By Margo Wayman
Zara was a hungry camel. She could never get enough to eat. All the vegetation that once grew around the worn, stone pyramid was gone. There were no more dates growing on the date palms, no more bananas, and no more melons growing along the thick, rope-like vines in the melon patch. Gone were the figs and pomegranates that had been growing on the big-leafed trees down by the river. Zara had eaten them all.
The camel walked through the salmon pink sand, searching for something to nibble or munch on, but there just wasnt anything left. As she gazed up at an empty date palm, Zara noticed a patch of green, out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head to see what it was.
It looked nice and green and she could tell something was growing among the tall grasses. Maybe it was some ripe, juicy strawberries, or some plump purple grapes, or even some succulent, delicious melons. "Yummy," she said and trotted over there. She looked down to see what plants were growing in the garden. What were they? She didnt know. She lowered her head down to sniff them. It was the most unusual smell. It wasnt a sweet smell like fruit. It didnt smell like a cucumber, a carrot, or a juicy tomato.
She nibbled, hesitantly, at the leaves. "Yummy," she said, smiling. "This tastes good." Zara ate the entire stem and all the leaves, then tugged at the root. A fat, white, fleshy leek came out of the ground. She nudged the dirt off with her nose, then gobbled it down. "Yummy," she gulped. She ate every leek, from every row in the garden plot.
In the rows next to the leeks, were some similar smelling onions. After shed eaten the leaves, Zara again tugged at the root. She pulled out another white, round and bulbous vegetable. She gobbled it down. "Yummy. This is good too," she mumbled as she chomped on the onion. She then ate every onion, from every row in the garden plot.
When she finished eating, she felt full. Her tummy hung down low, filled with onions and leeks. As she walked, it wobbled back and forth. Zara didnt feel so good. She was too full. She wanted a drink of water.
Faris, another camel, was lapping water from the river. As Zara neared, he lifted his head and sniffed the air. He made a scowl on his face. "What is that smell? P.U!" he uttered. When she came and stood next to him and opened her mouth to get a drink of water, her onion breath came rushing out. Faris grunted, tossed his head back and forth and ran away. Zara watched as Faris darted up the riverbank and off into the desert. She wondered why hed left so quickly. She lowered her head and drank some more of the refreshing water from the deep blue river.
When she was finished drinking she laid down in the reeds that were growing along the muddy bank. She lay there quietly, listening to the gentle, flowing water. Sheba, the fox, came down to the river for a drink. After a few laps of water, she lifted her head and started sniffing the air. "What is that horrible smell. P.U.!" She looked around and saw Zara lying in the reeds. Still sniffing, Sheba moved closer to Zara. Suddenly the camel yawned. Her horrid onion and leek breath rushed from her mouth, enveloping the fox. Sheba let out a wild howl, ran around in circles like she was chasing her tail, then dashed up the riverbank into the sandy desert.
Zara wondered why Sheba had acted that way. What had made her run away like that? Unable to think of an answer to her question, Zara stood up, stretched her legs and waddled over to the pyramid. She had an itch on her hump and leaned towards the huge stones, stacked so perfectly. She moved her hump up and down. It felt so good as she scratched herself.
Masud, a desert lizard, stood on the hot sand watching Zara, smiling because she looked so funny. He ran over to just a few feet away from her. Zara chose that moment to let out a long sigh. Masuds eyes began to water. "What is that horrid smell? P.U!" Zara sighed again and her rotten onion and leek breath came rushing out of her mouth. Masud rolled onto his back. His tail stood straight up in the air. His flickering tongue darted in and out of his mouth. He jumped up and ran down the muddy bank of the river and hid in the tall grass.
Zara quizzically watched Masuds behavior. What was going on? Why were all the animals acting so strange? She walked around the pyramid for a few steps and saw a large wooden bowl lying on the sand next to the stones. She wondered if there was any food in it and picked it up. It was on her face. She breathed into the bowl and suddenly realized why all the other animals had run away. "P.U! My breath is horrid!" she said, dropping the bowl into the sand. It all made sense now. She knew what she had to do. She sauntered over to a bush growing near a bedouins tent. She nibbled on some mint. She munched on it for a long time.
When Nuri, the camel, strode by, Zara let out a huge yawn. Nuri didnt react at all. She didnt sniff the air, she didnt shake her head, she didnt run around in circles or fall on her back. Zara smiled. From then on whenever she ate onions or leeks, shed always head to the mint bush to freshen her breath.
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