Andrew R. Crow

through a cloak of heat, to appear...where?

He was so baked he couldn't even sweat anymore. Bulletspeed sand and windburn had etched spidery tracings on his parchment-like skin. His mind sought purpose to no avail. Memory was dull weight, thudding against his head.
His feet formed dizzy patterns as he fought to keep his path straight. Sun glinted off a tin (?) roof a million miles off. Aim for that? Nothing else...
He suddenly saw her up ahead and wished he had sweat to blink out of his eyes. Her head and feet were buried in the sand, her body seeming to grow out of the pale, white sculptured landscape. Her back was all golden skin and tipped with a slender, curved spine.
He nudged her. Her plump skin was anything but dry; he wanted to lick the sweat off her body. She moved slightly to one side, her feet pulling out of their grainy trap.
Her head rolled with her neck, a fluid motion that spit at the arid world around. The face was porcelain, surrounding glassy eyes flecked with grit.
Christ, that must sting.
"Hey, you still there?" His voice, split and brittle, surprised his ears.
He squinted and staggered back to take her all in. "What...", he moved in closer, wanting to reach out and check, "...are you doing here in the middle of all this?"
"I could ask the same. I was walking, stopped to rest and got so long have you been here staring at me?"
"Not long, but I mean who are you, what are you doing here...?" He sat down wearily.
"I'm not sure...I was..." She turned and her voice was lost. Something about looking for...what...? He couldn't be sure. She turned back and he was sure it wouldn't be repeated.
He coughed, cleared grit. "I remember looking for...then I saw you, all curled up here. Do you know why I...?"
She rolled to her knees, a look searching him. "Nothing I can wear, huh?"
"Hmmm...?" His eyelids were lead. He was getting tired, too. "Most of my time is spent either waking or getting ready for sleep...yeah, go that way...there's a shack..." He pointed vaguely, sounding like it was the right direction, sure it wasn't, not really caring.
"Mmmmmm...." he cleared his head and looked away. Had she gone already? There was no time. He dug his feet in and let the sand wash over his face, blocking out his thoughts. His mind: a blank canvas, awaiting inspiration.

A blast of heat pushed him

First published: October 31, 1998