Jeffrey H. Toney

I am a gnarled dried seed baking in the sun in the desert. My only relief is a cool evening breeze wafting over me. In rare moments of stillness, dewdrop dictionaries cling to me, tiny glistening rainbows dancing on their surfaces, their words swirling about, colliding playfully. Bursting dewdrops fill my dreams, slaking my thirst. I feast upon their bounty, gobbling urgently at first, then slowing down as I savor rich flavors that only the finest recipes can bring. Words alone cannot satisfy. Only their partners, diverse communities, linked by my will, by desire, through longing, could ever bring joy to this dried morsel.

Dewdrop dictionaries are my refuge, my promise, my pardon from a life sentence in this dreaded damned landscape. They bring scaffolds, building skyscrapers pointing defiantly towards my tormentor. Each drop soaks a little deeper, slowing seeping into dark corners, then retreating with sun’s kiss. But tonight will be different. I can feel it. Sweet cool breeze, dewdrops dance to a distant melody, swirling, touching to become one, their union more beautiful than each alone. I can feel the weight. It cannot hold.

A slight shift in the sand, and its burst is overwhelming, enveloping me, filling me with words unknown, characters never met, demons released, stories untold. Numbness slowly subsides as I invite these strange guests, some pushing their way in. Some are shy, peeking in. Some are mischievous, running away. I feel bloated, dizzy, heavy, soft, drifting downwards as the sun slowly rises.

My newborn tiny buds push outward, undulating green arms basking in the morning’s warmth. A ladybug lands on me, tickling. I grow stronger, attracting more dewdrops. I stand straight and tall as my roots deepen into the dry sand. Night creatures visit, nibbling on me. I don’t care, knowing I will grow back even stronger. Someone steps on me, oblivious to my bright green shoots punctuating endless beige sand. Buried briefly, I rebound with the next day’s sun. Fed by the dewdrop’s rich diet, I defy defeat.

I am not alone now. My silence is broken suddenly by one partner, then another, as they drink the elixir that only dewdrop dictionaries can bring. My new companions began like me as hardened, dry morsels, numb, static. One reaches towards me, signaling. I listen, at first to noise, fading then returning when least expected. I reply, not knowing how or why. Our cacophony continues, night after night, gradually becoming a symphony, rich and full of music evocative of an unfamiliar but comforting place. As writers, we are bound together, always searching, guided by dewdrops, hoping for rain.