The countdown from luck

By Brianna Randall

Muddy water, humid air, an unsteady rocking during the boat ride to Tonle Sap Lake — all contributed to my seasickness.

Desperate for distractions, I said aloud, “I need to count.”

SEVEN lifejackets,” Nicole said, hoping to have helped.

Aha! There was no need to count those 353 motorbikes on the way to the shore. The lucky number had found me! Today would be a great day!

Jinxed! As I turned my head, I saw three children in canoes, each holding boa constrictors around their necks. Half baby human, the other half reptile, SIX, a number not so lucky, was before me.

A slow- motion moment arose as a two-year old girl showed me her slimy friend, asking, “Uuuu waaanttt?”

“Nooooo!,” I yelled.

Satisfied with his toddlers’ work, the proud father orchestrating the act relieved our boat. Still terrified, I looked ahead to see our driver amused by the incident and flash a smile showing all FIVE his teeth.

Upon arriving to the shop at the floating village, we tourists were surrounded by FOUR merchant families who sent their children to beg.

No matter which of the THREE levels of the boat we were on, they followed us like an ancient Greek chorus, displaying the well-rehearsed sad face and stretching their hands out.

A Vietnamese woman with TWO babies appeared. After allowing us to take pictures of her offspring, she begged as well.

 “ONE dolla! ONE dolla!,” they all rhythmically sang, starting together, stopping together as we returned to our boat. Once we reached a certain distance and more boats were approaching, and the chant came to a close.  

Muddier water, hotter than before, that same sickening rock. Looking up at the lifejackets, I realized what this clever money-making routine had caused: a countdown from my luck.

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