Find Water

Don’t mind your head throbbing. Look for green. Watch for roots. Go downhill. Smell. Smell more. Walk towards it if it smells wet. Remember that your whole being wants water, needs water.

Dig. Dig deeper. Don’t be picky. If there’s mud, stick your face in it. Follow the bugs. Look for salt.

Ignore the sludge in your head and in your veins. Scrape out that clay and stick it in your mouth. Spit it out when you start gagging. Grab for more clay, and repeat, until your fingernails crack and bleed.

Forget everything that’s ever happened. Feel the sun baking you, turning you to leather, and find water.

Recall that you walk in the footsteps of your ancestors of millions of years. Feel the prehuman core of you, the mammal, the lizard, the one who has survived and will survive.

Don’t be afraid of the scorpions hissing around you. Grab a rock and smash them if you can. Separate the tail. Eat those little bastards. Pretend it’s lobster. Imagine a five star restaurant, and crush another one.

Cercophonius squama (Gervais, 1844), Wood Scorpion by Photographer: Rodney Start is licensed under CC-BY 4.0

Keep moving as your body starts to shake. Don’t fear as the sun is setting. Find rocks, find something to keep the wind out, to keep the wind from you, to become your hard shell. Tighten yourself into a ball and shut your eyes tight as the air around you gets colder and colder.

Take comfort, you have not been forgotten. Picture her face and how easy life was with her. Let the warmth spread around you. Sleep, or at least rest.

Wake with the sting of the reborn sun, and shake the bugs off. Grab that beetle and crunch it down. Take your shirt off and shake it out. Turn it inside out and put it back on, the filth faces your skin and protects you a little.

Look to the horizon. Move toward that shimmering image. Hear her voice, soothing, stirring. Don’t doubt it as a mirage. Consider it as motivation. Movement is life, motion is life.

Find the dew on the rocks, the condensation, and cup it into your hands, lick it, slake your thirst, every drop. Take your filthy socks and soak them with the wet, and then stuff them in your pockets as canteens. Picture every drop as ambrosia, golden nectar of the gods gliding down your throat, giving you life and strength.

Feel the life returning to you. Walk with greater purpose. Hear the thrum of the helicopter, wave your arms and shout from your now moist throat.

Fall to your hands and knees as the helicopter lands. Weep from exhausted tear ducts as they cover you with a blanket. Try not to gulp the water as it’s drizzled into your cracked lips. Give your thanks to them, for finding you, for not forgetting you, as they tell you to rest. Shut your eyes and let yourself be carried onto the helicopter. Feel the death lift from you as the helicopter rises above the desert. Pass into sleep, and feel your life returning to you.

Photo by Emiliano Arano on Pexels.com

Reluctant Eye

This life keeps passing, the events unfold, day after day, week after week, all the same. The children get older, the tiny gods of our religion. The faces in the mirror get subtly more lined with each year. Doubts creep in, anxieties, “is this all there is?” 

There was a point to all this, once upon a time. There was a belief that a life was a success, a failure, or mediocre, and the habits practiced would yield uncommon results. Yet, that’s not how it feels. It feels endless, futile, a re-enactment of a drama from another time. 

“Daddy? What’s wrong?” she asks. A head shake, a pat on her head. “Nothing, sweetheart, it’s nothing.” 

These are the same thoughts and feelings that millions have had before; this is cold comfort, of course. A burst of inspiration, a parting of the clouds, a transformation could change everything, but it doesn’t. Mundanity chokes the miraculous. Nothing disproves the assumptions of despair and nihilism. 

She takes my hand and holds it.