Storytime again, methinks ­čÖé

—~

The air was so wet you could squeeze it like a sponge. Steam curled in tendrils off of the great fan-like leaves at eye level and all around there was a vague greenish fog, tinted by the thick vegetation in all directions, including up and down. There was a steady┬ádrip, drip coming from one of the nearest of the great leaves, as sparkling beads of water rolled gently down the leaf’s great spine and splashed on the green mattress below. Everything was covered in a layer of beading sweat that wouldn’t evaporate. All was green, except for tiny splashes of red, or orange, where occasionally a strange flower would lift its delicate head and seek companionship, flirting outrageously with neighboring plants and insects.

The jungle was not a quiet place. Monkeys, and probably other things, sent their keening calls through the shadowy lattice of trees. Wet echoes of dripping water jumped lightly from leaf to vine to fern, and it was impossible to move without swishing a steaming waterfall from at least five neighboring plants. Frogs and insects sang their constant, buzzing songs, and strange birds commented sweetly from their secret hiding places. Even in a quiet moment, you could hear, in the distance, the telltale rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. But no rain could alleviate this soaking, sweating heat.

Jules smiled, his teeth melting like sugar, and spread out his arms, absorbing as many degrees Fahrenheit as his skinny limbs would allow. He took a few steps to humbly approach a beautiful hibiscus-looking flower and bowed to it, caressing its petals. He held a giant leaf to his lips and tilted it, so that the crystalline water came streaming into his mouth like a sweet tea. Then he wiped his face on the leaf, and there was no damage to the thick layer of sweat that anointed his features. Jules smiled again, closing his eyes, listening to the sounds, and feeling the air moving in slow, sopping currents against his skin…

‘Jules, we are here!’ his mother’s voice wafted from the front of the carriage just as the sound of the horse’s hoofs stopped. Jules suddenly sat up straight. He had been facing out the window, but hadn’t noticed that they had arrived at the great grey mansion.

His mother turned in her seat. ‘Just look at you, Jules!’ she cried at the sight of Jules’s winter coat, hanging unbuttoned and half off. She set about furiously trying to fix it over the back of her seat, clucking things like, ‘You’ll catch your death in this cold, wearing your coat like that!’ and ‘Wrap your scarf around your neck, boy, do you want to freeze?’ and Jules could only let his mother fuss and scold until she was done.

As they dismounted the carriage, Jules drew his scarf up tighter, as cold gusts of wind rushed snow into his face. Now was the time for visiting with Grandma; Jules ached for when the visit was over and he could return to the warm, wonderful tropics…

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