It was all they could do to bear the time of the drought. Long, dusty and cracked, every day was dryer than the last. The weeks stretched beyond recognition. Tumble weeds moseyed into the corners of their hearts, stacked slowly and prickly like dusty caterpillar totems–the only things remotely alive.

And he, he kept chugging along as if he ever knew of green pastures and liquid sun pads of butter that melt on the tops of flapjacks. What the heck was a flapjack? He plugged his kisser with a smudgy spoonful of Brittle-O’s and coughed up dust.

It was all he knew. When a child was born it was practically an act of hearsay, as illuminating and hope-inspiring as an alien sun stashed away in the recesses of some bat cave somewhere. Useless. The only sense of community he’d ever felt was that collective fever-moan of all the parched souls of Dryland, the cries that somehow got louder when they collapsed into sleep at night, which didn’t make very much sense to him at all.

Then there was the oasis. At first, the town approached the micro beach with trepidation, letting him lead the way, mainly because he was too dumb to be scared or, perhaps, too young to know fear. He was the very top of their arrowhead that tippy toed its way to the water. The rolling clouds beat them there.

A horseshoe of palm trees formed a perimeter around the body of water with the mouth aimed at him, and once he crossed that threshold, someone seemed to smother the light, and the rest of the town fell away.

When he knelt down, took a closer look, the water wasn’t water at all but the flowing equivalent of the stuff halos were made of, and upon realizing this, he had the sudden urge to both consume the entirety of it and be consumed by it.
He leaned in. He touched his lips to its surface. The stars exploded.