The coyote awoke one morning to find that his roadrunner was gone.
He’d disappeared, beyond the asymptotic horizon which outlined their desert, that unreachable boundary between two nowheres. Together, as predator and prey, they’d followed the same highway westward for thousands of miles, always encroaching on that same horizon, yet finding no end to the repetition of sagebrush and sand.
They’d grown accustomed to their mutual eternity over the years, and the unspoken laws that defined it.
Then, as abruptly as it began, eternity ended.
In disbelief, the coyote climbed to the peak of the desert’s tallest mesa. There, he searched the corners of the world with his magnificent binoculars. Their barrels extended until they were longer than he was tall, yet he found no sign of the roadrunner within them- not even a suggestive cloud of dust. He half-expected to turn around and see his nemesis right there behind him, ready to warble his immortal cry, yet even there, he found only the wind.
After three days of searching, he accepted that he was alone.
Deluded and devoid of purpose, he wandered into the desert’s undrawn depths, far from the river of concrete that had previously defined his existence. It was there that, in the shadow of an ancient saguaro, he allowed himself to stop and think for the first time that he could remember. During the meditations that followed, his spirit sank through the sacred ink that had birthed him, and he was allowed to witness his own creation.
He saw his creator holding a book by Mark Twain, and in that book, he saw a description of his soul: “a living, breathing allegory of Want. He is always hungry.” He thought long on that hunger, and how it had ensorcelled the whole of his being, and how his longing for the roadrunner’s flesh had nearly driven him to madness. In doing so, he realized that he loved his hunger, and that up until that moment of revelation, the emptiness of stomach had carried him further than the blood in his heart ever had.
He saw the rules that had been laid out for him by his demiurgic animators- that all of his failures would be of his own making, that his nature would never allow him to end his pursuit, and that humiliation would always be his only lasting wound. He wondered if those rules would still apply, if he chose to do nothing at all.
He learned about Sisyphus, and of his endless punishment by the gods. He wondered if Sisyphus knew that the stone he pushed uphill contained more of his identity than his body. He wondered if he was Sisyphus.
He thought about the desert’s emptiness, and the way its soil longed for rain.
He wondered if he was the desert.
He wondered if he was the roadrunner.
He wondered if he was anything at all.
All he knew for certain was that he was no longer hungry.