The Writer at 16: “Bivouac,” Part II

“Bivouac,” Part II

Elena and some of the other girls spent the hours before lunch gathering colorful stones to take back as souvenirs to Manila.  Their fair skin blushed an angry red because of the intense heat, perspiration gleamed on their necks and backs, and the hot rocks baked their feet, but they were happier than when they had been lying in the flimsy tents with the darkness assaulting their senses.

Elena was reminded of Matabungkay, where she and her family used to spend long weekends.  There was the same laughter hanging in the air, the same feeling of companionship.  She wished she could remain on the beach the whole day, but the sergeant had announced that morning that they were going on a hike to the tunnel the Americans had built on the other side of the island during World War II.  He had sounded as apologetic as ever, and blushed ridiculously for a grown man.

(If self had remained in the Philippines, she probably would have continued writing like this:  unhurried descriptions, langurous moods.  But —  water under the bridge.  Now she is here, and she has perfected the art of telegraphing emotion in very short, spare pieces.  Probably because, here, she is always pressed for time!)

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