the incense and crystal desert

a little bit of “fiction” for you

The desert is filled with rocks. There aren’t any green plants, just the brown earth and the rocks. So at first you think the ground has no color, just the sky, which is blue. And the sun, which is yellow. The yellow sun and the pale blue sky and the brown earth. But in the earth, there are the rocks. The rocks have color. So the yellow sun and the pale blue sky and the brown earth and the rocks, which are every color. They are sea-green and pumpkin-orange and lavender with sparkles. They sparkle in the sunshine, because they are gems. They are gems and crystals, sticking out of the dirt everywhere. If you had a rock polisher you would be rich. It is a magical place.

The only thing that grows in the crystal desert is the incense plant. The leaves of the incense plant are small, and soft, and they are a washed-out green-blue color. They cling to dead twigs. Nothing about the incense plant seems living. If you brush against it, the leaves fall off and settle, fragrant, on the bright dirt among the crystals. You can pick the incense and tie it in a bunch with string, if you have any string. Then you can burn it in a little brass bowl, if you have a little brass bowl. If you don’t have these things, I don’t know where you would get them. The only things in the incense and crystal desert are the yellow sun, the pale blue sky, the brown earth, the stones which are every color, and the fragrant incense. Now and then you will find some very old bones, turned bright white and pale pink and pale green in the sun. You will see teeth marks on the bones, and a place where the end was gnawed away, to get at the marrow inside. There are great beasts in the desert, but they are shy, and so you will never see them, not even their tracks.

There are no trees in the incense and crystal desert, unless you climb to the very top of a high hill that is almost a mountain. On the very top of the high hill that is almost a mountain, you will find a few trees. The trees are hunch-backed and thirsty, and they make bright blue berries that you mustn’t eat. The trees are the only thing in the desert besides the yellow sun, the pale blue sky, the brown earth, the rocks of every color, and the incense.

In the fold of every two hills is a wet place, where a stream runs. The water in the stream is clear and cold, and never stops running. It comes from heaven, and runs for infinity. It is the only thing moving in this great incense desert. If you had a little boat and you were small, you could ride the stream all the way to the ocean, if a big rock didn’t stop you. A big crystal rock, shooting rays of colored light in the bright yellow sunshine, stuck in the stream, that didn’t want you to leave. The rock would stop you because it wants you to stay and become a crystal yourself. It wants you to transcend your mortality and just shoot out rays of light and energy, and become one with the sun and the earth and the desert.

The desert is a magical place.

If you are lost in the incense desert, look at the night sky. The night sky is full of holes. That’s because long ago, men with deer-hunting rifles lived in the incense desert. There weren’t any deer to shoot, just dirt and rocks and hunch-backed trees, so they shot at the night sky, and filled it with holes. If you are lost in the desert, look at these holes, and remember others who have been lost in the desert. It will make you feel better.

If you meet a dog in the incense desert, you should try and pet it. There is a dog that lives in the desert. It is a pit-bull. The pit-bull is tortoiseshell brown with a soft white chest. The pit-bull was beaten as a young dog, to try and make it mean. But it never got mean, it just got low self-esteem. You can try and pet it, and tell it that you like it, but it won’t believe you. It will bow its head meekly and lay back its little ears and look up at you with wet brown eyes. It might have a yellow tennis ball, which it will modestly drop at your feet. You should throw this ball, but not too far, because the pit-bull has a bad hip. The pit-bull lives nearby, in a house with a fence around it. The pit-bull scoots under the fence and goes into the desert. Soon the pit-bull will get hungry and go home. You can’t follow it though, because that is private property.

If you are still lost in the incense desert, maybe you should try becoming a crystal. You will think about what to do, and reach consensus with yourself that becoming a crystal is what you should try and do. So you lay on your back in the dirt, and wait for dark to come. The sun sets, and the pinholes in the night sky come out. You know that lots of things become crystals, like gobs of pine pitch and bits of five-hundred year-old sequoia. You remember seeing these things once, in a museum in a little town. In the museum there were also shoes and beaded headdresses from the people who used to live in this desert, back when the streams had fish in them and the Great Beasts weren’t so shy. The beaded headdresses were so old that the eagle feathers in them seemed faded and bent. You remember wondering where the people got the beads to make their beaded headdresses. There are no beads in the incense desert, just crystals and sunshine. You remember the two women working behind the counter at the museum. They apologized for the mess, the unpacked boxes, it not yet being tourist season. You said that was alright. Admission was two dollars, but you didn’t pay.

The pinholes in the night sky rotate, but you know that it is just the earth rotating. You put your hands on your face, and feel your soft skin. You dig your nails into your cheeks. They are not very sharp. You flex the muscle in your thigh. It is not very big. Something could come eat you, out here in the wild incense desert, and you would have no way to protect yourself. The great beasts that hide in secret caves, high up in the rocky hills, could come eat you. They could smell your tender, oniony breath and stalk slowly through the night to where you lay, and tear you limb from limb, and puncture your organs with their fangs. You shiver, although it is not cold, and wait. But nothing comes to eat you. You wonder if the caves are empty, filled with sand. You wonder if you will ever become a crystal. You wonder if you will live forever. Suddenly, you begin to cry.

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