‘People seem to be nicer to you when they think you’re lost.’ I’ll write that down, Octi thought to himself. That’s a good line. That’s a really good line. The bus jerked again, and Octi had to grab the armrests. He didn’t have to be embarrassed; there was no one else on the bus. 2 more hours to Nasca, he muttered. That’s not a long time at all….
Lima had been fun, but it wasn’t what he was looking for on this trip. Maybe Nasca provided the answer. It probably didn’t, but he had time to kill and questions to mull over.
He heard footsteps coming up the stairs. “Hola, vas a Nasca?” the voice arrived before the person. Yes, Octi answered, realizing there wasn’t really an alternative given that it was the only stop left. The bus stewardess walked up to him.
“You speak English?” she asked, surprisingly fluently.
“Yes, do you?”
“Enough to chat,” she said, and then smiled. “Where are you going?”
Octi looked at her puzzled. “Nasca…” he answered.
She laughed. “Yes, this is obvious.” She sat on the chair in front of him and turned back. “What are you looking for? Adventure?” she asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe. I think I’m looking for answers”
“What is your question?”
“I don’t have an answer to that too”
She stared at him softly, her eyes scanning his face. “My name is Adalina,” she said, reaching out her hand. Octi shook it back. “This is the part where you say your name? Or am I wrong?” she responded to his silence.
“Oh yes. You can call me Octi. My parents named me October.”
“Why don’t you want to be called October? Is it too long?” she probed.
Octi stayed silent for a while. “That used to be it. But I think Octi lets me be myself, October reminds me of who the world wants me to be”
Adalina turned her body more and made herself comfortable. “Very interesting, Octi… do you not like who the world wants you to be?”
He turned his head towards the window and stared at the cliffs running past. They were majestic and unmovable. They must have been here for centuries, he thought. Yet, they spoke nothing.
“No, I do not.” he said, and then let out a sigh. That felt good. “I think all my life I’ve grown up wanting to live a certain way. I’ve wanted to change the world, to make an impact in history. And then I traveled the world, and I’m not sure if I want to do that anymore,” he went on.
Adalina kept her eyes fixed on him. Octi took that as a cue to keep talking.
“Listen, this may sound crazy, but I’ve been thinking. What if I go off the grid? What if I just disappear and travel around South America on what I make from odd jobs and things like that? It’s cheap enough to do so and I know I can survive. I can just leave everything behind, and everyone will be forced to forget about me. I’ll get to restart everything”
Adalina laughed, loud and involved. Octi looked at her, shocked at first, and then joined her. “I know, its ridiculous. What was I thinking?”
“No, not at all.” she said, coming down from her laughter. She placed her hand over his, looked at him staight and said, “Hazlo! Do it.”
“No, I was joking. What would my family think?”
“Write them postcards. Tell them to keep it a secret. You can’t live your life bound to someone else’s will… you’re not free at all.”
Octi looked at her puzzled. Her hands were still on his. He did not know what to say.
Adalina saw this and moved her hands away. “We’re almost at Nasca, it’s 30 minutes away. It’s a beautiful city, and I hope you have a good time.” She got up from the seat. “I can’t wait to see my family again.”
Octi watched her go back down the stairs. He went back to staring at the cliffs out of the window. I can’t do it, he thought, everything will change… everything! He turned his head to the other side of the bus, and noticed for the first time, the coastline. Dense, powerful waves slamming against the beach and drawing back to become join the expansive ocean. Octi looked up The National on his phone and played Sorrow on loop, plugging into the music as he stared at the ocean for the rest of the ride.
Adalina walked up the stairs again a while later. “We’re here, October,” she yelled across. Octi walked up to the front and took out his earphones. It’s Octi, he said, and are you planning on grabbing dinner?, he quickly followed.
Adalina looked at him for a second and then smiled. ‘Yes, Octi, of course. I forgot. And that depends, I know a good place, but we may get lost”.
That’s completely fine, he replied.