- You were walking down the street when square hands snatched you, but don't think about that right now. Focus instead on the grey patter of rain dampening the sheets you probably forgot to take in this morning and how your mother will surely have a word with you about your priorities later. The moon is heavy that night. Moonlight bleaches the cool leather back seat and cuts through tinted windows. Even through the blindfold you can make out the transmission towers lining the field behind the houses. You focus on them, on the steady crackling of electricity and the wires that hummed like an army of bees assembling in the darkness.
- Or maybe you're in the passenger's seat and his square hands, warm and strong, fold over yours. You rip off the blindfold, laugh at his attempts to scare and surprise, and grab the pomegranate he halved with his blade. You pluck seed after seed with sharp fingers and a coiled tongue and as the car blurs down the street, he tells you, with a twitch in his jaw and a voice so low that rain almost buries the words, that he loves you. You lick the last of the dark red fluid and spread your sticky fingers wide, touching everything dangerous.
- Sometimes you think about him as you walk down the street. It was a night just like this, under a heavy moon. Feet pounding, you punched through the rain while he slapped the blurring foliage high fives. The boy was goofy and weird but oddly sincere, you decided, which may have been why you followed him into the field with the transmission towers. You huddled together under the criss-crossing steel and dripping water, sitting close but not too close, laughter crackling, occasionally bumping knees. When the rain drained, the air smelled green and your skin was charged with a nervous and heated energy. You gazed at him through the darkness and the world became quiet.
- In your yard at the end of the street, an aspen tree grows tall. Its body is bone white and its branches stretch long and thin, cracking the perfect blue sky.
- You caught him on video first. He was the rustle in the foliage that kept your eyes bloodshot and the shadows moving over your bedroom wall. To prove it, you dared him to climb the aspen tree in the day like you knew he climbed at night. The man climbed the tree and through blades of sunlight you saw, with certainty as clear as tears, the largeness of his square hands, the twitch in his jaw, and the flash of vivid white teeth. How your mother bleached the sheets and had a word with you when it was done, and from that day on you knew your priorities, and never touched anything dangerous ever again.
- Or we can start at the end of the street and pan over to movement in the field. The world can be quiet that night. The boy will be smiling a small fingernail smile and high fiving the wet foliage with his free hand. His other hand holds yours carefully and self-consciously, as though the criss-crossed fingers had veined into a butterfly wing. As you walk down the street, swinging your joined hands, the scales will fall like gemstones and scatter as powder in the breeze.
- Time will pass, in the darkness.
's short stories and poems have appeared in Fireside Fiction, Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine
and others. She won Third Place in the 2019 Rhysling Awards and is a graduate of Clarion West. In addition to her website, find her on Twitter @Millie_Ho