The greyhound bus didn’t take anyone all the way into Pompeii. There was construction on the roads that made it too rough for anything not sporting four wheel drive to make the climb up. That was fine. The drop off point was less than a mile away from the town, famous for it’s crips beauty and distinct lack of volcanic activity.
“Wait, so you’re walking?”
Sakura winced, pulling the bluetooth ear piece out and glaring at it before replacing it again once the ringing in her ear had subsided. “Ami, you know I can hear, right?”
“I told you to buy a car before you left. You’re hiking a mile with luggage. What kind of sweet hell is that?” her friend ranted, likely huffing and puffing from the recliner in her dad’s loft apartment just north of central Manhattan. It was a weekday, she wouldn’t be at her own place. “Do they not have taxies in the boonies? What about Uber?”
“A mile is nothing to worry about, and I have comfortable shoes,” Sakura replied, feeling the weight of her duffle bag increase as if the acknowledgment of it’s existence made it that much heavier.
She didn’t mention the fact that her bank account was starting to look like the clearance price of a lightly used sofa sectional. A taxi might have put her in the red if it had a high enough rate. It was also the main reason she was taking up a position as a general practitioner for the nowhere town instead of completing her residency in the city. She needed to make a living and build up a better bedside manner if she ever wanted to qualify for a Cardiothoracic Surgery Fellowship somewhere down the road.
“I’m going to miss you. Who’s going to remind me to go to bed at a decent hour? No one’s ever put up with me as long as you have,” Ami sniffed on the other end of the line. “You’ve finally left me…a-all for some stupid town no one wants to practice in.”
Sakura could hear the waterworks coming and laughed to ease the tension. “It’s not that bad. From what I heard there’s not that high a need for a doctor and they’ve been stubbornly resilient since the last one up and left. It’s not a busy place. I’ll have plenty of yearly check ups to practice my bedside manner on so it’s perfect for me. Everyone wants to save the day in a big way and forgets about the little guys. I think I’ll fit in just fine.”
“Yeah, but I think you’re forgetting the most important thing here: me. When will I see you again? I’m so lonely.”
“Ami, you’re married.”
“Yeah but that’s different.”
“Hang on,” Sakura said, pausing on the side of the road. She blinked and then turned around, searching for the curve she could have sworn she had already passed over. That pine tree looked oddly familiar. “Ami, how long have I been on this call with you?”
“Not long enough.”
Sakura pulled out her cell and checked the time. She’d been on the phone twenty one minutes. She should have seen the town by now. She wasn’t a slow walker either, in spite of her luggage. She felt a vibration in her ear and then a crackle as her cell phone screen showed only one bar left, and even that one was blinking.
“Ami, your signal is starting to break up so I’m going to have to end the call. I think I’m close to the town, I’ll email you when I get there.”
“Your phone is old, that’s why. Sakura…come back soon! I miss you.”
“Love you too,” Sakura fondly cooed before ending the call and replacing the cell in her jacket’s front pocket.
Without the distraction, Sakura took another look around and decided she was in a new area and that she hadn’t turned herself around. She was being silly, thinking she had passed by the same way when she never once turned off the road. Ami’s call had just distracted her. Silly, silly, silly.
Sakura started walking again and in another minuet she could see the curve in the road that lead into a main street where a dozen different store fronts showed off open faces. A handful of cars were parked on the street outside and people were out and about. The further she walked the more of the town she could see and she was amazed by how big it was for being in such an out of the way location. There were plenty of people and cars, even if she hadn’t seen a single one on the road up from the greyhound stop.
Something like excitement made Sakura’s heart skip in her chest and she couldn’t help but smile. There had been more than one reason she settled on the occupancy at Pompeii and not one of the more local cities. Of course it was an interesting place that Sakura felt she could do well in, but aside from that she already knew someone in town.