Over the thousands of miles down to South America I am bound to have a story or two come to my restless brain, so I shall bust up the tales of my journey with stories that are inspired by my trip. Here is the first of such stories:
Dirt Soda (working title)
Even in the high fields, Burt struggled to find his way home. He wiped sweat off his brow and added more dust to his sodden face. His thick, brown hair was heavily matted from the dirt it had collected from his smearings. He’d spent the day hiking in the hills outside of town and was ready to rest with a cool drink.
A short rock wall staggered beside him and he could see the town below. Ed’s Old Time Automotive waved in the tired heat. Martha’s Grocery and Spiritual Grace offered cake and sanctuary but it was too far to do any good. The Emporium’s empty parking lot looked even more desolate from on high. Tired and lost, he felt like a bird migrating in summer.
A shallow swig emptied his canteen into his mouth. He slowly closed his eyes and reopened them at the sun and screened it partially with his hand. There was no trail he could see, but through the dips and dives of the valley he could make out a navigable path to tread. His boots clomped on the ground and lifted clouds of dust as if he had cut their weights and set them free to rise into the air. The clouds hovered at his knees and later his head as he descended the dry hill. The slope caught his legs and drew him down faster until he moved at a clunky jaunt. When the slope evened out he slowed his legs and brought them to a walk. He stopped a moment to give them pause.
His plaid shirt, which had fluttered at his back due to the speed, hanged in the air. He felt the warm air drying his sweat and once again closed his eyes to embellish the cooling feel. He waited unhappily for the feeling to disappear with the covering of his shirt but it never came. He felt behind him and his head found his shirt floating on the dust clouds he had kicked up. He pushed down on the fabric and it gave way like in a washing basin yet remained dry. The dust dispersed where he had pressed and collected into the clouds.
With the little energy he had Burt stamped the ground and resurrected more dust. Lazy and thick it wafted at his waist and again lifted his shirt. Burt closed his eyes and leaned backwards. At first he felt as if he were falling softly onto plush clouds but then the dust gave way and Burt collapsed to the ground and a swarm of dust shrouded around him.
Burt sat up coughing lungfuls of dirt. He leaned back on straightened arms and vexed shoulders. He hanged his red and dusty head and a vulture flapped down beside him on a nearby mound. The creature cocked its head at him and opened its beak soundlessly. Burt lifted his eyes to look at the bird and stared. He shook his head and flung dust high.
He closed his eyes.
By slowly inching his arms forward he brought himself to hunch his weight on his palms and toes, finally standing like a freshly sheared skeleton.
After standing still a moment he burst into a run. He turned and turned and circled the spot where he had fallen. This scared the vulture and chased it to a distant rock. He ran and ran, stomping along the way. His arms flapped at his side and swirled the forming mass of dust. His head bobbed to his trot just above the dust. The cloud rose higher with each of Burt’s circles and at his first snortful of dust he leapt like a district-champion high jumper and fell onto the bed of dust. His arms flopped beside him as he floated on top of the cloud.
Slowly, like a drunk swimmer, his body sank into the dust until some of it washed into his mouth. He spat it out and leaned back his head and resumed his float.
He laid for a moment completely still. He opened his canteen and one, two drops fell onto his tongue. He still wanted that cool drink but did not want to meander down the hill on his own legs again. He paddled his arms through the air and slid down the slope slower than a dried tongue over cracked lips. He lessened his paddle down to his elbows and arrested it altogether. He lay there with his body baking in the sun and watched the vulture wheel above him in. He raised his knees and crossed one leg over the other. Carefully, he removed his shirt and draped it over his trussed legs. The little breeze there was caught his crude sail and blew him down the hill. He placed his arms behind his head and closed his eyes.