Another Day in the Desert
by Mame Bougouma Diene
“I’ll trip you first abba!”
Tagedouchet teased her father as she leaped over the long stick he swung at her ankles, raising a puff of sand with her sandals, the gritty substance drifting between her toes, and landed, folding her knees, narrowly dodging the swing of her father’s Takuba sabre.
She swung her stick at his knees. He parried with his own and hammered her with his curved sword. The old, wiry man was still strong. Her blade blocked his attacks, but her shoulder bent almost to dislocation. She used a break in his thrusts to roll over to the side and sweep him off his feet with a sharp spin of her long stick. He hit the ground without a word, rolled over, and leaped back to his feet.
“Told you!” she said, the thick turban wrapped around her face muffling her words in the evening sun, setting behind the dunes around them.
“It’s important for trainees to build up some confidence, and…”
The beating wings of a Han Industries helithopter cut his words short, leaving a shadow across the sand like a giant firefly.
They instinctively covered their eyes, closed their mouths and stopped breathing. Some people said it did little good — whatever radiation seeped from the uranium transported from the mines would trickle in — but they did anyway, perhaps more in disgust of the corporation than for protection.
Her father spit a gob of black phlegm into the sand at the thopter’s passage, traces left from his own years working the mines around Arlit.
“Let’s get going,” he said “the drones’ll start flying soon.”