Some stories have no satisfactory ending, no ‘happy ever after’, no ‘bad-guy-gets-his-punishment’, no magic wand. We hear about the moment, the event, and then it fades into daily living. I think we’d like every story to have all the ends neatly tied, but I know my life isn’t like that, it’s full of loose ends, people appearing and disappearing over the years. It’s just the way it is. So here’s an incomplete story.
They’ve promised me freedom at the end, when we get home, otherwise I’d quit, run away. I’m sick of ailing camels, fractious donkeys … and of being afraid.
Yes, afraid … scared of where this journey is going to end, if it does, and terrified of the night … of the star that turns the desert white where it should be dark … and throws shadows across the sky.
It’s fine for the masters, busy with their charts and calculations, but slaves have to do what we’re told and no questions answered, thank you.
I’m longing for freedom when we get home, if I get home.
Brigands in the mountains, dust storms in the desert with freezing nights, and thieves. I knifed one last week.
I saw a man moving away from the camels. At first I thought my master’s camel was dead but she grunted so I ran after the thief, knife in hand. He had my cloak under his arm.
I caught up with him at the end of the camel-lines. Thumped the knife into his back. He went down heavily, me on top. I took my cloak and my knife. Had I been seen? I wiped the knife on the star-lit sand. The man groaned and turned over. I dragged him behind a cairn … to survive or not. He wasn’t there when we left at dawn. I took a quick look: no body.
Always we rise early, rest through the heat
of the day, travel fast late into night so
that we don’t wander from the star. Will he
come after me? Follow the star like us? Take
revenge? Or will the star? I’m afraid.
That star … it sees everything,