"I'm so glad we decided to go camping," she said. They were lying on their backs looking up into the desert night, the fire burned down to embers now, the stars so thick they seemed connected.
"It's peaceful here," he said. "We could be anywhere."
"We are anywhere," she said, pulling the blanket up closer. "Good thing we thought to bring a blanket."
He turned to her, suddenly serious. "You know, before? When you said the sheep were muttering?"
"Sheep don't do that. I think you got carried away by your imagination."
She studied him for a full ten seconds, then burst out laughing.
The stars began to move. Slowly at first, into animated constellations, which then morphed into movies. Eventually the movies turned to dreams.
"I like it when we're dreaming," she said. "It makes more sense."
"And we can plan better without all the distractions."
"So what's the plan?" she asked him.
"It's your turn, isn't it?"
"Is it? Oh, right. Well, I've always wanted to go to Egypt."
"Really? You mean, the Nile and all that? The pyramids, the Sphinx, the early Blavatsky?"
"You forgot the Rosicrucians."
"Aren't they sort of like Elks?"
"Got me," she said. "But no, I was thinking the more Northerly regions. Up near the delta."
"Been reading Lawrence again?" he asked.
"D.H. or T.E.?"
"I can see how you might think of those two," he said.
"But you meant Durrell."
"Oh, Azazel! I love it when you get all allusionary."
"Been lusting after Denzel again, have you?"
"Are you kidding? Compared to me, he might as well be white."
"But not compared to me."
"No one compares to you."
"Did you know Prince wrote that?"
But by now they were truly asleep.
She was poking him. It was barely light. "Look, over there."
"What?" He was not awake yet. Camping? Was she mad?
"No, seriously, over there. There's a great crowd of people headed this way."
"He looked. He squinted. He saw them, yes. "I know what it is," he said.
"What is it?"
"What it is is that old shepherd made it back to town and told everyone about your antics in the burning bush."
"Oh crap," she said. "We need to get out of here!"
"Hold on," he said getting up and poking around in their campfire. He seemed to find what he was looking for.
"What's that?" she asked.
"A piece of charcoal." He walked away a few feet and started making passes in the air. It was as if he were drawing on the sky. A stone wall took shape, and in the center of it, he made an arched doorway. He drew a little window in it, and as soon as it appeared, it slid back with a sharp click.
"How many?" said a turbaned man on the other side.
"Two," said the woman. "And quick!"
The guy in the turban peered at them intently. "You're naked," he said.
"Is that going to be a problem?" asked the woman. Perhaps he hadn't noticed the wings.
"Yes, it is going to be a very big problem. Wait a moment."
"Well, we can't wait too long," said the man. "There's a lynch mob bearing down on us."
The peephole door clicked shut, and they were left staring at it. "By the way," she said after a while, "where did you learn that little trick? Drawing on the air."
"Oh, you pick things up," he said.
"Your false modesty again," she said.
But before they could get into it in earnest, they started hearing cries from the approaching throng. "There they are! There they are! We must offer them gifts! We must worship them!"
"No! Are you crazy?" shouted another. "We must kill them!"
"The usual confusion," commented the man nonchalantly.
"Cool under pressure," she said. "I like that."
"Every girl crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man."
"You're not wearing anything at all," she said. "Thus the hold up."
Just then the door swung out and the guy in the turban held out some sort of robes. "Quickly," he said. "Put on these jalabas."
They did as he said, and he ushered them, quite formally, through the gate, bowing at the waist. Looking at him more closely now, she thought he looked a little like Edward Said.
"Welcome to Alexandria," he said.