I see things through her eyes as soon as I slam the door against me. The stale smoky air trapped in the car despite the open windows and the hole in the trash bag is overwhelming. The windows are opaque with a yellowing film of dust. There are extra plastic bags everywhere and they are loud in the breeze and will only get louder when we pick up speed. Her headrest is missing. A solid coating of ash rests on everything and I imagine it attaching itself to her bare shoulder, to her ankles, to her wrists, climbing and descending until it meets and an ash mold of her is formed and she will crumble at the merest touch. I think of saying I’m sorry about my car but acknowledging it is somehow worse.
“Next time we’ll use my car,” she says.
I’m sure Bill told her he would have left anyway but the truth is he would’ve stayed forever unless he had a good reason not to.
She’s short. Petite, Kitty says. She’s wearing what looks like a peach nightgown.
He doesn’t look at her like he looked at Kitty.
There were times when I couldn’t catch my breath. Inhaling. My ribs stretched to perfect bows and the pain of it. A stopping point. My lungs begging. I would try to yawn. I would open my mouth wider and thrust my teeth forward. My heart a motor with rust in its valves. Then, just when tears were cooling in my eyes, the easiness of it would come back to me and I would be filled perfectly with air. The gratefulness in my body. The lingering pain in my ribs and the disappearing cloud in my brain with each clean, easy breath. The way I had to breathe in, over and over.
My arms are burning with holding myself over her.
The moonlight isn’t white. It’s blue and nearly gray.
A pink thread shoots and attaches to the horizon. Another one, more orange. The setting sun is a body and its rays are awkward legs. “See how it changes,” she says. “People think the clouds are gray but they’re not. They’re purple. Blue. Sometimes they have green in them. If you think gray you’ll see gray.” Now the sun is a fresh yolk jiggling in its membrane. The sky colors messily, spreading pools. The heat is polite, respectful to the coming coolness of night. Already, the sweat at my neck is drying and setting. “Lay back,” she says. The grass is soft and fragrant and a few blades are sharp at my ear. “You can close your eyes if you want. When you open them, everything will be different.” “This is nice.”