We might always be running, and always might not be much longer.
I watched you drink a sip of water, all you were allowed for now and thought about what little chance we had of finding more water.
I looked out across the Great American Desert searching for hope and direction. I found none among the dusty dunes. I wondered what this place might have looked like before everything changed. Before it died. I’ve heard stories of grass and trees, birds, and even small animals that lived in this area, but they were wiped out when the world changed. Now everywhere was a desert. Here where there was no water, the oceans where there was no life, and the big cities where there was no humanity.
We would always be running now, but it was ok, at least, we had each other.
I turned to you again and your sad eyes met mine. You were smiling. Your lips were so dry they cracked and bled. I felt bad seeing you this way but I also found you looked beautiful. Even now, tired, thirsty, and red from the wind and sun, I loved you so much. That is how I knew this was real and what we had done was worth it.
We wouldn’t be running for long, but even when we died out here we might, at least, die free.
I smiled back and said nothing.
My throat was too dry. There was no more need for words anyway, especially not an apology, not that either of us had offered one. We had done nothing wrong. We’d made our choice, although at the time it felt like there had been no choice at all. Once the heart wants what it wants no threat of punishment can keep you from it. When you are in love even death feels like a worthy price to pay.
I reached to hold your face in my hands and pressed my lips to yours. We tried to be gentle, and still, it was painful. I tasted blood and when I licked my own dry lips I couldn’t tell if it came from mine or yours. A nervous laugh and a look, both sad and satisfied. We’d gotten what we wanted, but we’d forgotten to ask for more time. Hope hadn’t let us realize what exile had really meant. In our hearts, it had meant life together. In reality, it had meant the mercy of letting us die together.
Maybe we wouldn’t run anymore.
Author’s note: The plan for this challenge was to post small pieces of fiction that read more like excerpts rather than stories with a true beginning, middle, and end. I think instead, these have turned into something in between, some more, some less. Please bear with me, these are my first attempts at writing fiction. You can find them all under my AtoZ2016 tag.
Featured image via Unsplash