The Rod Lady

The crowd watched in respectful silence as she walked slowly across the field, tilting this way and that, her rod at the ready. Experience had taught her that people needed a show almost as much as they needed the Water. Since the owner was paying handsomely for her services, she would be rewarding them with a good show.

She had arrived the day before to meet her client. Together, they had walked the land. When the conversation had petered out, he was content to walk by her side, quietly, his mutt Rocky keeping pace. He watched her from the corner of his eye. She was breathing in the dusk, palms out and slightly away from her body. He could feel her watery presence and could have sworn she almost liquefied at one point. He had heard of mirages, was not an ignoramus. He put great faith in the Farmer’s Almanac.

The creek had turned to sand two years ago, and the dry spell did not seem about to break. His unfortunate stalks had stood crackling under the unrelenting rays. He was deep in debt. Desperate times called for desperate measures. When he saw her small ad in the Almanac, he had made inquiries. It appeared she was the real deal. She believed it when he met her – serious, plain, a wisp of a woman, though her strong grey eyes told a different story. Presently, she slowed down, came to a halt, and stood there looking around. Rocky, too, had stopped. He sniffed and pawed at the dirt. Dust rose around them, a dry, searing presence. Looking through him, she suddenly resumed walking, cutting a diagonal towards a stand of trees. He had not followed her. He could see she was on a trail, antennas quivering, nose atwitching. A hound for water. Was there any left? How far down? He took a deep breath to calm down. She brought back the coolness and shade of the trees. They headed back, he to the house, she to her trailer. Most of her clients lived in remote areas, and the trailer allowed her to be comfortable and close at hand.

**********

Morning had come and she was already out in the fields, pacing, her rod stuck nonchalantly in her back pocket. Word had gone out, and trucks lined the dirt road, looker-ons gathering to watch. Kids followed her. The man, Rocky, and a few neighbours joined her. She took out her rod and explained, “I am looking for water. Our bodies are 60% water. Please stay back so you don’t interfere with the process.” She headed towards the trees, rod limply held in front of her. A pause – everyone stopped breathing. Some swear they saw the rod quiver. She took a right and kept going. People were counting her steps, craning their necks, moving in parallel to her. Rocky followed with a stick in his mouth. She stopped, bent down and stuck his stick in the ground. “Here,” she said.

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