Oasis: A Short Story

In my writing class last week, the instructor asked us to take the emotions we feel in our bodies about a particular situation or event and transpose them into a fictional tale. This is what I came up with.


Oasis


A patch of aqua blue and vibrant green had danced and wavered in the distance a few minutes ago - it felt like hours ago - but the sweat stinging my eyes was making it hard to see anything now. Was it still there? I tried to resist becoming lost in the fear that it had only been a mirage, but the desperation building in my feverish body and parched mouth and aching stomach was becoming impossible to bear. I dropped to my knees, gritting my teeth as the searing sand burned into my legs and feet. I didn't know how much longer I could survive out here alone. I was playing out a death sentence that I didn't want to prolong anymore.


I only had a few drops of water in my bottle and I refused to use it yet. A small part of me still believed I could make it out of here, but that part was rapidly shrinking. I hung my head as my legs and feet grew redder in the sand, and I felt the sun scalding the back of my neck.


I was starting to forget how I got here, and I realized with horror that I couldn't remember where I'd been trying to get to. All I could hold onto was that I could have sworn I'd seen an oasis, and all I could coerce my brain to focus on beyond the pain, thirst, hunger and fear was that I had to get that far.


But how could I get somewhere I couldn't see, that might not even be there when I arrive? I decided to go in the direction of the blue and green apparition anyway. After all, if I was going to die soon, the direction I went in didn't matter. I figured that I may as well die moving instead of staying still.


I forced myself to crawl forward because I didn't have the strength to stand. I squeezed my eyes shut as the hot sand ate into my hands, but I kept going.


I'd only moved three or four feet when I saw something glittering in the sand just ahead of me, reflecting the sunlight in a blinding flash. I reached out and tentatively touched it with my finger, only to yelp and recoil in pain - the metal was as hot as a burning kettle. I squinted and saw that it was a silver water canteen. Bracing myself, I took a deep breath and grabbed it, screaming in pain as I unscrewed the cap as quickly as I could.


There was water inside - it was a miracle. I managed a heartless laugh in spite of myself. I'd stumbled upon a small oasis in a bottle. It was all I had, but it was enough. The bottle was full.


- M.B.