“Kiss my ass, princess.”
A’ris gasped so forcefully the bird flew off her shoulder with a squawk. “How dare you speak to me that way!”
“Or what?” Hutch spun around in a circle with his arms outstretched, a feigned look of fear on his face. “I don’t see your guards here to arrest me, love.”
It was her turn to point a finger and she walked straight up to him, jabbing him in the chest with it. “I am not your love. And just because I don’t wear my crown out here doesn’t mean I am any less a royal member of this planet.”
“From what I understand,” he laughed, “You seem to be running away from that very title.”
“You’re impossible.” A’ris pushed by him, though they had an entire desert of space to avoid each other with. The bird flew above their heads for half a mile, clearly not interested in being a part of the squabble.
It wasn’t until he dove down in front of her, chirping an alarm that she forgot about Hutch and his less than appropriate diction, and noticed the shimmer on the horizon had changed from the wavy ripples of heat she was beginning to hate, to something more solid, and more square in form. Dark objects stood up higher than a person. The sand dunes had flattened out to nothing but cracked clay since an hour after they set off in the morning. Her feet hurt from the solid ground.
“Finally,” she breathed.
“Oh, so you concede. I knew it was only a matter of time.” Hutch pulled the front of his shirt up, no longer white in color, and wiped his sweaty face with it.
A’ris grimaced at his appearance, but gritted her teeth together, realizing she surely looked no better than he did. “I do not concede. You are still an arse. It was that I was commenting on.” She pointed ahead of them and the bird returned to her arm, digging into her gauzy top with his talons as he climbed onto her shoulder.
“Let’s skip on over that part where you can’t even insult me with a proper curse word. I see it – a town, I’m guessing.”
A’ris rolled her eyes to the sky. “Of course it’s a town, Hutch. Maybe one of the outer cities?”
“Don’t ask me, I’m not a royal member of this planet, as you have so graciously pointed out. On more than one occasion.”
A’ris licked at her dry lips and resisted the urge to poke Hutch in the eye with one of her dirty finger nails. “We have traveled west, as we were told, so it must be.”
“Fine. Know what they’ll have there that we don’t have here?” Hutch picked up his pace, forcing A’ris into a near jog.
The wind changed direction, blowing a gust of sand right in her face, and Hutch laughed as she spit the grains out in a noisy squeal. “Water,” she said, in between gags.
“There will be that. And soap. You reek something awful,” Hutch teased.
– Copyright Trish Marie Dawson