We arrive at Katmandu and I watch Jake’s reaction. His smile reveals his teeth and he bounces slightly with the excitement of a 4 year old. He stares at the upside-down house in awe and I can’t help but smile. +
“This is amazing.” He says, smile still spread across his face.
The house is built to look like a mansion that’s upside-down with roots coming off the top as if it was ripped from the ground and there are several ponds either side. The hotel behind has a huge plastic creature climbing it, with white fur and pointy ears.
We walk over a small bridge towards the entrance and buy our tickets. There are people everywhere.
“Right, you two go off and we’ll meet you at the end when you’re ready.” My mum tells us, handing us our tickets.
First we enter a room with a plastic tree in the middle; mechanical animals moving all around the room with all kinds of animal sounds coming from surrounding speakers. The tree has a face and me and Jake come to stand in front of it.
“What kind of tree fits in your hand?” Jake asks.
I sigh in response.
“A palm tree.” He says, laughing at his own joke and I roll my eyes. 1
He sees me and places a hand on his heart, acting offended. “I fernly beleaf my tree puns are qualitree. Yew can’t beat a good tree pun.” 4
I punch him in the stomach.
He doubles over, “Worth it.”
I laugh and walk over to a wall. It has two panes of glass with a horizontal gap across the middle. I put my hand through the gap and a note plays. It makes me jump and I pull my hand back.
Placing my hand in again, I move over the gap and the note changes. Jake comes over and puts his hands in next to mine, playing multiple notes at the same time. He attempts to make some sort of dance beat, and fails miserably. 1
We continue to walk through the house and come to a walkway inside a spinning, multi-coloured barrel. I walk through, Jake close behind me and I start to lean to one side, nearly falling over. I look behind and see Jake doing the same. Jake’s hands come to rest on my waist. 1
“I almost fell over.” He shouts in my ear, over the loud sound of the spinning barrel.
“Don’t take me down with you.” He’s so close that I can feel the laugh as it shakes his body.
We reach the end of the walkway and take a moment. I’m so dizzy I almost fall over right there and then, but Jake’s hands are there, holding me up.
We spend the next hour or so exploring the house. It’s full of optical illusions and quirky things that I can barely drag Jake away from; his inner child has taken full control and I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
Every time we walk to a different room Jake comes up next to me, holding my hand in his.
We walk into the next room and I’m instantly freezing, my breath forming a cloud in front of me. How they manage to get this one room so cold in comparison to the heat outside I don’t know, but I’m definitely not dressed for it. 2
The walls are made to look like ice and a model of the white furry…thing is opposite us, a loud growl coming from speakers around the room now and then.
I instinctively lean into Jake’s side, but instantly begin to move away once I realise what I’m doing, blood rushing to my cheeks. I let go of his hand and cross the room, pretending to look at something on the wall.
“You ok?” He asks, coming to stand behind me.
I want to respond but my teeth are chattering and my whole body is shaking slightly from the dramatic temperature change. In my vest and shorts – it’s safe to say I’m absolutely freezing.
STORY CONTINUES BELOW
“Looking a little chilly there Bloom.”
Jake laughs and pulls me towards him, enveloping me in a hug. I rest my chin on his shoulder and hook my arms under his so my hands grip his shoulders. He squeezes me slightly, hand running up and down my back. He pulls back, hands rubbing my arms in an attempt to warm me up. Even when we begin to walk again, he keeps his arm around me. I try to subtly press closer, craving the warmth his hug had brought.
We walk through to the final part of the house. It’s a mirror maze, the air still freezing. I look around at the hundreds of Amber’s staring back at me. +
Out the corner of my eye I catch Jake flexing in the mirrors. “Seriously?”
“What?” He flexes again and I avert my eyes.
“Do you love anything but yourself?” I laugh.
He shrugs, “There’s a few. Pizza’s pretty good.” 1
I shake my head and he grabs my hand, pulling me through the maze. The whole maze is empty except for the two of us and our voices echo slightly.
“This is so confusing.” Jake mutters to himself.
“Because you keep leading us into dead ends.” I laugh, as he walks into another mirror.
“I feel like my reflections taunting me.” He laughs.
We stumble into an alcove of mirrors and stop, looking around slowly. I look at Jake behind me using one of the mirrors on the wall. With his sunglasses on his head, and his hands in his pockets, he looks like he’s just stepped right out of a movie.
“What if we never find our way out?” He muses, turning to me with a smile.
“Then I’m going to freeze to death.”
“I’ll keep you warm.” He says with a wink.
I laugh, “I think I’ll just freeze.”
He shrugs, smiling. “Your loss.”
I start to turn in a slow circle, looking at myself staring back. I stop when my eyes flick to Jake. He’s looking at me, small smile on his face, but he averts his eyes once he notices I’m looking, tips of his ears going red.
“What’s something everyone looks stupid doing?” He asks.
“What is it with you and random questions?”
“What is it with you and avoiding them?”
Smiling, I shake my head. “I don’t know…curling?”
He laughs, getting low to the ground, mimicking the position of someone curling.
“I don’t think it’s fair if you demonstrate, you look stupid doing everything.”
“I don’t know how much longer I can take all these digs, Bloom.”
I shrug, smiling. “You only have to put up with it for 5 more days anyway.”
His smile falters and he stands slowly, not meeting my eyes. 1
The frown looks foreign on his face, out of place and unnatural. We stand in silence until I can’t take it any longer.
We both start at the same time and I laugh awkwardly.
“Amber? I don’t hear that from you often.”
“Well…” He says taking a step towards me, “I was about to be serious.”
“Serious? That’s not like you.”
He shrugs, smirking. “I can be unpredictable when I want to be.”
“Oh, yeah? Like when?”
He takes a final step towards me and his lips connect with mine. 14
I react instantly, kissing him back with an urgency I didn’t know I had. His hands come to rest on my hips, thumbs rubbing small circles as I bring my hands up towards his hair. 3
I’m backed up against one of the mirrors as Jake pushes closer, removing any space between us. Goose bumps rise along my arms as the heat from Jake’s body replaces the cold air of the room.
When we pull apart, I’m breathless and so is he. Both of us stay close to each other, our noses still touching as his breath fans across my face.
“You should be unpredictable more often.” I whisper, breathlessly.
He laughs, and leans his forehead against my own.
“I’ve wanted to do that for so long.” He says, quietly. We share a smile and I bite my lip. “Stop doing that.” 1
“Doing what?” I question, leaning back slightly.
“Things that make me want to kiss you.”
“Well I’m not stopping you.” I smile. 1
With that he leans in again, giving me one last, lingering kiss.
He pulls away, threading his fingers through mine and drags me out into the mirror maze. “We should probably try and get out of here.” He laughs.
“Probably.” I smile.
I follow him, knowing at this point, I’d probably follow him anywhere.
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