Long hours on a bus make me giddy. My mom, who’d sat beside me on a bus that day, could attest to that. But she didn’t comment: she just tried to sleep as we went from Chiclayo to Cumbemayo, Peru.
The bus was nice enough, but Mom wasn’t used to staying seated: Her job with children had accustomed her to stand. And I could relate. I may not have her particular problem or her occasional feet swelling, but I felt the need to get up, too, because despite how much I love trains and buses and boats and ships, they give me a feeling of so much giddiness that I feel I simply must get moving.
Beside me, Mom was trying to get situated and rest. Turning to look at her, I realized that we needed to put our brains together to figure out how to incline the seats back. It took us a little while, but when Mom found the handle and toggled with it, her seat inclined back about 45 degrees. She sighed, glad to rest a little more supine.
I hoped that meant she’d be well enough to enjoy our trip: It would involve a lot of hiking and Mom needed to be in top shape for that. Besides, Cumbemayo was at a high altitude and I knew that she would have a hard time even with the pills we all took to help us adjust to the thin air.
I really prayed it would all go well.
Then the bus slowed, and Mom told me she hates this part; I asked her why. She said we’re at a cliff’s edge, by an abyss, and I concluded she was joking. Mom, who was too scared to ride anything in King’s Dominion, wouldn’t let Dad drag her to a ride that went past an abyss. Surely not. But she wasn’t smiling. She’d closed her eyes and probably gone to sleep.
I stared at her until I remembered what she’d said. Then I pushed open the curtains and looked through the windows on my right. The sight made me giddy.
At the time, there seemed nothing as deep, as powerful, and as all-consuming as an abyss. It was always in the action movies, adventure stories, and car chase scenes, and then it was right there—a wonder before me—and I couldn’t help but feel awed.
And the timing was perfect. It was during the hours when the sun and moon meet in the middle. I breathed as if the windows were open, as if I could smell the fresh afterglow of the day. Then I shivered, though I couldn’t feel the air which the Sun dispersed as he rose to his feet and walked away with his robes billowing behind him.
And then the abyss. It looked like a bottomless pit. It was lovely in its dreadfulness. I wished I could see the bottom, the finite limit to a seemingly infinite chasm. I thought that would be much more interesting than passing it by as we went up the mountain. I wanted to see its depth. I wanted to leave the bus. I wanted to go down there to inspect what horrors and secret beauties lied within.
“Go to sleep,” Mom said, her soft voice honey-thick with sleep.
I didn’t turn to look at her. Instead, I stared at the abyss one last time. Perhaps, one day, I’d see its depths. I’d get some rope and hardy boots, and I’d dig its treasures out. I’d maybe bring my sister, if she wasn’t chicken. We’d have to find someone mom would approve of as a good bodyguard. Maybe I’d have to wait until I was an adult, living on my own so mom wouldn’t be able to throw out my plans.
But for now, I’d scale the heights of this mountain, and that was exciting, too.