By Jack Fisher

The Indian woman sits, cross-legged in the burning, tan sand, with a wooden barrel confined within the pace between her legs. She does not move, does not appear to be breathing. She stares at him, skin burnt and dry.....simply stares. The plumes of flame that spire from the barrel, seperated her face from his, making her facial expressions indecipherable and almost unnoticable to him. Her thin lips don't move but he hears her ask him for water. Tongue swollen and mouth parched, he tries to speak but it is futile. She understands, though he has not spoken. She raises her head in warning for what reason he does not know. Ah! The thirst! It is driving him mad.

" Water." He manages to speak. Spittle forms at the corners of his mouth.

Her face remains passive but there is a hint of decisivness in her facial expression. She nods.

" Before you drink, boy, be warned. Each gulp you take, takes one year off your life. " He nods. She reaches into her burlap bag beside her and takes out a canteen. He reaches over the fire and snatches the canteen from her with greed. His hands work vigourously at the cap, trying to un-screw the lid. Finally! it opens.

Water spills on his pants. He brings the canteen to his lips and proceeds to drink without counting the gulps. How wonderful the water feels running down his insides!

He swallows the water.......swallows........swallows.......swallows. She observes him without action or notice; his skin turns to dust, to sand, everything falls away until he is no more than sand against a sea of sand.

A smile passes briefly over her face then fades. She warned him but he chose an alternative death. She kisses the sand where he once stood then gets up, brushing the sand off her dress, then faces the sun; steps once toward it, now twice. Her figure, covered in brown, trailed by long brown braids, begins to fade. Now she is translucent.......and now she is gone. Like she never exsisted.

Copyright 1997 by Jack Fisher

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