Flight, 1.B.1, 700 words

Stalled late afternoon languishes on each bleary window. Twill is scanning the arcade of the nameless motel, billowing chambray in the chalk court that sets it back from the chalk road. Powdery shade drifts across the valley from the soft mountain horizon that wanders up to the setting sun. The far mountain range glows rosy and dusty. Though he has a room he is holding the sleeves of a shirt wrapped around several other shirts. This day he lay since morning in the shade and stillness on the pillow of clothes behind a rock, considering the track of its crisp shadow across the salt, and finally its diffusion. He is late back to the room by what imperfect time the sun keeps against the uneven ridge. The routine as it depended on him is disrupted. Now he finds the door sealed behind silver and burnt boards like the others. He shuffles along the arcade cupping his face to windows. Arid murk creeps across the familiar furniture as though each room is filled with the warm reflection of mountain shade on chalk and salt. Already it is difficult to recall living here. What had been the crisp but misaligned frame around a faded path and arbor, the glint on water in the sink, the repeated whorls of plastic grain on the little table by the air conditioner all now swim in soft features long eroded by the machine of routine. He quakes a bit with his knees against the little stucco wall. The faint downy gestures of faces or skin wash down into the feathered edge of exile. Still, the simple shape of a sideboard or nightstand is perfect and endless. Where a chair should be in the room it seems that a man is huddled beneath a hibiscus flower quilt in the shape of a chair. At length it threatens to rise up before the window and block out the sun but doesn’t. In the far bed Tweed’s lump of hips and corner of shoulder sigh beneath the other quilt, facing the wall, waiting. Tweed waited. Sunlight caves in from a cleft in the valley wall burying the room behind glowing dust on the glass. The building is opaque. He notices it was painted lavender. A corrupt reflection of Twill slides back through the chalk on the window, turns on his heels and walks out to the road, wind again in his clothes. Bright dusk is drawn down over the motel in its own sandy paste. It floods from where the dry mountain walls meet, at both ends of the valley, and both curve away out of sight. Various evenings Tweed had called it something unintelligible which Twill made out as the valley’s crotch as they took their walk over the rocks into the stagnant end of the small chalk road where the mountains pinch it. This night Twill begins to walk with the warm breeze down the open valley, already on the road’s gentle curve, calling it where the earth falls away. He follows some lingering shadow line. The convergent mountain ranges at the brink of the road are unchanging throughout the fall of dusk, which lasts hours and thickens strangely due to the false horizon of the peaks. He walks slowly with his bindle until the chord of sight back to the motel is long severed by the arc of the valley. When the alpine glow drowns in haze an insidious hollow collapses in the pithy sediment his viscera, aching vaguely like a sinkhole. Focusing on the faint path and his muffled footfalls with the intention of forgetting a long, worn story, the few initial paces out have caused Twill already to forget the intention of his flight. That lightless topography amidst his organs easily settles into welcome mystery. He scans the horizon for a motel, if not the end of the earth. No fluorescence but the valley’s own flows over. He sits to rest in the gravel at the edge of the chalk against a larger stone. Echoes of wing beats return from the gentle foot of the blackened mountain. The rising moon dilutes the shadows of rocks and scrub still thrown long by trapped day glow.

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