There was no wind. Only the heat and the sand that was very soft and in which her feet sunk deep, making every step very difficult to make. She had been holding her shoes on one hand but suddenly decided to drop them and let the sand claim them. She might never return to that beautiful hotel she had been staying in and even if she did, she had more shoes there, where they could actually be used.
She stopped walking sometimes and tried to compose herself, looking in every direction; desperate to get any sign of life or of the person she had been following. Suddenly, she saw a scorpion come out of the sand and just ran the opposite way, not minding the heat, the sand and the fact that she had to climb a really big sand dune to escape the small creature.
It was on top of that sand structure that she saw the oasis that the woman she had encountered in the market had told her about. Or at least it seemed to be it, because all of those water springs in the desert looked the same and she couldn’t forget that she might be imagining the whole thing, her mind already being affected by the heat and by having walked around a very still desert for at least an hour now.
Once she made it to the oasis, she realized it was real and just when straight for the water. The small pool of liquid that was there was no good for swimming but good enough for her feet to relax and have a well deserved rest. She also took some water in her hands and drank, feeling how her body thanked her for it. As she drank, she looked around. Besides that small pond, there were only three palm trees, a few rocks and that was it. It was a very small island of life in the immensity of the desert.
She started thinking that maybe she needed to go back but then she realized she had no idea what “back” meant as her senses of direction was not precisely on point. She had her cellphone with her but, obviously, it had no signal and the map feature wasn’t working. So she just there, here a soft breeze that brushed through those parts and moved the leaves of the palm trees.
But the sound also moved something the woman had failed to see. Just in front of her there was the pond, and after that one of the palm trees but the wind made her notice some sort of fabric that was caught behind the palm tree. She stood up slowly and then realized she really needed to open her eyes better because what lay in front of her was not just fabric, it was a women dressed in a black gown, barefoot, apparently passed out, just there in the sand as if it was the most normal thing of Earth. She thought the woman looked beautiful but also a bit scary.
Her body was very still. The other woman came closer and noticed she had a beautiful bracelet on her right arm and a necklace made also from gold. The bracelet had a name on it: Desi. She concluded that her companion’s name was Desi and that someone had left her there, because she was so perfectly put on the ground that it wouldn’t be possible that she had fainted and just assumed that very calm position.
Desperate for human communication, the woman touched Desi’s face and caressed it a little bit too hard in order to wake her up but it didn’t work. She also tried shaking him by the elbow and the shoulder, even going to the extent of doing it really strongly, but without success. The last thing she tried was tickling her sleeping companion’s feet with her fingertips but the body didn’t even move a millimeter.
So the woman just sat there besides her sleeping, or maybe dead, companion and just stared at the pond and the palm trees, secretly begging for an answer to this ridiculous situation. She even attempted to remember what it was that had drawn her out of her suite into the desert but the only thing she could remember was the voice of the woman in the market, telling her to find that oasis she was in right now, and wait for a revelation to occur. Maybe that was the place where she was destined to know a great truth but, being honest to herself, she didn’t want to know any truths if it meant being in the middle with nowhere with a dead body.
She shook Desi violently this time but the body wouldn’t budge so she decided she didn’t care. Also, she decided to go back to her hotel and just hope that the same voice that brought her there was capable to get her back into a nice bed and a continental breakfast. She had been out of bed before dawn and she felt dusk was about to take place and she certainly didn’t want to spend a night in a place filled with scorpions.
So she just stood up and started walking the way she thought her hotel was located in. Her steps were more secure now and the sand didn’t engulf her feet as it had been doing before. She almost floated over the sand and walked with much more grace than anyone else could in such an awful place. She reached a high dune and decided to look back; in order to give a last look to dead Desi but the oasis wasn’t there anymore. There was only sand.
It was the first time that she felt scared and that feeling was accentuated by the fact that the sun was less and less bright, and she could already see the moon in the sky, very bright and all of her features visible. The moon seemed massive in the desert and she found herself looking at it for a long time before she remembered her wish to go back to the hotel.
She walked and walked. But couldn’t reach any place. She was now thirsty and no oasis awaited her in the route she had chosen. She just had to keep on walking but she wasn’t walking as secure as she had been walking before. Her feet were starting to sink again and she felt very insecure about every single step she took. It was very sudden when fear took over her mind: she was sure she was going to die there, all alone, cold and with a thousand scorpions and other creatures of the desert poking her lifeless body, Her mouth would fill with sand before her whole body was to be covered by the desert, forgotten by the world there.
It was a bright light that made these thoughts go away. But the light had been just a flash, just a moment in time that she never saw again. She kept walking and decided to travel only on the crests of the tall dunes in order to have a vantage point and not be surprised by death, if it came from beneath her. But it was there, the moon almost in the highest part of the sky, that she saw her again.
She recognized the dress and her face and ever her feet, there in the dark. The moon illuminated Desi and that beautiful blue light bathed her in a strange aura that made the woman feel scared but also very calm. It was as if her mind was screaming but her body was incapable of acting on that fear. She was kind of paralyzed, also fascinated by the fact that the woman she had seen earlier was there, looking at her.
But none of them moved. Not until Desi took off her necklace and let it fall into the sand. Then, a gust of gust covered her body and she was never seen again. She had been an illusion or maybe a dead person. That was why the lost woman had not been able to wake her up. She walked to the spot where she had been standing and grabbed the necklace from the sand. Just like the bracelet, it had a charm with a name. And the name was Florence.
It was right then that she opened her eyes and realized the desert was there, just beyond the windows in her room. Her grandiose bedroom was there, all the complimentary beverages, the fruit basket that had been given to her as a gift and all of her clothes and shoes. Florence just touched her face and the rest of her body, trying to understand what had just happened. She stood up and went to the bathroom. She checked her eyes and her mouth. And then she just looked at her reflection.
And as it happens often, she forgot Desi’s name, and the scorpions, and the body in the oasis. But she didn’t forget the fact that she had dropped some shoes in the desert, that she had found a necklace with her name on it or that a voice had called from beyond.
She cleaned her face with cold water and decided to get some breakfast but, just as she walked in the space between the window and the bed, Florence stepped on a small mound of desert sand.