Third of the Moon Girl Tales
via dailyprompt: heard
There was a man wandering a vast desert in search of a pool of water in order to quench his thirst. The first riverbed he found was really just a series of shallow puddles which dried up just after he managed to scoop a tiny cupful out of each. He walked the length of the riverbed, hoping that he would be drawn to the source but he was led to a dusty plateau instead.
Frustrated and desperate to be satisfied he looked out across the landscape and spotted a large rock wavering in the hazy distance. He made his way to the rock but his progress was slow as the sun scorched his skin and his body ached with the need for water. As he approached the rock it loomed larger until when he finally arrived it towered over his head. Underneath he discovered a cold dark pool in its shade. This pool was deep but the water was bitter. He drank slowly, gagging on its awful taste, however, after a number of days he fell ill. He determined he had to move on as he realised the bitter water would eventually kill him even though he was so tired and debated whether the journey would kill him instead.
That night he set out and not far away he discovered a third pool which was surrounded by lush greenery and the water was sweet to the taste, temporarily satisfying his thirst. In fact the sweetness increased each time he drank and each day he had to drink a little less than the day before as the taste began to repulse him. Lying in the shade of a large bush one day, he brushed the sand away around the trunk only to discover the bones of a deer embedded between the twisted roots. The discovery startled him and moving to another bush he dug away at the soft sand to see whether this too held a grim secret. It only took a few strokes before his hand revealed the chalky whiteness of the bones of a small wild cat.
Despairing, he argued to himself that there must be a pool of water that would satisfy him, just as sure as he had a thirst that needed to be satisfied. He resolved to set out once more.
At sunset he left the third pool and continued his search. As he walked he imagined he could smell the faint freshness of pure water on the cool breeze which swirled around his body. It caused his heart to burn with longing and a deep sadness as he couldn’t tell which direction the breeze was blowing from. After a few hours the sadness grew into utter desolation and he fell down, exhausted and too weak to continue.
Later, he gradually awoke, aware of somebody placing a damp sponge of cool water against his cracked lips. He could hear the sound of tiny waves lapping the shore of a vast lake. Opening his eyes he looked into the face of a woman, “Welcome Brother, I have been waiting a long time”, said Moon Girl. Tears ran down her face although she was smiling. “We have much to catch up on”, she continued, “but first we need to get you down into the water. These are the men who found you.” Four faces crowded in around hers and between them they gently lifted him and carried him down into the water until he sank into its cool embrace.
He sipped slowly and then opened his mouth wide, drinking with pure unbridled delight. His whole body tingled with newness and restored strength as the energy of the water coursed through his own veins. He lifted his face above the surface to catch his breath and fell down again into the coolness. He felt like a fish where the water was inside as well as all around him. Beneath the waves he heard the roar of the unceasing spring which was the source of the pool. There was a calling echo of his own name in the deep waterfall and he knew he had reached the end of his journey.