The wait at the local bus terminal lasted a lifetime, probably because there were many people and the heat was higher than typical Romanian weather in August. I arrived in Romania the night before by bus from Slovakia, and I was looking forward to Dracula’s Castle, or as it’s known, Bran Castle. It was on my bucket list for years, and I adore the novel Dracula. The bus was not entirely uncomfortable; it was just when I arrived in Brașov. It was late in the night, and I feared my hostel would not be open once I came. With a bit of silent prayer to whoever wanted to hear me, I arrived and set off with my pack to find this hostel.
After wandering the stone streets, up and down hills, and some steps later, I found the building. Open! How wonderful! I looked forward to that hot shower and an actual bed. Traveling for several weeks makes you realize how much you love a bed and not just a seat on a bus or train. I opened the door and found a girl no older than eighteen at the counter looking at her computer. The waiting area seemed quirky but quaint. I was pleased, but truthfully, I had no real desire to continue looking around. I only wanted that shower and a bed. Once checked in, I found my room, showered, and crashed.
This morning I was determined to see the castle, no matter if there were many people or the bus, was a bit delayed. I felt the heat against my skin when someone asked a simple question. Something about the fare for the bus to go to the castle. I don’t know why, but I spoke out loud when I saw his face. “It’s 12 lei,” I called out. The guy and his lady companion looked at me and nodded. I didn’t think much of it after that, only to account that he was a Latino man with long black curls. Handsome, yes, but he was with a woman. Probably his girlfriend. Eh, I was only being helpful. The bus arrived, and I quickly hopped onto it. I found a seat with a window to look out and sat down.
According to the website, the only way to get to the castle was by bus or car. It was settled in the mountains of Bran, Romania, about sixteen miles southwest of Brașov. There were so many mountainous areas in Romania, so I wasn’t sure if all the towns and cities were situated there. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was looking forward to since I was a literature teacher who thought to add this to my list of places to visit in eastern Europe. Once I sat down, I saw him again. The handsome-looking Latino merely glanced my way and found himself a seat. Whatever, I thought. I looked out the window to see the beauty of the mountains of Romania. Lush greens seemed to expand further than these mountains, and it was even visible to see the colors of wildflowers since there were so many.
I loved to daydream when traveling, always thinking of a novel related to the scenery I was looking at. I only could think about the novel Dracula and how it seemed so similar. While daydreaming of somewhat pleasant thoughts, I remembered a few weeks ago. I had submitted my resignation from my job in the big city of Shanghai, packed up my apartment, and was getting ready to move back to the United States. I had no plans but wanted to go home and try to make it there. I have memories, some money in the bank, and the items from my apartment, and that was it. I loved my time in China and built a great career, but I knew I needed a change. I needed to find a new challenge. I was ending my time in China, but I wanted to start a new adventure. On this trip, I could do just that.
Not much later, the bus stopped in the small town of Bran, and I was thrilled to see it along with the castle. I followed the caravan of people and paused to look at the surroundings. Small stall shops lined the streets with souvenirs, flowers, and snacks. Small tour groups and some teens were giggling while taking photos of themselves. One of those groups stopped me and asked me to take their picture, and I was happy to oblige, and they went on their way. The sun was rising, signaling it was nearly noon, and I noted that it would be some time until the next bus to go back to Brașov would be around five o’clock.
“Excuse me,” was what I heard next. I turned and found the Latino man looking at me. I took in his features even more. Chocolate almond eyes, luscious black curls that seem to go in every direction, and tanned skin. I wasn’t sure what to say next, but luckily he added with a light accent, “Do you know where the castle is? I can’t find it.”
I eyed him with curiosity, noting that he must know where the castle was, especially since it was behind him. “There, behind the bus.” Looking into his eyes, I saw there was a gleam in them. It showed some sort of emotion, but I didn’t know what. It looked almost like, admiration. Was this man admiring me? The same way I’m admiring him?
“Oh, right, I see it now,” he said when he turned to see it. “Since we’re going to the same place, let’s go for a walk together?” His English wasn’t wholly accurate, but I understood his meaning. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but it felt good and right.
“Sure.” I smiled back and motioned for us to make our way to the castle.
As we went to the castle together, I wasn’t sure how to explain it, but I felt a new beginning starting for me here at Dracula’s castle.
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This would make a great start to a series, I agree with KT George.
It's so hard to develop characters in a short story, but you were able to create two that have a backstory worth exploring further. I would've loved to read more about what made the hostel quirky and more about the wildflowers and village scenery. But again, short story. Perhaps in another prompt?!
That's my plan! Thank you for your feedback 😊
This sounds like a promising start to a longer work! Are you going to expand this based on the prompts each week? I enjoyed the details of the main character's adventure, and the subplot of the gorgeous guy who keeps popping up. Good luck this week, and welcome to Reedsy!
Thank you for your comment! I am looking forward to expanding this adventure for the main character 😀