The smooth, warm sand of the desert floor, squished beneath the girl’s calloused and hardened feet. The receding heat of an evening sun sinking down towards the flat horizon pulsated against the bare skin on the back of her arms. Her face was set towards the east. A cool breeze brushed her cheeks, chasing away the sweat pouring from her forehead. She had been walking for hours now. A small piece of thin leather lay crumbled in the palm of her right hand. Faded markings of ink and sweat marked it ragged page. The girl’s hand clung to this object, as though her very breath depended on it.
Weariness, despair, and disbelief hung from her like fragments, yet only fragments, because they did not consume her. The girl’s countenance was set, even though her face was streaked with tears from the hours passed. A measure of intensity kept her steps going. Hope still shone from her green eyes. You would think she was even excited to be alone, here, in this desert, seemingly very lost and rejected. Her stride was indeed of one who had journeyed long, yet even this burden only just clung to her. Her eyes consistently glanced downwards, to the leather writings in her hand.
Her steps slowed, as both eyes darted towards the horizon. The hope in her countenance, brightened even further. She saw something. Something that quickened her steps, infused her face with nearly delight, caused her breath to quicken in expectation.
The trees appeared first, then the glistening sheen of a cool pool of clear water. The evening sun’s last rays threw deep shadows under the trees’ thick branches; the water gently rippled with the breeze. It was an unexpected sight in this dry bone wilderness.
The girl ran the remaining distance, and fell on her knees beside the water, tears of relief and joy gushing down her sunburned cheeks. Slowly she cupped her hands into the coolness, relishing every sensation, every comforting thought the feeling offered to her.
“Where are you?” she whispered.
The water pulsated with a reverberating hum, as if in response to her breathless statement. She drew back glancing around the small green strip of paradise that encompassed the pool of water. Was he here?
She rocked back on her heels, staring up into the darkening sky. Had she come all this way to find nothing, nothing except water? The water was indeed a beautiful gift, but without the one she sought it meant absolutely nothing but a prolonging of her misery.
Death in the desert was not her idea of an ending. Yet she had no where else to turn. This was where life was found, she had been told. This was where she would be fulfilled. This was where she wanted to be, even as her body, emotions and mind screamed out in agony, despair and loneliness. She’d left everything behind to come here.
“Show yourself,” she whispered into the warm air, as it ascended from the hot sands of the desert floor behind her. Perhaps she only imagined it, but a slight breeze seemed to swirl around her feet. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply. The breeze quickened, now brushing against the skin on the back of her arms.
Then a voice spoke in her ear, softly, barely audible, but enough for her to let out a small cry of absolute delight and resignation.
Show yourself to Me.
The girl nearly fell over as the heaviness of a presence fell across her bowed figure. The heaviness was beyond compare. It was powerfully good, yet terrifying. She slowly straightened and opened her eyes. Her body quivered with emotion. A figure was kneeling beside her. A face enveloped her vision; the face of a man.
Tears fell from the girl’s eyes like a rain shower then. The piece of leather in her hand fell to the desert floor. Yet, even as she cried, her eyes remained fixed on the man’s face.
He wore simple clothing. Jeans and white t-shirt. Long dark hair flowed just to his shoulders, framing a tanned, but rather plain face, which sported a day’s growth of beard. He could have been nineteen years of age, or hundred, it was hard to tell, and really did not matter anyway. It was his eyes that were captivating her. Emerald green, sparkling blue, deep brown, they flowed in and out of these colors like a flowing river. The presence of his soul issued forth from them and washed over her in torrents. His appearance meant absolute nothing, instead it was who he was that she felt with every millisecond she gazed at him.
He surprisingly said nothing as he bent down and gently picked up the piece of leather, shaking the sand loose.
“You will need this,” he said softly stretching out his hand to her. His eyes asked her to take it. She did, her fingers brushing his. The sensation sent chills down her spine.
“I thought I’d never find you,” she choked out.
He smiled,” yet here I am.”
“I don’t know what to say,” she whispered.
“You don’t need to,” he reached for her hand.
She nearly pulled back, afraid of his touch, but her hand slipped into his before she could stop herself. Warmth spread throughout her body from that arm, encompassing her like a warm blanket on a cool night. She suddenly saw a vision of herself, arrayed in white, glowing with a light of purity and beauty. She hardly recognized her face, yet deep longing welled within her spirit, as she realized it was indeed her, and it was everything she wanted to be. Gone was the dirt, the weariness, the heartache, and despair. Gone was the shame, sorrow and disbelief.
“This is who you are,” she heard the man say.
“I want it to be so,” she said softly.
“It is so,” he said, in voice with such authority and faith she fell to weeping again, realizing what he was doing for her. It was all because of him.
“But you know who I have been.”
“You would not be worth it without it.”
She felt so weak, unable to return the waves of powerful love sweeping in over her from this man’s eyes. She lowered her face, guilty of everything, yet vindicated. All it took was one glance from his eyes.
“I have seen the yes of your heart,” he whispered, lifting her chin,” I’ve seen every little sacrifice of devotion and love. Nothing is too small to not be counted. Your weakness only makes you more precious in my sight. You have kept to my word, and followed after me, even when you could not see or understand. You have fallen, but risen, and fought valiantly to reach this place. I have drawn you here so we might know one another. You came, so here I am, because I always answer the cry of my beloved.”
The girl could do nothing but cry softly with joy now. A soft smile parted her lips. She covered his hand holding hers with her hand that held the piece of leather.
“Then this is yours now,” she whispered.
The man threw back his head and laughed with abandonment, shaking every remaining doubt and fear loose from her heart. He released the girl’s hands, cradling the old faded piece of material tenderly between his own strong ones.
“This story brought you here. It is now our story. Together you and I will finish it.”
The girl lifted her face towards the darkening sky and closed her eyes, letting his words wash over her yet again.
Together…you and I.
“Is it true?” she asked softly, eyes still closed.
He said nothing in reply. She sighed, letting her hands sink to the sand, relishing the deepness she felt in the silence. Her heart was drawn towards him through it.
“I always speak the truth,” he finally said, in a deep voice of power,”…it is true you are perfect. You are my bride. I have sought you out, even as you sought me. It is true you have a destiny. You have strength. You have courage.”
He drew closer now, bending on his knees in front of her,” You captivate me.”
She smiled, the words completing something inside of her. Her tears were through; instead laughter now erupted, as in an echo of his only moments before.
“It is true,” she replied, gazing directly back into his eyes.
“Then come, we have only just begun,” he rose taking her hand and pulling her up beside him.
“This desert is ours, you will come to love it as I do….and then I will show you my garden…”
He grinned, squeezing her hand, and then led her towards the sunset. The dusty grains of the sand rubbed against their bare feet. The breeze followed after them, and if the girl was not mistaken she was sure she heard a whisper of music on the wind.
( I originally wrote this during freshman year of college for a friend of mine. It’s original title was The Lover)
Natasha is a short story writer who has been blogging for the past decade. She is currently raising four kids in the midwest United States and married to her wonderful husband of 10 years. They both work with YWAM and media missions.