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.


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