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Each night, 'nita runs down the old stone path in the city of dreams, past the peddlers of singing fish, past the stuffed and honey-roasted frogs, past the window where otter women pose in sarongs, and over the bridge carved with cranes. Each night, the clock speeds by at a minute to each footstep taken, and each night, something stops her before she can reach the temple of the Elephant God.

One night, she upends the cart of the woman selling the hairs of hanged men, and spends the entire night picking up skeins of silver and brown and black that lie strewn in the dust. When the sun peeks up over the horizon, she's scarcely at the foot of the bridge, and she wakes up.

Another night, 'nita is interrupted by an ibis-headed man who follows her an entire block, shilling his scrivener's supplies. Water drips from the end of his crooked beak as he extolls the virtues of his phoenix-feather quills.

The third night, she meets her true love in a tangled collision of limbs and lips and tearing fabric, and the sun rises on sweat-soaked bodies beside the flowing canal filled with glass water lilies.

Many nights later, she is spry and swift, and she leaps the cart of the hanged men's hair. She evades the calls of the ibis-headed man. Her true love cries out mournfully after her as she flees with her tear-streaked face turned sunwards, towards the pink-tinged sky.

When 'nita reaches the steps of the Elephant God's Temple and kneels to lay the lotus blossom (now ragged and yellowed, less ivory than brown) at the feet of the statue, she is panting and weary, as if it's been a century and not a single evening. As she raises her eyes to his eyes, the sun gilds the sandstone in a wash of warm golden, and the night goes out like the flame of a match.

PostcardQuest2011 - Siam Elephant