haughtily (she had removed the flap of her burnoose), then walked a few feet away and scuffed at the dust with her leather boots.

I saw a glint of gold, then, hurrying over to look more closely, a deep blue glow. Bending over, I carefully extricated the remains of a necklace from the compacted dirt. The thread had long since rotted away, but the individual beads of lapis lazuli were each lying where they had fallen, perhaps two thousand years before. The strangeness of it overwhelmed me suddenly. I was alone on a hillside in an unknown land, looking at an artefact which had been hidden from human eyes for longer than my own culture had existed.

Alone? Yes, for now I was alone. My companion had vanished. Hurrying down the hill, I saw that she was not beside the horses, nor was she off collecting firewood for our little campfire, already flaming up nicely in the dry desert air. She was nowhere. Her horse, bedroll, possessions were still there, at the campsite, but she was gone.

I missed her warmth, her smile, her scent that night, and the many nights that followed.

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