The Desert (Fiction)

06-03 desert landscape

I felt as if I’d been under the blistering sun for twenty-eight hours straight, but I knew that was impossible.  As far as I could see, stubby, brittle clumps of plant barely-life dotted the landscape.  Desperate for some cover, I crouched under a sage bush.  Well, it was more beside than under.  I heard rustling and saw dead leaves ripple away from me.  I told myself it was a lizard.  That was one of the least scary perpetrators.    Scorpions, rattlesnakes, centipedes, spiders-

A shadow gliding across the cracked dirt around me caught my eye and my attention turned away from things that slither and crawl.  I squinted my eyes and scanned the cloudless sky for the shadow’s owner.  Just then, he made another pass and swooped lower.  I know I must have imagined it, but I swore he slowed down and looked me in the eyes.  “I’m not dead yet!” I yelled, and threw a clump of dirt in his general direction.  It didn’t come close to hitting him, but the vulture seemed to accept my answer and ascended again.

I knew he’d be back.

I’d only been in the desert for a few days and I already decided Arizona was not a hospitable host in June.  My friends back home encouraged me to drive across the country.  My journey from Ohio to California was something like a tribute to feminist movement and a salute to independence of the fairer sex.  To my every protest, my friends had an answer.

“What if I get lost?”

“Then you take a road you wouldn’t have found otherwise.”

“What if my car breaks down?”

“Then you see someplace new while it’s being repaired.”

“What if I run out of money?”

“Then you discover that God provides.”

Yeah.  I wondered why God hadn’t provided a tree, or something taller than 3 feet for shade.  I wondered why God hadn’t produced a stream flowing with cool water.  I wondered why God hadn’t given me sense of direction so I didn’t get lost in the first place.  I drew my legs to my chest, rested my forehead on my knees and cried until I was too tired to cry anymore.  I may have napped, I’m not sure.

The rumble overhead was like a supernatural nudge on the shoulder.  I looked up to find the cloudless sky replaced by a thick wall of clouds that stretched from the southern horizon to almost overhead.  Nothing moved, yet the atmosphere surged with life.  The rumbling rolled around me with such emphasis that I was certain the ground vibrated beneath me.

That was all the warning I got before the downpour.  I didn’t try to avoid the wet, but instead, turned my face upward to soak it all in.  The rain came so heavy, it stung my skin as the fat drops pelted my face, but I was so dry and thirsty I didn’t want to shield myself from it.

Just as suddenly as it began, the rain stopped.

I looked around in awe.  The parched ground, now riddled with streams of water that had been unable to soak into the hardened soil.  Just when I thought the show was over, a brilliant rainbow stretched across the sky in front of me.

I was still lost and tired, but instead of anger and frustration, I felt peace.  The kind of peace that only happens when I realize God provided exactly what I needed, at just the right moment.

~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-~~~-

I haven’t written fiction in I-don’t-know-how long.  This one came to me when I took a break from moving rocks to drainage areas in my yard.  (It is HOT, by the way!)  I noticed a shadow move across the driveway and disappear.  It was a hawk.  The bird did this several times before moving on.  It will soon be monsoon season (mid-June through mid-September) here in Arizona and monsoon storms can be breathtaking.  Unlike the dust storms, which are breathtaking because the inhaled dirt literally makes it hard to breathe 🙂  My thoughts have kind of been on being mindful of blessings, because this can sustain during periods when joy is effort.  (The “desert” times of life). Anyway, thanks for reading! This just goes to show, you never know what I’ll write 🙂

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Three “R”s and the Friday Effect

06-02 Relaxing
Relaxation… taking in the moment is good

I haven’t always been grateful for my life and I still struggle with being thankful for a life that isn’t what I wanted, or imagined it would be.  The good news is, I’m finding when I stop “doing” and focus on “being”, I can catch some much-needed moments of peace.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in my “to do” list and finding worth in the number of items I cross off it.  After going to the grocery store and putting the groceries away (crossed that off my list!) I decided to take a few minutes and rest on my front porch.  The sun had already set, but darkness hadn’t taken over yet.  The wind chimes hanging over the edge of the deck made beautiful music, which helped me relax in the moment.

My gaze went past my feet propped on the railing and through the thick tree branches.  Instead of dwelling on the things that bring me down, my thoughts went to what is good.  In those minutes alone- taking in the breeze, listening to wind chimes, as the light gave way to darkness, I became conscious of the thought that I was thankful to have a house with a deck, with beautiful trees in front of me.  I looked to my left and saw my continuing project.

06-02 Rocks
Rocks… this pile will line drainage paths – before monsoon rains come, I hope!

And then I thought how thankful I was to have the money to pay for the rocks.  I don’t have the money to pay someone to move it for me, but that’s okay.  At least I am able to do it myself.  Look at that, another item for my mental after-sunset “thankful” list!

It was after 8pm when I went inside.  I debated about whether to fix something for dinner.  Since it’s just me and I didn’t have the kids, I decided to be cat-like in my choices…

06-02 Roxy
Roxy… snoozing on the counter (like she’s not supposed to) because no one was looking

… since no one was looking, I had an ice cream sandwich for dinner.  I don’t eat those often, so it sure was yummy (and I can be thankful that I can work it off tomorrow!)  Not even the prospect of getting outside by 6am to make the rock pile smaller dampened my mood.

Maybe it’s the Friday Effect (no work for 2 days) or maybe I’m finally seeing a shaft of  light at the end of my long, dark tunnel. Either way,  I’ll take it 🙂

Have a beautiful weekend!