Breaking ContractWhen he came to on the curb outside his apartment, Aruk couldn't recall what happened, or why he was half naked. His body was sore, and he decided to smoke the pain away. Hours later, he remembered the voices, in the middle of a high-induced laugh that dissipated as the memory resurfaced.He didn't sleep at all that night.
Fire, inside, outsideAsh has hailed down onto Los Angeles for months,orange-yellow flames sifting into gray flakesof regret, years' worth of resentment and staleplants that make far better fire fodder than anyonewould ever openly admit;when the soul is aflame, it, too,leaves ashes behind as it consumesthe fodder of years' worthof untreated regret.Slash-and-burn is not sustainable, butnatural fires will take what they need, and, afterward,what they want, then what they will.When the flames are sated, the charred landswill need time to heal. At times, yearsmay not seem enough; at others, monthswill bring new grass through the surface, lifealight inside the soil even when it lookscompletely dead—nature is a god of its own, its fire burninginside, outside.
TightropeTobias could feel the fire in his feet the first time he walked across the tightrope, the way it felt that surely meant the tiny string would give way to the landscape he knew was somewhere far beneath him—Taku insisted that Tobias shouldn’t look down until he’d gotten the hang of it a few times first—the way it felt that surely meant gravity would win out in the end, the way gravity always won out in the end—But there he was, one foot in front of the next, treading steady, steady as he went until he found himself standing on a balcony of the apartment building clear across the street as though he hadn’t traversed the distance some several hundred feet in the air. Taku was less than a step behind him on the rope—somehow, Tobias realized, without impacting the weight of the rope himself—and although he didn’t dare turn his head to see Taku’s face, he could feel the gaze from Taku’s good eye piercing the back of his skull
KyotoTraveling to Japan taught me nothing, exceptfor the fear of missing flights, stranding myselfin places where I can't read signs, and takingthe wrong escalator off a train platform intoa department store.The land did the teaching, rolling hills that becamemountains in the blink of an eye, rushing past fastas crowds of salarymen filled every vacant seatin every train car, in every city bus, in everyoffice visible to the naked eye or otherwise—hills that became mountains covered in treesand buildings and both, the earth that came to termswith the creatures living on it that came to termswith the earth. The Kamogawa, a lessonin patience, cut through both—a leader flankedby concrete soldiers, situated between ume treesthat cast long shadows at sunset.There are 1,600 temples in Kyoto, someolder than the city itself. Even there, the landdid the teaching, proving permanencethat has outlived the salarymen, that hasoutlived the buildings, that has outlivedhuman