Uncle said: “Come, see the beautiful new country”.
Haun Yue sees only bitter, squat villages and huge hills, bruised and scraped like wounds. The restaurant clings to the valley with the other slate buildings like livestock sheltering from a gale.
Lumpy and hard in coloured waterproofs and walking boots the customers tell her she is lucky, condescending as homeowners showing a garden to poor relatives. They tell her of scenery and journeys while bored children gnaw their fingers. They are visitors too, planting greedy feet under the table and outstaying their welcome. They will go when the days become too short to take photographs.
The real locals are fleshy and pink. They do not talk to her at all, apart from the boys with rough hands and shoulders like bulls.
When she arrived, and saw the trees threaded with mist, she thought of spirits and magic, felt herself growing, filled with nature.
Now there is nothing. The black empty hills trap her.
Waiting for the bus, she looks at the river. It is high and pulls at the green branches that dangle above it. If Haun Yue concentrate she can imagine it is she, not the dark water that is moving.