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Blue Tent by Carla R. Herrera

Blue Tent by Carla R. Herrera

     The air crushed down, hot and humid. Breathing felt akin to a chore, difficult and laborious. Light skin suffered in this weather, but through painstaking attempts to avoid the sun and a constant application of sunscreen, she remained nearly unblemished. Her dark eyes and short, dark hair caused most to take more than a second look. A couple of men nearby shot knavish glances in her direction and she thought about pulling up her tent and moving elsewhere. She checked the back pocket of her shorts making sure the Inprod was still there.
     Satisfied by the feel of the device, she glanced around the campsite and saw other women she had not noticed before. Still early, she guessed they had probably been inside other shelters. She counted four women. Two were seniors, one was a bit older than her with tattoos on nearly every part of exposed skin, but her face. Another was much younger—she guessed probably still in her late teens.
     Dwellings scattered throughout the camp in no particular order. High traffic areas where people walked frequently were dust zones. She noticed most people set their shelter away from those areas. Shelters ranged from discarded plywood to abandoned vehicles, pup tents and recycled cardboard Someone had even made a tent from a blue plastic tarp, held down with rocks, structured loosely with sticks. Loose areas of the tarp would catch a breeze on occasion and flap loudly.
    She had set her own small tent near a tree. It was a cheap, red, two person model that could be set up in a flash. Shake it out and voila! Insta-shelter. Still, she was not going to knock it. It was a roof over her head and kept the bugs from her when she slept.
    Most campers lounged under the oppressive heat. Like other places she had stayed, the season dictated behavior. Summer had turned them into children of the night. They would rise at sundown, puttering through daily tasks, cooking if food was available. As the night wore on, some would scavenge, beg, or look for hourly work.
    She had watched from the trees for a couple of days before deciding to join the camp. Stragglers, male and female had come and gone, but most stayed to themselves. Occasionally, a few would get together, but this was not a tightly-knit group.

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