Arizona Skies
Author: Isabella Darcy

Chapter 15
Redefining Relationships

Purple light. When I open my eyes, the first thing I see is the purple light. The sky looks like how I used to imagine a diamond when I was small; all sparkly purple with foamy white edges. The window is still open, and the light spills in, across my bare floor, touching on the glinting silver object lying there. I sit up, rubbing my eyes, and focus. What is that? I throw off the sheet and crawl out of the bed, realizing I'm still wearing the shorts and shirt I put on last night. I scoop up the object, and it's cold in my hand. Aubrey's lighter.

Last night. It has to have been a dream, but here I have hard proof. Images swarm my head, confused- all of them unreal. I must be in someone else's body. These must be someone else's memories.

I sit back down on the bed, my legs swinging down and feet brushing the floor, and look out of the window, the lighter held tight in my hand. The metal feels cool and comforting- substantial. I flick it open and a tiny orange flame quivers in the morning breeze. Fire from ice.

It's saturday, and I have nothing to do but think. I glance over at my watch on the bedside table. 6:22. Lindsey usually sleeps in til 8:00 on weekends, but I can't go back to sleep.

Aubrey. That one name, and my face is burning, and my heart is pounding, and my lips are boiling. Aubrey. I make a whole show of not wanting to give myself away, not trusting him- and one midnight visit is all it takes for him to capture me completely. Because it's true; I'm his. I can't imagine ever going back to that stuffy summer day and not seeing him glaring at me in Lindsey's kitchen. Bitter Springs without Aubrey? Impossible.

But what am I saying? I get up, tucking the lighter in my pocket, and run a brush through my hair, checking my face in the mirror as I slip on my sandals. My eyes have dark purple circles beneath them; the calling card of a restless night. But they're bright, and I smile at my reflection.

I grab my art bag and tiptoe down the stairs, not wanting to wake Lindsey. I take an orange from the kitchen and creak open the screen door, careful. It's quiet out here, with a soft buzzing, and the air is already warming up.

I walk without purpose, letting the landscape lead me. It's time to take my mind off all of this drama, and just draw. It's beautiful like this. I finally stop, and settle down near a pile of sparkling mica, taking out my pastels. Balancing the sketchbook on my crossed legs, the colors fly across the paper. Burning orange, the color of the dirt and the fire from the lighter; shining black, like the stars sprinkled in the sky at midnight; delicate purple, trailing across the sky with frothy white edges. How could I ever think the desert boring, plain, dead? It breathes life to me, as I sketch the round contours of the rocks, the crinkly edge of the yellow sun peeping up from a cactus.

The minutes tick by, seeping into hours, and the curling rind of the orange scattered across the dust. The sun has crept up higher, now, and my beautiful purple sky is fleeting; the colors are fading into the usual cornflower blue and silky gold.

Finally I uncross my legs, which I realize are sore from the time, and look to my wrist only to discover my watch has been left behind. The walk back is long and leisurely, and I pass a couple people who wave or smile.

The house gleams brightly in the sun, and I push open the screen door and set down my bag, sniffing in the sizzle of bacon and hashbrowns. I walk into the kitchen, and Lindsey is standing by the stove with a bright yellow apron.

" some coffee?"

I step through the door and follow her gaze, to a smiling bronze-haired boy who's sitting at her prim little wooden table. He hasn't seen me. My heart jumps up into my throat.

"Au- Grandma Lindsey! Hi." I force my eyes back to her, who turns from Aubrey, who's head darted towards the door at the sound of my voice. I can feel my face burning as I scrape back a chair and she hands me a cup of coffee.

"Aurora!" Lindsey says. "I was just telling Aubrey that I thought you'd gone out to draw. He's joining us for breakfast today."

"Mmm?" I take a sip and slowly turn my eyes to him. He's smiling that crooked smile.

"Good morning." He says.

I swallow the coffee, blistering down my throat. The tears well up in my eyes. "Hi." I gasp.

Lindsey turns back to the stove. Aubrey blows me a kiss, mouthing the words, "Hello, beautiful."

I blush and guiltily look towards her, but she's bustling around the stove, humming with her back to us. "Why are you here?" I hiss.

His smile fades. "Do you want me to go?" He whispers.

Why does he always ask that question? I wonder. Of course the answer is always going to be no. I shake my head vehemently. "Lindsey." I gesture to her.

Aubrey shakes his head with a smooth smile. "No problem."

Lindsey turns back around and hands us each a plate of food, settling down in the last chair. She's barely picked up her fork when Aubrey says,

"You know, I was wondering if I could borrow Aurora for today."

What?! Lindsey looks up, surprised, but humors him, while my face is on fire.

"What exactly do you guys want to do?"

She looks at me questioningly. "Nothing." I say, blushing. "I have stuff to do, homework..."I trail off, out of excuses. "I don't know what Aubrey's talking about." I add, glaring at him.

Aubrey turns to Lindsey with a disarming smile. "Just show her around. You know she focuses too much on school." He shakes his head mock-reproachfully with a sigh. "We don't have much for entertainment here in Bitter Springs, but I'll try my best."

Lindsey's already nodding at him, smiling. "That sounds very nice of you, Aubrey."

I'm shaking my head and glaring at Aubrey, but he ignores me and beams at her. "Thanks." He says. "I'm sure we'll have fun."

Yeah, sure we will, I think darkly as I stab my eggs and Aubrey grins at me. I'll show him a good time.




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