AN: Read at your own risk! Might include bad language or disturbing images. The 7th story of the 10 small stories. You can find the rest at my blog. Enjoy and comment!
The Desert is always generous. Most people don’t see it like that; not that he could blame them. Everyday a lot of people lose their lives in her sandy depths. Hundreds of them leave their lifeless bodies to decay in her scorching hug under the blazing sun. It was a fact that the Desert was an unforgiving slut, if one didn’t know her. But if you knew her secrets, her passions, how to treat her, she was as kind as a loving wife.
And that she was for Malick, his wife, his only wife. During his fifty four long years he never wanted to know another woman apart from her, because the great Desert that lay just south of the City, was a woman in his mind. Malick fell in love with her the first moment his lay his eyes across her vast lands, when he felt the sands against his toes. He never felt so good before. He only wanted to get lost in herself. And he knew that the Desert liked him too. He could never really understand why, or how, but he knew it. He was sure of it when the Desert gave him her greatest gift of all, the Hearing. In that moment, he knew that he was married to her and he will never know another woman in his life. As Leo was married to dreams.
“Old man, wake up” he heard a voice talk to him. He didn’t open them immediately, he savored its texture first. Malick could tell that it belonged to a young man, probably under aged but near his eighteenth birthday. He could tell that he was hasty and cocky. He was disrespectful too, even though he didn’t reach that conclusion because of his voice. Despite that he could see something else beneath it, he was afraid. Afraid and so young, so new to the real world. The world that mattered.
“My name is Malick” he answered after a while slowly. His voice was hoarse; he hadn’t spoken for a long while.
“Yeah, I know” answered boy impatiently. “Will you open your eyes and watch me?”
“Because it makes me nervous” came the response. He has some fire in him.
Malick opened his eyes slowly and looked at him steadily for a while. He had gotten all the facts of his voice correctly; and more he saw that he was a City boy, tall and lean, with long black hair. In his eyes fear was lurking, fear and uncertainty.
“If you are afraid, boy, go and never come back”.
“I am not afraid! And I have a name!” anger distorted his face.
“I have one too. But you deemed it better to call me Old Man.” He looked at him gently.
“Okay, fine… I am sorry, what’s your name?”
“I am Malick, Leo. Nice to meet you”.
“How do you know my name?” asked suspiciously the boy. He looked down at him where he was sitting atop a sand hill, right under the rays of the sun; his favorite spot.
“I know things. Now, to our business. You have been sent here by the Old Crone, downtown, no?”
“Yes.” he answered uncertain. “She spoke to you? She said you would know, about me and my…” his voice flattered as Leo couldn’t find the right words to describe what was happening to him. Malick’s stern features became kinder. All of them had the same problem at the begging, even that evil slut of Witch that was drinking the folks’ blood downtown.
“Please, sit next to me” after a hesitation that lasted no longer than two seconds, he did as obliged. “Now, the word that you are looking for is wizard. You are a wizard like me, like the Witch is a real Alchemist and not a fraud. We all have certain gifts, to bind the magic in our will, one way or another. We all have to serve for the greater scheme in this world” he started explaining but the boy was impatient; he cut him with a wave of his hand.
“Yes, Malick, I know. The witch has already, explained it to me. That’s why I am here. I am here to be trained.”
“Then go down that hill and find the woman there. She is expecting you. The sun will set, soon”.
Leo got up. He begun descending the hill, but halfway he remembered to turn to him and say goodbye. The old man didn’t hold a grudge against him; he knew how difficult it was at first. He knew that next time he would answer him what is his gift.
The boy had come a long way since then. Leo had grown mature, had been more confident in himself, he could be flow through his dreams more carefully. He was still sad, he had lost his mother. And it did not help that he had to look into other peoples’ deaths. He had matured though, soon he would be able to confer with him and dream without Mellaria’s help. He was going through so much pain, but the balance in this world was kept by the pains of those few who had the gift. He shuddered when he thought of him. He had left the fold and things were not good.
He emptied his mind and did what he was good at. He listened to the sands. The sands had a voice of themselves, as every living thing and dead object in this world. Only it was compulsory to know how to listen to their voice. He knew, and they brought to him all sort of news. Because the sands heard everything from the water, from the air, from the people themselves. And then they whispered what they had heard to him.
A beautiful young woman with fire in her eyes is falling down a cliff. Can she fly? No, but she can see, and she sees him.
That was unfortunate. A tear tripped down his withered cheek. He wish he could have helped her. But now it was too late, she was dead.
A blond woman was drinking from a potion. She had to seduce that policeman. Or else, the policeman would suspect. Would he know that she knows about her death?
A woman was crying bitterly over a small crib. Her veil covered her face but he could hear her tears falling to the floor.
A man was cutting meat on a counter. He was listening to soft jazz music while humming to himself.
Another woman was walking on the streets alone. She was drinking heavily the last weeks and now her steps were unsteady. She almost got hit by a car, but she survived. The man took her along him to the hospital and there a nurse complimented her red hair.
Leo had woken up in the small hut and was pouring his heart’s content on the feet of a young woman. He had lost a mother, he had thought that it was a leak of gas, but it was magic, it seemed. She was a powerful witch, but she burned alive. Now he wanted to know her enemy.
All people are cruel, but desperate women could be even crueler; and desperate women with magic could be the cruelest of them all, because Magic was never kind. Magic always exacted its toll. So, it was death. Leo’s mother had learned that the hard way, when she was burned alive. He had heard of her death through the sands, and he was very sad about her death. She was a kind woman, but she had taken for granted that she had paid her due to Magic. And Magic never likes arrogance, either.
Malick wondered if Magic had exacted the toll on him, or not. He knew deep inside that he had not paid yet, but he didn’t care. He thanked the Desert that he had revealed to him his gift of hearing the sands and that he had been his wife for so long. He was one of the few wizards that were actually happy. He let himself a small smile before getting lost to the sands again. The Old Crone would like to know the rumors tonight, as always. He always paid his debts.