The Mexicans were still fightin’ us for the right to Texas and I had just come in from the City of Nod in the east. I was tired and honestly hadn’t slept in days. The rotten barabicu-like stench of dead Nephilim warriors still charred across the sleeves of my brown duster came up to pester my nose every time the wind blew in the open air. I had been riding for a few days now, possibly weeks. Miles and miles of desert and dry grass. The dark blue night sky had painted the sand a smoky grey and the malnourished trees a dark obsidian. If it wasn’t for those occasional trees, I would’ve sworn time itself had stopped and the world had grown cold. Though it cost an extra effort, I made sure to travel closer every time I saw one-- just to see it, to know that there was still life out here, however feeble. I would look up at the emaciated wooden fingers scratching at the dark blanket of sky above with a weak trembling shake. I’d look for the leaves which still held on, literally, for dear life, tossed and battered by the cold dry winds of the dessert. I watched with amazement and anxiousness, as if the leaves somehow, in some cosmic way, were linked to my very life. That had they been blown away, so would my essence be torn from me. It was a game I’d play. Partly out of superstition, partly out of boredom. Like walking over a wooden floor, avoidin’ them cracks so as not to break my good momma’s back. I’d watch the leaf hang on. I’d root for it. Whispering words like, “You can do it.” Or “Just a little longer.” When I’d finally pass it, and my head could no longer tilt any farther back, I’d smile. The leaf had made it. I had made it. I wouldn’t look back, for fear of seein’ that little leaf release and be swallowed up by the grey. No, I just kept right on goin’. On to the next leaf.