I. He Left Me To Die Here – 1 of 3
When I finally opened my eyes, it was into the searing white heat of a desert landscape. Sun-bleached stones and striated mesas came into focus. My limbs ached and the thirst was unbearable. Spiky tussocks of grass poked my bare, burnt skin. I became aware of my prone position, face down, skin scraping on harsh, rocky soil. I was cut in places, with dried blood caked to my arms.
He had brought me here. I was sure of it.
He left me cut and bleeding, and in a ditch?
I thought he was loving. I thought he cared about me. It was a strange kind of love that did this to a girl.
Did he not know that I was already mired in self pity, in old hurts, in a wounded spirit? Was that not enough for him?
To call me into this wild place, fraught with danger, injured and left to die; how could he do that to me?
The ghostly howl of the wind as it rushed between rocky passes and through the sharp-bladed grass was broken by a soft voice. “Here, drink this,” he said, holding a flask to my mouth.
It was him. Wrapped in coarse robes. Despite the dry heat, he wore heavy, dark clothing. His feet were bare, and he must have been tough skinned to walk on the rubble and thorns.
I drank, and drank, feeling the life slowly coursing back into my broken body.
He squatted next to me in the dust and dirt, and held out his hand. I glared at him, knowing that my naked, bruised, and wounded state would steal any authority or strength from my countenance. He waited. I refused to stir. An age seemed to pass as I tried to stare him into submission, knowing it was a fruitless task, knowing he could wait forever.
“I didn’t try to kill you,” he whispered, “but I brought you here so you could stay with me and heal.”
Lies. It had to be lies. He had told me he would protect me, stay by me, always love me. Then he had disappeared and left me to die here.
“I am here now,” he said. “And I was never far from you.”
A sharp jolt of pain ran through my body. I groaned and clasped his hand. His skin was cool, his touch kind. He lifted me to my feet and wrapped me in rough robes like his own. I hurt, but I could stand, still holding his hand.
He almost smiled, and his eyes were gentle. I wanted to hate him. What was this lonely desert? The heat, the pain, the blood. The scent of unseen flowers caught in the wind’s howling rush across the land.
“Come with me,” he said. He walked ahead of me, releasing my hand. Tears began to fall. I did not want him to let go, not again. I hated him and I loved him.
He walked onwards, and I struggled to catch up. I saw his feet dig into the rocky soil as he climbed over a rise. I followed in his footprints, dented in the white earth.
“Where are you going?” I cried. My voice was weak and lost in the natural noises of the wasteland. He glanced back toward me and smiled. I struggled after him.
II. He Let Me Hold His Hand – 2 of 3
It was hard travelling with him. He moved so quickly and easily in the soft, shifting sands and over rough, sharp grass and rocks. Sometimes he looked back and caught my eye. Something in his glance gave me courage.
He never answered my questions, merely walked ahead. Shimmering waves of heat distorted the horizon, which became flatter as we headed into the white desert.
I had so much to ask him. Why had he brought me here, to this desolate waste? Why had he let me nearly die before restoring me? How did he move so lightly, so swiftly? How could I ever trust him to lead me when he left me for so long? How I hated him, hated with a passion. I had loved him, that was the only reason I could despise him now.
Yet, he had come for me. Late, but not too late. I saw him now, climbing a small rise. He stopped and waited for me to catch up. I reached out to touch his hand. He stood still and let me entwine our fingers together. He smiled now, as he looked across a green plateau. The silvery thread of a river wound its course through the grassy expanse. The sky here was less harsh, a pale blue, rather than glaring white.
To touch him was like touching the source of life and light. It was overwhelming, and I wanted to let go, but wanted to hold on. I was entirely torn. Who was he? Why did he bring me here? Why not someone else? Though, it seemed, there was not another soul in this strange place.
He led me down the hillside toward the river, feeling the cool grass beneath my aching feet. The wounds on my arms had healed now, leaving fine traces of scars. Still, he let me hold his hand.
I did not know if he would answer me, but he was here. For now. I would have to rest in the closeness of his presence and hope that he would remain close.
III. He Said I Could Never Be Happy In This Place – 3 of 3
We sat by the silver stream, watching the clouds drift across the caerulean expanse of a kind sky. It was quiet, more peaceful here.
He lay down on the ground and motioned for me to do the same. Lying on the soft grass next to each other, I listened to him breathing. Wondered what he was thinking behind his thoughtful eyes. Wondered if I should ask him what was going through his mind. I did not though, for fear of being ignored. For fear that if he did finally answer me, I would not be able to bear the truth.
For now it was enough to be here, with him. To lie side by side and take in the sky, the distant speck of a hunting raptor high on the air currents, the sound of the gentle rushing river, the sound of his breathing.
“I did not leave you to die,” he whispered. “You ran from me. So I brought you out here. Only here would you see that you could trust me.”
His tone was serious. I struggled to understand. He had never made much sense to me.
He placed his hands on my face and looked in my eyes. It was confronting to face him at such close range. He was overwhelming. Terrifying. He certainly had my attention now, alone together, lost in some wilderness.
“I can’t force you to trust me,” he said gently, “but know this: you will never be truly happy in this place.”
He let me go, then, and I repositioned myself on the riverbank. I could not ignore the fact that, for now, I was happier than I could recall in any of my memories.