Maebe stood near the training dummy, giving it the occasional tap with her foot. It had been 2 weeks since she arrived, and the dummy never obeyed. Her shoulders were slumped, her eyes turned away from the spectacular view. When the wind blew her hair into her eyes, she blinked rapidly, her eyes watering. She did not move the hair back to its usual place.
There were a few other sim fu hopefuls in the training area, but as they walked by she hunched her shoulders further. One of the other neophytes achieved her white belt and paused to show it off, and as the others broke into a smattering of applause, Maebe slipped silently through the gate and down the path.
She was wearing thick boots, though they made a light crunching sound on the fine gravel of the path, and she barely left footprints behind her. She traveled in a large curve, avoiding the market and food vendors. She went up a few flights of stairs of the hostel, then stomach grumble rumbling, Maebe gingerly sat down on one of the landings. In her hands she held her phone, but the power was off. She turned it side to side, the black screen catching the orange light of the sunset, as she leaned her sweaty head against the banister. Her thin fingers traced the outline of the power button, leaving a slight trail of dust and grime, before she heaved herself to her feet and clomp-stumbled up the winding stairs.
In the fading light she lay on top of the covers on the cheap bed, in her warm PJs. Her clothes were damp and dusty, and changing for bed was the one concession to effort that she was willing to make. Her mascara and layers of dust stayed on, until the intrusive sun woke her in the morning.
The phone's battery didn't even complain, cheerily whooshing and beeping as Maebe turned the phone on.
The cool morning light tumbled through the round window, like water being poured through a spout. As the light filled the room, Maebe wrote a quick message. Then deleted it. By now most of the other residents of the hostel were awake, and it would be near impossible to leave without at least one of them trying to strike up a conversation.
She tapped out another one, the soft beeps of the keys mingling with the sounds of laughter in the neighboring common room and kitchen.
Maebe slowly sat on the bed, tucking her legs around her and burying herself in the hostel's sheets and pillows. She hit send.
By the time the little image of a green rhombus and a dancing envelope had cleared the screen, a reply was arriving.
OMG! Where have u been?
I h8 u D: Not funny!
Would u believe I forgot to charge my phone?
Maebe made a pained look as she sent the message. The little battery icon was an accusatory green.
Idiot. I luv ur face, but u are a dumb genius. The dumbest.
I am out of cash.
MHBFY. Come home.
I need to call Dad. So go into hiding.
Dramatics! How long do I have?
Maybe an hour?
Maebe fished the dusty phone charger out from the duffel bag stashed under her bed. It had accumulated a huge amount of orange cat hair, despite there being no cats in the hostel. She shook most of it off, before charging her phone. "Well," she muttered, "Maybe it does really need it? Sorry, Toni..." her voice trailed off to the barest of whispers. She rubbed her eyes, before making a furtive dash towards the showers.
The common area was filled with tourists, successful sim fu travelers, mother hens and a general hodge podge of noise and excitement. She slunk through the door to the veranda. Despite the spectacular view, it was almost always deserted. Of course, after walking up hundreds of steps why would anyone enjoy the view when they could enjoy a couch?
The air still smelled green and wet, there was still music in the air. But each little breeze was a hand, pushing her back home. Just make the call, said the rustling leaves and the laughing explorers and the hazy sky. Just call.