4
min

His Journey Between

Image of ZenGrrl

ZenGrrl

65 readings

1

FINALIST
Jury Selection

The sun was finally beginning to descend in the sky. The eastern horizon darkened to a deep saturated blue that promised a cloudless night. Though the moon was waning, still there was sufficient light throughout the evening to see for some distance. If one was knowledgable in navigation by the stars in the sky, straying off course would be of little concern.

This was a blessing to the man travelling steadily through the expansive landscape. He had set his sight on a point in the distance and had been successfully staying true for three days now. He was weary and hungry. His body was suffering but his mind remained fresh. He felt the pull of his faith, urging him ever onward. He did not hasten nor did he tarry. Though the journey was arduous, his eyes were bright beneath the hood of his cloak.

At the start of his migration, he had filled as many waterskins as he could comfortably carry, not knowing how many springs or wells he would encounter along the way. He was conservative with water consumption but knew he must stay hydrated in order to keep his pace up and his wits about him. He had no animal to provide for, only himself. His load was as light as possible while still carrying the bare essentials. He would be provided for on the other side of this desert, after crossing what most considered to be a perilous wasteland of scraggy brush, sand and harsh, bleaching sun.

His pilgrimage was one of solitude, service and certitude. He had a mission, a promise he made to his god and his peers, and he was one to keep his word. Though he was out here alone in the flat landscape that stretched unbroken to the horizon, that disappeared at the curve of the earth in the distance, he knew where he came from and he had heard tell of where he was going. Therefore, in his mind, he was simply travelling from one place to the next. His mind did not dwell on the isolation or the possibility of becoming lost and meandering until his legs could carry him no further, of crumbling into the sand and becoming a part of the stillness and eternity of the desert itself.

Although he had never seen the village he was headed toward, he was prepared to dissolve into the work. There were people there that were in need. And serving others was what made his heart beat and his blood flow. The village he had left behind boasted new irrigation ditches, a large hut for teaching children about the past and preparing them for the future, and a handful of curious and helpful residents that were newly trained in the ways of medical care, to help and care for the ill and the injured.

And of course he had helped teach them the way to salvation. His way was kind, gentle and accepting of all others. He did not consider himself a priest in the conventional tradition. His way was to lead by example, to encourage others to want to make the best of their lives by being the best people they could be. And that meant a measure of self-sacrifice that most people shied away from. He knew the quiet sense of contentment that giving of one's self and helping those in need provided to a person. He knew that a person at peace will become more interested in and accepting of that way of life, once having had a taste of it.

And so, here he was. Alone and crossing a desert to get to a new village where he hoped he could help to better the conditions and the lives of its inhabitants. His eyes were narrowed against the powerful glare of the sun but the faintest smile remained on his face as he moved steadily along.

After some time, through twilight and dusk and into the night, feeling refreshed and relieved to be moving through air that had become cooler than his body temperature, he decided it was time to stop and rest. He never slept longer than a few hours at a given time. Any hint of light along the eastern skyline and he awoke naturally. There were few things in this life that he enjoyed more than seeing the canopy lighten through myriad shades of blues, pinks, and purples before the sun broke the surface of the horizon to dawn a new day. It made his heart sing and his soul soar. He felt his faith strengthen and expand. He rarely missed a sunrise.

Down he lay, simply where his feet stopped moving, for there was no inviting feature of the terrain that might lend comfort to a traveller. He used the bladder he'd been drinking from to lay his head upon, pulled his gauzy cloak close, then exhaled long and evenly and closed his eyes.

The night passed quietly and he slept dreamlessly. He awoke rested and resolved to spend another day moving through the absolute silence of the desert. He had quickly gotten used to hearing only his breathing and the sound of his blood, beating through his heart and rushing through his ears. He checked the position of the constellations still visible at this early hour and determined that he was indeed still on course. He knew he would be. He was being guided by his higher power and he knew it would never lead him astray.

As the morning wore on, he became aware of a changing quality to the air and an almost imperceptible sound that was equally there and not there. Within a short time, before the sun had risen fully into the sky, he noticed the colors changing and the air beginning to stir. This was of no concern. His journey thus far had been uneventful, save for the heat that came both above from the beating sun and below from the blistering desert floor. Eventually, he looked back behind him. In the distance, he saw a darkness begin to rise up into the atmosphere. Where once it was a pale shade of blue, now he saw the earth-tones of a sandstorm in the making. Not knowing its direction or severity, he silently prayed for safety and continued on his way.

Before long, he saw that all around him had become a pale shade that was more ground than sky. Again he turned around to look behind him. What he observed struck fear into him. The horizon had disappeared into a darkened, threatening wall that rose up high into the atmosphere. The storm was gaining strength and heading his way. He looked around hopefully as he walked on, wishing for a contour in the landscape, anything that might afford him some protection, but there was none to be seen. Just the continued flat expance that surrounded him in all directions. Even brush was scarce in this area. He realized he would have to hunker down, wrap himself tightly, head to toe, in his cloak and hold tightly onto his supplies until the haboob passed. Again, he prayed for safety.

And then it was upon him. Down he sat and pulled the flimsy material over his face, securing it as best he could. The wind whipped the raw edges of his cloak and scoured him with airborne particles that had made up the still landscape he had been travelling through. Within minutes, he was surrounded by a deafening roar. As the relentless winds beat upon his back, he lost track of time. He kept his head down and his eyes closed. His breath remained calm and measured and he spoke silently, words of comfort to himself and praise to the mercy of his divine ruler. His faith did not waver. His fate was not in his own hands. He prayed for the continued opportunity to spread hope and help to others throughout his life. He was at peace, no matter the outcome. The storm raged on.

CONTEST

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Image of candy
candy · ago
Powerful descriptions and message. I can honestly say this is easily in my top ten short story list of all time.
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Image of ZenGrrl
ZenGrrl · ago
Thanks, Candy. I'm letting a substantial handful of people know about this one. It's odd for me to be brave enough to do that but, as you know, I feel pretty confident about this story. It's still so odd to me because the style/subject matter is so unlike my usual stories/poetry. I hope this one does well. We'll see, eh?
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Image of Jodey
Jodey · ago
WOW! You can write, young lady!!!! May you come out on top! I love your display of bravery...
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Image of ZenGrrl
ZenGrrl · ago
Thank you so much, Jodey! This is the first contest I've entered. I just happened upon it and decided "What the hell!" I'm glad you enjoyed the story. It came out of my head REALLY fast in the form that it is in. There were a couple grammatical changes I made and a word change in 2 spots. Other than that, all I had to do was type it out! I hope you will get to read more of my stuff in the future!
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