Moira had chosen this town and now she was being forced to live with her decision. Before she left home, she hadn’t stopped to consider anything about her irrational choice. Just find somewhere without Americans or tourists. A place. She wanted neutrality. But now her heart pounded, sweat poured down her back and she was following a dog. Her stomach lurched in hunger. Again she was certain what she was smelling was burnt sugar. A bakery.
She took one step and then another, moving quickly to keep up with the dog with ghost eyes. It was moving too quickly but her nose told her they were getting close to a bakery, or someone cooking sweets. The dog stopped. She caught up to where it sat and stood beside it in the now midday sun, melting.
Chocho, why had she decided to call this creature such a stupid name. Chocho, let’s keep moving. Of course the dog couldn’t understand her. What language did it speak? Surely not English. She’d only heard what was probably an indigenous language. She hadn’t even done the most basic research about this place.
Bark, sharp and high, his bark. Chocho, keep going. But he simply sat. She bent slowly and reached her hand toward his head. Chocho, she said softly. Her hand hovered, hovered, she wanted to rest it on the coarse fur. Touch something real in this town of nothing, she needed to touch him.
In one movement he sprinted ahead, leaving her bent over an empty space. Chocho. He was walking again and she had no time to think. Except she was certain she’d lost count of how many blocks they were from the hotel. In this anonymous place, that had been her only assignment. Remember where she was. But now she’d lost that one thing. The only thing she needed to survive her ridiculous decision.
Her stomach growled. She needed to eat, she needed to follow the dog, the dog needed to guide her to the bakery that seemed closer with each step. But wasn’t. She was breathing hard and walking would soon be impossible in the heat.