Excerpt: The Factory

He picks up my hand and holds it, palm to palm, his tanned fingers clasped with mine. There is only one way to describe it. In a town west of Baxter, I stopped in at a shop that sold curiosities. Unexploded grenades with the pins pulled out, corroded cans, glass worn smooth and frosty by primeval seas. A small black rock, jagged, and shiny like glass, sat in a wood prop on the front counter.

I picked it up, and the rock was warm, shocking. It was like a shot of rum, but cleaner. It felt like home.

“What is this?” I asked the burly guy behind the counter.

“Piece of meteorite I found in the desert,” he said. “It’s not for sale.”

That was what it felt like. Like going home, like something lifetimes old familiar.

“I’m just, so happy for this. To have a second chance with you.”

I never said you had a second chance.

The sky was almost all gray now, and Venus was showing. He looked at me, my eyes and my lips, closed his eyes and put his mouth on mine. I gripped the edge of the concrete fountain with my right hand, watched the shape of his face in shadow as his long, slender fingers brushed my throat. This was not what I expected. I did not come here to make out. The heat was like a silver cord drawn through me, a shiver of heat. I could not draw my mouth away. His lips were almost feminine in their curve, soft but not full, and very warm.

“Well,” he said, pulling away, tasting his bottom lip where I had been. “Damn.”

“Thank you,” he said.

“For what?” I was foggy, drunk.

“Letting me get away with that.”

“Come on,” I said, standing. I held out my hand.

“You promised me a walk.”

I was still in control of this. I was still smug, tough, and didn’t know anything, just like sharpening the edge of my knife blade until it sparkled.

Excerpt: The Factory

I learned, in this way, that everyone will tell you to discover your voice and speak your mind, until you do. So here we were, on our way to rediscover a time that never happened, so that everything could be the same as it never was.

You see, once you start out in life walking backwards, it isn’t very easy to turn around and walk forwards.

You can pretend, for a while. I really enjoyed pretending. I found out that you can wake up one day and decide to be a different person, at least on the outside, and, for a while, I quit thinking about the Alpha and the Omega, swirling back through time to infinity and forward to an infinite future, no beginning or end, incomprehensible.

I practiced a kind of self-enforced brain damage. I never told the things I had read in the manuscripts.

I was looking for something then. Mostly I wanted good times, stiff drinks, and like other girls, love.

Instead, I found Leslie.