Short Stories

Alexander and the friends of the desert

Alexander lived in an adobe cottage by the lost road in the middle of the desert. Beside it was a well and a wind-driven propeller. Alexander and his only companion, a donkey, thus had all the water they needed.

In this place far from the world, Alexander gladly welcomed anyone who stopped there to cool off. But visitors were rare and soon left.

Alexander felt very lonely. To occupy the moments of solitude, decided to make a garden. He sowed carrots, beans and large purple onions, tomatoes and corn, melons, pumpkins and red peppers. Early in the morning and for hours, Alexander worked in his garden. He especially enjoyed watching him grow before the desert heat hit and forced him to take refuge at home.

The days passed slowly, uneventfully, until a beautiful morning was surprised by the arrival of a visitor. A squirrel emerged from the silence and advanced slowly, foot to foot.

Seeing him approach the garden, Alex went still. The squirrel escaped into a stream where it quenched its thirst and then disappeared. At that moment Alexander realized that he had forgotten his loneliness and waited for the squirrel to return.

The squirrel has returned many more times and always with new mates: white-necked rats, mountain geomis, big hares, Texas kangaroo rats, and Bailey’s bag mice. Many birds also came to visit Alex’s garden: the California corridor cuckoos, the Gila shrike and the curved beak thrushes. The brown-headed troglodytes, the sagebrush-eyed, white-rimmed sparrows, the Carolina doves, and many more, that perched on the carob branches, or rested on the bloody cacti, before quickly quenching their thirst as they fell. night.

Sometimes even an old turtle slowly crossed the garden.

Alex felt that time passed faster, because he was distracted by a new visitor every moment.

She was no longer alone, but wondered if that was really the most important thing.

He soon realized that visitors were not coming for a friend, but simply looking for water. And Alex thought of all the other animals in the desert… the coyote and the gray fox, the red-tailed bobcats, the rogues, the badgers, the peccaries, the deer, the doe, and the mountain goats. Finding water for everyone was no problem. With the dynamo and the well, Alex could provide plenty of water. But I had to find a way for everyone to enjoy.

Alex decided to make a reservoir. Wasting no time, he began to dig. It was a tiring task that lasted several days under a scorching sun. But she was brave enough to think she could help so many eager guests. There was now to wait for the burly animals to arrive. Alex paced, as usual, fed the donkey, tended the garden …

The days passed and nothing new happened. Alex had hope, but weeks and weeks went by and everything remained calm. Why didn’t the animals come? Something must be wrong!

Soon the mystery was unraveled. One morning a goofy ventured to get close to the puddle. But as soon as she saw Alex, she fled into the woods. How had he not thought of that? It was necessary to move the pool of water as quickly as possible.

Alex began digging farther away, hidden behind a thicket. When the work was done, he hid nearby and waited. Would they come? And this time he was not disappointed! One after another, shyly and furtively, the animals came out of the desert. As the new puddle was a little away from the house and the road, the animals were not afraid. Alex had plenty of evidence for that: the chirping of birds at nightfall, the whisper of carob in the dead of night, betraying the presence of a coyote, a badger or perhaps a gray fox, the slight step of a deer, the grunts. of peccaries.

And over the hours of quietly listening to all the noises of his new companions, Alex thinks this is his best reward. The gift he had given them, the pool of water, was nothing compared to what he had received in return: the accomplice and friendly presence of the animals. Richard E. Albert Alexandro and his friends of the desert Paris, Éditions Autrement, 1997

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