KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 5: Spring 2016
Micro-Fiction: 341 words

The Dusty City

by Kika Dorsey

I walk through the dusty city looking for him, my feet clad in straps of leather, small cars honking and men selling chicken feet, women peddling batik lunar calendars with dragons and rats and red and yellow ink. Beside me shadows twist and reach and fall and rise. They defy the burning sun, cough him up from their bellies. Water buffalo roam the streets, their horns like daggers, and children play with balls made of cotton and twine.

He left me in a drought, when the corn puckered, curled, and fell back into the earth, when all my child drank was my milk, when the frogs died and we roasted them in fires mocking the sun.

The shadows touch my flesh and I bruise, blood rising to my surface like a flooded river. They cartwheel and spin and dance beside me. Their darkness leads me to him, but I fear I won’t survive the looking, the aching journey.

At the edge of the dusty city is a shallow trickle of a river. A billboard rises above it selling perfume, with a woman in a golden gown and hair as blond as the washed-up sky. And I see him. He is in the river, black rubber boots to his knees, black hair falling like the shadows now sinking into the water, his back turned to me.

I call to him and he turns, eyes like starlight. The sun presses on my bruised flesh and sirens wail behind me. I know now we must find a home, travel west through stretches of dust, seek water in the capricious mountains, those children that rose from the broken earth.

The son is a father with a broken heart. They told me that, but I didn’t believe it. The shadows climb the man I love and a hawk steals the fish he caught. My mouth is too parched to speak and I wonder about the moon, whether its sickle can be the oar for the boat we will build when the waters rise.

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