The moon was full. It gazed down upon the sand dunes like a fierce, glowing eye. The wind caressed the land, blowing the dust into the night sky as if to tickle the fine powder. As if in response to the breath the night bestowed upon the desert, a Coyote sang to her lost loved ones, her wail chilling the bones of a traveler riding alone, cloaked in the blanket of night. Disturbed by her cries, he tugged his jacket tighter to himself and shielded his eyes from the onslaught of the blistering winds. His horse, Mindy, nickered nervously.
"Hush, girl," he soothed, rubbing her velvety nose. "We'll make it through this night yet," he murmured, his reassurances directed more at himself than at the horse.
They trekked along, horse and man, until the sky began to turn a listless grey and the sand began to grow as hot as burning coal. Then they rested. The man licked his cracked lips wearily, and took a quick swig of water. He only had another day left of his precious water, and that was if he used it sparingly. IF. At the moment, his tongue felt like sandpaper and his throat was terribly blistered. It took all of his self-control to keep himself from draining the entire container in just a few gulps.
Mindy whinnied and nuzzled his shoulder, begging for some relief as well.
The man, knowing that there was not enough water to sustain them both, recapped the jug in silence, reached into his knap-sack, and pulled out his last apple. Mindy devoured the fruit happily.
As her teeth ground up the crunchy core, the man shoved his emotions into the far corner of his mind; now was not the time to be thinking of death, now was the time to be thinking of survival. He refused to even contemplate the truth. They would BOTH come out of this alive, end of story.
The horse finished with a loud stomping of the hoof, she was rested and ready for action.
The man steeled himself, gritting his teeth, and then stood. His leg muscles nearly gave way with the excruciating pain, but he steadied himself by grabbing hold of Mindy. Pin-pricks of white and black dotted his vision and his head throbbed with dizziness, but he somehow managed to hold on.
At last, he began walking.