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A World Apart

a walk through the sands of time

By Big DreamsPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - November 2023
11
A World Apart
Photo by Den Trushtin on Unsplash

How I got here, I can't tell you.

Mostly because the memories are vague, but also because it hurts to think about those things.

But I can tell you why.

That I can do, but not quite yet.

Time is irrelevant here. Time is irrelevant anywhere, really, but in the desert, miles away from any other human being in the world, there is only night and day.

Nights are cold, and the days are hot.

There are spaces between that allow for life, when the temperature differentiation creates the dew that nourishes any tiny oasis that has taken hold.

I stare blankly in the general direction of my own oasis, the one near my tiny overhang that I have made my home.

The overhanging rock, smoothed into strange, alien curves by the wind and sand, keep me cool during the heat of midday.

It is too hot to do anything at this time but lay here on my pallet, and so I look towards the only life around me. Everything else is too still.

My vision is keen; I can see the tiny line of ants creeping slowly from the base of the cactus pads and dry grasses over a few feet to the carcass of some unfortunate desert animal.

I should get up and see what remains of the animal, probably a lizard or scorpion of some type, and if there is anything edible left. But I stay lying down, just watching.

There is more to life than mere survival, I tell myself. Or I'm just too lazy to get up and steal the carcass from the ants, too hot and lethargic.

...

The rock pile was growing taller, and wider at the base. I tossed the few I had found on my morning hunt onto the top of the pile. There were plenty of rocks in the desert, but I collected the sharp ones, with lots of angles.

Maybe the historians hundreds of years in the future will think the pile of rocks some kind of shrine to a desert god.

It was beautiful and symmetrical, a five-foot tall pyramid.

I don't know how many months, or years, it has taken to grow the pile to this height. Too many.

Every morning and night, between the heat and the cold, I take my hunting walks, and fill my pockets with my special stones when I find one of the right type. Lots of angles but no holes or crevices.

I walk to my overhang nearby.

This was my world; the cactus oasis next to the rock pile, the overhang. That was all.

This has been my home for years. I have had other homes, other pasts. In the desert, it is just always Now.

I set the two lizards from my traps onto the large, flat rock that is my work table. They are enough for today's meal, in a stew along with vegetation from my oasis. I will skin them later, the bones will be dried out to be used as tools, such as needles for sewing the skins together.

Wood is hard to come by in this desert, but I usually find enough for a small nightly fire to cook my meal.

The fire is more than warmth and cooked food.

It is a daily ritual. A source of comfort. Something to look at that changes, that is not endless cracked ground in every direction.

It is a reminder of moving things, living things. Like the line of ants that I watched from my overhang in the heat of the day.

...

It is morning, and I get up from my pallet and move slowly to the rock pile.

I reach the base of the pile, and the small bowl that I shaped long ago, carefully fitting together stones seemlessly, so none of the water could escape through any cracks.

Here the water collects, enough to drink for a day and prepare the nightly stew. The water from condensation during the early morning hours collects on the many surfaces of each tiny stone, and gravity pulls the droplets downwards, and collects in the bowl at the bottom.

The rest is channeled to the oasis nearby.

It is getting hot now, and I sit to rest under my overhang. I settle on my pallet, and look towards the oasis, the rock pile.

I never look in the other direction. At the other rock pile. The cairn. The reason I figured out how to survive here, how to get enough water to make it through the hot days.

Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.

Fiction
11

About the Creator

Big Dreams

Writer and artist who loves dogs, beaches, coffee and solitude

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (5)

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  • Toby Heward2 months ago

    Sounds like living off the land in an adventurous way. Sweet.

  • Naveed 3 months ago

    Exceptionally good work! Keep it going—congratulations!

  • Dana Crandell3 months ago

    This is really immersive! Congratulations on Top Story, and good luck in the challenge!

  • Carol Townend3 months ago

    This is a fantastic, outstanding piece of work. Well written!

  • KJ Aartila3 months ago

    That is such an interesting take on the challenge - and evokes contemplation. Nice work!

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