Author: Claudia Terry

A short story that begins a journey.

There is a table at the edge of the lake with barley-twist legs and a red melamine top; there is no chair. A man leans against the table looking too worn for such a beautiful morning. She approaches the man.

“Punta Gourda?” she asks. Her Spanish is poor and she is wary and direct.
“Esta�Livingstone?” She fumbles with the words, feeling unprepared and points to land at the other side of the lake, barely visible in the morning haze.
“Si, Si,” he answers nodding into the distance.
“Gracious.” She says, thankful for his help, then turns to leave.
“Pasaport�.” He demands rapping the table. The gesture is aggressive and arrogant and she quickly turns her back, fumbling for her money belt. With a practised hand she removes the passport, setting it on the table.
He straightens to look official and picks up the booklet, opening it to examine her photo. He reads out her name, reducing it to syllables, “Chris-ti-na.” Then his eyes turn to her and slowly find their way down the length of her body and again to her face.
He leafs through the book, page by page, examining each stamp, tracing her journey, repeating her name under his breath as he travels with her, “Christina. Christina. Christina� ah Christina�”
Suddenly voices interrupt his mantra and he quickly closes the book: turning his eyes to the intruders.
Two young men carrying crates of soda are rattling their way down the beach toward the waiting boat.
He opens a drawer at the side of the table and removes a stamp and inkpad. Returning his attention to Christina he mutters, “Dame dinero Christina.”
His use of her name makes her feel vulnerable. She knows that there is no charge to leave and she already possesses a visa for the country that she is to enter, but she again seeks out the belt and peering down locates some American dollars. Their exchange complete she turns and walks away toward the boat.
He shouts after her, “Gracias senorita Christina” but she does not acknowledge him as she walks away into the beauty and warmth of the day.