderness in the cruel sun that shines unabated as the monsoons take their own sweet time to come), you can’t help but find a austere sense of beauty here. This might have been the sacred land that some teary eyed messiah had walked before he found Light under some obscure tree.  –Anindita Deo

 

We drove the motorcycle past the security guard as he waved us through to the cul-de-sac of lavish villas off the Avenue Foch, into a kind of urban gated community. I was wearing worn corduroys and a T-shirt and Greg had on jeans and a flannel shirt with a hole in the elbow – it was, after all, just a middle-of-the week dinner, arranged to introduce us to our friend Elizabeth’s Paris family. Our hostess opened the door and stood sideways as she greeted us, years of reception lines a hard habit to break for just two guests. After serving us gin and tonics (which she mixed herself), she chatted easily about her childhood in Philadelphia, her stern father who almost prevented her from going to Hollywood, and her fairytale wedding years before, expressing empathy for the recently married Princess Diana. To Liz, she was her father’s sister, her godmother, she was simply Aunt Grace; to the rest of us she was Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco. -Laurie Lesser

Send us your Microjourney, made up of five sentences or less, to outsideinmagazine@gmail.com.

 

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