A coat sways, and flaps in the early morning breeze. Its bottom is muddy, and stained. If you were able to inspect the coat closely, you’d find it a deep dark shade, consisting of a sleight material. The longer you’d stare, the more the stains, and caked matter would start to resemble shapes, faces, mouths, widened eyes full of knowing. If the light were to change on you, while your gaze was fixed on the coat it might decide to show you a brilliant, blinding gold. Or it would go sheer, like a prism distracting you with every angle. It would continue to change it’s presence to you, until you’d get so nauseous you’d be forced to look away.
The man’s eyes have been shaded from sight. Even if he had eyes, like we saw eyes, you wouldn’t be able to remark on their color, or emotion, for darkened clouds hung low over his head when his mood was especially grim. Only his mouth was visible, and it too, shifted in the wind and the growing light of this new day.
He watched the girl lying on her side, presumably asleep. He watches for a long time. It brings him comfort, on one of the lower levels of his remaining humanity. To see this impossible creature at a standstill is something he didn’t see often. She was draped in white, almost as white as her skin used to be. Most of her body now bears ominous, sporadic patches of discoloration (staining) from too many differing Sunstepping. Every Sun she had galloped under left her a little more brown, in places, and a little more burnt in others. The thin layers of her clothing were dirty, and irrevocably stained. Intricate patterns of blood smears, mud, grass stains, and burn holes, indistinguishable marks, and soot took over most of the once blindingly white fabric. Soot that gives her clothes a rainbow hue under certain, misty lights when they hit just right, crumples blackened and rotten-faced, more often then not. Her skin shone under the broken, yawning morning, illuminated (licked clean), working so hard to try and begin anew. Were she a snake, she’d have shed mountains of old skins throughout each landscape she passed through.
A new Sun was finally hanging up in the sky, after a time. It cast a sickly, yellow light over her body. She now looked like she was sleeping under an enormous spotlight, hardly moving at all, and, every now and again she reached her arms out for someone. Her dark hair had grown much since she started chasing him, he thought. Black, and now silver-threaded and Suns streaked. Her back was firmly facing away from him. The man was sure that if he were close enough to smell her hair, it would smell olden-maybe like beach sand caught with seaweed, ages of sweat, and something else. A scent almost indefinable. Madness, he supposed. Madness carried a feral scent, akin to the scent of wild animals; especially ones trapped or penned in small spaces for too long. She was lost, his girl. Lost and relentless, and you couldn’t ask for a worse combination than that. He had no pity left, not for her especially. You can’t pity someone who has willfully lost herself, who made pacts with her own blood to sustain her body in certain environments, who steals and bargains and whispers for help, BEGS for help, preys on the naivety and the wanting of others after she’s gotten herself stuck between here, and there. Alive with a scent, she circles around and around, fumbling across ground she cannot even see correctly. Places she doubts are truly there, yet she bulldozes over them on a single hope. She’s only survived this long because of the strength of her memories-her ability to channel them into her presence to manipulate her future. Self-pity, honor forsaken for the wanting. He has been in and out of her, erasing moments, drawing them anew-as from a black board out of his own memory. She thought about the gator who had guided her South and the bird, quite often, but there was too much she thought about and was no longer able to keep up with herself. She has all but forgotten about the sickly, rambling cat whose dying request almost led her to her doom, underneath thousands of frozen Sunflowers, and the secrets they had held between and beneath their stalks. He had underestimated their allegiance. He had wanted to give her the Moon-for it was as crazy as she was-but it could not find its way to her and everything had gone very wrong then. So she screams her memories into a breath, and here comes the big, bounding dog that yanks her free from the hungry earth, lifts her off of her feet, and releases her from those frozen cages. The man knew she was licked clean by the dog, and marked-as all animals mark their owners. How they knew each other the man wasn’t sure. Her memory was wide open, flashing like a greenlit field, before he removed her Sun. He watched quietly and secretly as she slept and, this he knew, dreamed about him. He decided she needed to face the road. The long road, maybe it would return her. He knew it wouldn’t stop her. She needed to return.