Wind Town 5.5

            Matt didn’t even think to object but stumbled the few steps to the edge of the field and collapsed on his behind. Leaning his elbows on his knees, he let his head fall back and tried to catch his breath. His lungs screamed with each burst of cool air, and his heart pounded in his ears. He listened to them numbly and stared up at the sky.
            “Here.”
            Turning his head to the side felt like the hardest thing he’d ever done. Even his eyes seemed too tired to focus properly at first. Or maybe that was because the blackened ladle was so close to them, and the heat boiling from him made the cool water in it shimmer like a cruel mirage.
            Suddenly, all the aches, pains, and burning were consumed by a ravenous thirst. He snatched the ladle and brought it to his mouth. The abused muscles of his arms shook and twitched enough to send splashes of water onto his shirt and legs, but even that felt good – cool and soothing. And the sweet taste of it was like a gift, a new breath of life. He couldn’t get enough of it fast enough, and he could feel it spreading through his body, dulling the aches and dousing the fires.
            It was empty too soon. But small hands took it from him and an instant later it reappeared, miraculously full again. The second round was even more refreshing, and this time, some of the coolness reached his brain. Like a water pumped that was finally primed enough to run. Shaking his head to clear it, he did his best to calm his breathing.
            “Are you all right?”
            Sarah was kneeling next to him. Her hair was frazzled and curling around her sweaty face in wisps. Her little face was screwed up with concern.
            “Do you want more?”
            He swallowed, promptly coughed and wheezed, and shook his head.
            “Thanks,” he managed.


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