The Time Machine
“We’re here” he said, quietly.
She jerked awake, and took a deep breath of the mountain air. It smelled of coffee and pepper.
“Are you sure this is the place?”
“Yes, I think so.”
She got out, smoothing down her sari and shutting the car’s door. The slam echoed across the valley. A little paved path led off on her right, curving sharply downwards.
“I don’t know if I can make it down there.”
“You’ve done it before.”
“Well I’m not 17 any more.”
In response, he grabbed her hand and shuffled forward down the path, dragging her with him. She giggled and came along. There were stairs cut into the mountainside, and the path led steeply downwards, curving through a barely-tended garden.
Every hundred metres or so, rough stone benches in various states of disrepair were placed for visitors. But it was a Monday morning at 5 AM, and nobody was there. Not even the staff. The security guard who let them in was more than happy with his five thousand rupees, and anyway, how can you really refuse such an adorable old couple?
Halfway down the slope, they sat on one of the benches and caught their breath. He put his arm around her and pulled her close.
“Kiss, me, gorgeous” he whispered. She laughed and complied, messing up his thin gray hair. They kissed for a long time. When he pulled away, she said, thoughtfully,
“It felt like you were kissing me for the last time.”
“Hopefully, I am.”
Arm in arm they went down the path, trying to remember the bench they had sat and kissed on, all those years ago. And then the path turned, and they were by the waterfall. It looked exactly as it did, the first time they had come. The viewing bridge spanning the tiny gorge was still painted yellow and red.
They looked at each other nervously, and then began the dangerous, slow, steep climb down the hill towards the water. It took them nearly half an hour. It was only twenty feet, but they were both well into their seventies now, and leaping from one rock to another was not really an option.
At the base of the hill, the water lapping at their feet, they took a deep breath and kissed one last time. Then they both stripped naked, dropping their clothes where they stood. Hand-in-hand, they waded out into the water.
“This doesn’t feel magical.” she said.
He said nothing, but pulled her deeper. Soon they were up to their chests. The water was freezing cold.
“Now” she said, and dived under, dragging him by the hand. He followed her, kicking wildly. He was not a good swimmer. She swam purposefully, with the grace born of a lifetime of swimming. The water dragged them and whirled them around, pushing them to the bottom. She found herself in his arms, pinned to the bottom of the river. She smiled at him, as the world turned black.
The security guard was surprised to see two youngsters come out of the Abbi falls gate. They were dressed in the same clothes of the old couple he had let in an hour ago.
They waved at him, and drove off.
The guard at the Fountain Of Youth scratched his head and locked the gate. He had no idea of the treasure he was guarding. As far as he was concerned, this was Abbi falls, chief attraction of Coorg.