One entered the desert, but another left

The air shimmered from the heat of the merciless sun beating down on the sand and twisted sage and scrub bushes that dotted the harsh, rocky desert floor. It whispered a faint breath of wind, but the solid thud of the boots from the walking figure still filled his ears.

He paused and looked back and could still make out the standing figure, there at the edge. He looked forward, then down on his map. Although there were many miles to go, he considered the figure at the edge. Go back? Go forward? Seconds seemed to stretch to minutes, then hours, then a timeless infinity as each considered the other.

“I leave you here.” he said and spun on his heels. He gripped the shoulder straps of his blanket pack and hoisted it secure on his back. He stepped forward, then again, and again, until his stride was as sure as the ticking clock that marked the time when he would exit this desert, reenter his life.

He left the other behind at the edge of that mesa. He brought back the desert with him.

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