Short Fiction: Garden of Nothing

There isn’t a lot of good to be had in the wastes.

Not a lot of gentle, not a lot of care.

There’s a wealth of harm. Rough edges, sharp corners, dirt and grit. Sand ground into your skin, under your eyelids, in the backs of your teeth. How do you get clean when the dirt is inside you?

When I meet another traveler it’s a careful dance. A glimmer of blue eyes peeking out between sheathes of fabric, framed with dark, grime crusted skin. The clothes are like mine – brown, layered, worn but practical. Packs strapped on with belts, carrying everything on our backs from water to shelter.

We’re crossing within five feet from one another in the semi dark and maintaining eye contact the whole time. This person is as likely to shank me and steal my water as I leave, as he is to let me go. I want to shout after him as his form retreats. I won’t harm you – I’m so lonely it’s killing me faster than the radiation is. I want to run after him and throw myself at his feet. Take everything I have but say my name before you go. I haven’t heard my name spoken aloud for so long.

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