Thursday, October 16, 2014


I wake to the sound of macaws and her voice: "Good morning." It's one of those NPR voices, the kind you can too-easily imagine whispering in your ear when the lights go out. She might be afraid of the dark but she doesn't mind you taking her mind off of it, and when that voice tells you what she wants you can feel the tingle down your spine.

We lie in bed for a while, submerged and soaking as dawn breaks over the Pantanal. That she is here with me is a surprise — I had planned on going alone — but she's the kind of woman who would have been at home on the frontier so having her alongside is a help. She's a good human to have in a tight corner.

We spend the day in the wild; we walk for miles. We see a jaguar and gasp. We boggle at the capybaras and laugh at sunset when hundreds of parrots take noisy flight as we return to our cabin.

"Laughter is medicine, you know," she says.

"It does feel good," I admit. "I've never been a big laugher."

"Why not?"

"Good question," I manage, but I don't answer because I have no pat response. All I know is I'm laughing now because she's funny.

"Ha-ha," she says, pulling the unspoken thought from my head. "I hope it's when I try to be funny."

We lapse into silence but it doesn't feel oppressive. It's a comfortable quiet, the edges worn smooth by time and familiarity.

"I trust you," she tells me, and I feel her hand slip into mine. She looks up and the left side of her mouth curls in a smile. She pulls me through the door.

"Where are we going?" I ask, and her smile widens to a grin.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," she says. I swear I see part of her start to fade away.

We make it to the bedroom door when I hear the bells and wake up to my alarm.

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