Everything was sand and sky. He lifted his cigarette to his mouth and inhaled as he realized he hadn’t expected anything else. Not that he could remember expecting anything at all--what had he been doing a minute ago? He wasn’t sure. All he could remember was being here in this twilit desert.
So he walked. It didn’t matter which direction he picked when everything looked the same, so he just moved forward. The weight of the large, canvas-wrapped item he carried on his shoulder was heavy, but for some reason he didn’t question it. This was a burden he could bear.
He looked down after a while and noticed a set of footsteps in the sand. Stopping for a moment, he placed his foot beside one. Exactly the same size, and that was another thing that didn’t surprise him. Somehow he knew that the footprints were his own, and he had walked this path before.
Why was he here now, if he’d been this way before and moved on? Why did he keep going instead of picking another direction or trying something else entirely? He paused briefly with the intention of setting down the thing he carried, but the suns rose higher in the sky and he knew that to stop now would invite death.
He kept walking. Voices drifted on the wind, specific words unintelligible but their sentiment and emotion perfect clear. A woman’s voice, bright and sunny, and he felt his lips curve into a smile. Then the voice of a man who sounded old and young at the first time, terrible grief in his words. The smile fell away then, and he wondered how he could hurt when he didn’t even know who was speaking or what he said. And then another man’s voice, lively and fairly bursting with scandalous intention. He knew that voice, liked that voice.
Then there was just silence.
Eventually he came to what looked like a path in the dirt, and a while after that, a fork in the path. He squinted off to the left, and he could barely make out what looked like trees and greenery. Something like a glass dome over it gleamed in the sun. An Eden, of sorts, but it just might be a mirage. To the right was more dirt and desert. There was nothing different from what he’d seen so far, but there was something familiar and comfortable about the idea of going that way. Why not?
He hesitated, though. It was just a path, a direction, and if he chose the wrong one, well, there were ways of changing things around to his advantage. But something inside him said this was important. The choice he made now could change everything. His future, and maybe the futures of the people whose voices he’d heard. Whose voices he would like to hear again.
Maybe then he’d remember how he’d gotten here, and why he was so very tired. Even if he didn’t know what they were, he was certain that he had things to do. He just needed the chance to do them.
He lifted his foot and took a step forward.