By Shelby Dee
It’s the rainy season here in Southeast Asia. The water is high on the Mekong and all over. It’s hard to tell from the air where the land stops and the muddy water begins.
The rains typically fall once a day. Fast and hard. Last night the first drops began to fall just as we stepped out of our hotel to find dinner. By the time we’d reached the end of the block, our decision was made. We ducked under the nearest awning at the Herb Cafe to take refuge from the downpour.
It wasn’t long after we ordered that the children started coming, two by two. A young boy, maybe 9 years old, approached the table selling books. On the opposite end of the table, a girl around 7 came with a basket full of bracelets. As the boy sang Justin Beiber songs, the girl began her pitch on me.“Three bracelet for one dollar.”
Not tonight. I tell her with a smile.
“You buy me a Coke.” It was less a question and more a sweet demand.
I laugh a little uncomfortably at her persistence. And reach into my bag for some candy.
No. I won’t buy you a Coke, I tell her. But offer her my candy instead.
She grabs all that I offer. One by one. Then looks up at me. Hold up her finger she says, “One more.”
That’s all I’ve got, I tell her.
She crooks her pinky toward me. “Promise?”
I reach my pinky out to meet hers. Yes. I promise.
She steps off the patio with the candy and her basket. Then she peaks around the bush, a mischievous look in her eye. After a quick scan, she pulls a bulb off the strand of white lights draped over the greenery. The entire strand goes black. And just as quickly as she appeared, she runs down the street and out of sight.