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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Soul (07/13/06)

TITLE: Desert Girl
By Carri Gambill


She understood heat – she had spent 28 years in the desert where summers were 6 months long and at an early age you learn the modern survival skills required in the summer: Never park with the windshield facing the sun, always leave a window cracked, always have 2 towels in the car – one for the steering wheel and one to keep from blistering the backs of your legs; the basics of summer car survival.

But she had moved to southern California 12 years ago and on the coast of the Pacific Ocean the summers were mild and sometimes even downright cold. She had a firm rule – she never went home to Arizona between May and September. The gorgeous San Diego summers had spoiled her.

But now here she was stuck on the side of a desert highway, her car smoking and no cell service. And man was it hot. She knew from the car’s thermometer that it was 110° at 1 p.m. and although most people thought it was hottest at noon – she knew that the hours between 3 and 5 were the worst in the desert.

She needed shade and water and something to signal other drivers. She was amazed how fast the desert skills had come back to her. She doubted her ability to actually cut up a cactus to obtain moisture but she at least knew it was something that could be done with the right tools.

She looked around the area by her car, she shouldn’t get too far away or other drivers wouldn’t know she needed help. But the asphalt she stood on raised the temperature at least 10 degrees. About 20 feet off the road was a clump of mesquite bushes about 4 feet tall – their willowy branches and fine leaves would provide a little protection from the heat and she would still be able to see if another driver came by.

Before moving into the shade, she used a series of small rocks to spell “HELP” on her back window. By the time she was done her palms were scorched and red from the heat of the car and she was soaked in sweat. Grabbing her small cooler of drinks, her sunscreen, a beach towel and the sarong she kept behind her seat for days when she made the last minute decision to visit the ocean, she stepped of the blazing asphault.

Moving into the desert, she regretted her choice of footwear – her flip flops were not made to go cross country in such a hostile environment. By the time she got to the bushes, she had thorns in 2 toes. She tried to ignore the annoying prickers as she draped the sarong over the mesquite to provide herself more shade. Then she removed as many rocks as she could and then laid out the towel to sit on. Then she carefully climbed on and tried to get comfortable.

Once she was settled in she took a swig of water and looked around, if it hadn’t been so hot she might have thought the scenery was striking. But in her situation it just looked stark and lonely. She closed her eyes and said a short prayer allowing her mind to drift and think about her options. If she was careful she had enough water to last a couple hours and the salt from the bag of nuts she threw in would help her retain the fluid.

Somehow despite the situation, she didn’t feel alone. Deep inside she knew God was there with her and somehow she felt an affinity with the desert around her – she had grown up in this barren landscape and somehow it was a part of her. She thanked God for those simple skills she acquired as a girl and hoped that they would help her until someone else arrived.

Just then, she heard it – faint at first but getting louder: A truck. She scrambled out of her bushy fort and ran for the road waving her hands. Praying that God would keep her safe and knowing inside he would.

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This article has been read 539 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Cheryl Beckwith07/20/06
I am a child of the desert and this brought back some very real memories.You described it well.I enjoyed reading this.Was she rescued?
I sure hope this person didn't drive off and leave her there.God knew she needed a quick rescue.You can't last long in the desert.:-)
Jan Ackerson 07/20/06
Fascinating! I learned a lot by reading this piece. Aside from a few minor typos and sentence fragments, this was a very engaging story.
Virginia Gorg07/21/06
Well done and a good use of descriptive words. Flows well yet leaves us wondering if the truck driver helped her out.
Mishael Witty07/22/06
This is a great story. Thanks for sharing it. The writing could have been a little clearer with more correct usage of punctuation (especially commas). I also noticed you used the word "then" a lot, when you really didn't need to. Still, this was fascinating, and a great reminder that God is always there to help us.