She clung to the shadow of the cottonwood tree as the sun rose high in the sky. Each time the shade inched from her, she crept. She’d started to the left of the trunk at sunrise, when the light was gold and crimson, filtered through clouds of dust. Now, the sun hung directly overhead and shade had all but vanished.
Sweat sopped the lining of her dress. Wind burned the skin along her nose, where sweat dripped and salt dried. She pressed her wet back against the trunk and shifted her weight from one aching foot to the other.
The baby kicked. She cupped her belly.
“Soon,” she whispered, her head tipped toward her hand. “Soon.”
She stood until the sun crawled left and the shade stretched right. It wasn’t much. The leaves above withered in the heat and sun pierced their canopy in the unchecked wind. But that tree was all she had on the blistering plain where he’d left her.
"Soon," she said again, this time more to herself than to her impatient passenger.
But the sun continued its march across the sky and the shadows lengthened. The humidity bore down on her, buckling her legs and forcing her to the unyielding ground.
Movement on the horizon; an indistinct shape, blurred by the sweat clinging to her eyelashes. It swayed and tumbled and grew until it filled her field of vision. She heard a voice that caused every sinew to tense, every nerve to burn . . .
"Sorry love, they were all out of strawberry. I got you vanilla, is that OK? It's mostly melted now; I had to keep licking it. There was a sale at the Apple Store -- you should see those new iPods: couldn't drag myself away . . . What?"
Opening: KMF.....Continuation: Anonymous