on the edge of silence

The heat rose off the cracked earth in waves that blurred the stark landscape. He stood alone, the sun bearing down upon his solitary figure, indifferent to all that transpired. Thoughts came and went within him as disconnected fragments, no more consequential than the windblown grains of dust at his boots.

A memory stirred - her eyes meeting his across some chance gathering of passing souls. He had seen nothing in them, revealed nothing, and yet some wordless gravity drew them together apart from all convention. Their joining was a denial of meaning, an assertion of the flesh alone. After, in the lingering wake of flesh spent, some dormant flicker deep within had thought perhaps to kindle but was stamped out beneath the shroud of his implacable detachment.

Now, only the cicadas' rhythmic call accompanied his wandering. The town receded behind, an arrangement of buildings scoured clean by the uncaring sun, its denizens reduced to the barest outlines of need and appetite. Before him, the desert stretched limitlessly under pounding light, as indifferent as himself, bearing no mark or message. He walked, pace steady, eyes always to the horizon where earth merged with empty sky in a seamless void.

Somewhere ahead, she walked also, perhaps, a solitary speck adrift upon the sweeping plains. Though all linked in aloneness, their paths may never converge again. And if by some chance they did, in her or in him would stir no recognition, no redemption of what once briefly surfaced and was swallowed back into the shoreless wastes within. There meaning drained away, dissolved beneath the searing sun like footprints upon the sand, and all was edged with silence. He walked on into the shimmering vacancy of the afternoon.