Their voices were ripped and taken struggling from their mouths.
'I was working. Why didn't you take Jacek to school?'
'Oh, he's learning! That you're always at work!'
'You still could have-'
'What! Let him have a few songs at bedtime? You haven't even taken in the washing!'
'Maybe it's time you did it yourself...'
'...Aren't YOU late.'
The door snapped firmly shut.
Pain struck him like a blunt, blue knife or a blind snake. He was Jacek, Lisa's only child, and he had never seen Andrzej so angry. But what really scared him was that Lisa just left Andrzej there. Jacek felt something hot and limpid climbing up from his stomach. He quickly punched the wall until his brain stopped spinning.

'What?' wormed around Jacek's full mouth.
'It's this place where nothing scares you,' his friend explained.
'What happens to the scary stuff?' Jacek was casual, if not, his friend would either lie to him or zipper his mouth.
'They just never come back.'

'Lisa! Lisa!' Jacek inverted the house.
'Hospital', Andrzej said stolidly.
'I'm there!' he crashed down the street.
'Why? Tell her she can't come back. No matter what happens.'
Jacek scraped his toes. Halted. Turned towards Andrzej. He wanted to punch him like those walls, the paint flaking off onto his knuckles. Warrior's blood.
'Never come back', he said coldly and ran off.

After a while a building teetered ahead. Inside balloons and whispers floated. A young doctor winked at him.
'Something wrong?'
'IT'S LISA!' Jacek shouted.
He seemed very confused, 'Don't you mean...but there's nothing wrong with her.'
'Then why's she here!'
'She works here. Everyone likes...'
Jacek fell to the floor with his head in his arms. His sleeves got soaked.
'I'll be back.'
Lisa! She kissed both his cheeks.
'Andrzej said you were here but he doesn't care and we can't go back and...I'm SO HUNGRY!'
He wondered if SHE would care.
People started laughing.
He, relentless, 'But it's okay. I know a way!'
Lisa took his hand.

'Andrzej is the one who's sick. He needs a very expensive operation. I didn't have the money so I've had to work. He fights so hard...but he still doesn't want the operation because there's a chance he could...forget. Everything.'
'Never come back...the same way!' Jacek whispered.
'What? Let's go eat. The Oasis has-'
'Oh, we used to joke that these people needed medicine like water. Anyway, Andrzej's coming. In so much pain...'

He sees Lisa laughing on Andrzej's shoulder, the light moving in soft, broad strokes. Soon enough their footsteps drift apart, eyes turn into islands. He gives Lisa a glass of water.
'We've made it, Jacek.'
But when he looks around he sees only gamboling dunes and burning air. The crocodile within him yawns thirstily, for others will brave these wild sands.
And somewhere hidden, the frothy mumbling on stone.


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