The following is my 297 word response to the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo’s TUFF Contest prompt “cool water” posted on September 13th. To see the winners of that competition go to Carrot Ranch. Join in the weekly rodeo contests all this month.
They traveled at night when the relentless sun did not blaze bright in the raw blue sky. The stars that trickled overhead reminded her of the stories Leena told, stories about a time when cool water fell from a softer sky.
Leena told other stories; stories about when the far flung salty lakes were connected, were one vast lake filled with fish and sea creatures, a lake so immense it floated large boats that took days to go from one edge to another.
She’d hesitated only a moment when Leena and Ahden invited her to leave the salt scorched Lake Lands with them, to get away from the crowded and dangerous camps where drinking water was distilled from the brackish saltwater, then sold, traded and fought over. It was not uncommon for family groups to form among migrants and refugees and she wanted to be a daughter to this couple. She also knew that children were often traded in exchange for fresh drinking water. But when Ahden and Leena told stories of their first daughter, water gathered in their eyes. She trusted them.
She found it more difficult to believe their stories. Ahden’s stories were as fantastic as Leena’s. Ahden told of the color green, told stories of trees, all kinds of trees, trees that cooled and soothed the land. Ahden carried a forked stick he claimed was a piece of a tree branch that had once borne a round red fruit that held water within its flesh. Ahden also told stories of cool water that lay like treasure underground. He said he would find water with his tree branch or die trying. In case they did die trying, Ahden and Leena told her their stories and taught her what they knew. They lived for her now.