The fire made her skin glow. There were drops of sweat running down her face and across her collar bone. It was pooling in the lake in between the two mountain ranges that ran along her shoulders to her neck. She smiled. The fire she was throwing with ease did not make her afraid. It made her alive. Every curve she made with her petite, toned body seemed to be a piece of art. I can see why moths spend their lives trying to get close to the light. My eyes were fixed. On her yes, but also on the fire that she seemed to test with every movement. She amazed me with her lack of fear. Her smile never wiped from her face with high cheek bones and elegant features.
I asked him, “Do you enjoy paragliding?”
“Of course. Why else would I do it for 20 years?” He asked me.
“People do jobs they dislike every day.” I said casually
He smiled with a bit of arrogance. “The people who have jobs they dislike live in America and Europe, not Nepal.”
I giggle nervously unsure of what else to say and he continued putting the gear on me. I trusted him despite his overconfidence.
We flew. The sky never felt so tangible.
The tops of trees. The tops of waterfalls. People working, harvesting. Children playing and swinging, unaware or indifferent to the colorful parachutes above them. I could see everything.
We flew with the hawks fishing in the lake below. We were above them, an unnatural state They did not seem uncomfortable with the backwards roles. They continued flying effortlessly, as did we using the wind.
Silence, peace, wind, rush, repeat.
“Henna. Henna. Henna.” A young girl shouted, sitting on the edge of the street with books of amazing designs running up people’s legs and arms. I wondered if the designs she did really looked like that. I made eye contact and smiled at her.
“Would you like henna?” She asked, this time directing the question towards me rather than the air. I maintained eye contact and did not have the heart to say no, but didn’t say yes either. The woman sitting next to her, her mother, came and gently guided me to a spot next to them on the curb. “Just a small one.” She said, using her fingers to measure a spot not too big on the back of my hand. I allowed her to begin. I smiled and felt happy to be talking to somebody. She smiled at me so genuinely as she worked on my arm.
She said, “You are so beautiful.” She continued saying something to the young girl, and the young girl wearing a red, plaid shirt given to her by a Chinese customer earlier in the day translated “Are you married?”
No. I said with a giggle, amused by the idea of marriage right now.
Her mother looked worried and took the hand without henna to make sure that it was, indeed, in my future. She studied my palm. She spoke to her daughter again in Nepali. The young girl in the red, plaid shirt said, “You will have two important men in your future. One will be good. One will be bad. You must choose the right man with your heart.”
I studied the young girl’s face and then her mother’s. They seemed to truly believe this and so I believed it. The girl continued in her perfect English, “You must make a wish as my mother finishes the henna. If you make it before she finishes then it will come true. Wish for some kind of success.” And so I did. I haven’t told anyone my wish.
I asked the young girl, “What do you want to do when you get older?”
She answered with ease, “I want to be a guide, so that my mother no longer has to sit out here and do henna tattoos.”
The young girl was as energetic as her mother was calm. As restless as her mother was content.