We are travellers.
We have travelled for long, walking, a few weary horses pulling the skeletons of what was once cars. Sometimes, we walk through remnants of civilisation.
Gardens look surprisingly lush on a distance, but upon closer inspection we always find they are unkempt and unkept, drying out, draught-hardy weeds taking over. Dried out husks of wooden houses sit sagging in uneven rows around dusty roads. Brick houses are doing better, looking stabler. Sometimes we try to settle down for a bit in a derelict house, the fear of ghosts and of other, greater things keeping us huddled together in one room, sleeping in hammocks, on the floor, pieces of fabric hung up to create partitions and some semblance of privacy. But we always travel on soon after.
I know some of the people I travel with, others I have gotten to know as groups have merged and later split into new constellations. Some of the people we travelled with are Gone, I don't specify it further to myself, I know they won't come back. Others have hopes and keep a place for them, hang up their hammocks at night, often in the best spots, leaving them empty.
We walk over the mountains, and as we come down on the other side, we see the ocean or a widespread lake, alot of water, without bounds. There are cheers, hope. Even if it is salt we can distill it and have water for drinking. We sing, we dance along the roads, filled with purpose, the goal in sight. In a beeline, following old roads and paths, we head for the nearest cove.
The first people, ranging ahead, are close to the water. The ones further back look at them with undisguised envy and walk faster. It lies shimmering, without ripples, in the sun. There are little wildlife, hardly any birds or insects, surprisingly dry this close to such an abundance of water.
The first-comers reach the water, and wade out into it. No. Walking out onto it. They are walking on water. Jumping on it. Stamping, kicking. Screaming rage at the sky in frustration.
I reach the mirror lake myself. Looking at it in disbelief, I start weeping. It consists of metal and glass, the remnants of a great city's skyscrapers. Not a drop of water.
There is desperation that afternoon. We look at the mountains we came over, knowing we have to head back. There is no life for us on this immense metal plain.
We are travellers. We walk. Walking is life. Sometimes, we settle down for a while in the ruins of a village or a farm. Sometimes, we meet others, and the groups merge for a while, and then split again. Hope is still there.