“The Desert,” by Garrett Ashley

by MP

     The radio buzzed static wonderful. The little girl tapped the knob and begged for someone to speak. Anyone. If there was a signal, then there was a tower. If there was a tower, then the desert’s end must be near.
     The radio purred. There was a husky voice on the other end. Good morning, Arizo. . .
     “Come back,” she said. She beat her little fists on the red tin box and looked into the air. For a skyscraper or an airplane or a train. Anything that led to home.
     She walked for miles before hearing music. Buzzzzz. Her mommy had never allowed her to listen to good music before. She said the new generation’s tune sounded like dogs having sex with wood chippers. Nothing appropriate for little girls.
     Then she remembered her mommy was the reason she was out there alone with no signal for miles.
     “Are you there?” she said. She tore off a strip from her dress and tied it around her forehead. She climbed a dusty mountain and looked at the red world around her. The sun was setting silkly orange. “Don’t hesitate,” she said. It was her favorite saying.
     She sat on the dirt and listened to static. One day the batteries would die and she would stop walking. She would drink all the water and drift away.
     “I hate you,” she said to her mommy. If she’d have left the radio on the night she slept there would have been a lucid presentation of Sweet Home Alabama.