By Cassidy Warner (12 years and under)
Dusty air whipped through her tangled hair, pushed past her cracked lips and down her parched windpipe. The heavy clay pot she was burdened with tilted dangerously before being righted by the teenage girl. Her calloused feet shuffled along the dusty dirt road. With the fierce wind against her she struggled on towards her awaiting goal.
With a pained cry, the girl collapsed onto her aching knees and wept. The clay pot on her head had fallen and smashed into jagged pieces. Watching on in horror, the girl witnessed the precious water disappearing into the thirsty earth. Whimpering softly she began the long walk home empty handed.
Stumbling through the low hole in the mud wall the girl with knotty hair arrived. Scolded not only by her mothers words but also by the despairing and disappointed looks on her siblings faces, she was sent to bed without what little supper was awaiting her.
Sore and famished she cried into her palm-leaf bed before drifting off to sleep. Never-ending water supplies plagued her dreams, bringing unbearable distress.
Rising to the battle of a new day with an empty stomach, the girl prepared for yet another long trek for her familys water. Her footsteps echoed on the cold, bare earth as she headed to her destination.
She stood rigid, not daring to move from the wells edge, white-knuckled and frightened. The cool water was not visible and she feared the worst. With trepidation she hooked her water jug to the rope and lowered it down. Groaning, she fell to the sandy ground shedding her salty tears. With no water left in the well she would have to venture out into the wilderness to find a dirty waterhole and get the drinking water there. Ignoring her growing hunger she rose unsteadily and began walking towards the unknown.
There! In the distance! She could see it! It was hazy, but it was there! She broke into a limping run as... as... the vision faded away leaving nothing but an endless stretch of barren land. She staggered to a stop realising that it was nothing but a cruel mirage.
She gazed towards the rolling hills on the horizon. Perhaps there would be a luscious blue waterhole at the foot of them. Desperation battled against common sense. She might get lost, the sun was high, but her family urgently needed water. Desperation won. Stumbling and weary, she pressed on, burdened by the heavy water pot.
At last, water! Exhausted but triumphant she stooped and filled her empty vessel. Heading steadily home, somehow her load did not seem quite so heavy now that it contained such precious contents.
There was no hope or expectation in the eyes of her family as the young girl stumbled through the doorway, back to her humble abode. But facial expressions quickly changed from longing to joy when they saw the glittering water.
Her family had water at last!
But for how long?
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