Seeing the tombs for the first time, feeling that surprise of discovery, could never be repeated. Marlene felt changed as she walked out of the forest, the sounds of birds and insects silence by the fog cover. The ground sloped towards the ancient courtyard, partially obscured by the mist until a breeze swept it away.
Marlene breathed, filling her lungs with moisture and decay. The tombs had been asleep for centuries, hiding secrets within their vaults. She would not be able to explore them for long, but even knowing the futility of her desire, she entered.
The carefully manicured path led her through a cherry orchard and around a lake. She knew that each view had been chosen carefully to illustrate both the beauty and impermanence of nature. The fog returned, swallowing the sounds of her footsteps, leaving her alone with her thoughts. She felt alien to herself, to be in this land, without reference.
Her watched chimed, reminding her to return to the entrance. "Tee-shirt, mister?" The skinny youth stood at the gate, carrying a closet's worth of clothing on his arms. She tried to recapture the silence of her walk but the motorcycle-taxi drivers gunned their engines and she breathed in exhaust.
She found her driver and sat on the back of the motorcycle. They passed through the kaleidoscope of vendors selling soft drinks and posters along the road. Marlene left the park, and the descendants of the emperors who had built these ruins.