Every morning, it was Zahra’s job to bring water to wash, mix with meal to make flatbread and to drink. She followed the trail up and over the small ridge that shrouded and protected the homesite from an open range scoured by the wind.
The path had been created by countless years of bare feet. Her grandmother and mother’s before… and after her, likely a daughter’s; the child she would bear before long. Barely a teen, she was of an age for a husband. It would be soon.
It was not what she wished for. The missionary had taught her to read before she died, and the traders had left a few books. Some with pictures of a world and life she could not fathom.
Seeing them… reading the words left her changed with a vague feeling of discontent.
It was quiet and cool by the river; there in the still sleeping darkness before the heat of the sun—already felt on her back as she descended the bank—burned it away.
Zahra paused for a moment but couldn’t take more time than what was expected. She thought of how the missionary had told her of cities and far lands. Of the world and how large it was. With a sigh she didn’t realize had come from her, she stooped to fill her jug.
The sun, higher on the horizon, was in her face as she trudged back to her small existence. All she knew.
In that last serene moment, she wondered how other girls—in the so very big world—started their days.