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A Short Story
Rober ... ©1997

Liquid heat trickled down his back, beaded his forehead, ran stinging into his eyes. It clung against him like a lazy lover, caressing more intimately than even his own imagination could ever hope to promise. 

He watched a dust devil spin it's way into oblivion across the salt flats, the mirage of heat shimmered before his eyes into waves of impossible water floating across the road ahead of him, always ahead of him. 

He felt fresh blood spill from cracked lips that twisted into a smile shape which no longer fit on his face. His breath was shallow and quick, fearful of being taken away before he could swallow what little life it offered him. Tony had to gasp at it to catch any at all.

Tony. That's who he was. The sweltering vomit of the day had almost won the heated argument inside his head. His thoughts roamed, pacing back and forth like caged animals too difficult to keep in any order. But, he was Tony. He was sure of that. He paused but could think no more of himself than that. The smell of sagebrush baked the ground. He watched his footsteps sink into the alkali, plodding one after another behind him, following the side of the road.

It wasn't time to give up yet, but soon it would be. He didn't have to think to know that. The feeling whispered coolly inside him. He stood wavering, his head lifted up to the sun, as if he was worshiping God's eye, so blinding bright up there in the searing white sky. The cool thought inside him, rescued him. It wasn't time yet. Tony Scullaro made his knees bend into another step, then one more. The sound of grit marched under his boots and his heartbeats matched the rhythm of his walking.

That's who he had been, Tony Scullaro. The recognition surprised him. He didn't want to think about who he was now. But yes, he had been somebody. He remembered receiving the boots from Maria on his birthday. His feet were no longer weights pulling him down into the desert. He floated in the vision of himself within eyes vacant of any other sight. His feet did what they did best, plodding one after the other, in an endless race to come out in first place.

Maria Vente, scarcely 18 when she fell in love with him, bought him endless small presents, bought him the soft leather boots now scorching his skin raw, bought him body and soul. Tony Scullaro faced the endless Nevada black tongue of a secondary road leading back to his life and knew what forever actually looked like. 

He bit his lips, not tasting the blood, just nibbling on the scabs it had left. They no longer melted in his mouth. He had to spit them out before they caught in his windpipe. His breath was a dry rattle in his throat.

There Maria was, standing before him, taunting him with the quick and easy flirting grace that stroked the fire in him. So young, so sure of herself, emotions trembling on the brink of dreams. He'd allowed himself to be led into her world of dreams.

She swayed seductively and slid her hands down her body, urging him to follow her into the dreams waiting there. His feet stopped. At the sight of Maria, they had stopped, just as they had the first time. And as they had the first time, now they journeyed again, following Maria. They'd come out here to be alone in the cool whisper of night. They made love in silky touches that memorized the moonlight against their bodies. They caressed all the secret places of each other's hearts.

And still it was not enough, still she wanted more. She bit him and laughed, saying she wanted her mark on him. She scratched his back, drawning blood, driving him to a frenzy in her. She moaned and died in love and cried on his breast and said she could never live without him, could not bear to think of his growing old. Told him he was perfect. Danced for him in her perfection, under the shadow moon and sucked his life breath from him as they kissed, renewing themselves in each other. Tonight is endless. Tonight our love is forever. She said. Maria showed him the small silver knife and they each cut a small wound under each other's nipple, licking the blood and sucking away the pain, becoming one blood forever in her words. And still it was not enough. 
"Love such as ours never lasts. This earth kills it. Die with me in our love. Lose yourself in it. It is the only way to make our love last forever." And he did. He gave himself up to her. Their fire melted them into one being with two bodies each for the pleasure of the other. He made love sing and dance wildly in her until she could only moan his name. And she gave him her heart to keep in return for his. 

When he could make love no more, she stood up before him, naked before him. Her eyes on him, whispering her love. She took the silver knife in both of her hands, raised it to the moon, and as he watched, unbelieving, begged him to follow her, sank it into her breast, into the wound of their love, and bled her life out on his.

Tony Scullaro, that's who he had been. He'd felt her love turn into nothing. He laid her down gently, whispering feelings so quietly he couldn't hear their comfort, but it was only for her, regardless. He'd stood up and his body took him. It began walking out into the desert how many days ago? Now she was here, Maria, and he followed.


Shades of Fantasy

Revised: March 10, 1999
Copyright ©1999. All rights reserved