8

They tumbled. Great balls of fire slowly drifting, smoke trailing behind them, flames billowing at an angle. Orange deepening into black, hard to tell where flames ended and smoke began. Like big black balls of cotton that had been thrust into a stunning sunset to soak up the color and then placed in a leaning stack one upon the other. Watching them fall was cathartic. Relaxing. Other aircars managed the opposite, their thrusters an ice blue streak as they ascended. A ladder of divine ascent playing dramatically outside of the window. Most of them just floated along, neither falling nor rising. Passing each other in opposite directions. Would the ones going left eventually join those falling? Were the ones going right destined to rise?

I gazed out of the window through the city, through the world, watching. Contentedly thinking about what she’d said. She watched me consider her words. Her thumb gently stroked my forefinger, the rings covering her fingers reflecting light and clinking softly. Our food sat between us forgotten, unable to add anything meaningful to our satisfaction.

The city spread above and below us. I’d never yet seen the top. I hadn’t seen the surface in so long it might as well have been never. Neither were visible, just rows of buildings and windows stretching out of sight above and below us. The aircars drifting lazily between it all, like bumblebees, reflecting our peaceful mood.

Some part of my brain, buried deep, assured me that way down below, below the surface, were the deeps. Waiting hangrily in the darkness. I dismissed the thought as irrelevant to the wonderful night I was having. Or maybe it was morning? Noon? Irrelevant. The soft pink glow that pervaded everything never changed anyways, except to become lighter if higher you ascended.

“Quite the sight huh?” A voice invaded our contemplation.

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Crash

Nolani coughed. Sand? What? It tasted awful, oily salty brine-y… tangy… citrus-y? Like some disgusting margarita that sat out all night in the heat by the ocean and then all the next day and then all the years it took until it was nothing but rocks and chemical lemon dust in the bottom of the glass, which itself hadn’t actually ever been washed from the first day her mother had put it to use in their slum cantina. The day… Well, her father would never have bothered to wash it after that anyways.

As she coughed it out she quickly became aware of a smell layered over all the taste. Metal. Rust. Like she was sitting next to her father’s angle grinder back home as he ate away at the corrosion that grew over everything in that salty air. The determined attention which he threw himself into punishing the cars and lampposts and street signs and junk he valued so much.

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