Authors: L.A. Shorter
L. A. Shorter
©2013 L. A. Shorter
Jenny awoke from a daze and a smile
immediately hit her face.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we will be
beginning our descent into Denpasar in 20 minutes. If you need to use
the bathroom, please do so in the next 5 minutes”
She turned to the left and saw Sarah,
her best friend, dozing beside her. Just beyond, she could see the
plane beginning to descend through the clouds.
“Sarah....wake up!” She gave her a
“We're nearly there!” She
explained, unable to keep her voice down.
Jenny and Sarah had been best friends
for years, and were setting off together on the adventure of a
lifetime. They had the summer off from college, having just finished
their first year in New York, and had been spending the last few
weeks working away trying to save for their holiday.
Thankfully, Jenny's dad had helped them
out a bit, doubling up what they earned to give them a bit more money
to play with. Their flights were paid for, and they'd booked
themselves onto a tour to take them across Bali, it's neighboring
island Lombok, and a small island group called the Gili Islands off
the Lombok coast – together, as their research told them, these
were known as the 'Islands of the Gods', which they took as a
positive omen for a good trip.
To say they were excited would be an
understatement. The year hadn't been easy, especially for Jenny.
She'd just broken up with her long term boyfriend, Trent, back in New
York, after a year together but, as with all her previous boyfriends,
it hadn't ended well. Jenny had had her exams coming up, and Trent
surprised her with a visit. Insisting that she needed to revise at
the library, Trent wasn't best pleased. Suffice to say, paying her
back by getting drunk and sleeping with her room-mate was something
of an excessive response.
Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.
As it transpired, Trent had been unfaithful for much of their
relationship. While Jenny was away at college, Trent had seemingly
been making his way through a series of local 'ladies' behind her
back. Naturally, the relationship came to a grinding halt as a
It still hurt though. Jenny really
cared for Trent and thought they were going places. Did she love him?
Perhaps not: what did love even feel like? Jenny was a girl of 19,
and although she'd had a few boyfriends, she's never felt that true
longing and devotion that love brings. However, she did see a
potential future with him: they'd known each other for years, and
their relationship had blossomed out of a close friendship. She
thought that was grounds for a great starting point to a long term
affair. She was wrong.
“You're doing it again”, said
“Daydreaming. Trent again?”
Jenny was prone to this, especially
over the last few weeks since the break up. “Yeah, sorry, I guess I
still miss him a little bit.”
“Well, isn't that why we're doing
this! We're gonna have the time of our lives and that little weasel
is never gonna stray into your thoughts again. I hope he's having a
miserable time back in rainy New York!”
Jenny gave a cursory nod and smile
before turning away. She loved Sarah for helping her get over the
break up but still, it hurt, and there was nothing she could do about
it. Her initial excitement upon waking up had suddenly been swallowed
by a cloud of post-relationship blues. “I hate that ass”, she
thought. “Making me feel like this...what a....”
A quick jolt brought Jenny back to
reality. The plane was now in its final descent, coming into the
runway of a surprisingly well built-up airport. Given how small Bali
was, Jenny didn't expect much more than a dusty landing strip. The
plane landed safely and taxied into position and, after a quick word
from the captain, Jenny and Sarah grabbed their carry-on bags and
headed for the exit. In through the airport they went, past the
security and visa checks, through baggage collection, and out into
Within the throng of greeters and
chauffeurs crowding the arrivals area, they caught eyes of their
surnames on a plaque. They approached the young man, who introduced
himself as 'Ketut' before leading them outside to a compact vehicle
in the car pack.
They were headed to the center of Bali
and a town called Ubud, known to be the cultural heart of the
country, and a place of great significance to the Balinese. This is
where their tour would begin, and they were eager to get started.
Through the island they drove, past busy rice paddies and tangled
jungles, listening to the local radio as they went. It was as far
from New York as you could imagine, and that sat very well with
Ketut didn't say much from behind the
wheel – they suspected his English was limited – but he did
provide them with a few details of the area as they passed by, naming
the odd temple or pointing out any potential places of interest for
tourists. After about an hour or so, they arrived at their hotel,
thanked and paid Ketut, and made their way inside to check in.
They were greeted with typical Balinese
courtesy by the staff and offered a complimentary cocktail as they
were shown to their room. Sarah sat down and shuffled through her
rucksack, drawing out a pack of information. “Right, let's take a
They huddled together in the dimly lit
room, taking yet another look at their itinerary and the instructions
they had received in the mail. Their tour was to begin the following
evening, with a planned trip to a local night-time market following a
meet-and-greet with the other members of their traveling party.
Including themselves, they'd be 5 others, although they really didn't
know what to expect quite yet. Sociable as they were though, they
didn't really care – they had come to experience an adventure
together, and if they could make any new friends along the way that
would be a bonus.
For the next hour or so they chatted
and giggled. Jenny's thoughts had turned from Trent, and the
excitement of exploring a new part of the world was now fully set in.
During that time they popped downstairs for a quick bite to eat in
the hotel restaurant, before relaxing by the outdoor pool under the
stars. “This is bliss”, Jenny thought, as she gazed up towards
the sparkling sky above, colorful cocktail in hand.
It wasn't long before they were spent.
Even Sarah's bubbly nature had begun to run out of steam and the
laughing had dried up. They had been traveling for almost an entire
day after all, so the time had come to get some rest. They headed
back into their room, crawled into their twin beds, and fell asleep.
woke with a start and checked her phone – 12.30 pm. She had slept
for 12 hours straight, fair reward for a day spent traveling! She
looked over to the bed opposite – empty. Drowsily she got up and
wandered over to the window overlooking the pool in the courtyard
below. There was Sarah, catching the sun – “typical!” she
changed into her bikini and headed down to sit on a sun lounger
beside Sarah. “How long have you been down here?”she asked.
couple of hours. Didn't want to wake you up...you looked so peaceful
and I thought you could use the rest!”
guess.” Their relationship had always been teasing and playful.
lay down on her towel beside her. It was hot, but pleasantly so –
probably about 30 degrees. She was still feeling drowsy, a symptom of
her jetlag, something she hadn't really experienced before. Sure,
she'd traveled to Europe once or twice with her family, but that was
only about 5 or 6 hours from New York. This was, she thought,
chatted for a few minutes, discussing what to do for the rest of the
day, before coming to the realization that simply relaxing by the
pool was their best bet. They were due to meet their group at 7 pm,
so thought they'd take this time to acclimatize and enjoy the peace
and quiet before the evening.
hotel was quiet, with only a couple of other guests coming and going
over the next few hours. Aside from a trip to fetch lunch and a few
dips in the pool, Jenny and Sarah made the most of their time
relaxing. Within a few hours Sarah was already changing color. “Damn
you and your olive skin!” noted Jenny, enviously.
about 5.30 pm Sarah said she'd hit her sun quota for the day, and
headed back to their room to do some reading. Jenny, herself with a
book (some quirky romance!), sat and read under the sun for the next
30 mins. With an hour to go before meeting her tour group, she looked
up to the other side of the pool to see two young men walk in through
the hotel. They exchanged a few words in the lobby before stepping
upstairs and disappearing into a room on the floor above hers.
gazed at the door, distracted from the love affair of Thomas and
Charlotte in the book in her lap. Within a minute or two, the door
opened again, and one of the young men walked out, towel and book in
hand. He walked along the balcony, down the stairs, and towards the
sun loungers on the opposite side of the pool to where Jenny sat.
bronzed, it looked as though he had been in Bali for a while, but he
certainly wasn't local. A sudden longing pulsed through Jenny's body,
one she didn't expect. “Perhaps he'll be on the tour with us”,
coyly continued to watch the man from behind her book as he
positioned his towel on the lounger and sat down. He was wearing a
vest, showing off impressively muscular arms, and a pair of board
shorts that stretched down to his knees. He took no notice of Jenny,
save a quick glance in her direction, and casually opened his book to
start writing. She wondered what he was writing about – a story, a
journal, perhaps he was drawing?
about 10 minutes, Jenny gathered her things and set off. She wanted
to have a shower and freshen up for the evening, and there was only
45 minutes until she'd meet the group. As she walked past the man
towards the stairs she noticed him turn his head to look at her as
she passed by. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him quickly
return to his writing.
she returned to the room she heard Sarah in the shower. She sat on
the bed and laid out her things to wear for the evening. Within 40
minutes both girls were showered and ready to go. They set off from
their room and down into the lobby – the prescribed meeting point.
There they saw several people gathered, one of whom quickly stepped
forward to introduce himself.
and Jenny?” he asked in a friendly Australian accent.
us” replied Sarah with a smile.
girls, lovely to meet you! I'm Andy and I'll be your tour guide over
the next 2 weeks. Now, we're just waiting on a couple of people
before we head off down to the market, but there's a few fellas you
can meet right now.”
turned towards an eclectic group mingling around a table. “This is
Eno, American, I believe...is that right Eno?” He got a response to
the affirmative. “And here we have Andrew, an Irish lad if i'm not
mistaken, and then this is Miley, from...Canada.”
new face was more smiley and friendly than the last. Eno was a middle
aged man from LA, who seemed to have a bit of Asian about him,
perhaps Indian or Persian. Andrew was a chatty Irish lad, late 20s,
apparently having one final flourish before moving in with his
girlfriend and starting a new job back in Dublin. Then there was
Miley, a slightly larger woman but entirely charming and personable –
she looked like she was about 35.
the next few minutes, Jenny and Sarah chatted away happily with the
three group members they had met, exchanging some early details about
their lives. Soon though, with 7.15 fast approaching, Andy gave one
final check of his watch before saying a few words:
gang, we're not going to go into too much detail about the tour right
now. Instead, we're just gonna head on down to the market to give you
a taste of Ubud. And I mean that literally, because there's plenty to
eat down there! After that, we'll come back and have a couple of
drinks to get to know each other. Hopefully our two missing friends
will have appeared by then. Then I'll tell you what we've got in
store over the next few days. Sound good?” There were nods of
approval all round. “Great, let's go!”