Authors: Kristina Meister
I leaned back in the truck bed
and tried to capture the waning moon in my grasp. Somewhere in the distance, a
coyote howled. In the cool, clear air of the high desert it seemed that the
mournful sound was sharper, clearer than any sound had ever been.
I picked up
the phone and found the number. The voice that answered sounded almost
surprised, as if it had been caught in the middle of something and couldn’t
help but be flustered.
“I’m sort of
avoiding it just now. Couldn’t tell you why. I hope you don’t mind, but I
thought I might drop in on you in a few days. Is that okay?”
He sighed. Instantly
all tension in his voice vanished. “It would be wonderful. When can I expect
“I’m not sure.”
I sat up and looked around at the scant shrubs that dotted the sun-baked earth.
The dark red land went on as far as the eye could see, an endless horizon of
directions to take. Thousands of stars blinked at me, prepared to guide should
I request it. “I’m sort of...seeing the sights. There’s a giant ball of string
and a two-headed calf I’m just itchin’ to check out.”
for the first time sounding happy. It was good to hear. Further proof that my
deeds were taking the course they were...that they were coming to fruition.
then, when you’re close. I’ll put you up in a nice hotel, if you like.”
It was my turn
to chuckle. “Gee, I don’t eat, don’t sleep, have no material desires beyond a
good scratching post. What a fantastic idea. No, it’s okay. I think I’m going
to stay with my friends, if it’s all right with you, though I say ‘stay,’ in
the loosest meaning of the word, since I’ll probably spend most of my time
locked in one of your sterile little boxes being poked and prodded by a man in
a white coat.”
“It will all
be very informal, I assure you,” he said almost apologetically.
picked up, sweeping over me and my truck as we sat on the side of the lonely
highway. The reception crackled.
glad to hear it. As much as I’d like to say I did, I did
the last time we hung out together. I mean, you could have at least taken me to
dinner before you strapped me to a chair.”
again. “I’m glad that the impression did no lasting damage.”
“I was glad to
hear you were all right, after what happened with Mara.”
so long as ‘all right’ is a euphemism for totally not anything like what I used
to be, because I’ve changed a lot.” It was as tentative an approach as I could
manage. I was still getting used to the speed and strength, the strange and
sudden urges, and the keen awareness that tinged every choice I made. It took
some adjustment, the whole running-on-instinct thing.
It’s fine. You are perfect just as you are, whatever way that is.”
feel exactly the same way!” I said cheerfully, eclipsing the stars with my
with you?” I could hear the ache in his voice and was all too happy to soothe
it with a tender correction.
“No, Karl. This
time, it’s just me.”