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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Moss

Oasis Warden Part 1

The summer air shimmered as the heat touched the arid landscape. The wind, mild mannered on this particular day, tousled Anthony (Tony) Fletcher’s crow black hair as sweat trickled down his spine. The desert plane smooth and sparse was home to few things, vultures, cactus and Tony. Most people in the Kharakana expanse called the town of Sweetwater their home as it was the largest of the three oasis’ in the vast desert. Tony avoided all three as best he could, for other people interfered with his reclusive nature. Today, however, he had no choice. Someone in town had committed murder, and as the only person trusted to have an impartial opinion in the region, he was required to come play detective and judge. He had taken the job as Oasis Warden as it paid for his basic needs and required isolation from the community. Having no family of his own, and a community standing of neither liked nor disliked, he was a shoe in for the role. It had been 4 years since his last visit to the oasis, as the town sent supplies to his encampment every 2 weeks. Shifting in his saddle, Leila his dromedary camel, let out a low rumble.

Leila was the only creature that Tony loved and the only one he confided in. Due to his frequent murmured conversations with her, the traders that brought his supplies told wild tales in the oasis about his questionable mental capacity. “Strange man that Fletcher”, they would say with tight smiles, “always talking to the camel and never to us. We could stand there for 5 minutes, and he would never say a word or look our way. It’s as if nothing in the world matters to him except that camel”. Tony didn’t mind the gossip, nor did he mind the long looks and nervous smiles that followed him through town. In his mind, those around him didn’t matter. Nothing mattered, not since the real Leila disappeared 15 years before. If he tried hard enough, he could still smell the sweet scent of her perfumed hair on the wind. Long, chocolate strands that she kept in a six strand braid, decorated with gold bands. Her skin soft and tan from the countless hours she had spent working the loom out in the garden, reminded him of the sand around him.

Try as he might to forget her and the pain of her absence, it was futile. He saw her everywhere and in everything. That was why he named his camel after her. He reasoned it seemed less crazy to talk to a camel named Leila than to the wind or the sand. As he passed through the white arched gate and under the red tapestries that sheltered the market place all thoughts of Leila left his mind. Once again, he was brought back to tight smiles and nervous laughter as Leila the camel’s hooves clopped on the sandstone street.

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