The pitter-patter of raindrops on my face coaxes me back to the edge of consciousness. I’m not sure how, but I force my eyes open. They are dry and painful, but—
“Water!” I cry out with a rasping voice, sitting upright painfully. My muscles are stiff, and my body protests at the slightest movement, but the very thing we need is falling from the sky. After all this time, at the last moment, the sky has given way to water, and there isn’t even a cloud in the sky.
My sudden movement startles Arden from her own slumber, and she painstakingly turns her head towards me, checking to see what is going on. I rifle through my knapsack, fingers fumbling through my meager belongings, desperate for something to catch any amount of water in. The small, hammered metal bowl I use to cook my food over campfires isn’t big, but it is something.
I cannot raise my arms over my head, let along stand, so I sit the bowl on the ground in front of me gingerly. Arden and I watch with bated breath and unfocused eyes as drop after drop collects, slowly filling the bowl.
Unable to wait for it to completely fill, I offer the bowl to Arden. She gently drinks, as if she knows how precious the liquid is, careful not to spill even a drop. When it’s empty, I set it back down, and wait for more. It felt wrong to take the first drink, and I silently pray that the rain lasts long enough for me to properly wet my tongue, at the very least. The few drops I can catch on my tongue only make my thirst worse.
At the halfway point, the rain stops, and I drink deeply, finding the bottom of the bowl far too soon. The rainwater is tangy, but refreshing as it pours over my parched tongue. The small amount is only enough to set my stomach to twisting into cramps, and I begin to wonder if all I did was prolong our agony when the bottom drops out of the sky, saturating everything in seconds, and cooling my overheated skin, dry and tender from the lack of sweat. I cannot help the astonished chuckle that escapes me when Arden lifts her head to the sky, and opens her mouth as I do to drink in the deluge.
With every gulp, I can feel my strength returning, and in minutes I stand up, spinning around with joy as our saving grace falls from the sky. Arden follows not long after, prancing in place and neighing with excitement.
I finally come back to my senses, and hastily place the bowl back on the ground. It fills quickly this time around, and I carefully pour our boon into my dry canteen. Three more bowls full, and the leather water skin is full to bursting. I want to drink deeply from the bowl again, but I know after all this time without water, if I overindulge, I will just vomit it all back up. Then I will be worse off than I was before. Same with Arden.
It seems like such a waste without anything else to store water in, but I have to remind myself that the streams will benefit just as much from this as we have.
And just like that, all the anxiety from before vanishes, and relieved tears start to fall down my face, quickly washed away by the rain. We survived another day, against the odds weighed in favor of our deaths. I will be content with that.
To be continued? Wait and see.