The bottle was too emerald a blue. That quality made it all the more easier for Ali to imagine tall tales about it.
He thought of Arabian sands more for their peculiar paleness that would strike particularly odd against the bottle’s richness than anything else. He thought of traveling princes…
Sindbad, for his father, the king, had named him so, was exceptionally tired. He had grown among the heat of the sands and the heat of the sun yet, he had never been able to truly love them. He blamed it on the refuge his marble and granite palace gave him, all his seventeen years, with a number of clear pools and fountains on every round corner. Sindbad had none of those luxuries now and was reminded of how his gentile character really depended on their presence. Truly, he feared losing his head under all that heat. Sindbad reached for a water bottle. His long fingers, white and fatigued with the constant tugging at the horse’s rein, searched in vain but it was a sad truth that no water remained on his person.
Would he finally, shamefully, call on his fellow travelers and ask them to part with their worthy share for their prince? No. He wouldn’t betray his loyal friends like that- he wouldn’t press them with his position when they had done so much for him, without thinking of the dangers of that very position, as their presence here was proof enough.
Just as his hand withdrew from the empty bottles, his best man and better friend, entered the tent. It was very unlike Mirza to enter without announcing or asking permission. Sindbad wondered what was wrong.
But Mirza had seen the prince’s falling face and the empty bottles. Before voicing his worries, he took out his own flask and handed it over.
“Please, it’s yours anyway.”
Sindbad took the bottle, more out of respect than the ownership Mirza mentioned. If he refused, Mirza’s friendship would be wronged, a feeling of distance would impeach, of formality.
Sindbad had gifted that emerald blue bottle to him, studded with rubies and diamonds near the base and the neck, design-plated with gold leaf. It was a joke between them. Funny how it should save his life today.
Sindbad took only a few necessary drops of the precious elixir and thrust it back into Mirza’s hands. His duty now complete, Mirza said, “Your father’s men have caught on faster than we expected. We must move.”
Rejuvenated, the fleeing prince, sprung up a new man, and led his faithful quarry to another great distance across the yielding golden sands…
Ali smiled. He would much rather have pictured a princess fleeing her royal home than a prince, but he couldn’t bring such thirst, such misery on a lady and yet call her fair… Well, the lad’s got to take the blow then. Ali reached for his own blue bottle, having exhausted its imaginative potential, unscrewed the cap and drank like a dying prince himself. Water… the elixir.