Embers, Excerpt #2

And she set out across the desert walking with a man she barely knew.

She felt an odd sense of calm walking away from everything. The asphalt passed under her feet step-by-step as everything she knew faded farther and farther behind her. It felt like a cathartic moment, walking away from all of her responsibilities, bills, troubles, and the entirety of her life. She walked away from the things she loved as well, paying a price for her job, trips to the supermarket, her comfy room in the house she rented, her bed, all her clothes, her shoes, and everything else she ever owned.

She also walked away from her family heirlooms, the piles of boxes stored in her garage that she never got around to opening but kept as some sort of contract with the dead to keep her family history alive.

A chain broken, but there was nothing she could do.

As the last link, she needed to live.

Every time she got frustrated with the slow pace of walking away she was another 50 yards down the road. And the next time she got frustrated she was another 50 yards past that. Pretty soon the bouts of frustration happened a lot farther apart, and before she knew it she was miles down the road.

The buttes and scrub grass of the desert went by at a slow and determined pace. They walked uphill and down, along dry desert washes, and towards massive red rock cliffs that dwarfed both of them. They crept at a snail’s pace around large sweeping curves in the desert marked my yellow curve signs, yellow arrows on metal poles marking another 30 feet away from the place which they called home. Pretty soon, the curve was no more and another long stretch of hill climbing was next to be overcome.

The terror and fear she had experienced escaping the city had dulled a little, and the skies above grew that familiar shade of late afternoon gray-blue, a beautiful color of the pre-sunset Western skies that she loved so much. Out West the skies stretched forever above her, and the bright pink flame of clouds ignited that familiar feeling of the land slipping into night. She knew back in the city that most were just trying to stay alive, and the terror of night would soon visit many homes and many families so undeserving of the violence of trying to survive.

If only people could get along with each other and share a little more. If only we could wash away the distrust people had for one another, and forget the ingrained fear and hatred of our fellow citizens and non—citizens alike we could live in a better world. But she knew the violent, criminal elements would never change no matter how much hope and love we gave them. They would continue to use fear and terror to justify taking what they wanted, and this was true no matter what place in the world you lived in, and also this was true throughout any era of history in humankind.

Dark hearts stayed in the darkness.

Pretty soon night crept in and they walked through the darkness. There were no lights of the city behind them, just the creeping void of lost memories. They walked along cold asphalt roads, the edges cracked and crumbling away into the darkness of the vast desert around them.