Shy Girl’s pace increases as she walks on top of the winding, unstable rock path. The cliff summit is just wide enough for the two girls to stand side-by-side and at times, barely wide enough for one.
No matter how many times Muse searches Shy Girl’s body or backtracks in her mind through all the things they’ve done since leaving the village, she cannot figure out what is making Shy Girl bound for the cliff edge. In the meantime, Shy Girl is near completing her full tranformation into the perfect senseless vehicle for Travelling Trees.
As a last resort, Muse attempts to hold Shy Girl back but ends up flat on the ground. As she lifts her head, expecting to witness Shy Girl walk off the cliff, Muse finds the hitchhiker looking back at her. Just as Shy Girl is about to reach the end of the road, Muse pulls off an impressive baseball slide and rips the eye off her shoe.
All of Shy Girl’s senses return as she dangles half off the edge. As her vision returns she sees some familiar trees at the bottom and shouts in her mind It was the travelling trees!
“Yep.” responds Muse as she tosses the happy eye over the edge.
The girls agree the Audacity Cliffs are no place to rest and recover, so they head toward the main road. Not ten steps later, the ground cracks and slides out from under them. Shy Girl manages to get to a safe place, but Muse disappears over the edge. Shy Girl looks down to the cliff bottom, only to find Muse waving at her from a large nest, surrounded by four blue speckled eggs.
Shy Girl pulls out her tropical bird and plant book and finds an interesting paragraph about gheeps. Gheeps are an ingenious bird family who plant seeds at the bottom of exposed rock cliffs. They tend to their plant as it grows and carves its way up and in and out of the rock, until it’s strong enough to hold and protect up to five eggs.
While the gheeps collect water, Shy Girl pulls Muse up using a loose vine. As Muse reaches the top, Shy Girl notices a shadow forming on the ground. When she looks up to the sky, she is alarmed to see a bird descending at top speed toward them. Shy Girl grabs Muse’s hand and pulls her under the vine’s canopy leaves. A few seconds later, the ominous bird lands a few feet away.
Just in time, hundreds of gheeps return to their nests, beaks overflowing with fresh water, and frighten the outnumbered predator away. Shy Girl and Muse walk and, at times, crawl back to solid ground. Not even Muse makes a sound until they reach the main road, where she suggests plan B.
They agree to find a new, unexposed, cooler route just over the hill where, according to the map, they should also be able to find drinking water. Little do they know, a lush jungle lays between them and Root River.
There are no obvious pathways through the jungle, turning what should have been a twenty-minute walk into a three-hour obstacle course. Muse and Shy Girl climb over and under large tree roots, jump over slippery, mossy rocks and fight their way through invasive swarms of bugs.
Sweaty, dirty and parched, the girls crack a smile as they begin to hear the magical sound of moving water. Unsure how much more they can endure, Shy Girl is hesitant to part the vine to see what obtrusive obstacle comes next.
Forgetting their troubles momentarily, Muse and Shy Girl jump into the clear river water, giggling with glee.
Feeling the pressure of time, Muse steps out of the river first and encourages Shy Girl to do the same. As Shy Girl lifts herself onto the rock ledge, a putrid smell wriggles its way into her nose. Before Muse can say “What’s that smell?”, a strange bug appears behind Muse. The strong bug lifts her into the air and carries her down stream.
Shy Girl runs after Muse and the friend-snatching insect. She does not take her eyes off Muse. Doing so, she fails to see a wooden boat in her path and falls almost directly onto the boy hidden inside. The thought of never seeing Muse again gives Shy Girl a voice, a voice just loud enough to convince the boy to loan her his boat.
Shy Girl silently shows her gratitude to the boy as she steers down the river, even after the boy doubts she will ever find her friend again. “No one ever comes back from a Siphon.” The boy’s warning repeats in Shy Girl’s mind. The boy’s lingering words are forgotten when Shy Girl’s nose is assaulted by a recognizable smell. I’m close! thinks Shy Girl.