I told myself to stop remembering the past. “I’ve got to work in the morning. Time to shut down my brain, and sleep.” With that, I hugged my pillows, rolled onto my side, shut my eyes, and deliberately tried to think of anything other than work, life, the universe, the damn movies I dreamed up each night.
Instead, I ordered up a walk on the beach, at sunset, on a summer night, with a soft breeze, and ocean sounds. Even a few seagulls flying around, and talking. Something that made me smile. Something I wanted to do more often. Something I kept private, never shared. Because, no weaknesses allowed.
I feel asleep on that beach, watching the waves.
Jesus, was that ever a mistake.
Have you ever been in the desert? Seriously. The middle of the desert. No water. No trees. No grass. No people. No roads. Nothing. Only sand. An ocean of sand, with motionless sand dunes for waves.
That’s where I was. In the desert. Hell, I couldn’t tell you which desert. Does it matter which desert? The sun rose in the East, and the ovens of hell came on. After an hour of searching for shade, any kind of shade, I tried hiding in the shadows of the dunes, where the sunlight didn’t reach.
You know how you normally die of thirst in the desert? Yeah. That would have been too easy. That would have let me escape. Let me have peace. Let me sleep. So, I had to stay alive. Hour after endless hour. Wondering if I could find a swallow of water. Just one swallow, to help the fire in my throat.
I didn’t get sun burn either. Like I was made of something other than flesh and bone. My skin got hot to the touch, coated in sweat, which the sand stuck to. The sand got in my pants pockets. Under my t-shirt. Inside my pants. It got everywhere. And it stuck to me. I couldn’t get it off. Every time I tried, more sand piled on.
To the East, I heard thunder. I wandered that direction, walking for hours. Maybe days. Who knows how long. I passed out a couple of times, certain I was finally going to die, and be free, only to wake up, spitting sand from my parched mouth and throat, watching it spray out of my nose.
The lightning was always to the East. Always as far away as it had always been. It never got closer. I set my direction by the sun, so I knew I wasn’t walking in circles. No matter how far I walked, there were never any signs it had ever rained. The ground remained parched, dry, dusty sand. That went forever. In every direction.
But, I kept walking to the East. Toward the sounds of thunder. Hoping, praying, desperately, I’d find rain, and at least a moment’s respite from the endless heat, and waves of sand, frozen in time, with sprays of sand, like the tops of waves, at their crests.
I was still walking, praying I could die, or find water, when I woke up, as I did almost every night, at 3 in the morning. Too tired, and exhausted to be useful in any way. Too desperate to escape the images on the inside of my eyelids to want to try to sleep for another few hours before I had to go to work.
It’s week 139 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Flash Fiction Challenge. Please feel free to read all the other stories for this weeks prompt.
It seems I find myself in the middle of something unexpected. We’ll see if it lasts, or if the movies on the back of my eyelids silence me once more. Time will tell.