Free Chapter Saturday

I blinked and it was night again. I wavered, disoriented.

Bryn grabbed my arm. “Okay?”

My heart was racing in my chest. “Does it always do that?”

“Sometimes.” She looked up. “2003. Tucson, Arizona. I was eleven.”

I followed her eyes and the sky was on fire, stars blinking in long trails leading into infinity. There were thousands of them winking in and out, swirling, falling.

“Is this real?”

She smiled, words caught in a sigh. “Does it matter?” She stared up at the sky. “I haven’t seen this one in a while.”

“Are they on a rotation or something?”

“I don’t know. Sometimes they seem random but other times they’re not.” She started walking towards the tree line, still looking up. “Sometimes I’ll see an old photo from a trip I took when I was a kid and then I’ll fall asleep and suddenly I’ll be back there.”

I was stiff, staring into the trees. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back in there.

But then Bryn looked back at me. “You coming?” She reached out a hand, her face soft. “It’s okay.”

And something in her smile made me think it was. I reached back.

A dull light radiated from the trunks of the trees. Little plastic stars were stuck to the bark, the kind people used to stick on their pop-corned ceiling.

“They were my cousin Dani’s,” Bryn said, peeling them free. The stars rested in her hand and as we walked she stuck them to the trees we passed. “To light our way back.”

The two of us dodged rocks and low hanging limbs before coming to a large hill. There was a small fire at the very top, flames cinched in by large stones. Ashes spit onto the grass, wood crackling. Bryn sat down at the edge of the fire, letting the shadows of the flames dance along her open palms. I sat down next to her, spotting a large tent, fishing poles stacked on sleeping bags.

“This wasn’t here earlier,” I said.

She gave me a sly smile.

“Right,” I said. “Nothing here makes sense.” Though I wished something did.

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