She spent the entire day wishing she could pull off gold lamé pants like Mira. She’d spot her the baby, she didn’t envy her that—but to nail gold lamé pants while nursing in public. Getting dressed was rarely necessary. This gave her extra time to beam messages through the adobe walls. Enough with the fleece jackets and waterproof sandals, folks. It was hard to imagine those pants hanging in her closet or anyone else’s in town.
When she told the lady who came to her house to cut her hair that she was moving, she said, Watch out, women age fast there. Celia didn’t worry because she was as dried back as she could get and she stayed home everywhere she went.
During car rides she could see that the rich people and the transient population wore loose clothing and bleached out colors. Their skin could also agree. The architecture accumulated in blunted slabs, groundling around, comfortable in its own flesh tone like the sleeveless down jacket she wore over her pajamas. Everything and everybody deferred to the sky. The sky was completely other. If you stood in the open the sun would burn a gilded Madonna and Child into you, whether or not you were familiar with the local culture or Mira and Baby Isis. It’s a wonder there weren’t even more believers.
Night was black, like people couldn’t be bothered to push it back or the electricity was out of their collective price range.
The sand and brush and stucco ran into each other and acted natural, becoming the foreground for her unwanted everyday that had been going on for years. She no longer identified with surroundings, but game recognizes game, in this case: drought tolerance and featurelessness.
Celia had heard mention of desert spring times but it hadn’t stuck. It sounded like throw away bible talk—dusty and half buried—Rose of Sharon wandering for forty years. Her provenance was suburban leafy and that was her default mindset then.
Oh, let me walk the night the desert blooms. This was another found object that surfaced when the tumult began. She had imagined the Oh as a lyrical conceit, wafting to the side like a half-baked smoke ring. Now she knew it was a kick in the guts.
Overnight the branches were crawling with fuchsia nubs that divided and multiplied. Other trees did showgirl feather fan dance explosions. There were full-on greens without the decency to temper themselves with opposite minded colors. The yellow of the forsythia vibrated with the sky, creating an interference pattern that simulated the DTs.
On the whole, things were embarrassingly pimped out.
She blamed the sun. Apparently it could push obscenity and holiness, an equal opportunity inciter to riot. She had believed this place was consecrated to neutrality, but she saw where she’d gone wrong. Everything beaten down to ground level is not the same as balance and you cannot fall out of a ditch.