And the Air Between

The white skies of autumn.

Red roofs, blue buildings, gray cars.

Seven of them are pressed against the wide pane of a picture window, hopelessly. “It must be cold out there,” says one, Alphonse, probably. “It looks cold.”

Nolan rubs his hairless cheek against the glass. “Glass isn’t cold.”

“It’s double-paned, dummy, it’s insulated. Of course it isn’t cold.” It could have been any of them, could have been Nolan himself, answering his objection.

A voice comes down the hallway, a page over the intercom. “Andersen,” it repeats, over and over again. “Andersen. Andersen.”

The hills on the other side of the valley are dim in the weak light, dappled with rain. Lights are beginning to flicker on on the long bridge of the freeway. “Rush hour,” says Annalisa. “Remember rush hour? How angry it was, all the horns honking, all the taillights red and mad.”

Nolan shakes his head. “You’re thinking of someplace else. Cars don’t honk, here. They’d get fined.”

“It was here,” says Annalisa. “It was a while ago, but I remember. I haven’t been anywhere else.”

“It’s raining again,” says Vidian, and they press themselves harder against the window, seven thin bodies desperate for rain.