Name: Gianella Caligari
Age:   38
Title:  Desolate Desert

 She looked at the time in the corner of the screen.  
 
“It’s time!” 
 
A few clicks and the camera switched on. She looked at her image on screen trying to imagine what others saw in that image. She smiled and softened her eyes hoping that others would let her in. She quickly arranged her knotted hair in a bun and clicked on ‘start’.  
 
Her eyes met those of the other. Just enough time to take a deep breath before she reached out, across the screen and merged with the other.  
 
As usual she found herself in the hot arid desert. Scorching heat pierced her skin. No one around but endless dunes of sand. She had already discovered that the desert changed with her emotional state. So, she sat down on the sand, closed her eyes and listened to the desert.  
 
Finally, it spoke. This was the first time. 
 
“It’s useless that you keep coming here. Nothing’s going to change.” 
 
“It’s alright! I can wait,” she whispered. 
 
The sun shone brighter with vengeance, but she remained rooted in the sand. “I need to remain calm and present,” she reminded herself. Last time, she was ejected without warning when she lost focus.  
 
The desert was barren. This is what really worried her. Nothing could grow and when she attempted to introduce a water pool, it disappeared into the sand without any trace. Perhaps it was too rushed! Feeling dejected, she settled to continue visiting the desert until it got used to her.  
 
“Leave me alone! I don’t need you! You will fail like all the others,” the desert proclaimed.  
 
“It’s alright! If I fail, I will try again,” she said gently.  
 
The desert was furious and stopped talking. A gust of hot air hit her body, making her fall to the side. She was very tired and dehydrated. She remained lying on the golden broiling sand. It yielded under her weight to cocoon her body in a tomblike embrace.  
 
She imagined what the desert was like when it was fertile. What happened? Something harrowing must have brought the desert to this. It must have been an unimaginable loss. 
 
The desert listened to her thoughts. It tried to resist the temptation to answer her questions. It tried to ignore her presence, but it could not. It secretly looked forward to her visits. It had been such a long time before anyone had cared! It thought that it could live in solitude forever until death came to collect its due. However, time passed by slowly.  
 
“I will show you how my land was trampled upon, abused and exploited.” 
 
So, the desert showed her how nomads came in and took what they wanted. They never gave or replaced anything. They used and destroyed. Year after year the destruction went on without obstruction. Until one day, the desert drank all the water and all vegetation died. Then, only then, they stopped coming and the violation ended. The desert became a place of quiet desolation.  
 
She listened compassionately to the desert’s narration. She was deeply moved by the desert’s pain and the extent it had to go through to protect itself. She swallowed tears a few times, but it was not enough. Tears gathered at the bottom of her eye and overpoured down the cheeks. The desert was surprised. It was even more incredulous when it felt affection towards her. Suddenly, the air felt cooler. Drops of clear water fell from the sky onto the vast golden wilderness.  
 
Water, at last! 
 
Her body was catapulted back on the chair. She looked at the time in the corner of the screen.  
 
“It’s been exactly an hour!” 

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