Friday, January 18, 2013

Prompt: Highway shimmer

Toma tapped his staff ahead of his feet along the dusty track that passed for road across the hard-baked savannah. He held up his hand to shade his eyes as he looked back over his shoulder. The heat shimmered above the red clay as he peered down the long ribbon. He couldn’t be sure, but there might be movement on the horizon, and he shook off his prickle of unease. He smiled at the scuff of gravel to his left, but didn’t turn his head as he knelt, pulling the last small tsamma melon from his pack.
“Still with me, pup? Find anything for us to eat?”

As his blade pried a hole in the leathery tsamma skin, he glanced over at the jackal pup, crouching low and watching him with anxious yellow eyes. Toma spilt a few precious drops of tsamma water on the ground as his Aba had taught him. Before he finished muttering, “Thank you, Mother,” it was gone. He lifted the melon to his lips and took a gulp. He poured the rest into his half-gourd bowl and held it out for the pup. It slunk near, belly to the ground, whining as he held the bowl steady and looked back up to the horizon.

“Come on, pup, There’s no more. If we reach the village by nightfall, we’ll have plenty. Unless…”

His voice trailed off as he thought of the fierce sandstorm that had killed his flock of sturdy savannah-bred goats and the jackal dam he’d found at the ruined water hole the next day. He was amazed the pup had survived, but its will to live was stronger than its fear, as it proved once again when he felt it lap into the gourd for the precious water he shared. This time, he felt a quick brush of the pup’s tongue on his fingers as it drew away. He didn’t reach after it, simply packed his gourd and blade away and leaned on his staff to rise.

One more long look behind them – there, movement, he was sure of it. But too distant to tell what it was. Nowhere to hide, so he turned again towards his village and tapped his staff ahead to warn any sunning snakes of his approach. As he continued his four-day return home, Toma’s thoughts drifted back to the beginning of his journey. The start of a happier life, he had thought, preparing for his marriage to Karu.

Dogs in house:
None (how odd and empty!)

January word count:

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