Home And Here

A week ago, she ran away from home, fleeing from the step-monsters that lived between the creaky floorboards and ceiling tiles. She stepped lightly and barefoot across the dew-soaked lawn as the pre-dawn sky began to turn from the usual sodium-stained orange of streetlight lit clouds into a cool washed out navy. By the time she was out of the valley, the sun was up on another gray-skied day. She wanted out, to escape the closeness of it all: the suffocating clouds, the prying eyes of the woods, the vicious valley walls. Mom told her not to let the clouds get her down because heaven was built on top of them. It’s been seven days since she stopped believing in silver linings.

Two days later she was in San Francisco, sitting on the beach building pyramids out of empty coke cans but jetted South a few hours after. In San Francisco the water surrounding the peninsula seemed to her a lot like an upside down valley, a big basin filled with water that tasted like tears. She was gone before the sunset because the morning would swallow the city in fog and she was afraid she would never find her way out. Mom never told her what was inside the clouds.

Another two days and she was turning East. L.A. jutted from a bed of brown smog because even in a place so warm angels could find a way to make their own clouds. In a moment of panic she merged across three lanes of traffic in order to make the junction off the 5. In the desert, it would be hot. It would be flat and harsh and hot and no one could get to her without seeing them a mile or two off, at least.

After three days of false starts and flat tires, she arrives at a gas stations halfway between home and here. She fills her tank and moves the car to the parking lot where she stretches out across the trunk and rear window of her car to smoke a cigarette. There is no moon and the harsh light of the gas station canopy creates of bubble of ambient light hiding the stars. Out here the cacti are tall and solitary, out here the sky is blue and empty and touches the Earth at distant horizons, out here the folk talk openly about strange hums in the night and whispers of secrets locked away in gated facilities, out here the desert is as big and hospitable as the world feels.

When rapture finally comes, it comes with a deafening silence that quiets the lights of the gas station revealing the dazzling points of shimmering light where before had only been endless inky void and a now growing dark spot where Orion’s belt should be.

When they finally find her car, all that will remain is the dust angel print left on the trunk and rear window where she had lied, and the cold remains of a half-smoked cigarette. The people will talk about strange lights and sounds they neither saw nor heard and pin up newspaper photos of the dustless negative space to bulletin boards

It had been three days since she stopped believing in heaven.

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