Waking. I'm waking up, she thought. Her eyes opened to find the shock of her life. The desert, how did I get here? The last thing she remembered she was walking out of the crowded shopping mall with her young daughter. How did I get here?
She stood up slowly and hesitantly. An unfamiliar cloth rubbed against her skin as she did. She was wearing a long flowing blue dress. Did someone kidnap me and leave me to die, she thought, but even as she did it didn't feel like the right answer. Now that she was standing, she no longer felt tired. Or hungry... She didn't feel thirsty either.
With nothing left to do here, she began to wander. She didn't feel as though she was in any kind of hurry. She was looking for something, but couldn't think of what. It was important though. She needed to find it.
She wandered through the empty desert for a long time, but how long she was not sure of. She never grew tired or thirsty despite the heat. On the horizon, she saw plants beginning to grow. The sky also changed from clear blue to dotted with clouds. Despite the feeling of being unhurried, she started to run.
Soon she had reached the hill and spread out below her was a small valley with a large lake in the middle. Though she was not thirsty, her confused mind told her to run to it. She obeyed. It was not long before she reached it's banks and began to cup water to her mouth.
Two handfuls later, she couldn't drink anymore. She should be more thirsty, but she wasn't. On the other side of the lake she saw a body curled up on the sand. It wasn't a conscious decision, but she started to swim across the lake.
Once she reached the other bank, she saw who it was and she recognized her. “Kalie,” she called in a voice tired from disuse. “Kalie, what's wrong?” She cradled the young girl in her arms, realizing this was what she was looking for. She scooped water into her mouth to revive her.
Kalie sat up and looked at her mother quizzically, “Mommy, you died. I saw- Oh, where are we? Why are we in the desert?” she asked getting distracted by her surroundings.
“You died? What do you mean, sweetie,” she asked quickly growing worried.
“I mean that scary man stabbed you. You bled so much. Then... then... I don't remember what happened next,” she said looking away as though she failed.
That explained everything. It explained why she didn't get tired, hungry, or thirsty. It explained why she was able to walk so long, to swim across an entire lake. They were both dead.
“Mommy, are you mad that you're dead. I tried to save you, but I failed,” she said in a voice that reflected tears.
“No sweetie, it's okay,” Penelope said stroking her hair, “Any afterlife where we are together is just fine by me.