The land lay prostrate and barren in great swaths, but the air was full of life. This morning it played in circles. Little swirls and large waves of dust ran sweeping across the landscape mocking the dead earth and choking the atmosphere. Even the few plants still surviving on their meager allowance afforded by irregularly visiting clouds struggled to push their way past the layers of dust piled in blankets over the rocky soil. Once it may have been snow that buried the heads of flowers and the needles of evergreens. Now dust left a coat over scrabbly cacti and hardy palms; the only foliage that dared raise their heads under the harsh sun were fierce and in their fierceness, dazzling.

Not many animals, besides mankind, still subsisted on the land. But a few small creatures, baked by toil in the sun and hardened by the weight of the earth they dug under, would scurry about, maneuvering their lives in the night and early mornings. This morning one such a creature had paused in the middle of his errands.

The boy was propped up on a hill right outside town. So still he stood, you would think he had stayed up through the night just waiting to see the first the tip of sunrise prick the pale sky which now struggled towards lavender grey.

Although every sunrise still bore beauty, this particular morning as the dawn broke out in flashes of amber and rose and deep cinnamon exploding and illuminating the valley brought uncharacteristic color. It was the only time of day where nature still provided enough for everyone. Yet most sensible animals were burrowed deep in their homes, except that lone boy. He still appeared completely at his ease and actually shifted back onto his heels, curled his slouched shoulders further forward around his belly and rocked side to side to ease into the gentle curve of the rock with a plop of his behind.

As the first yellow puff of light haloed the mountain tops, the dust suddenly rose up in jubilant malice. It formed a circle in the periphery of the boy’s line of sight, twirling in a tornado of fine grain. The boy ignored this, his eyes focused solely on the fingers of light now curling their grip over the ledge of the mountaintops.

The tornado swung across the horizon, cutting across the sunrise. It bent right and left and twirled its lower half like hips as it rushed to meet the sun, picking up dirt in its path just to fling it away. As the tornado began to break down, settling under the sun’s weight the flying dust, now a chaotic cloud, near blinded him. He blinked his eyes in pain, but that only made it worse as his eyelashes captured more dust with every twitch. In frustration he bent, halfways scuffing away to hide and rub his eyes.

There was no one else to see it. The sun now arched over the mountain and in its growing light the dust captured its rays and flung them, spinning.  And as the dust spun out of control, losing pieces it had captured, the light of the sunrise reflected in the dust and spread a golden glimmer over the whole valley. And for a moment, the earth was beautiful again.

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