Coated with dust and grime and sweat, we line up in the sticky heat. But the atmosphere is festive; not even the armed security guards deter our joy. Pat and Tomason do magic tricks. Santiago juggles. Jada leads the children in a concert with shakers, rain sticks and tin can drums.

I’m looking forward to this evening’s feast. Roasted goat. Garlic onion fonio with cowpeas. The rare glass of wine with Montgomery. Our community rarely celebrates. We mourn. A flash flood gobbling half of our tin shacks. Marauders stealing goats and chickens. A dust storm swallowing an entire family. Six in our group migrating north. News of their slaughter at the border.

I’ve drawn number 68—the last appointment. It’s a good sign, I think, with the possibility of a little extra time if I can sweettalk. Five, maybe six, glorious minutes standing under hot water. I’d promised Montgomery I’d finally be ready for our coupling. The last time the Mobile Showers came, my girl child was still here. We showered together, holding hands. She wasn’t scared like the other little ones. I’d explained and drawn pictures. She tilted her little face up to the water, eyes closed, smiling. A year later, an infection took her.

I’m lost in water dreams when I’m finally at the front of the line. I pay and two security guards guide me into the trailer. The woman at the tiny desk—her eyes tell it all. Due to error, the water is gone, all gone. She returns my money. A wormy parasite of an apology crawls from her lips.

I rush past Montgomery who calls my name, tries to grab me, then lets me run off. I run and I run, howling. Out into Wild Dog territory, where savage fur gnaws on whatever life can be found. The soil births nothing here, the ground a system of lifeless arteries ferrying wind and dust, a puzzle of soil fissures from groundwater pumping, land collapsing into trenches. I run with the hot wind, with the orange wildfire skies, skeletons of Teslas littered around me.

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