All posts filed under: Snapshot Stories

“Excuse me, please.” (aka Four)

The tale of a postcard-perfect town and a four-time encounter with a memorable stranger. Sort of like “Before Sunrise”…but in reverse.

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“What if we don’t wake up on time?”

Hamburg, November 2010 I woke up in a startling burst of consciousness, as though someone had poked me in my side. I blinked. I didn’t usually wake up without an alarm. My eyes grew wide. My alarm. I groped for my phone underneath my pillow, my breath suspended in my chest. My hand hit gold, and I quickly pulled it out and checked the screen. Jolting upright, I turned to the lump beside me and shook it. “Wake up!” Your head shifted on the pillow as you mumbled something I couldn’t understand. I was already on my feet and hitting the lamp switch. Light flooded the small room, throwing shadows along the not-quite-white walls enclosing a space that looked nothing like it did in the photos. Not that it mattered now. “Wake up,” I half-yelled at you as I shoved my legs into my jeans, “It’s (time). Our train’s leaving in x minutes.” “What?” Launching into a sitting position, you checked your phone and jumped out of bed. I strode over to the tiny sink just beside the door and splashed …

“Can you take my picture?”

Because I was feeling inspired, I give you the first of my Snapshot Stories—encounters that stayed with me through my travels. Enjoy! Siem Reap, February 2013 The sun burned hot and bright against my back, sending trickles of sweat down the thin cotton of my shirt. The occasional breeze rustled my hair from its bun. My leggings had long said goodbye to their pristine black state, standing no chance against the fine orange dust that coated the ground. Like the finest of powder, the dust jumped at the slightest movement, swirled at the slightest whisper of wind. I’d been warned about it, but it had still shocked me when I arrived in that small but mighty town. No longer. I stood smiling as my friend struck a pose in front of the ruins of an ancient Hindu temple. Structures of red stone rose above him, battered by time, yet still glorious in the intricate details and the graceful curves and curlicues that brought life and depth to those solid walls. As though there wasn’t a crowd of …