“You made it,” Candice said blankly.
The man with the cowboy hat was in front of her now. He was holding an ugly, shabby picnic basket with both hands. The picnic basket was closed. She wondered curiously what was in it. Could this be the clue, the key, that would help her find her past? A past that she knew nearly nothing about.
The man nodded. Now that he was closer, she could see that he was older than her. He was in her fifties, at least. He had a scuffed chin, brought about from years and years of shaving and hard work. He had brown, wavy hair that was parted at the side. But he hardly had any neck. His head was just connected to his big, beefy chest. He almost looked like a robot. Indeed, she expected him to blurt out something in an monotonous tone of voice. But despite that, she could tell that he was once handsome. His skin was shiny, silky even. He didn’t have a trace of gray in his fine, brown hair.
She just stared at him, waiting for him to say something, but all he did was merely extend the basket toward her.
She raised her eyebrows at him, but still didn’t take the basket. He nodded at her, waiting patiently it seemed. Until finally, she leaned forward and grabbed it from his hands. He let it slip from his hands ever so willingly. As the transfer happened, she felt not only the weight of the basket but the weight of the past ahead of her.
“Thank you,” she said, clearing her throat.
He nodded, and then made to turn away, but she shouted, “Wait, don’t go, come back!” She would have grabbed his arm, but the full weight of the basket hindered her from doing so.
Keeping his back toward her, he finally spoke in a raspy voice: “I have to go. What is in the basket unlocks the secrets to your past.”
As she stood there, struggling to process his words, the man with the cowboy hat walked away, until the sound of his footsteps on the bridge couldn’t be heard anymore.
She looked down at the basket. Slowly, she set it on the ground. She crouched down beside it so that she could open it. Holding her breath, she lifted the flaps one by one. It was dark inside the basket. Peering closely, she saw that there was a black kitten sleeping on the floor of the basket.
A kitten? How could a kitten help her? Why did she listen to the instructions in the letter, which told her to meet a man in a cowboy hat on this very bridge in the middle of the jungle?