Written by Melissa Lemay


The sun in sight, I stretch my pencil-thin fingertips toward the cornflower sky; my face awash with ashen scales, the canyon rocks have more polish. My eyes are like scars sunken in my skull. Blood that once surged through veins has yielded to slithering. Only if I could break open one rock and out came pouring honey, glistening, inflecting rabidly back into rock, a fountain of youth.

Death would be more honorable. Yet in barren desert there is no reason to be ashamed, but for God. No government, only the giant cactus and snakeroot and hemlock. I know there is no chance I’ll freeze. I have these damn wool blankets that I brought. The sheep are better off. The mountainous boojum trees loom above me, casting dark oil-oozing shadows on the dust-cluttered desert floor.

I have not seen many signs of life, with exceptions of grouchy-looking Great Horned Owls nesting atop a cactus (I don’t understand why they’re so pissed, they’re the ones who settled in there); and some soulless, beady-eyed Gila Monsters that look to me like they may want to latch onto my hand or my brain and inject venom—that, or go to a rave. These (Gila lizards) are entertaining in a pinch, which I have been in.

I wouldn’t mind living here, if by choice, and with a sun hat. And suntan lotion. And moisturizer. Perhaps I could arrange for the Gila Monsters to bring some, or at least the sun hat, and perhaps a kettle. I am fairly certain some of the desert flowers can be good for brewing tea. I don’t have any ice, though.

I’ve never been on a boat; upon death, I shall be envious of a sailor: as I meet my demise, perhaps stung by a disease-ridden Aedes purpureipes mosquito, quite handsomely wafting itself through limitedly breezy Sonoran desert “air”, while I struggle to vibrate my vocal cords enough to say “waaa-ter”.

It’s been too long since I’ve tasted water to be afraid anymore, last remnants of my personality scattered about the desert grass. However evasive, my soul proposed to be moulded with destiny there on the desert floor. A few minor details remain.

Perhaps once installed by intense waves of thick heat and exposure to bacteria from rotting armadillo I took a bite of, dysentery would put my last breaths on an outgoing track. I can scarcely breathe now. I’m not sure I even exist. I imagine newspaper headlines, Cure for Leprosy Cultured from Remains Found with Great Horned Owls Nesting in Cactus.

I am fading. Impending death, or fainting—I hate ending things abruptly, but I can’t hold my eyelids open. Thank God I had this journal with me when I came to after the van crashed. And one pen. Thank God.


Text © Melissa Lemay



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