Vietnam

By
More by this author
Gabe

It was strangely brusque for spring in Vietnam, cold air whistled through the open window in the front of the bus, bringing with it a barrage of sand. Each time the bus jumped on the erratic road, the man next to her jostled against her before slumping back into the bowels of his seat. All at once Cynthia cursed Roger, the war, France and far eastern style rugs. Roger was sleeping, a roll of rugs tucked between his legs; head resting against the sand coated bus window, the well rounded tip of his nose gently quivering each time sand was blown into his nostrils. Cynthia didn't understand how Roger could sleep on the treacherous bus ride; every time she began to doze off a gust of wind, stronger than the previous would whistle through the bus, reminding her that she was not to find peace on this journey. About half the soldiers on the bus were asleep or at least pretending to sleep, finding peace by burying their leathery faces deep into woolen scarves. The men who remained awake passed the time by playing cards or reading. Cynthia was the only woman on the bus, she could feel their pressing eyes, looking up from a hand of cards, or a novel. This made her uncomfortable, especially when Roger was asleep. The bus came to a stop, tires desperately seeking traction on the dusty road. In one chaotic second, as the vehicle came to a stop and the rusty bus door swung open.

'Than Hoa!' the driver shouted over the sandy gale that had rushed through the open bus door. No one stirred, they were all going to the same place, the bus windows were so grimy that Cynthia hardly make out their surroundings. There seemed to be in an abandoned field, a strange place for a bus stop. The driver, fighting against the wind, pulled the bus door shut and the bus began to move, sputtering for a few yards before clearing all the sand out of its engine.

As they hauled through Lam Son, the silent tension in the bus began to weigh heavily on Cynthia, her eyes began to dart from sleeping soldier to sleeping soldier, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone staring at her.

'Cynthia!' it was Roger, he had stirred from his slumber. 'Have you seen where my carpets have gone?' sure enough Roger's carpets had slipped from their lodge between his legs and rolled across the buss floor. 'Be a dear and fetch them for me?' Roger asked politely. Cynthia rose and made her was over to the carpets. Standing made her uncomfortable, if all the eyes on the bus hadn't been on her before, they were now. Reaching the carpets, Cynthia stopped bending over before she could start; instead she stuck out her foot, conscientiously pulling the carpers over with her toes. Mustering the courage to pick the carpets up, she bent her knees, and keeping her back straight and to avoid excess attention to her rear, began to reach down. As she grasped the carpets, she was startled to find a box of cigarettes rather forcefully trusted in her direction. Looking up from the cigarettes, Cynthia met a pair of icy blue eyes belonging to the hand holding the cigarettes. The mans thin lipped smile penetrated Cynthia's nerves, straightening up quickly she gestured no to the cigarettes and turned to avoid his coolly approving gaze. Aware of the mans continual gaze, Cynthia buried her face into her scarf as she sat down, ignore the whole incident she thought, tucking the rugs between her legs she thought, ignore the soldier, try and get some rest.





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