THE DESERT DIARIES

by R. Gurley

 

ABOUT

R. Gurley, MA, MFA, is a writer and English teacher with over 20 years of experience with words, whose works have appeared in Coping Magazine, Lehigh Valley Woman’ s Journal, and Budget Press. 

She is the co-founder of rgurleyrevolution.com, a bi-weekly bilingual  blog/podcast sharing stories of women around the world navigating women’s new frontier, the #MeToo millennium.

Mostly, she is a desert rat....

 
 
 
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Bella Doesn't Want Anything to Die

A dryer’s innards sits in the middle of my fenced-in area of sand and weeds. I put papers littering my cabin inside the thing along with kindling washed up on the sand with winter’s winds when I am troubled. I light its innards with a Bic. I watch the innards burn.

I am doing this at dusk, desert sky, a mix of periwinkle and muted pinks. I see a figure walking through the creosote and sage. The figure’s cropped black hair contrasts the white hair of the dog it carries like a football under its right arm. The figure’s pace, like this moment’s wind, soft. The flames of the fire grow, making it possible to see the figure’s face, which is feminine. The figure is Bella.

I wave. She waves back.

I turn from the fire towards the fence. Bella walks towards the fence as well.

We are face to face.

Her dog is a smaller version of my terrier, Mick. She barks at Mick who nuzzles his face in the pajama pants I’ve worn for the past month. Bella says,

“Her name is Pita.”

Pita barks again. Mick leans into the pajama’s flannel on my legs- only a best friend would do such a thing. Bella turns her body to hide something under her other arm. I ask,

“What do you have there?”

Bella blushes, pulling her hidden hand into the light like a child caught in a cookie jar. A fluff of feathers appears with a beak. Bella says,

“A baby pigeon.”



My heart breaks at the sight of its frailty. Bella tells me she found it in a trailer she was cleaning out. My eyes scan the several deserted trailers littering this desert floor, tin carcasses of American dreams left for dead rather than cleaned out. I say,

“You’re cleaning out one of those trailers?”

Bella nods her head and says,

“I feel bad for taking the birds’ home.”

I tell her I love how she looks at things.

Bella smiles. Her dimples deepening into an unblemished dark skin. She asks,

“Really?”

I nod and ask if she’s seen the owls- two white owls who live in a water tower next door and hunt at dusk.

Bella smile disappears and says,

“I do not like the owls.”

I ask why.

“Because they kill.”

I hadn’t thought of that. Bella adds,

“And the coyotes too.”

I agree, the coyotes too. A bird makes a sound from a bush not far away. Bella’s black eyes grow big. She asks,

“What’s that?”

I tell her I think’s a bird. She says,

“It’s a bird in trouble. May I go see?”

I tell her she doesn’t need my permission. I tell her,

“Feel free.” Bella’s smile returns. I watch her walk over rattlesnake and rat homes, making sure not to crush the dirt. She squats by a bush and sticks her face into its leaves. She reappears empty handed, stands up and returns to me.

I hand her a white towel that was sitting on a bench near the fire. Bella places the baby pigeon into it and wraps its feathers until they disappear. She says,

“I’ll bring this back.”

I tell her it’s not necessary. I say,

“Use it as an excuse to come back.”

Bella smiles again. The fire warms my back. She says,

“I have to go feed the rabbits.”

I repeat the word rabbit. Bella nods and says,

“I am saving them from the owls and coyotes.”

“You do?”

“No one should hurt a rabbit.”

I tell her I didn’t know but it sounds like a good idea. My boot tapping on the stones surrounding the fence to keep those rabbits out. She says,

“Bye now. I come back.”

I say, “Please do.”

Bella turns away. Her figure disappearing into shadows made by the creosote and sage. Bella doesn’t want anything to die.

Mick and I return to watch the flames in the innards burn.

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