FROM CHAPTER: Deax Gray
He raised his eyes and saw the girl he’d been waiting for. She was tall and slender with long auburn hair tussled by the cold sea breeze. Her face was like spring morning air, an early riser of curious anxiety. Rogue and pristine. Careful. Her brown eyes shone like polished bronze under the sunlight.
“Hey!” he said. “You decided to come.”
Deax Gray was wearing light jeans and a thin, long sleeve crème sweater. She had no real belongings except for a couple of plastic bags attached to her waist. “It was our agreed time, wasn’t it?”
He nodded. “What’s in the plastic bags?”
“Oh! It’s these delicious things.” Excited, her hand dug through one of them. “They are little pebbles. You bite them and they are squishy.” Bringing out her hand, she showed him a fistful of colorful candies. She smiled as she ate two in pleasure.
“You mean Skittles? And you got like seven bags?”
She glanced at them, and back to him. “Is that bad?”
“No, not at all,” he laughed. “It’s just weird.”
“Do people not like these Skittles?”
An hour later they were on the outskirts of San Francisco. They’d crossed a tired Golden Gate in silence, passing through Sausalito and a myriad of smaller towns. Christian wasn’t planning on taking the shortest route; he wanted to see the desert in northern Nevada. Reports said it was slowly expanding, its white sand and coarse landscape slowly taking over terrain, and he wanted to be a witness to the growing nothing. They drove towards the sun while it rose across the horizon and higher within the sky.
Deax was quiet and contemplative. She appeared detached, always looking at the passersby and the trees and signs like she’d never seen them before. More than anything it was the sky. She spent long stretches of time just gazing through the sunroof. She seemed quietly insane, but with magic, with no lie in her wonder. When he’d asked why she stared at the sky so much, she said it was the sun, that it was the most perfect sphere ever observed in nature.
“You should be thankful for the sun,” she said, gazing at the burning, faraway star and eating another Skittle. “You have a beautiful sun.”
—Alexander Helas •