I think I saw it again. But I’m not sure if it was just swirls of the horizon mixing together. Maybe it was water. It had to have been water. My lips crack at the possibility.
I shuffle further through the dirt. I feel the grains of sand between my toes and clinging to the underside of my feet.
Its so dry here. Why is it so dry?
I feel a lump in my pocket. Or maybe it’s my imagination. I think its my imagination. I gently press my hand to my pocket, but I do in fact, feel a lump. Fumbling, I get my hand to my pocket and pull out the plastic bag.
It crinkles in my hands as I try to find what’s inside. The weight of it surprises me and I drop it once or twice. I drop to my knees and struggle to open the bag when I see its colorful transparent content: gummy bears.
With newfound life, the palpitates of my heart quicken. I have food. I finally have food to quench the undeniable grumbling of my stomach. I shove several of the gummy bears in my mouth, savoring their fruity taste until I have no choice but to swallow.
I stay kneeling on the ground for several minutes. The sun sets in this time. It gives the desert an ominous feeling and I know fate is on its way. I won’t survive this night.
A gust of cold desert wind whips through my shredded clothes. A shiver goes down my spine, freezing every hair.
I pull myself to my feet and stumble in the direction of the water. I know I saw water. It has to be water. I take a few steps before I hear it. At first I think its rushing water. But I know that my eyes see nothing but sand and cracked Earth.
And I hear it again. It shakes and vibrates the air around my head. The noise is like a buzz. It gets louder until I actually look down. And that’s when I see it.
A coiled snake rears its head at me while shaking its tail furiously. It’s a rattlesnake.
It’s a rattlesnake.
It’s a rattlesnake.
I weigh my options. Another night in this godforsaken desert… or one step and a painful journey away from here. It’ll be painful either way: staying or leaving. Should I stay? What if rescue finally comes for me tomorrow? Do I want them to find a body clinging to life? Or do I want them to find a body that just let go? Will my body be warm? Probably with this heat.
I look forward. The water. But what if its not water? What if its just another hallucination?
It probably is.
The ambivalence is too much to bear. Each side hold promising futures. Do I want the easy way out? Do I want the hard way out?
I stick my foot out and it’s like I don’t even feel the pain. Just blissful peace. If only I had waited a moment longer. Because as the poison took control of my veins, a helicopters rudders beat over the horizon. Or maybe it was another rattlesnake.