A.J. Walker


Flight of Fancy

Mid Week Flash #203 - 09.06.21

Flight of Fancy

The roads in the town had all been narrow slightly rutted affairs. There were signs that they were occasionally used by 4x4s but I’d barely seen any. Most people walked where they needed to go, or maybe used scooters or small motorcycles. Vehicles were used for hauling produce, or the odd generator, in or out of the village; they’d be expensive to own at the best of times. So despite being within the area of the rain forest and paddy fields the roads within the town were pretty fine for getting around. Exiting the town to head on my walk to see the butterflies at the salt lick the roads quickly changed. As I got into more wilderness the roads paradoxically got wider and more used than within the town. These were the roads of the foresters. They were as wide as a dual carriageway but there was no tarmac, they were formed of white craggy mud, splattered and hardened into baked scars.

I watched enthralled as a girl struggled past me on a 100cc bike, lunging from one pothole to another, over baked clay into soft mud and out again. Her arms pumping one way then another as she fought the ground beneath, her legs tried to work as makeshift stabilisers. It looked harder than walking. She didn’t appear to be carrying anything I guessed that she had a long way to go and better roads must lie ahead, or there was something - or someone - to come back with. It looked tortuous - and couldn’t be doing the bike any good. It was hard enough on foot but I was glad to be walking.

The heat was soon beginning to tell on me though and my thighs were battered by the constant climbing up and down over the gigantic ruts. I wondered how massive the forestry vehicles must be that plough these furrows through the once pristine forest. I’d be intrigued to see, but at the same time it would doubtlessly depress me. I wasn’t sure if the wood was used for some tat western furniture or whether the forest was being cleared for palm plantations; probably both.

Dehydration was making me dizzy so I headed over the biggest mound of hardened mud at the left hand side of the road - there was a matching wall on the right hand side. I thought the shade was closer on the left; and that is the only reason I went that way. Looking back perhaps this was a sliding door moments.

I sat on a fallen tree knocked down as part of the road construction: the road evidently hadn’t involved any consideration of minimising impacts. It gave me a place to sit, but that was depressing in itself.

I leant back on the tree leaning into one that seemed to have somehow survived the construction. It gave me a back like a chair. Though with tiredness eating into me I’d have probably have found a nest of ants comfortable. I sucked back on my second Gatorade of the day and hoped I’d packed enough drinks to see me to the salt lick and back. It was thirsty work this close to the equator.

As I got towards the end of the bottle and the orange liquid sloshed around I saw another flash of the same orange in the darkness of the forest shade: seemingly a butterfly. I was heading out of town to the salt works to see the butterflies. Maybe I didn’t need to get out that far. I finished the drink and put the bottle back in my rucksack before returning my eyes to where the butterfly had been. I couldn’t see it in the distance. Suddenly there was something before me. Fluttering less than a metre from my face. I couldn’t make it out properly. I could sense wings beating rapidly but couldn’t see them, just a slender body before me. As I moved my head left and right trying to grasp its reality I found that it followed my head precisely, rocking from side to side against the trees in the dark. In my head I was suddenly sure that this was no butterfly, this was a faerie. I could definitely make out legs, arms and a face. This damn road had cut through ancients trees, rare orchids, multifarious environmental habitats: and the home of the faeries. I was getting angrier by the moment at the destruction. Then again, perhaps I was just really, really disorientated and dehydrated.


WC: 750