Riverlilly by J. Evans - HTML preview
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The Year One,
The fisherman awoke in the middle of a desert of blood-red dunes. He did not know how long he had been asleep—several days, he guessed, or else his memory was already twisted; how else to explain falling asleep on one side of the sea and waking up on the other? He found it even more strange that he was so far inland. He had climbed into the pink boat during the hammering rain, he recalled, before he fell unconscious; if he had stumbled sleepily out of the boat when it reached the eastern shore, he could not explain how he had come to be so far from the sea but that the desert had swelled up and formed around him as he slept. He shrugged—it was inconsequential.
Lightheaded, he touched his forehead. The hole was still there, as if a worm had mistaken his face for an apple and burrowed an entrance inside. It was also of no moment.
He fumbled his fingers into the breast pocket of his vest. His compass was missing. He looked down. The cloth around the pocket was wet. It would be more difficult to find fresh water without the compass, but the fisherman was only thankful he had not lost more in the fight. He still had his fishing pole. That was usually enough. And he remembered! He still remembered everything. All was not lost. There is hope, his beloved had told him a thousand times and more. There is hope, she would tell him again.
He knew that the river must cut somewhere through the sea of crimson ash but he could neither smell nor hear running water, and without his compass… Rather than guess at bearing north or south, he hiked east toward the rising sun.
The fisherman ambled through the dunes for weeks, yet he never tired, thirsted, or opened his mouth to utter a syllable of grief or privation. He reached the mountains at the edge of the desert and passed over them with as little regard for the majestic scenery as if he was blind.
He saw a forest in the distance and quickened his stride. He knew he would find the river there and amend his sorry future. All was not lost, not yet. There is hope.