In the Shade of the Pimm-Palm Tree

She needed water. Water, in the desert, was life. It was more precious than coveted gold or gems. Unfortunately, water was something she didn't have. Her tongue was parched with thirst, her lips cracked and dry. The sun beat down unmercilessly on her back, and her shoulders burned, chafed by cloth rubbing against her skin.

She knew if she didn't find something soon, she would die, picked over by carrion and scavengers, bleached bones the only remnant of her short life. She had to keep going. One step. She willed herself onward. Only one more step. And the cycle continued. Thirst. Dry. Burn. Step. Thirst, dry, burn, step. She stumbled. Her face hit the ground, the burning, gritty sand pressing against her head. Yet she did not get up. Could not will herself to get up. Her eyes began to close, shimmering myriads of color swimming across her darkening vision.

Wait. Something, there. Open your eyes. It was a lake, an oasis. She could see it, now. Close. Move, move, move! She groaned, spat out dirt, licked her dusty lips. Heaved her unwilling body off the ground. Water! She dragged her feet. Drag, drag. Almost there, two more steps--her world turned sideways. Exhaustion took over, and she fell, fell, so close to the water. No! Her feet wouldn't move, refused to budge. Hands! Use your hands! She clawed at the sand. It pressed against her fingernails, evoking splinters of pain. No matter. Slowly, ever so slowly, she inched herself closer to the water. There! Her chin was on the dirt, water under her lips. She lowered her head.

Cool water flowed into her lips, her mouth. Water! Beautiful, beautiful water! She drank too much. Her stomach felt bloated. She coughed and retched. All the water came out, along with sand. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. She felt better. Took one more sip. She crawled into the shade of a pimm-palm tree and relaxed for the first time in days. Instant darkness.

The End

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