I have been in a desert.
I was in the desert for a long time. I didn’t intentionally go into the desert. The border of the desert is quite deceptive and I didn’t realise I was in it for a while but I spent years there.
The longer I was in the desert, the further I got from the edge. I got further from people, from security, from safety. I couldn’t even see the edge of the desert after a while. Then I stopped believing in the edge or that a way out of the desert was even there for me.
It was an strange desert because it did have water. Chlorinated water, salt water. I plunged myself into that water to keep myself sane or alive, while I endured the desert. The only time I felt like I might survive the desert, was when I was in that water, even further from people, from security, from safety. Only there, only in conditions that terrify most people, am I safe.
Eventually, I lost sight of almost everything, except the desert. All that was left and visible was blasted. Sometimes I saw smudged shapes of people in the distance but I couldn’t make myself heard. Eventually I lost my voice from my silent shouting. But at least I had one companion, one other person, both of us, out in the desert.
Sometimes I found rocks. Under the rocks were the words of the people I couldn’t see. Messages from the edge I could no longer see or hope to ever find again.
Sometimes the words on the rocks had been written by people who had left the desert, messages intended to be hopeful. They weren’t. Because I was still in the desert, and I knew there were no roads, no help. The words from those who had left the desert meant little to me, except that they at least also understood the existence of the desert.
The desert was everything. The desert, me, my companion, the useless dangerous life-saving water and no way out.
I rarely found words under rocks from other people who were still in the desert. The lost ones in the desert are rarely heard. Lost and voiceless. Why talk when there is no-one to hear.
I wandered aimlessly. I lost the last worst thing to lose. I don’t what it was, but I felt it leave.
I left my own words on rocks. But they included lies of omission. Because they never told the full truth. I tried. I tried many times during the years and each time the written words were different because they were always full of exact detail and therefore always wrong.
I needed the words of the desert and words of the water, of why I sometimes swim in the water, of why my eyes are always full of the horizon. I always said I wanted to write everything about my swimming life. But to do so was impossible. Because I had to write about the desert, which is sometimes a fire or a sea or sometimes a wasteland or, or, or.
And then I found a rock, left for me. The words helped briefly, and pointed me, long after all hope and hope of hope was lost, to an oasis.
And my companion and I, we stumbled to the oasis. We felt the flowers bloom as we approached the oasis.
Now we at the oasis.
But the oasis is still in that impossible desert. And the oasis has a monster. I don’t know if I brought the monster with me. I don’t even know if the real monster is me. The oasis is as bad or worse in a different way than the desert around it. The oasis is of the desert. In the desert. The desert surrounds it.
I still don’t know where the edge of the desert is. I don’t know if there any words left to put on the rocks but I know I don’t know how to get out of the desert.
And the oasis is shrinking.
This is the desert. Here is my rock. These are my words.