Bee took the next step forward in the darkening evening, humming inside with vacation happiness and that nice buzz from the 2-for-1 cocktails at dinner. She fell straight into a tiger trap—otherwise known as a giant hole on the side of the road.
In many other parts of the world, there would have been a sidewalk where she stood. Smooth, except for the occasional cracks children hop over to improve their luck. Wide enough for streams of people romanced by their own distractions to pass each other, without making eye contact or brushing shoulders. Protected from motor vehicles whizzing past, simply by being elevated from the road and reserved for pedestrians.
If, for any reason, such a glorious sidewalk is obstructed, a bold warning sign bordered by unmistakable florescent orange cones alerts the pedestrians to ensure their safety.
Not here. Where the sidewalk ends…a lot. If there was a sidewalk to begin with. Even still, it’s no tiger trap.
A married couple Bee once knew went to Southeast Asia for their honeymoon. It was a romantic adventure, until the husband fell into a tiger trap in a remote part of Cambodia. She had been hiking in front of him. When she turned around, he was gone.
He shouted his wife’s name from the hole. She found her husband, miraculously intact after the fall through a mixture of luck and agility. It was a team effort. Eventually the newlyweds worked together, fashioning a manmade ladder from durable jungle debris she gathered for their rescue operation.
Hours later the wife helped him hobble into the closest town, where they pumped him full of antibiotics and stitched him up. Being young, foolish, and in love, they continued on with their honeymoon instead of going home. At one point she had to change the stitches herself.
That’s the kind of relationship built to last. Today they are living proof of that—still happily married, with two boys who get to hear the tiger trap honeymoon tale one day.
“Bee! Shit, are you okay?” Mr. H suddenly appeared with his flashlight, eyes wide, sweaty forehead glistening in the darkness. “I turned around and you were gone.”
Bee’s left leg was submerged beneath the road for several seconds before she bounced up, using the strength of her right leg to hoist herself back onto a safe patch on the side of the road
“Yes, I’m fine. I couldn’t see anything! I should have stopped and used my phone flashlight. Should have known better. It’s obviously dangerous walking here.”
Bee began testing any physical limitations—rolling her ankle, lifting her leg, putting weight on her foot. No sprains, no breaks. It was a Christmas miracle…literally.
“Are you sure?” He looked her up and down again. Mr. H’s flashlight raced across her skin to assess the damage.
A knot on her shin would be covered in bruise-shaped continents over the next week or so. Her cracked big toenail would grow back after a few months—wasn’t sandal season back home anyway.
“Yeah. I’m seriously fine.” She blinked back tears, angry with herself for all of it. For still crying when she got hurt like a little girl. For not using her phone flashlight to see the consistently precarious “sidewalks” everywhere.
Bee and Mr. H crept toward the danger zone and illuminated the big bad hole with their shaky flashlights. Inside was a muddy pool of rusted, jagged motorbike parts, along with a pile of cigarette butts and miscellaneous trash. A few nails poked out of from the section she had barely missed.
Mr. H put his arm around her waist and lighted the uncertain path before them. “You are one lucky mother fucker. You survived the tiger trap.”
Welcome to a new format on this blog called Real Life Fiction, where everyday experiences are shared through outlandish storytelling by yours truly. If you missed the first part of this series, you can catch it here.