The woman didn’t know her feet were bleeding. She stumbled, pursuing a random path and cruel tufts of yellowed grass stabbed her soles. A vermillion trail followed behind her, but she felt no pain. She walked on the surface of the moon. She saw and heard nothing.
The air was weighted with the stench of cinders and rot. Elva walked with her arms outstretched as if to embrace a specter, and the sun burned her porcelain skin an angry hue of red. She stared into eternity, blinking only as a reflex while a lone, determined coyote mirrored her movements from a distance of twenty feet. The scavenger licked its lips. The stench of spoiling meat was maddening to the poor beast, whose fur was falling away in gray patches. The coyote would not chance that meal, though its stomach contorted and groaned. There were too many men around.
The woman in the blue dress appeared to be dancing, at times. She swayed when the wind pressed against her back and swooped when it relented.
Dimly, as if a fistful of cotton had been hammered into her ears, she became aware of a voice. The cadence was familiar even if its owner was not immediately apparent. It was the rhythm of a boy calling to a lost dog. She descended from the moon, through the ether and the sky and collapsed into her body.
Suddenly, she was no longer dancing. She blinked and scanned the horizon. There were mountains in the distance and an expanse of parched earth leading to them. She heard the voice again and recognized her name.
“There you are!” the man said.
She remembered his face, the cherub cheeks and lively, umber eyes. Tears had carved a path through the dirt on his cheeks and his eyes were milky and wet.
“Elva! They’re all dead. All of them,” he said.