They emerge from the oasis of death. The dust springs up in clouds underneath their work boots. "Your name is love and evil," says Sea Nathan. "If you mix up the letters," Olive says. "Yes," says Sea Nathan, "but your love is evil too." "There ain't no evil in love," Olive says, "unless you count lovin' the dead bodies." "It's not the bodies that're evil, and it's not countin' 'em that's bad, but when you -- " "You'll leave it at that," Olive says. She begins to dress. She steps into her thick brown pants. "I ain't gonna leave nothin' at that. Your love for these dead people is gonna make us get stuck in the quicksand they've become. One day we'll be walkin' over faces, and you'll be stoppin' to kiss one of 'em for steppin' on its nose. You're the snake that's done eaten its tail." "There ain't nothin' wrong with pity for the dead," Olive says. She hooks her bra and slips her gnarled wool sweater over her head. "And," Olive continues, "my name's got 'live' in it. I'm gonna live." "Ain't but both of us gonna live or both of us gonna die," Sea Nathan says. "Besides, it ain't pity what you got." Olive takes down her hair and picks bugs from her scalp, pinching them between her fingers before she throws them on the earth. "Buggers," Olive says. "We're in this together. We made vows not to -- " "I was talkin' 'bout the nits," Olive says. "Oh," says Sea Nathan. They begin to walk again, slowly and with great weariness. "You has better take the sack," says Olive, "'cause I ain't got the strength to carry it on my own." Yes'm," says Sea Nathan. "Still got some of them apples in here?" "They's dried like prunes now," Olive says, "and you can chew 'em like gum."
Copyright, 2009, Jennifer Chesler, All Rights Reserved