The sun buzzes, bloated and insectile. It wants her dead, but Aiko doesn’t much care. Her feet are sure on the heatcracked desert floor. Huge rock formations keep a distant guard.
She’s out of water, but she’s not worried. The dogs keep their distance, but they’re with her all the time.
Before sundown, she catches a handful of lizards and cooks them over the fire. The dogs creep closer, their eyes like low-lying stars. When she calls, one slinks forward, nose down, ears up. They face each other.
It takes the lizard from her hand, gentle as a nurse.