I couldn’t help but smile and regretted it immediately. I licked the blood from my lips and sputtered and tripped down the ridge toward my treasure...
Scratching the surface of stones. Feeling them crumble beneath my nails. How long have I been in the desert?
The stones are so full and heavy. Full of nothing but more stone. My scratches become sand beneath my nails. I know it’s been days. But I’m still here. I’ll never admit it’s been weeks. I wouldn’t dare. That I’ve been in the desert for weeks. Wandering. Wondering. A falcon has followed me from one dead branch to the next. Eyeing me. Perhaps it’s making a mockery of me. It spends its life in the desert. So maybe I should make a mockery of it. But my lips will crack and bleed if I smile.
My greatest embarrassment is how I ended up in this desert. I’ll tell you. I was told there was gold here. A day’s journey west, and I would see the greatest treasure known to man. I’ve said I’ve been in the desert for days—but it’s actually been weeks. Not a day like I was told. Not a couple of days because I got lost. But weeks. Searching for this gold. Fool’s gold. Now I’m the fool. What does it matter now if I admit it or not?
The falcon turned away from me—I followed his gaze toward a gleam over the ridge. A glimmer beneath the waning sun. Could it be? The greatest treasure of all? An oasis with a clear stream bubbling from an underground well? Of all the riches in the world, it would be the greatest. No more scratching upon stones—my life source was within reach!
I couldn’t help but smile and regretted it immediately. I licked the blood from my lips and sputtered and tripped down the ridge toward my treasure. It called to me. I ran quicker towards this life source. The continuation of living and understanding would be mine. With this new lease on life, I could forget about what drove me to the desert—I would find my way back. I would put foolishness behind me.
I tumbled down the rest of the sand dune, fell before the glittering display, lifted my head. But I hadn’t stumbled upon a well of water—I laid sprawled before a sea of gold. An entire ocean of gold coins sparkled beneath the sun as though a thousand treasure chests had burst open.
I reached out and scratched the surface of the gold, but it gave nothing. I clenched a handful of gold—shoved the burning coins in my mouth—and sucked. I sucked with such fervency, you’d feel ashamed to watch. If you saw how I sucked on those gold coins, you would’ve looked away in disgust and pity thinking to yourself that you don’t give your time to people of my stature.
Knowing you feel this way, it’ll probably do you good to learn that I never left the oasis. The gold coins in my mouth remained. It was the last day of my journey when I came upon the sea of gold, the treasure in the desert I had been promised, and with a mouthful of gold is how I drew my last breath.
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