What is it?
AAAAHHHH MY FOOT!!!
Kasun held a carboard sign over his head in the busy airport terminal. Anxious, he turned his sign, pointing “Welkom Noora” to every passenger coming out of the gate. Kasun was about to meet his girlfriend's sister for the first time. Among the crowd, he spotted a tall blond girl with a taller backpack. Noora saw the sign and waved at him.
· NOORA: Hello, you must be Kasun!
· KASUN: Yes! Hello Noora
· NOORA: Nice to meet you. Where is Edda?
· KASUN: She's hosting an important event tonight and asked me to pick you up.
· NOORA: Oh? That’s nice, thank you. Let’s go then.
They loaded her backpack in the trunk and headed north towards the capital. Noora was sweating already. The air was hot and humid, moving as slowly as the cars through traffic. She stared out the window and imagined what her sister’s life was like in Sri Lanka.
First was Kasun. His family owned a small restaurant on the lagoon, where he met Edda. She immediately noticed the restaurant's untapped potential and pitched Kasun about it. Sharp and assertive, Edda convinced Kasun that a few marketing efforts would bring in more business. She was right. Her early wins won her a place of choice in Kasun's family. That night, Edda was hosting the restaurant’s first corporate event.
Back in Amsterdam, Edda was the best at everything. An accomplished event planner, she worked hard and partied harder. Work parties started late with drinks and ended late with pills. Noora loved to party with Edda. Edda was the boss, and by default, her little sister was always welcome.
The road in front of the restaurant was packed with cars. Kasun drove around and parked in the back. They entered from the service door. The main hall was full of people in fancy clothes, eating and chatting. Noora spotted her sister instructing the staff. Like Sauron's eye from its high tower, Edda saw everything. She rushed through the crowd and hugged her sister.
· EDDA: It’s good to see you sis!
· NOORA: Aaaaaaaaw! I missed you.
· EDDA: Me too. You must be exhausted. I prepared your room, Kasun will show you.
· NOORA: When are you done?
· EDDA: Not tonight, I’ll see you in the morning. Tomorrow is my day off.
· NOORA: Okay…good luck! Try to get some sleep.
She hugged her again, kissed her on the cheek, and vanished in the crowd. Kasun was counting the people in the room.
· KASUN: It’s crazy, we’ve never had so many people!
· NOORA: I know, my sister is amazing.
· KASUN: She is. Come, I’ll show you to your room.
Noora followed Kasun to a little bungalow in the restaurant backyard. In her room was a double bed with a mosquito net, a cute bathroom with a shower, and a water hose next to the toilet.
· NOORA: What’s that for?
· KASUN: We don’t use toilet paper. This is cleaner.
· NOORA: Eeeeeeh…okay
· KASUN: You’ll need adapters for your devices. There is one on your night table, with the Wi-Fi password. If you need anything, knock on the bungalow over there. I'll see you tomorrow. Good night!
· NOORA: Thank you, good night.
Noora turned on the fan and crawled under the mosquito net. Too excited, she wanted to go out, explore the area, spend time with Edda, and eat the food she read so much about. She opened her book and dozed off.
Noora woke up at dawn. She washed her face, put on her flip flops, and walked out of her room. The first lights showed the lagoon in all its glory. Glassy waters, coconut trees, and mosquitoes greeted her. She walked along the lagoon up to a rice field. On the other side was a cute tiny beach, intimate and secluded, the perfect spot for her surprise.
When she came back, Edda was having tea in the main room.
· NOORA: Good morning!
· EDDA: Good morning! How did you sleep?
· NOORA: Like a rock. I checked the lagoon.
· EDDA: Nice! Mosquitoes?
· NOORA: They had a taste of me already.
· EDDA: They are the worst in the morning.
· NOORA: What’s your plan for the day?
· EDDA: Nothing. I’m resting today.
· NOORA: Cool. I have a plan for you, a surprise hehe.
· EDDA: Now, I’m scared.
· NOORA: You’ll like it.
· EDDA: You know I don’t like surprises.
· NOORA: Alright, alright, it’s a picnic! I found a great spot.
· EDDA: A picnic?
· NOORA: Yes, good food, a beautiful place, just you and me, you know…to catch up.
· EDDA: Sounds nice. What time were you thinking?
· NOORA: Now. We can pick up some food on the way and go.
· EDDA: Wait, I gotta tell Kasun. He wanted to take us on a boat trip.
· NOORA: Can we do it tomorrow instead? Or maybe later today? You tell him. I’ll be right back.
Noora fetched her purse and followed Edda to a small breakfast joint. outside. They ordered rice with curry, pol roti, idiappa, and two other dishes she could not pronounce. Noora packed their breakfast and the two girls walked to that beach she spotted on her morning walk. They crossed the rice field and laid a large mandala under a coconut tree on the bay.
· NOORA: Isn’t it lovely?
· EDDA: It is. I tell myself that every day.
· NOORA: My first Sri Lankan breakfast, hehe I’m excited.
Noora was devouring her food; it tasted better than all the Sri Lankan food she had in Amsterdam. Edda loved her new life. They were ups and downs of living in a small Sri Lankan village, but she loved most of it. Mainly, she missed her parents, the snow on Christmas, and the epic afterwork parties. Noora ate her words with her eyes. When Edda finished speaking, she added in a timid voice.
· NOORA: I got you a surprise.
· EDDA: I thought the surprise was the picnic.
· NOORA: Well, I lied.
Noora reached for her purse and took out her notebook. Inside was a tiny Ziplock bag, with two pink sheets of paper the size of half a stamp. She smiled.
· EDDA: Are you crazy? Do you know what you're risking? What if they caught you!?
· NOORA: They did not. So... are we doing this? You said you missed the parties. Come on, like in the old days!
· EDDA: Don’t say it like this. It makes me feel old. I’m still pissed you took such a risk.
· NOORA: Sorry, I won’t do it again…it was for you.
Noora gave her the puppy eyes. Edda looked away and exhaled, resigned.
· EDDA: Like in the old days!
· NOORA: Haha, you’re the best!!! It's going to be epic, just look at this place!
They each took the paper with the tip of their fingers and laid it with great care on their tongue.
· EDDA: Tell me about you? How is work?
· NOORA: Oh, nothing interesting. My boss is a piece of shit.
· EDDA: How so?
· NOORA: He was constantly hitting on me. When he knew I would not give in, he took me out of the field team and gave me the worst assignments. So, after two months of copy-pasting, I quit.
· EDDA: But… don’t you have to finish six months to validate your master’s?
· NOORA: I do, but I’d rather start over than work for that pig.
· EDDA: Can't you report him or something?
· NOORA: I did already, and I'm not the first one. He'll just deny it. He always does.
· EDDA: That sucks...I guess you’re right.
· NOORA: For once! Hard for you to admit haha.
Noora stretched the mandala and lay down on her back. The sand was soft and comfy. Edda lay next to her.
· EDDA: Do you feel anything?
· NOORA: Not really. You?
· EDDA: Nope. Where did you get it from?
· NOORA: Sam.
· EDDA: Sam, my dealer?
· NOORA: Yes.
· EDDA: You still hang out with them?
· NOORA: Only when I need something. He's still not over you, you know.
· EDDA: Whatever! Come one, let’s have a walk. We'll feel it quicker.
The girls packed up the food and walked along the bay. They reached a thorny area along the rice field. Edda felt a sharp sting and screamed.
· EDDA: AAAAAAAAAAHHHH
· NOORA: What is it?
· EDDA: GOVERDOMME AAAAAAAAHHHH
· NOORA: What’s wrong? Are you okay? What happened?
· EDDA: MY FOOT! AAAAAAAAAHHHH
Edda sat on the ground holding her foot. She had two black lines on the side of her big toe.
· EDDA: AAAAHH Kut!
· NOORA: What is it?
· EDDA: A snake! We need to get to the hospital. Call Kasun, quick! Tell him to come get us.
· NOORA: ...
· EDDA: DON’T STARE AT ME IDIOT! MOVE! NOW!!!
Noora’s eyes welled with tears. Her whole body was shaking. She picked up the phone and dropped it.
· EDDA: "PASS ME THE FUCKING PHONE!"
She dialed Kasun's number. He picked up.
· KASUN: Hello!
· EDDA: KASUN! I've gotten bitten by a snake. We’re on a small bay next to the rice field behind the restaurant. You need to get me an ambulance.
· KASUN: The ambulance won't go through the fields. Stay still. I’m on my way. We'll take you to the hospital. Try not to move.
Noora was panicked, watching her sister’s foot swell by the minute, unable to do anything but stare. Within five minutes, Edda’s foot grew to the size of a rugby ball. It was big, blue, and ugly. Noora began weeping.
· EDDA: Not the time Noora. You’ll cry when I’m dead, and I'm not dead yet! Now, be useful.
· NOORA: I’m sorry…I’m…I’m
· EDDA: This shit happens every day here. Another thing we can add to the cons! Make me a bed and bring me water.
· NOORA: I’m so…sorry.
Trembling and sobbing, Noora pushed the bushes aside and laid down the mandala. She slowly lowered Edda on her back, with her head on her lap. Noora patted Edda's hair. Her head was hot. Sweat formed on her temples. Noora was trying her best to keep her composure, but her tears rained down her face, and fell on her sister's.
· EDDA: Shhhhh…it’s okay little sis, don’t cry. Sing! Sing me a song.
· NOORA: Bbbbbhhh bbhhhhh
· EDDA: Sing me the…fuck! I feel it. Water…give me water…please.
Noora reached for the water bottle in her purse. Her hands still shaking, she removed the cap and poured little drops in Edda's mouth. Edda drank, smiled, and closed her eyes. Then, Noora wetted the corner of the mandala and soaked her sister’s forehead. She was burning hot; her vitality evaporating by the minute. Noora rocked her head, weeping, and began to sing.
The sound of an engine interrupted her song. Edda was unconscious. Noora dropped her head carefully on the ground, stood up, and dashed towards the noise. Kasun heard her shouts and took a sharp turn through the bush. In his red tuk-tuk, he followed Noora's voice, and the two reached Edda.
· KASUN: How long has it been?
· NOORA: Since we called you.
· KASUN: We must take her to the hospital, fast. Help me carry her.
They lifted Edda’s inanimate body and sat her on the back of the tuk-tuk. Noora wrapped one arm over her sister's shoulder and held her head with the other. Kasun rushed to the hospital, banging Noora's against the tuk-tuk roof with every bump. The ride was loud and dusty. Twenty minutes later, they reached the hospital. Kasun and the nurse carried Edda on a stretcher to the emergency room. They disappeared behind swinging doors. Noora by the door. She curled up, sat on the ground, and cried in silence. An eternity later, a doctor came looking for her.
· DOCTOR: Are you the sister?
· NOORA: Yes.
· DOCTOR: Your sister was bitten by a viper. We gave her antivenom, but it was a large dose, probably a juvenile viper. What were you doing out in the field, wearing flip flops?
· NOORA: Is she going to be okay?
· DOCTOR: We will know in a few hours. Did she take any substance? Tell me exactly what happened.
Noora was sobbing, but the doctor's eyes were sharp with impatience. She took hold of herself.
· NOORA: We went to a secluded bay to have a picnic. We had breakfast and took LSD. We did not feel anything, so we walked through the rice field. This is where she got bitten.
· DOCTOR: How much LSD did she take?
· NOORA: Standard, 100 micrograms.
· DOCTOR: I see, that’s it?
· NOORA: Yes
· DOCTOR: She needs to rest now. You can stay with her. Don't disturb her sleep.
The doctor led Noora to Edda’s room. She sat on the chair and watched her sister sleep. Edda woke up eight hours later. Her foot was still big, still blue, and still ugly, but her life was out of danger.
The next day, the doctor told Noora that LSD caused ischemia; it restricted her blood flow in her lower limbs. Usually, ischemia leads to severe pain and limb disfunction. In Edda's case though, the restricted blood flow slowed the venom from reaching her heart. In other words, LSD saved her life.
Noora called it a miracle. Kasun called it karma. Edda planned her next event.