Travelling with Strangers

Submitted into Contest #171 in response to: Write a story where someone decides to take the long way home.... view prompt


Contemporary Adventure Drama

The hills of the Meru mountains were arranged in an evenly manner such that the sky appeared to be a perfect white in the cloudy day. The dusty shoes on our feet had not only walked miles and miles with no rest, but they somehow knew that the journey we were on was still a long way from being complete. Our backs sweaty and our tongues dry we walked in a swarm of tan like color which was in a fashion common to that land, a matching brown to mimic the unforgiving desert like landscape. 

The leader a man of many ages, wore an extra layer of a turban like cloth on his head to protect further hair loss on his black almost glossy scalp. At least that was the consensus among us in the back group. He was always complaining about his rescinding hairline and I would not put it past him to do just that, to keep the small scatter he had left.

The sun blazed in a furious glory cooking the bones in our body as we walked with no sign of relief. At dusk we all sat down at the route point and had a meal made of beef jerky and corn flour that tasted more like chalk than corn. One of the lead scouts ushered sighs and groans with each mouthful he took, he eagerly volunteered to prepare meals in the next expedition to prevent the horrid taste that lingered in all our palettes. This is one of my earliest memories of traveling and most of the faces are still unfamiliar to the name but clear to the mind. The many companions to have walked many foreign lands without sharing names.

In many of my experiences I have never walked alone. I have also never walked with friends. I have never walked with family either. A common term would be a nomad but I am ashamed to use it as a describer. The term nomad can be applicable to my sense of travel but not to my identity and for most us I believe, and in many times we all travel with strangers.

On my way the airport this morning collected a small backpack and one tug-a-bag that was my Christmas present from the year before. I walked down the lobby packed with strangers of all kinds and shapes. A man in a suit sat by the soft purple chair reading a newspaper while his hot cup simmered with some dark liquid. A coffee or maybe a tea I know not for certain but to his right was a child, barely able to walk but standing at the foot of a large glass oceanic imitation. His mother was fully attentive and fully eyed on the child was also crouched to the ground with one hand glued boy. They sat there, unbothered by each small distance between yet each remained foreign to the other. 

I handed my key to the tall blond gentleman and he smiled a soft hearted kinda smile while he carefully watched me transcend the double doors and and disappear into the street below.

Seeing it was still a many hours from the flight, my feet navigated the busy sidewalks leading to the city public terminal and where an intercity was boarding. The red-line bus cuts across the city and suspends its service at airport park sat there as a crowd of with corporate like commuters loaded. My bag in handed I mixed in and watched as they stared endlessly into their phones, each one lost in their world.

The journey home always seems good until you have to go. When I was little boy, it was a personal duty, more like an obligation to delay the trip home as much as possible. We would walk back and forth on the riverbed, picking up toads and some longnoses until dusk. And upon realizing that we were about to break curfew it would suddenly become a race of time and death. Looking back now, it is very evident that I still take the long way home.  

The bus called out station forty and the motions was stopped for half the passengers to disembark. This was one of the two largest stops. In my heart a warm bid of farewell was extended to my fellow travelers, many of which I will never seen again, as they continued with their odysseys.

The second leg of the red-line was filled with cityscapes and glass buildings that barraged both sides of the road and terminated at the Blue Fin bridge. I watched closely as the boats hoarded the shores, each side a stack of it’s own parallel and perfectly aligned. White, blue and red and white again the piled the shores, waiting in seldom excitement for the day that they will be allowed to return to sea again.


The grand airport park was a large terminal with a massive overheard canopy that blanketed stores, walkways and parkings. The food stands and the bell court shops along the park entrance, allowed for hungry travelers to exhaust their appetites with families and friends and other travelers. It was a kind of place where lovers kissed one last time, children jump on their leaving parents and the elderly watch in nostalgic gazes before embarking. Little ribbons of yellow green and blue rested on the giant columns that held the roof, as if a festival was about to fall on one of the coming days. 

I strolled through with my eyes and tummy agreeing to form a united deceit, the eyes bigger to the treats that rested on the windows and the stomach loud to sounds of a rolling rumble. With quick feet and a succession of steps my frail yet slender body was able to slip in the airport doors without a visit to this stores. The guard, lifting his head when a smooth gust of cool breeze blew on his shining silver smile beyond the white hair on his upper lip. It was a cordial smile, the type he gave many I would think for just walking in those doors.

When I arrived at the destination gate, the number eleven was printed on the left side in fine blue contrast. A couple was already seated in the area with their bags on each side, forming a barricade to protect the neighboring seats. The man glancing away from his book, shot a careless gaze in my direction as if to acknowledge my presence but nothing more. The lady in a fur pink and white coat, his wife I presumed by the large rock on the wedding finger, remained fixed on her small portable screen unconcerned with this small meaningless exchange.

Soon more people joined in twos and ones and sometimes in fives, each bringing their own belongings ins sacks of black, yellow, green, purple and the sort. With the addition of new person the same gazes flew across silently and softly but so did the chatter increase. 

The chatter died near the end when a man, probably not far from thirty years of age, rushed into the waiting area with a panicked faced. He confirmed his flight and asked the lady by the small desk near the boarding sign if this was his correct time. A few of us just stared at him and smiled silently, upon confirming this he turned his head and smiled in joyful amusement of gladness to have arrived on time.

The quiet bliss that had passed like a ghost in the wind died and the soft chatters and giggles returned once again. There was an air of excitement in others, a look of anxiety in some and a neutral look of reservation in others. We all sat together on this temporary chairs, with our temporary passes waiting for the temporary time we will all share to get to our next journey. A truly borrowed time with each headed on the same direction yet different destinations. I guess things never change for most of us and all we can do is journey is traveling with strangers.

November 12, 2022 03:00

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Éan Bird
16:10 Apr 04, 2023

Loved the use of imagery in this story, and how, at times, it weaves together to create a unified sensory experience for the reader. So much grit and dryness in this section: "The sun blazed in a furious glory cooking the bones in our body as we walked with no sign of relief. At dusk we all sat down at the route point and had a meal made of beef jerky and corn flour that tasted more like chalk than corn."


Lunny Muffin
05:28 Apr 05, 2023

Thank you so much glad you enjoyed it!


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