The Barren Earth

A tiny seedling sprouts in the parched, decaying earth. Christobel wakes that morning, his throat dry as the soil, and a tickle in the back. He stretches himself and sucks what moisture he can from a cactus he’d found four days ago. There wasn’t much left. His lips crack, aching to be smoothed from the milk. What it takes him not to go back to sleep each day, beaten down by the scorching sun.

He coughs, hoping it will release whatever lodged itself at the back of his throat, but it only invites more convulsions. He takes the meat of the cactus and gnashes it betwixt his teeth. Anything he can do for the last bit of moisture.

Wiping the granules of sleep from his eye, Christobel goes to his garden. Rows upon rows of tilled earth stretch out for meters on end. He walks up and down the lines, carefully, cautiously, hopelessly. Today would be no different.

And then – almost halfway through his walk, there was the seedling that had arisen to greet the sun that very morning. Christobel fell to his knees and sobbed without tears. He could already feel the sting of moisture in his eyes and mouth. At last, there was hope.

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