Part 4 of “Painting Dream,” Chapter Nine of Green Music
“Will you be spending the night? I can tell someone to get a room ready. They’re really nice. I used to live here when I was a kid.”
“With your uncle?” she asked.
“My parents died. Out sailing when a freak storm blew up but we’d lived here too, even before.”
“I’m not sure how long I’ll stay.” She was afraid he’d take her elbow, point her the right way down the path. But he didn’t. Crinkled brown banana leaves, fallen from palms, crunched beneath their feet as they walked.
“They all built the hotel together. My parents were going to get started on their own house but they died before it ever happened. I built my own eventually. I like the peace and quiet, not so many people always.”
She nodded, had the urge to take his hand, as if they’d known one another for a long time, or perhaps used to be friends years before, were just today re-united. The way he was shy and comfortable both, almost as though they were related.
Walking on the sandy path through the woods she could already hear the ring of hammers. She asked him the names of plants along the way. One enormous, gnarled, almost impossibly spreading tree turned out to be a banyan. She sat down for a moment in its shade. A large black bird screamed at them from the upper branches.
“Cormorant?” she asked because of her painting, although it didn’t really look like a sea-bird.
“It’s a raven,” Stiv said.
Ravens in the tropics?
“Did you know they can imitate human speech, like mynas and parrots? Tool sounds, too. They hang around the shipyard, and then you’ll hear them flying overhead, making the sounds of ringing hammers. It can be quite disconcerting.”
Susan laughed. “I guess. So was that a raven we heard, or a real hammer?”
“Real one, I think. Although sometimes it’s hard to tell.”