The Nick Of Time
(and other Abrasions)
A Heart Full Of Dust
Al Bruno III
“Can I please have some water? Just one drink?”
“You know I can't do that.”
After a long debate Lily and her mother moved their prisoner into the enormous greenhouse next to the Quonset Hut. It was the secret of how they sustained themselves in this lifeless dustbowl. Vagabond had to admit it was impressive, tomatoes grew alongside peach trees and potatoes. The only inedible plant was the small rose bush growing in a cracked pot by the exit. The closed buds were dark red.
“How do you keep the storms from wrecking this place?”
Lily smiled, “Magic.”
“In this day and age?” he tested his bonds again, there was no sign of them loosening.
“Mother is stronger than anyone suspects and the old ways are best,” she sprayed the leaves of an orange tree with a plastic water bottle.
“Speaking of your mother…”
“She’s trying to get some rest, seeing you again got her stirred up.”
“Having a gun to my head has the same effect on me.”
Lily giggled, “Some things never change.”
“How would you know?”
Vagabond watched the storm churning all around them, the thick haze of dust made it seem as though the rest of the world was lost to them. Lily had lit one of the lanterns to brighten the place up but it only made things more dreary, “Is she still thinking about killing me?”
The computer generated face frowned, “She might.”
“Well, isn't there some rule that a practically condemned man can have a last meal? I don't even want the meal I just want a little water. I think I swallowed half the Barrens back there.”
“I'm sorry love, Mother has forbidden me.”
“But why?” he wanted to kick something or shake his fist but all he could do is flop around on the floor like a fish.
“Because, a little while after we give you water you're going to want to pee and then we'll have to undo your hands and then you might get it in your head and try to escape.”
“And go where in this storm?”
Lily turned to look at him, “Are you telling me you're not planning on escape right now? You've been working at those ropes for over an hour.”
Cursing with frustration he decided to just lay there for a while. He watched her water the plants and sprinkle a little compost at the base of some of the larger trees. Then she clipped a few shoots and began putting them in their own little pots. Finally he spoke again, “Why did she make you like this?”
“I'm not even supposed to be talking to you.” she shook a trowel in his direction.
“But we are talking,” he pleaded, “we’re just not saying anything.”
“What can we say now?” Lily set the pots she was working on down and approached him. She knelt beside him, her fingers stroked his cheek, “What’s left?”
The storm roared and gently rattled the glass panes. Her lips puckered, she pressed her screen to his gaping mouth. Neither one of them closed their eyes. She tasted like static and dust.
The kiss broke, her chest hitched with a single convulsive sob and she got up and ran from the greenhouse, leaving him very much alone.